Bruins escape Pullman, stay steady at No. 17

UCLA held off a two-win team to stay on top of the Pac-12 South, but Saturday night’s 44-36 victory (game story here) was one of the ugliest games the Bruins had played all season. The team — which held on to the No. 17 spot in the AP poll — generally stuck to the line of “We’re just enjoying this win for the next 24 hours.” Few players looked particularly overjoyed while saying it.

Some thoughts:

In the middle: The Bruins aren’t as bad as they looked against the Cougars, but they also aren’t as good as they looked against Arizona. UCLA took advantage of an ideal match-up and great game-planning against Wildcats and played out of its mind to seize the Pac-12 South lead. The Bruins tried to shut out all the “trap game” talk leading up to WSU, but couldn’t shut the door after going up by 30 against one of the conference’s worst teams. There’s nothing left to look ahead to now, which should help UCLA heading into its biggest rivalry game in years.

Hundley needs run game: Brett Hundley completed his first 11 passes before throwing an interception into heavy coverage, and finished with a deceptively impressive line: 18 of 21, 261 yards, three touchdowns, one interception — good for his highest single-game passer rating (227.73). But Hundley also took four sacks, a couple of which he probably could have avoided by throwing away the ball. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone called the performance “so-so” and said the lack of an established running attack made the game much more difficult for the quarterback. Johnathan Franklin’s 3.47 yards per carry were a season-low, and Hundley had only his second game of negative rushing yardage.

Rest up: Some players tried to deny a dip in intensity in the second half, but chalk that up a bit of denial. Marsh said flat out that the team “let up” in the second half, and Mazzone said they reined in the offense because too many players were banged up — including Shaq Evans, Steven Manfro and Damien Thigpen (who didn’t suit up due to a minor knee injury). It’s not a good day when Franklin winces from a post-game handshake. The coaching staff will almost certainly give players some downtime heading into the next week of practice.

Waving flag: UCLA gave away 126 yards on tossed flags, the team’s dozen penalties bumping up its per game average to 9.2 — worst in the country. There were some testy moments during the game, and Marsh grumbled afterward that it was a “sloppy” affair with “lots of bickering.” That needs to be cleaned up, but the refs didn’t help out either. The coaching staff was visibly upset during their final minutes on the sideline, particularly on the last illegal procedure penalty. Mora didn’t explicitly call out the refs, but it was clear how he felt.

Danger looms: It won’t be surprising if UCLA plays a tight game against USC this Saturday. It also won’t be surprising if the Bruins lose by double digits. Jim Mora has coached a team that won’t roll over against anyone, but that doesn’t solve the glaring problems in the secondary, which just got gashed by a team without its all-time leading receiver. Both cornerbacks will need to play the best game of their careers to shut down Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, whom Mora said a few weeks ago could already start in the NFL.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
  • EncinitasBruin

    The opening line on the big game is USC -3. Gives the Bruins even more motivation when SC is ranked lower and has a worse record, having been beaten by an Az team that we beat by 56.

    • FightONtoVictory

      You guys lucked out that USC gave their starting QB a concussion

      • EncinitasBruin

        Yeah, luck… Scott was cleared to play, and we held him to 125 yards on 0 TDs, with the Bruins up 45-10 when he left in the third quarter. That’s compared to SC giving up like 470 yds and 4 TDs to the kid. Not so lucky for you.

  • kiriba08

    I did my graduate work at UCLA and both of my sons went there so there is no doubt that I am a UCLA “homer”.

    That being said, the UCLA back 4 is no match for what SC has to offer…it won’t be as bad as last year, but it won’t be pretty.

    • EncinitasBruin

      We have to harrass Barkley all day. If he has time to throw, Lee and Woods will put on a clinic.

      • http://www.facebook.com/cam.davis.31 Cam Davis

        The Bruins could easily set a record for most pass interference penalties on Saturday, and we might see 25-30 penalties total by both teams. But it should be a close game. I hope we have the ball last.

        • Gary Greenacre

          And more points.

    • maze949

      Have you told your sons yet that their “2nd Dad” was born without testicles?

  • Dan

    Ridiculous! The first play of the game on offense was an incomplete pass!

    • http://twitter.com/thejackwang Jack Wang

      That play was nullified by a roughing the passer penalty.

      • sam

        Jack, why are you wasting your time replying to a misinformed fan about a football game played 3 days ago? Do you not realize that our biggest rivalry game in the past decade is this saturday, that we are still waiting to hear about the #1 recruit from last year and future lottery pick and his eligibility for this season, that our basketball team is possibly going to play the #1 team in the country this coming weekend… you thought that replying to a comment here was more important than reporting on any of this?

        • Dan

          Misinformed? Watch a replay of the game! Hundley definitely did not go for 11 completions in his first 11 passes. Even if the first one was negated by the penalty. I noted 2 plays where Hundley threw incompletions, 1 was properly noted by Jack to have not counted due to a penalty. What about the other one?

      • Dan

        The first play of the game? Fair enough. But what about the one where Hundley optioned it with the RB then took off to his right and threw it down the line to Johnson and it was ruled an incomplete pass?

        • sam

          Dan. I think you need to calm down on this minor issue. it’s very fair to get a simple fact like that wrong, for either you or Jack. Not sure why you’re digging your heels in on this… The larger point is that this blog apparently is now dead, which is a real shame considering it was many Bruin Fans go-to for in-depth objective reporting. Obviously Daily News doesn’t care anymore.

  • Dan

    Hundley was not 11 for 11!! Plus he missed the pass to Johnson where Hundley ran the option and the pass skipped out if bounds.

  • Gary Greenacre

    Again, thank you to the players and to the coaches for the hard work. The improvement is impressive. The outlook is positive.

    The second half was ugly. But don’t toss the whole season for that. Get over it, learn from it, and keep going. This team is on the way up.

    People who know more about it that I ever will said to expect 8-4 or maybe 9-3 this year. We have 8-4 now with the positive note that, regardless of which game you look at, the players know they have improved and still have more to improve upon. And they have two more games, one game/week at a time, to do better than 8-4.

    Before the season started I anticipated a loss to USC again; not nearly as bad as those of the previous (lost) decade but still, not improved enough to get a win. But the improvement has been tremendous and this team has a better chance to win that game than I previously anticipated. They’ll have to play all 60 minutes but they can do it. I probably won’t sit down at all during that game (in front of the TV).

  • The Big Woof!

    We’ve got to have a great pass rush and avoid the penalties. sc doesn’t seem to use the real short quick passes as much as other teams that have hurt us, but if we give Barkley time to throw deep we’re in trouble. Our db’s and linebackers are overmatched against Lee, Woods and the tight ends.

    • kiriba08

      Woods & Lee have (rightfully) drawn all the major props, but keep an eye on SC #15 (Nelson Agholor)…don’t know if our Bruins can keep all 3 in check…we will have to put major points on the board in order to win.

    • http://amillennialist.blogspot.com Santiago Matamoros

      Stanford showed how to do it.

  • Dave1002

    This blog is boring now…

    • kiriba08

      Yup, this guy Jack seems to have no actual contact with the UCLA players and coaches and doesn’t seem to know much about football in general.

      Seems like Jack is just a journalism guy that got a print media gig with DN and has been told that he has to keep this blog on the air…I only hope that the “head Shed” @ DN is aware of how badly this blog sucks these days.

      • maze949

        Do your “alleged” two sons WHO (not “that”) “allegedly” went to UCLA know that their Mom WHO (again, not “that”) claims to have received a Graduate Degree from UCLA can barely form a sentence?

    • Gary Greenacre

      I keep looking for post-practice updates and player/coach interviews. And I’m waiting for the answers to the questions we were invited to ask a few weeks ago.

  • http://amillennialist.blogspot.com Santiago Matamoros

    Where can a Bruin fan go for good (and free) coverage of the Bruins?

  • Marc

    Jack,

    Would you mind informing us what is to be expected going forward from you with regards to content presented in this blog? I understand there being an acclimation period; though, I would argue that period is over. The updates do not come very often from you, and when there are updates, they possess very little depth.

    Is this you or is this the editors of the paper? Can you clue us into what is going on? You can do something akin to Mora calling out the PAC-12 refs by stating a simple comment that not all flags are equal.

    Oh, perhaps you could do a quick article about how UCLA stands at the bottom (or top) of that list, and maybe how four other PAC-12 teams litter the top (or bottom) ten of that list. Are the PAC-12 refs incompetent, as many of us have contended for years?

    I don’t know Jack, but it appears to many of us that you do not really want this job. If that is so, then why apply? Or, again, are these the wishes of the “owners” of the Daily News? Perhaps, the increased traffic on the blog led to zero gains across the business model?

    As it stands now, we are all in the dark and you will get plenty of criticism for staying silent. Sort of like the backlash at the Lakers for botching their hire, then going on a all out media blitz to make Phil Jackson out to be the bad guy. That isn’t going over well at the moment, but I digress…

  • Gary Greenacre

    Did they practice today? Were there any interviews?

  • miker%buffspec.com

    While the program is showing some signs of life, this blog not so much. Jack do you even look at this blog on a daily basis? We’re counting down to the ‘SC game and we get nothing? WTF? Is this truly indicative of the level of interest you (and by extension the Daily News) bring to this site? Is there some mitigating factor we aren’t aware of, i.e. family emergency, off-blog assignments, computer problems, a large falling object? What? I said it before, this school deserves better than the anemic effort going into what is billed as the signature UCLA blog. If you (and your bosses) aren’t interested then turn it over to Miguel. We’ll trade the occasionally fracture syntax for the passion.

    MichaelRyerson

  • Gary Greenacre

    How about this? While we’re waiting for post-practice updates, interviews, and other good posts, list the improvements you’ve seen this year:

    1. We were down 14-0 right off the bat with ASU but kept playing and made a comeback win.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnny.green01 Johnny Green

    YAWN!!!!! Who the hell is running this?! Miguel was great! why the hell wasn’t he kept on?