UCLA focuses on fixes vs improved Hawaii after comeback win
LOS ANGELES (AP) Although the euphoria from UCLA’s 34-point comeback victory over Texas A&M is still resonating around Westwood, defensive coordinator Tom Bradley realizes the Bruins aren’t likely to get that many breaks again against unbeaten Hawaii.
The Bruins rallied for a memorable 45-44 win over the Aggies despite giving up 382 yards rushing. They allowed 13 chunk run plays of 10 yards or more, including rushes of 72 and 61 yards. They needed some luck, including Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond barely stepping out of bounds instead of breaking down the sideline for a game-clinching touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
”We have to fix it. We don’t have much choice. You cannot win games like that, giving up, what was it, 400 yards minus the sack yards?” Bradley said. ”Thank goodness our offense played great and did a great job of scoring points.”
For UCLA (1-0), the fix has to start on Saturday against Hawaii (2-0) and running back Diocemy Saint Juste. Saint Juste rushed for 202 yards in the Rainbow Warriors’ home opener against Western Carolina, becoming the first player in school history with two career 200-yard performances. The redshirt senior had 205 yards rushing against Nevada last season, and has topped 100 yards in three of his last four games.
To contain Saint Juste, who had four runs of 40 yards or longer last season, Bradley wants to see UCLA defenders tackle better and take better angles to the ball. The tackling should improve after shaking off the first-game jitters, but UCLA had one less day to address its other issues after playing on Sunday.
”A lot of work, a lot of guys staying up late trying to catch up, to play catch up constantly with game plans and cards and scout team stuff that has to be done,” Bradley said. ”It’s not easy, but our guys have adapted well.”
Here are some other things to keep an eye on Saturday in the third-ever meeting between the Rainbow Warriors and Bruins:
WILSON’S A WEAPON: UCLA’s win over Texas A&M was so chaotic that tight end Caleb Wilson’s school-record 15 receptions in a game for 208 yards became an immediate afterthought. The former walk-on at Southern California became only the third player in UCLA history to have more than 200 yards, and kept the chains moving with 11 catches resulting in first downs.
”He’s got an incredible feel for the game,” quarterback Josh Rosen said. ”One of the most deceptive players I’ve ever seen before in just how he gets open. Just sometimes you really have no idea how he does it.”
ROAD WARRIORS: Hawaii will travel more than 38,000 air miles this season to play six road games, but second-year head coach Nick Rolovich is making those frequent flyer miles count. Hawaii is 4-3 on the road under Rolovich, including wins in the last two away from Aloha Stadium, after going 1-23 as the visiting team from 2012-2015.
PHENOMENAL PHILLIPS: UCLA freshman defensive end Jaelan Phillips more than lived up to his billing as the top defensive recruit in the nation, recording five tackles and two pass breakups in his collegiate debut against Texas A&M. That total included 1 1/2 sacks, and timely ones at that. Phillips sacked freshman quarterback Kellen Mond to push Texas A&M out of UCLA territory early in the fourth quarter, and split a sack with Jacob Tuioti-Mariner on third down to get the ball back to Rosen and the Bruins’ offense for the winning touchdown.
FAMILIAR FACES: Hawaii has 34 players from California, headlined by middle linebacker Jahlani Tavai. The junior from Inglewood already has 14 solo tackles, two sacks and one fumble recovery this season after recording a whopping 86 solo tackles last season, sixth-most in the FBS.
Right tackle Fred Ulu-Perry played his freshman season at UCLA in 2015, playing offense and defense while appearing in eight games before transferring.
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