UCLA got the win it expected, a 56-23 blowout of Hawaii Saturday before a crowd of only 50,444 at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins also got more than what they bargained for, with injuries, a coming suspension, a MIA player and a porous run defense.
A precursory glance at the numbers will show UCLA dominated from the beginning. Following a Hawaii punt that backed the Bruins up to its on one-yard line, (and a motion penalty that cost them half a yard), quarterback Josh Rosen led the team on a “routine” seven-play, 99½ yard scoring drive that ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Darren Andrews. The drive took a little less than three minutes and was emblematic of all of UCLA’s scoring drives for the day, with Rosen needing an average of only 2:14 for his touchdowns.
He ended the day 22-of-25 for 329 yards and a career-high five touchdown passes. Having never thrown as many as four touchdown passes in a game in his college career, Rosen has now thrown at least four in back-to-back games.
UCLA Gets An Expected Win With Some Holes
The day was not without peril however. UCLA starting linebacker Kenny Young was drilled by helmet-helmet contact on a block by Hawaii tight end Metuisela Unga hard enough that his helmet was jarred loose. The officials ruled that Young was hit in the shoulder, so there was no penalty. Young was woozy and left the game and never returned. He will undergo concussion protocol through the rest of the weekend. Meanwhile, reserve linebacker Josh Woods was called for a helmet-to-helmet hit in the fourth quarter, and was ejected from the game. He will have to sit out the first half of the Memphis game Saturday. Starting defensive backs Adarius Pickett and Jaleel Wadood both suffered leg injuries during the game, although Wadood tweeted later that night that he would be alright.
That was added to starting defensive lineman Boss Tagaloa sitting the game out because of an ankle injury suffered in the first half of the Texas A&M game and starting running back Soso Jamabo being in street clothes all day. The assumption on Jamabo was an internal suspension, as head coach Jim Mora has developed a propensity over the years for sitting a player out and announcing only that, “he did not play.”
With or without the injuries on UCLA’s defense, Hawaii was running the ball with ease. The Rainbow Warriors racked up 281 yards rushing a week after UCLA gave up 382 yards on the ground to Texas A&M. Early on, Hawaii quarterback Dru Brown was also picking on freshman defensive back Darnay Holmes with quick hitch passes in front of him. That stopped when Holmes stepped in front of a pass late in the second quarter and returned the interception 30 yards for a touchdown that gave UCLA a 35-7 halftime lead.
Rosen Leads The Bruins, Again
Mostly, the day belonged to Rosen. His touchdown drives came with relative ease, as he used seven different receivers, with three of them catching touchdown passes. Andrews was on the receiving end of three of the touchdown passes. Theo Howard had his second touchdown catch of the season, after spending much of his freshman year doing more watching than playing. In just two games, Rosen has thrown for 820 yards at a 66% completion rate and has nine touchdown passes in just the last six quarters. He also moved to fifth on the all-time UCLA passing yards list behind Tom Ramsey, (1979-1983) with performance Saturday.
One person who was not busy Saturday was the UCLA punter. The Bruins were scoring at will and using such little time to do it, the game lasted just over three hours and they punted only one time, late in the fourth quarter.
The Bruins’ habit this season of scoring on such quick drives also means they lost the time of possession stat for the second week in a row, (36:05 for Hawaii, and 23:55 for UCLA). After the game, Rosen said the time of possession issue is not a problem for the Bruins as long as they are scoring with this frequency. After a one-yard touchdown run by Bolu Olorunfunmi in the third quarter, UCLA had scored on 12-straight possessions going back to the second half of the Texas A&M game. “Ideally, we set that as the norm, to continue to score everytime we touch the ball. If we aren’t scoring, then there is a fixable reason for why.”
The Bruins have their first road game of the season Saturday, a breakfast affair, at 9am Pacific time against the Memphis Tigers.