Stanford-UCLA grades: Defensive front lifts Cardinal to win

The top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Stanford’s victory over UCLA.

| 2 months ago
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Stanford-UCLA grades: Defensive front lifts Cardinal to win


Stanford Cardinal 22, UCLA Bruins 13

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Stanfords victory over UCLA:

Stanford Cardinal

Quarterback grade: Ryan Burns, 64.9 (Keller Chryst, four snaps — not enough to qualify)

With the offense that Stanford runs, they arent going to have a QB throw the ball all day long and look like a pocket general in the passing game. Their QBs need to move the ball off play action, be reliable on the chances they do get, and add a little something as a running threat as a bonus. Ryan Burns completed just 50 percent of his passes, and only 33.3 percent when under pressure and though he did add a little something with his legs, he just wasnt accurate and efficient enough to run this offense to its best potential. .

Top offensive grades:

C Jesse Burkett, 85.7
WR Trenton Irwin, 79.5
G Johnny Caspers, 77.4
HB Christian McCaffrey, 70.7
T A.T. Hall, 69.3

Same old ground production, no big plays in the air

The Stanford offense had pretty good success running the ball, though the Bruins defense certainly did a good job of making it tough on them and ensuring they earned the yardage. For the game they had 217 rushing yards and gained 6.2 per carry, but the issue was there were no big gains in the air to complement that rushing threat, and with the game close the team chose to punt on two key fourth-and-one situations during the game. In most weeks Stanford would have elected to run it on both of those, picked up the first down and continued to grind. Against UCLA though they played conservative and kept the scoring down.

Top defensive grades:

DE Solomon Thomas, 81.2
NT Harrison Phillips, 81.1
DE Dylan Jackson, 80.6
LB Kevin Palma, 76.7
S Justin Reid, 75.9

Disruptive up front

Stanford lost a lot of quality along their defensive front in the offseason, but the guys in there this week stood up to be counted. Solomon Thomas and Harrison Phillips in particular were extremely disruptive and too much to handle for the Bruins offensive line, while Dylan Jackson wasnt far behind to make the entire starting line an impressive showing unit. The rest of the defense made a few key plays throughout the game, none more important than the close attention by safety Justin Reid late in the game on a Josh Rosen throw down the seam that could have changed everything. Reid showed good range and recognition to get across and break up the pass.

UCLA Bruins

Quarterback grade: Josh Rosen, 63.7

Flashed potential, but still a work in progress

Josh Rosen doubtless has big time potential, but as a true sophomore he is still developing his game and left too many plays out on the field in this game. He missed a touchdown early in the game and bookended that with being late on a pass down the seam that allowed the Stanford free safety to come across and break up a pass that could have changed the entire outcome of the game. That throw was open, but Rosen was too slow to put the ball in the air and hit the open man. We did see some excellent flashes of play in the game, but not enough of them to get the win and earn a better grade.

Top offensive grades:

TE Nate Iese, 80.9
HB Bolo Olorunfunmi, 70.1
TE Caleb Wilson, 69.8
WR Jordan Lasley, 66.8
QB Josh Rosen, 63.7

Dominated up front

When only two of your top five graded players have a figure above 70, you know it was a pretty tough day at the office overall. The Bruins were set up with a couple of short fields, and did successfully convert them into points to take the lead on the scoreboard, but otherwise throughout the game struggled to get too much going. They notched just 98 rushing yards as a team, and 89 of those came after contact, while Josh Rosen wasnt able to carry the load enough on his own in the passing game to offset the struggles. On 31 dropbacks he was pressured on 13 of them, and when hurried completed just 40 percent of his passes.

Top defensive grades:

CB Fabian Moreau, 80.9
LB Kenny Young, 80.9
S Adarius Pickett, 80.6
S Tahaan Goodman, 78.9
CB Nate Meadors, 78.0

Impressive coverage performance, but ground down against the run

UCLA rode their luck a little in this game, with S Tahaan Goodman forcing a fumble and an incompletion with a big hit, either of which could easily have seen him ejected from the game for targeting with both featuring helmet to helmet contact heavily. The turnovers the team got on defense were the difference between the two sides until the final Stanford drive where the team just couldnt prevent the advance, ultimately falling to a fade route in the end zone, marring an otherwise decent performance from CB Nate Meadors who had allowed just two catches for 16 yards on five targets the rest of the game.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

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