When it comes to play calling, Bruins passing with flying colors

on Sep13

UCLA offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said he doesn’t worry much about the Bruins’ mix of run and pass plays, only whether they are being efficient.

They certainly have been over the past five quarters.

Starting late in the third quarter against Texas A&M in its opener, UCLA’s drives have gone touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, end of game, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, end of half, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, safety, punt. The only times the Bruins didn’t score came Saturday after starting quarterback Josh Rosen had left their 56-23 romp over Hawaii.

It’s a kind of repeat that Fisch doesn’t mind being stuck on.

“We just have to keep on finding ways to move the ball and each week come up with a new plan against a new defense,” said Fisch, whose team ranks 19th in the nation in total offense with 529.5 yards per game, even with a less-than-prolific running game.

Piling up yardage mostly has meant relying on the right arm of Rosen, who has completed 41 of 51 passes for 621 yards and nine touchdowns with no interceptions over his past five quarters. Some of those throws wowed Fisch when he reviewed the game footage.

“There are certainly some that you look at, and you just realize how talented he is,” Fisch said Tuesday. “But, you know, we just try to evaluate each throw individually. You know, that was a good one, that one we could have thrown better. Obviously, this past game he threw a lot of good balls.

“We’ve got to repeat that. We’ve got to have another week of a lot of great passes. Otherwise we won’t be as efficient.”

UCLA achieved a much more equitable run-pass balance against Hawaii than it had in its opener, which it spent mostly in comeback mode after falling behind by 34 points. The Bruins called 32 passing plays against the Rainbow Warriors and 23 running plays.

UCLA has thrown on 95 of 140 plays (67.9%) this season and is averaging 50.5 points to rank No. 10 in the nation in scoring.

UCLA is also two for two on trick plays. Rosen’s fake spike led to the winning touchdown pass against Texas A&M, and a pass from tight end Caleb Wilson was completed to tailback Nate Starks for a 39-yard gain against Hawaii.

Wilson said his first pass in a game since he played quarterback as a senior in high school prompted some jitters.

“Once I saw it and I let it go, I was a little nervous,” he said, “but it fell right in his hands to make a big play after we worked so hard on it all week.”

Fisch said the trick plays were the result of evaluating an opponent’s defense to determine the probability of their success.

“It was just really a matter of what we saw on film,” Fisch said. “Did it give us the opportunity to do it or not?”

Nearly everything has been a go for the Bruins on offense so far.

Getting Sunny?

UCLA coach Jim Mora said he anticipated getting right tackle Sunny Odogwu into the game against Memphis on Saturday at the Liberty Bowl as part of the team’s efforts to build depth on the offensive line.

Odogwu has sat out the Bruins’ first two games because of an undisclosed injury, but reserves Poasi Moala, Jake Burton and Josh Wariboko-Alali already made their season debuts behind a starting unit that plays the bulk of the snaps.

“We’re going to start developing that depth so we’re feeling better and better about that group as we go,” Mora said.

Quick hits

Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said Hawaii’s massive yardage total — the Rainbow Warriors gained 515 yards — was largely the result of “four big plays that bothered us.” The root of those plays was not much of a mystery. “When you get the big plays it’s missed tackles, bad angles, things of that nature,” Bradley said. … Wilson said the Bruins were leaving a day earlier than normal for their trip to Memphis to adjust to the time change and the early start. Kickoff against the Tigers is scheduled for 9 a.m. PDT. “Probably get a little more rest the night before,” Wilson said, “but it’s pretty much the same.”


Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch

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