UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen has received almost all of the attention for UCLA this year but took a bit of a back seat to his teammates on the other side of the ball on Saturday night.
The Bruins defense put together their best effort in a long, long time against BYU to leave Provo with a 17-14 win that was a much more dominant outing than the score line indicated.
The Cougars managed just 0.9 yards per rush, failed to get much of anything going in the passing game and saw quarterback Taysom Hill throw one interception and record four sacks. While there was plenty of issues on the BYU offense, the fact of the matter was that the team from Los Angeles simply had defenders that looked faster, stronger and quicker on just about every snap.
It was a good thing that the defense rose to the occasion for Jim Mora too because the Bruins offense still hasn’t found much of a rhythm this season outside of their quarterback making some NFL-caliber throws. Rosen finished the night 26-of-40 for 307 yards, two scores and a pick but was only able to pick up six third down conversions all game in a bit of a one-man effort.
Nate Starks made his season debut at tailback and rushed for 39 yards on 15 carries as part of a mediocre ground game against a tough BYU front seven. The team’s leading rusher, Soso Jamabo, did not even suit up for UCLA while backup Bolu Olorunfunmi chipped in with 15 yards in limited action.
The win rounds out the non-conference slate for the Bruins and sets up a big showdown next Saturday at the Rose Bowl with defending conference champion Stanford. The Cardinal have been the one team that Mora has not been able to solve since arriving in Westwood but if the defense plays like it did against BYU, it could be an interesting Pac-12 contest between the two division favorites.