November 18, 2010
Washington 24, UCLA 7. The Bruins are no strangers to the hard-luck role, and they had a plausible claim to it again tonight. They were without their starting quarterback for the third game in a row with a knee injury. One of his backups is out for the year. They've played all season with two starting offensive linemen on the shelf as academic casualties and another with a bum ankle. At no point in Rick Neuheisel's tenure has the offense not resembled a MASH unit.
But nearly three full years in, it can barely complete a pass against one of the most woebegone defenses in the country. Tonight's starter, Richard Brehaut, hit 5 of 14 with a pick; two others came on to complete more passes to the Washington secondary (two, one of them returned for a touchdown) than to their own receivers (one). The Bruins went three out eight times, punted nine, and didn't cross Washington's side of the field at any point in the last three quarters. With the game well within reach in the fourth, they went backwards on four straight possessions.
Usually, when your defense holds a soon-to-be first-round draft pick to 10-of-21 passing for 68 yards and no touchdowns on the other side, as the UCLA D did tonight to Washington quarterback Jake Locker, you're supposed to win – especially when you're up against the nation's 110th-ranked defense on the other side. But once they fell behind 10-7 early in the third quarter, the Bruins never had a chance.
That pretty much sums up the season: The offense remains the worst in the Pac-10, and after tonight, the passing game could come out of the weekend as the worst in the nation, with no reliable quarterback, no playmakers and no solutions in sight. In fact, it's a pretty good summary of the entire Neuheisel/Norm Chow administration: After three years of oversight by the home-grown hero and the most respected passing architect in the game, the UCLA offense is a shambling wreck in all conditions.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.