One game, but really, the season

Opportunity knocks only so many times.
It doesn’t knock loudly, and it tends to fade away quickly.

UCLA heard the knocks on Saturday, heard them like the Bruins have all season. It was there, ever so quietly.

And then, like the season, it was gone.

UCLA could not convert key plays, could not finish key drives, and ultimately could not finish the season on a winning note, falling to USC 28-14 on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in front of 71,105.

“Throughout the season, we’ve seen we’re capable of making plays, but shoot, we’ve got to finish,” junior wide receiver Taylor Embree said. “That’s what it comes down to. Making plays at the end. Our defense could not have done a better job, but we have to capitalize. That’s the biggest thing as a team; there have been games where we just didn’t capitalize. We just didn’t do it.”

The missed opportunities started early, and they hurt the Bruins badly. Boy did they hurt.

With the score tied at seven midway through the second quarter, a Johnathan Franklin fumble was gobbled up and returned 68 yards for a touchdown by USC linebacker Malcolm Smith. The Bruins were driving, poised to take the lead after getting the ball back following a botched 4th-down pass attempt by Mitch Mustain at the UCLA 17- yard line.

It was the second straight year that Smith doomed the Bruins, as his 62-yard interception touchdown last season gave the Trojans a 7-0 lead.

“Turnovers,” Neuheisel said, regretfully. “We had far too many turnovers. We turned the ball over too much and squandered drives too many times because of them.”
It wasn’t just turnovers on Saturday night.
Twice the UCLA offense found itself driving with the possibility for points, only to be killed by crucial penalties, including back-to-back penalties with 1st-and-10 at the USC 24-yard line, a holding call on junior right tackle Mike Harris and a false start on junior tight end Cory Harkey.

“We got close and didn’t make the play, and we have to look in the mirror and try
and figure out what we need to do to make those plays,” Neuheisel said. “We as a coaching staff and players have to perform at a higher level.”

The pain of regret, for both the game and the season, was readily apparent after the game.
UCLA junior safety Rahim Moore stood in front of his locker in the Rose Bowl locker room, bible spread open to Psalms 18, shaking his head.

“As a team, we have to finish better, Moore said. “You can talk about the game, the season – we have to finish better. The worst thing in sports is the coulda, woulda, shoulda. We had so many opportunities to get a ‘W’ and we didn’t.”

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  • Slick Neu -Weasel

    I’ll be baaaaack ! 2 more years. More enthusiam, more excitement, more hard work. Just wait fans.

  • DixieTrojan

    I came on this board to see if Neuheisel gave a speech after the game saying the following:

    1) The UCLA football team has turned the corner and is on the brink of success.

    2) UCLA is closing the gap between USC.

    3) His team will keep fighting.

    Just checking to see if he gave another one of his post-game speeches to give you all false hope for another year. Needed some more laughs. Thanks and good night.

  • Anonymous

    Microcosm of the season. Missed opportunities, too many turnovers, too many penalties, stalled drives in the red zone, too many 3 and outs on offense.

    Glad the season is over and next year will be the determining factor whether RN can turn the program around with his successful recruiting classes.

    As with the last decade (since Cade) – I think it comes down to the QB position.

  • fumi346

    Jonathan Franklin, nice fellow, chronic fumbler,has been benched several times in his career for fumbling, he will never see the field again. He should transfer at end of this quarter to avoid this humiliating circumstance.. Do not blame Chow for keeping a conservative game plan. He knows Brehaut will either fumble or throw an INT early in the game, remember Husky game. All Rick wants is a close game going into the 4th quarter and it would have been possible without the key turnover by Franklin. Hopefully we can get a commitment from a decent RB. Give Hundley the keys to the car, Brehaut is not the answer.

  • CalGirl

    hiya teDDies!!!
    evrybody at CAL is laughing at U!!!
    don’t cry =( =( =( i told u this would happen…
    U CAN’T BEAT MIGHTY CAL =) =) =)
    AND NOW LOSE TO DISGUSTING trOJies!!!
    do u finally understan=D???
    U REALLY REALLY SUCK!!!
    bye bye teDDies!!!
    time 4u2 drink mor baby blu koolaid =) =) =)
    ♥ ♥ ♥ GO BEARS ♥ ♥ ♥

  • Bruin Class of ’82

    USC turned the ball over and squandered just as many, if not more, drives than UCLA and they still won by 14 points. UCLA football will continue to suck with RN as coach.

    RECRUITS TAKE NOTICE! Don’t buy Rick’s BS about the programs future. The future will be the same as the past, failure.

  • El Maton

    CalGirl really makes me laugh LMAO sorry to say but she is 100% correct this time

  • Revol_Bruin

    Like a lot of UCLA fans, at this juncture, I’m just glad this season is over. RECRUITS TAKE NOTICE: there are a lot of USC trolls that come onto this blog to try to shape your opinions because it is so easy to create a temporary name or to write a silly comment anonymously. Keep the bigger picture within your perspective and take note that we the fans are passionate and we’re eager for great recruits to come to UCLA to turn this program into a contender year after year.

  • BE REAL

    Embree talks about “making plays” but wasn’t it he that dropped a beautiful td pass that could have made it a game at the end. Forget about making plays, just catch the darn ball.

    The game smacked of amateurism through and through. These two teams just aren’t very good. Or perhaps SC was playing down to awful ucla…And what was that turnaround of the bruin qb at the end of the game when he temporarily turned in to Johnny Unitas?– Where was that sterling play the entire game?…

    Finally, that was as empty a Rose Bowl for an SC-ucla game that I have ever witnessed. In this town, if you ain’t no good, nobody will show up to watch ya.

    LAWYER JOHN

  • Bruin Fan and Gold Reader

    Thank you for your excellent work this season. You are a real pro in a world of bloggers, “columnists” and fakers. It is a pleasure to read your coverage. I hope this team gives you better results to cover but whether they do or not, I will still read you with great interest.

  • Imdone

    One word. G-ucla-SS. as in gutless. Notwiser is gutless. U have no faith in your football team to get half a yard. And we as fan have no faith in you. You have to go. Please resign and stop embarassing your alma mater. You are the joke of college football.

  • UCLA Dynasty

    This really is some of the worst coaching in America, I did some quick research to see the first three-year record for some notable PAC-10 coaching failures.

    Paul Hackett – 19 – 18 – 1 Bowl
    Karl Dorrell – 22 – 15 – 3 Bowls
    Bob Toledo – 25 – 10 – 2 Bowls
    Tom Holmoe – 12 – 21 – No Bowls
    Keith Gilbertson (Cal) – 17 – 18 – 1 Bowl
    Buddy Teevens – 10 – 23 – No Bowls

    So, while he’s no Karl Dorrell, Paul Hackett or Bob Toledo, at least he’s not Buddy Teevens. He’s like our very own Tom Holmoe ladies and gentlemen.

    Only Rick Neuheisel could take a team that was averaging 6.5 wins a season down to 5 wins a season and call it progress. Coupled with the fact that in his previous stops in Colorado and Washington his teams seriously declined in year 4, I have grave concerns over the future of UCLA football.

    Angry and disgusted.

  • http://corinnemedel Ley

    Coach Rick has had more than enough time to mend these kids into a team and he, Chow, and Bullough have made this program go further down hill. I am sorry, but as much as I like Rick as a Bruin, he has shown me nothing as a coach.

  • TD FAURIA!!!!!

    2nd time they’ve EVER targeted him for a red zone play all season, and the 2nd time he’s gotten the touchdown. that’s 100% return on his part. Dear Coaches: maybe you should do this MORE next season. jus sayin! Great job Joe!

  • UCLArt

    Lost in all of this is the fact that two Trojan fans stabbed three UCLA boosters before the game, sending two to hospital.

  • Anonymous

    UCLA football and Newweisel are an embarrassment. What I saw at the Rose Bowl was a heartless, uninspired, unprepared, poorly coached, PATHETIC TEAM! There was no fire, no character, NO NOTHING! I am not renewing my season tickets or giving a dime to the Wooden Athletic Fund until this LOSER Coach that has brought 3 college football programs to their knees is fired! NEWWEISEL IS A LOSER AND A HORRIBLE COACH, JUST WATCH HIS TEAM PERFORM!

  • ucla34

    Last night the game was absolutely pathetic! I support Neu and give him another year. If it’s anything like this then he has to go! It was pathetic watching our offense no do a mother F’ing thing again after having multiple chances. We tried running more on one of the worst pass defense in the coutry! F’ing joke man! We better reach 9 wins or more next year! Plain and simple! And stop giving sorry ass Franklin the damn ball! He fumbles too damn much! This whole game was embarasing! Hope he can save his own behind next year!

  • beatsc

    Fire gutless Neuheisel and Chow. Bring back Toledo and his swashbuckling play calling.

  • cvv

    If 9 wins is your mark than fire him now, because this team and coaching staff will not win more than 7 next year

  • Brian Davis

    Comment on USC fans… For those that are actually USc alumni, i would be absolutely embarrassed by how their school was represented by those that attended the game. Interesting to note the difference in the college experience and class when Cal, Furd, or any other team comes to the RB. The only thing that I can compare USC fans to is the Raiders… total trash, absolute disregard to the collegiate experience, and the overall feeling that 1/2 were likely just released from the local county jail. The USC fans appeared to be 2 groups… (1) wealthy arrogant OC predominately white with maroon / mustard mercedes; or (2) absolute ghetto criminals, drunk and looking to start fights. Living and growing up in Orange County, I have many USC friends / family and am embarrassed for them, because for the most part they represent their alma mater with the dignity that an institution like USC should be represented with.

  • gilligan

    As a USC fan I hate to read that some USC fans stabbed some UCLA fans b/c this type of behavior in unacceptable period.
    Onto the game, I was shocked at both sides, first Kiffin coaching to lose and Neuheisel not taking advantage. Considering that USC has a weak secondary why didn’t UCLA try to exploit it with some play action calls considering that the running game was having success? PLEASE NOTE I AM A USC FAN.
    With the exception of Allen Bradford, USC played a very weak game. This was the closed UCLA has been in years to beating USC and if I am a UCLA fan I would be very upset that the football team let one slip away.

  • BruinBlue

    UCLA football will never contend for anything of significance as long as Rick is the head coach. USC was under sanctions this year and we still couldn’t come closer than 14 points. The USC players seem to enjoy playing for Kiffin, while our players seem to hate Rick.

    If I weren’t a UCLA alum I would never want to associate myself with this pathetic team.

    Recruits have obviously stopped buying into Rick’s pathetic lies about the program improving. We are going to have a terrible recruiting class and I’d advise any recruits considering UCLA to run away fast. You don’t want to be part of this train wreck.

  • http://amillennialist.blogspot.com Amillennialist

    The team regressed this year because of devastating losses of critical players.

    The most damage was done to the offensive and defensive lines. Injury, academic ineligibility, and Mormon missions forced inexperienced players into action in the O-line. Even if your QB is Cam Newton, the lack of a line will kill the offense (and often, the QB).

    Similarly, the loss of Brian Price and other solid defensive players from last year’s team — and several devastating injuries to emerging stars this year — meant no presence in the opposing team’s backfield, no pressure on the opposing team’s QB, no stopping the run. Even potential NFL talent was only average this year.

    The coaching staff cannot be held responsible for those numerous injuries, and hindsight is 20/20, but one place where the coaches erred was in their deciding whom to play. Rarely playing their new, young talent and starting Prince over Brehaut when the former didn’t practice due to injury (if nothing else, Brehaut would have been a lot better by the ‘SC game with a year of game-time experience) hurt the team’s chances for success in the second half of the season. Here, Neu’s optimism worked to the team’s detriment, since he must have believed that as long as the team remained close, they could still win. He must have refused to give up on the season.

    So, if our better players don’t jump what appears to be a sinking ship, and if our verbal commits stay on-board (Hundley), next year should see a significant improvement.

    Look at Texas this season. Did their coach suddenly forget how to win? Consider Howland’s team. How many wanted him fired for last season’s disaster? Neu should have one more year to show his quality.

  • Skip

    The only sanction USC was under this year was “no bowl game”. If they lose their appeal, then the real sanctions will begin next year when USC will lose 30 scholarships over the next three years. Then you’ll feel some pain. Trojies should be VERY proud of their win yesterday; when you cheat and have an program out of control you should win them all not lose five times. I’ll stick with my clean Bruins any day. Bruins have 17 starters returning, some absolute freshmen monsters coming back on defense, the Morman mission offensive linemen returning, and a highly touted quarterback who can run. There will be a new defensive coordinator for sure. The future is very bright for Bruin football.

  • UCLArt

    Skip, XSF has one more year on that Mormon mission.

  • J

    Blah. Typical Rahim and his raaaah raah. How about YOU finish tackled yourself before always trying to preach.

  • The Blur

    I love the comment, “we have to finish better.” Finish what? All those big leads they took into the 4th quarter? They never even got started. Not last night, not all year. The offense is horrible. Quarterback play is terrible. The defense put forth a valiant enough effort, but they were just on the field too long – as usual.

    I think Neu has to start Hundley next year. It’s obvious Prince and Brehaut won’t ever make us competitive enough even if they improve. The added bonus for Neu would be the built in excuse of a freshman qb – it could buy him another year (provided we get at least 4-5 wins.)

  • http://amillennialist.blogspot.com Amillennialist

    Considering Rahim’s use of the first-person, plural pronoun “we,” it is clear that he understands he needed to do better.

    Latent, anti-Biblical hostility, J?

  • Anonymous

    Now that we are moving towards the 2011 season, I think there is only one thing for us UCLA fans to say…”Just wait until 2012! That’s when we are going to be good!”

    What makes anyone think the future is bright for us? We have regressed under these coaches and the current players obviously don’t respect the coaches.

    Based on Rick’s past coaching stints, we are in for more regression in the 4th year. All signs point to another miserable season in 2011.

  • Trojan 70

    My friend Skip – I had to comment. You stick with your “clean Bruins” and at the very,very best mediocrity. Lamar Griffin does not make a program. The Trojans will be back long before ucla ever gets it figured out. You are drinking bruin kool aid regarding your supposed talent. Injries, Mormon missions,freshmen monsters! At some time talent has to perform. Ain’t happening in Westwood. You need to clean house brother. Good luck.

  • The Monopoly Is Over Here

    Ahhh… loving all the sad sap Bruin fan losers on this board. It almost makes my Trojan’s lack luster season worthwhile…

    As my moniker says boys, even while on probation, THE MONOPOLY IS OVER HERE!!!

    BWWAAHHHH HA HA HA!!

  • Bobo

    Skip, you are pure comedy my friend. You got mauled by a weak USC team and you write this drivel?

    Pistol offense with immobile quarterbacks? Trying to run the ball against a team with a terrible secondary? You have a very talented team laden with NFL talent, yet your star players look very average (contrast with teams with poor talent playing well week in and week out). The answer is clear – your coaching is awful!!! Collectively, your group is one of the worst in college football right now. Bad, really bad.

    Go ask Josh Luchs about the Clean Bruins. Unfortunately, there are many dirty players in college football and they don’t all wear cardinal and gold.

    I may be in the USC fan minority but I’m rooting for a resurgence in Westwood so that our rivalry game will once again become competitive. Right now even with the sanctions, I’m not worried at all about UCLA as long as your coaching staff is intact. Talk about lack of imagination and coaching kids down. Would you send your son to play for this buffoon? I can’t think of any other team in D1 who is playing as far below their talent potential than UCLA. Really shocking when you think about how many guys on the team could have NFL careers.

    So instead of self-reflection, you are looking forward to next season? Skippy, send me your telephone number because I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

  • Skippie

    Boy, judging by your feeble comments, I must have found a sore spot for you Trojies out there. What was it the fact your sanctions haven’t really started yet? Or the fact your coach is the only guy in the country who can take one of the most talent laden teams in the nation and lose five games with it. Was it the fact UCLA started 3 true freshmen, 8 sophomores, and 9 juniors against you and only lost on a 14 point swing fumble? And, yes, that’s correct, true freshmen monsters…get used to Marsh, Owa, Riley, and Zumwalt because they’re going to be blowing SC up for the next three years. CHEAT ON!

  • Anonymous

    snow falls on Bruin
    sleepless nights await in den
    thin bear emerges

  • cv

    This bruin team will not win more than 7 games next year, and that is with a much easier schedule.