Three takeaways from UCLA's upset win over No. 15 Washington
Entering Friday’s marquee matchup with the No. 15 Washington Huskies, UCLA was just 2-7 against ranked Pac-12 opponents under Chip Kelly, with both wins coming in 2019. And despite a 4-0 record for the Bruins, national pundits did not give UCLA much of a fighter’s chance against arguably the conference’s hottest team.
It was going to take a big effort to knock off the surging Huskies, especially on the defensive side. And UCLA delivered.
The Bruins harassed the conference’s top-rated passer, Michael Penix Jr., into a pair of interceptions in a 40-32 win. The victory extended UCLA’s winning streak to eight games.
For beleaguered UCLA fans who were just waiting for a statement game from Chip Kelly, this was it.
Here are three takeaways from the game…
Was Chip Kelly playing possum?
With perhaps the nation’s softest early season schedule, UCLA’s coaching staff knew it wouldn’t have to bust out all the tricks against the likes of Bowling Green, Alabama State, South Alabama, and Colorado.
But Kelly and Co. did more than just limit the playbook in the early going. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet were handled with kid gloves, UCLA’s defense did not reveal complex coverages and when the Bruins could take their foot off the gas pedal, they did.
As a result, the Bruins’ 4-0 start — their first in years — carried a twinge of disappointment.
Coming off an 8-win season for the first time since 2013, UCLA fans were expecting ruthless efficiency, and while the Bruins were certainly efficient, they were not ruthless.
On Friday night, they were ruthless. Kelly’s offense was creative and multi-faceted, with plenty of movement and misdirection. As a result, UCLA had scoring drives of 93, 75, 75, 65, and 62 yards. Put it this way: If not for going 0-for-2 on 4th downs inside the Washington red zone, the Bruins might have put up 50 points.
Every single UCLA drive has gone to at least the UW 6. Dominant showing from this offense.
— David Woods (@daviddavidwoods) October 1, 2022
Big plays lift Bruins
Washington entered the game with one of the most explosive offenses in the conference, if not the country.
But the Bruins not only marched down the field on the Huskies, they bit off chunks of yards,while Washington was mostly toothless until the 3rd quarter.
While the Huskies could not find a rhythm early, UCLA was like clockwork.
DTR found wideout Jake Bobo six times for 142 yards, with connections of 40, 39, 22, 15, 14, and 12 yards. The 39- and 14-yard connections went for touchdowns, while Thompson-Robinson also connected with Kam Brown for a 15-yard passing score.
Along with Charbonnet, who had runs of 22, 15, 11, and 11 yards, DTR’s dynamic night put the Bruins in position to build the big lead.
UCLA and UW had each given up 30 explosive plays heading into this evening (10+ run/15+ pass). UW had 58 explosives on offense, UCLA 51.
In that first half…
UCLA: 9 explosives
UW: 2 explosives pic.twitter.com/qK2RNBw6Na
— Derek Peterson (@dr_petey) October 1, 2022
Bruins neuter Penix
Penix had thrown just one interception coming into the game, while completing 64.3% of his passes for 1,388 yards and a 9.7 yard-per-pass average.
Early on, he looked like he would just continue his early-season domination. He marched the Huskies down 75 yards on their first drive, culminating with a beautiful 33-yard touchdown pass to Rome Odunze.
That score came with 10:21 left in the first quarter.
Washington would score just three more points over the next 30-plus minutes, before scoring on three straight drives in the third and fourth quarters.
At one point, Penix, the conference’s best passer through four games, was 12-of-21 for 115 yards and two interceptions with one score.
It was unquestionably Penix’s worst performance of the year, and certainly UCLA’s best defensive effort in ages, even if things got close late.
Michael Penix Jr. ⬇️
Dorian Thompson-Robinson ⬆️
— CFB SZN (@CFB_SZN) October 1, 2022