Stanford 24, UCLA 10: Takeaways from the Bruins’ first loss

No. 9 UCLA was one of five top-10 teams to lose on Saturday, its 24-10 loss at Stanford dropping the Bruins for the first time this season. You can see read the game story here, but here are a few thoughts from the game that knocked Jim Mora’s surging squad down a peg.

1. The offensive line is in trouble. Already without left tackle Torian White (broken ankle), UCLA also lost tackle Simon Goines (MCL) and backup Conor McDermott (dislocated shoulder) in the third quarter. The severity of their injuries is not yet certain, but Goines returned for a few snaps and couldn’t get into his stance properly. He had his left knee wrapped after the game and was on crutches. In fall camp, it was his right knee that was hyperextended.

Xavier Su’a-Filo would likely be the team’s best left tackle if he spent all his practice reps there, and will likely start getting more regardless of what happens with Goines and McDermott. If the pair are out for any extended amount of time, then the All-American guard will move out to protect Brett Hundley’s blind side.

Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm explained why he had been hesitant to move Su’a-Filo barring a worst-case scenario.

“When you do that, there’s a couple of plays there where you have him pulling that you can’t run anymore,” he said. “So, I’m trying not to be selfish and move him out there and making a little bit easier for me. By doing that, it creates other problems. You limit things Noel (Mazzone) can call and it makes the game tougher on him.”

2. Brett Hundley needs to get it together. For whatever reason — whether a disintegrating offensive line, lack of a run game, or his own nerves — Hundley has struggled in the past few weeks. He’s clearly among the most talented quarterbacks in the conference, but after looking so poised through the first four games of the season, the redshirt sophomore has looked very pedestrian.

His 4.9 yards per attempt against Stanford marked the lowest single-game mark of his career, and his deep ball was almost nonexistent. He started holding on to the ball too long, something that plagued him last season, and even struggled with passes in the flat. Similar issues appeared last week against Cal, but were more easily chalked up as an anomaly.

If he can’t find his groove again, UCLA’s Oregon trip will get very, very ugly.

“Games like this, you want to win so bad,” Hundley said Saturday. “That’s really all I can say. You want to win these games so bad, so bad.”

3. UCLA’s playcalling has flatlined without a run game. A few weeks ago, both Jordon James and Hundley said that the run game was setting up the pass. That has disappeared as James (ankle) remains sidelined and offensive linemen keep dropping like flies.

For the first time since 2010, the Bruins averaged less than 3.0 yards per carry in back-to-back games. Opposing defenses don’t need fear the ground game as much now, and as a result are turning up the pressure on the pocket. UCLA rarely tested Stanford with deep throws on Saturday.

“We should’ve ran the ball better,” offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. “We came out and ran it well; I kind of got away from it there a little bit. Should’ve come back with Malcolm a little bit more later in the game.

“But shoot, it’s just a part of the learning curve. I don’t see it as a setback, just part of the learning process to become a great football team.”

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  • daldigle

    Malcolm Jones rips off two pretty good runs on the Bruins first drive and only touched the ball three more times??? Poor play calling by Mazzone

    • He lost two linemen. That has an impact.

    • bruinray97

      I agree about Jones. Many of the fans at the game were wondering the same thing. Hope coach Mazzone has a good game plan for Oregon. The offense is going to have to produce this week, otherwise the D will just be worn out by the Ducks high octane offense.

  • max

    Mazzone was definitely off on his play-calling, and that fool Jake Brendel single-handedley stalled 3 of UCLA’s drives in a low-scoring game!

    • NonAlumBruin

      I agree that the penalties derailed the drives and I would vote your comment up. But calling him a fool is out of line and I hope you edit your comment and make the criticism constructive.

  • crudbud

    UCLA has a future. This is not their year. They probably lose to Oregon and they could easily lose to Arizona, ASU, Washington, and USC.

    • William Miller

      one loss and you are off the bandwagon. Boy I am glad you don’t have my back.

      • ProbationU

        Bandwagons aren’t for real fans. You are either a Bruin fan or not, win or lose. And we have had some very tough years. We are at a crossroads for this year. Oregon is probably a loss. Colorado is probably a win. And we have 4 games that could go either way depending upon how serious the injuries are in the offensive line and the injury to Eric Kendricks. It isn’t about the bandwagon. Simply about the facts.

  • Bruin 34

    Hundley will not have a second bad game in a row. We only dropped to #12. We can beat Oregon and match up well with them. Go Bruins!!!

    • Joe Blow

      Wanna bet? The Ducks will wipe up the field with Hundley.

  • Joe Blow

    You guys have been drinking the Kool Aid too long. Face it: you’re not NC caliber. Sure you’re better than SC, but SC is in a down cycle. Crudbud is right. But on a bright note for all bruins, you’ll beat SC this year and can print another Tshirt.

    • jameskatt

      Joe Blow = Nestor from Bruins Nation = Troll.

      • LTEfan

        Yep, nothing worse than a trOJan troll

        • Joe Blow

          Only a crybaby bruin, which there are a ton of them. hahahaha

      • (That’s not fair to Joe.)

  • ProbationU

    I have 2 takeaways from Saturday. Both UCLA and USC stunk up the field and Joe still blows.

  • jameskatt

    Good analysis Jack.

    1. Despite having a great recruiting class for the front line, UCLA’s front line is being decimated by injuries and inexperience. Stanford repeatedly beat UCLA’s front line, leaving Brent Hundley with little time to run the play. Without a working front line, the running game is dead. As has been said before, the offensive front line is the heart of a football team. Our line is hurting.

    2. Brent Hundley has peaked and gone downhill. But a lot of UCLA’s players also weren’t ready to play the morning game. This has been a pattern in past years. UCLA’s players are just not ready to play a Saturday Morning Game. Perhaps the coaches can give them a QUAD-ESPRESSO MACHIATO from Starbucks before the game to get their brains jacked up and ready. Years ago, when the Bruins finally woke up from their Saturday, they did beat Stanford at the last moment.

    3. We have no running game. In part we miss Jordon James tremendously. In part it is because the offensive line is having so much trouble. We simply do not run well to the right – where we have inexperienced freshman at the line. But I wish we had a bruising straight-up-the-center back like Derrick Coleman for those short-yardage plays. We need runners who are physically strong and hard to tackle.

    • LTEfan

      The Nebraska game started at 9:00 AM Pacific. UCLA woke up by 11:00 and rolled to victory. 12:30 start time at Palo Alto was not the problem.

    • Bruin 34

      Weren’t ready to play? Dude! Not sure what game you were watching! UCLA’s defense was spectacular! They kept us in the game up until 3 min left in the game. Offense sputtered due to penalties and starting 3 freshman o lineman. Jones was looking great in the beginning and they pulled him! The barely won by 7. The last 7 they scored on garbage time after Hundley’s int on a play in which the wr fell down on the route. That also rings true in the polls. Speak as if you watched the game next time please!

  • Bruin 34

    Been to Bruins Nation and while some of their material is decent. They lack football knowledge and common sense. Doubt any of those nerds played any football. Hundley will rebound with the magnitude of this game coming up. I love seeing rival trolls giving their opinion on our blog. Shows just how far the “Trojan Empire” has fallen! Cheat On! Lmao!

  • A couple thoughts:

    -Losing three linemen can cripple any offense, especially one as young as UCLA’s.

    -Perhaps Hundley’s vision-affecting hit a couple of games back was worse than anyone’s letting on. (Having to worry about silly mental mistakes, a reconstituted line, and the location of where the ball will be snapped every play may also be affecting him.)

  • 92104bruinfan

    Sounds about right Jack. I was worried about the running attack after the Cal game. All starts with the O-line but inexperience and injuries did the Bruins in. The Farm pieced together a good blitz package that the line and BH weren’t able to consistently pick up. The numerous penalties were bound to bite the Bruins at some point against a quality opponent. BH may have regressed a bit but at least part of that can be attributed to the O-line injuries and lack of running game. Doubt BH suddenly forgot to play the position. Just needs to clean up a few mechanical issues and trust his reads whether it be first option, second option, or tuck & run. On the flip side, great job by the defense which kept UCLA in the game until finally wearing down a bit in the 4th quarter. Oregon will be tough sledding but the Bruins will get a quasi-bye the following week at home against Colorado. Then comes the stretch for the Pac-12 South title all against solid & legit teams. No time to feel sorry for ourselves. Go Bruins!