PASADENA, Calif. – Instant replay has become an integral part of college football, as integrated into the fabric of the game as blocking, tackling, running and throwing.
In UCLA’s 42-28 Pac-10 Conference victory over visiting Washington State University on Saturday, it seemed even more obtrusive.
The Cougars’ go-ahead fourth-quarter score was taken away after the extra-point attempt, something not allowed by the rules.
“The official came over and told me they got buzzed right before they kicked the extra point,” UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said.
But no official reacted, running in to stop the attempt or even blowing a whistle. Until referee Larry Farina came to the Cougars’ sidelines to talk with the officials upstairs, no one on the WSU sideline knew there was any question about Jeff Tuel’s 1-yard score.
The replay showed Tuel was down short of the end zone and Washington State had to regroup and score again. It didn’t. But if replay had been called on four plays earlier, the Cougars might have scored anyhow.
Marquess Wilson, who caught five passes for 118 yards, tying Phillip Bobo for the most 100-yard games as a freshman, gathered in a drag route from Tuel at about the 35-yard line and raced down the left sideline for the end zone.
Safety Tony Dye battled through blocks and threw himself at Wilson inside the 5. Wilson stuck the ball out as he was flying out-of-bounds, with replays seemingly showing it crossing the plane before Wilson’s right foot came down about a foot out-of-bounds.
“I honestly did think I got it in,” Wilson said.
But the play was not reviewed.
Earlier, a pass interference penalty on UCLA near the goal line was reviewed, though penalties are not supposed to be covered by the replay rule. Conjecture centered on whether the ball was tipped, but it clearly had not been. The call was not overturned.
Getting the time
With the Cougars running a spread set on nearly every down, the pressure is on the offensive line and running back to protect Tuel.
The sophomore was sacked five times, including the last two WSU offensive plays. Up until then, Tuel, who finished 20 of 37 for 311 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, had time on most of his throws.
“For the most part, the O-line did a really good job protecting,” WSU coach Paul Wulff said. “They’ve put a lot of pressure on people with their pass rush. Overall, I think we did a pretty darn good job.”
Tackling the numbers
With UCLA running 89 plays for 565 yards of total offense, there were plenty of opportunities for tackles. Safety Chima Nwachukwu and linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis led Washington State with 11 apiece, with 10 of Nwachukwu’s of the solo variety.
Freshman cornerback Damante Horton, getting his most extended action, and Mike Ledgerwood each had eight.
Dye led UCLA with eight, but it was tackle David Carter who gave WSU the most trouble. Three of his five tackles were sacks. Until Sean Westgate and Akeem Ayers came up with sacks on the last two plays, Carter was about the only Bruin to supply pressure.
Ayers’ sack caused Tuel to fumble, the Cougars’ only turnover.
Beck benched at start
Linebacker Myron Beck was late for a team meeting and didn’t start.
“It won’t happen again,” the senior said.
Freshman Jamal Atofau started in his place and was victimized on a run fake on UCLA’s first play and hit Morrel Presley late out of bounds, earning a 15-yard penalty.
Spitz out for season
Dan Spitz’s eventful season is over before it’s even begun.
The redshirt sophomore from Mead High had surgery on the labrum in his right shoulder last week and should be back for spring football.
In the last 10 months, Spitz failed an NCAA-mandated drug test and was suspended for a year (a suspension that will end in November), switched positions from defensive to offensive tackle, and hurt his shoulder early in fall camp.
The injury seemed to be healing until a couple of weeks ago, when the 6-foot-6, 279-pound Spitz tweaked it again. This time surgery was required.
Wulff was obviously miffed by a couple of penalties that were called and a couple of more that weren’t, animatedly charging toward an official at one point and jumping up and down at another.
“I’ve got to fight for this team,” he said.
“They’re young, they need help. I’ve got to fight for them and they’ve got to fight for themselves.”
WSU was cited for a season-high eight penalties for 90 yards, including one kick-catching interference call that was marked off at 16 yards. UCLA had 10 for 103 yards.
The Cougars have not won much in the last two-plus seasons, but that doesn’t seem to be hurting their recruiting.
On Thursday, Cougfan.com reported WSU’s 16th non-binding oral commitment. Tana Pritchard, a 6-4, 206-pound linebacker from Clover Park High (Lakewood, Wash.) gave the WSU staff notice he’ll accept their scholarship offer.
Pritchard is the nephew of former Cougars great Jack Thompson.
Although the next generation plays quarterback like Thompson did, he projects as a linebacker at WSU.