Why UCLA’s victory over South Alabama matters

UCLA linebacker Laiatu Latu pressures South Alabama quarterback Carter Bradley during the third quarter.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

They were the sort of blunders that prompted Aikman to take stock of the largely empty Rose Bowl and write that even a 30,000-seat stadium on the UCLA campus would be only half-filled if the Bruins played the way they did against the Jaguars.

Beyond the two turnovers, there were some baffling mistakes.

The defense refused to call a timeout while appearing confused how to line up before one play in which it surrendered a 47-yard run, players pointing at one another to get into position. The offense later burned a timeout before even running a play after taking a kickoff.

UCLA made a defensive stop only for a lineman to fall on a downed Jaguar and get called for a late hit, leading to a first down. There were also repeated handoff issues involving quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the running backs, including on the play in which Zach Charbonnet lost a fumble into the end zone.

“We shot ourselves a lot in the foot,” Thompson-Robinson said. “Obviously, it’s great to come out with the win, but we’ve got a lot of stuff to improve on.”

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