After UCLA committed just three penalties in last month’s win at Nebraska, head coach Jim Mora warned against thinking 2012’s woes gone. The Bruins had finished their first season under Mora as the most penalized team in college football. It would take more than one performance to erase those issues.
He was right. In the two games since, the Bruins have committed 28 penalties for 238 yards. Thirteen came Thursday during their 34-27 win at Utah, costing them 100 yards in a game that wasn’t decided until the final 26 seconds. Across the country, only Washington has seen more flags.
“I’m a little befuddled right now,” Mora said afterward.
Only 10 of their 13 penalties in Salt Lake City concerned him, however. Mora said six of the penalties were unforced errors, such as defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy’s offside foul. Four others were decision or technique errors. Those two categories needed and could be fixed, the coach said.
The remaining three were due to aggressive play, including linebacker Kenny Orjioke’s facemask penalty and defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes’ roughing the passer. Mora is willing to live with those.
As to how he would go about reducing penalties, Mora wasn’t sure. He attributed the mistakes to a combination of factors, from over-eagerness, to lack of focus, to not being prepared on a certain play. Four of Thursday night’s penalties, Mora said, would have changed the momentum of the game.
“It’s a challenge for us right now,” he said. “It’s something we’ve got to get corrected. … For some reason, I’m not able to get it fixed yet.”