Oregon 42, UCLA 14: Reassessing Bruins after Eugene blowout

For a half, UCLA looked like it had a chance to upset Oregon. Then, reality set in as the Ducks unleashed 28 unanswered points, running away with a 42-14 win. A few thoughts from the Bruins’ trip to Autzen Stadium.

1. UCLA isn’t there yet. Everyone knew before the start of the season that the back-to-back Stanford-Oregon ringer would test the Bruins’ mettle. They didn’t exactly rise to the occasion. Jim Mora put it best with an expressive outburst after the loss:

The Bruins looked a tier below the top of the conference after losing at Stanford, and Saturday night’s showing in Eugene only affirmed that. The defense is now carrying what still looks like a top-20 team, which no one would have guessed even 10 weeks ago.

On offense, UCLA hasn’t been able to attack the way an elite team should, looking uneven at Cal two weeks ago and putting together just one impressive drive at Stanford. And as impressive as Oregon’s defense was — its secondary in particular — the Bruins underwhelmed. Their only drive longer than 41 yards ended in an interception, and six drives went for less than 10.

The good news is that the offensive line will likely improve over the next few games, barring further injury. Scott Quessenberry was surprisingly effective in his first action of the season, even making some calls at left guard and taking the load off center Jake Brendel. (Brendel’s problem with low snaps also didn’t materialize in Eugene.)

Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone also definitely reduced the volume of the playbook, but his calls were sometimes questionable even when considering the youth of the offensive line. Why have Steve Manfro run up the gut on a third-and-5? Or tight end Thomas Duarte take a bubble screen?

2. Brett Hundley looks lost. The comebacks he led at Nebraska and Utah feel like they happened a lifetime ago. The star quarterback’s play has now become inexplicably bad. Even with extenuating factors — injuries to the line and the starting tailback — he looked awful against the Ducks. How bad? His 64 passing yards made for UCLA’s lowest single-game total since Nov. 18, 2010 — a game in which Richard Brehaut, Clayton Tunney and Darius Bell (!) combined to go 6 of 25 with three picks.

Why that happened isn’t clear. The run game was rolling early, so it’s not like Hundley was asked to lift the team all alone. The line started three true freshmen, but looked better than it did a week ago. His talent didn’t just evaporate — he’ll still sprinkle in impressive runs here and there — but his decision-making has become very questionable.

Exhibit A was his horrendous interception to kill the Bruins’ longest drive of the game. Down 14-7 in the second quarter, UCLA had gained 69 yards on six rushing plays and a five-yard penalty. On second-and-7, Hundley somehow stared down right into triple coverage, then proceeded to loft a short pass toward linebacker Boseko Lokombo. Even if Lokombo hadn’t snagged the ball, another defender was hanging in position just a few yards back. UCLA receivers might not have even squeezed into the same camera frame, so ugly was the pick.

Mazzone’s complete avoidance of downfield pass plays has been mostly attributed to the young offensive line. At this point, however, maybe Hundley just can’t make those sort of throws without potentially coughing the ball up. His career arc is starting to resemble that of Washington’s Keith Price — which means next year will be full of redemption stories to read/write.

“He needs to shine in these kinds of games before everyone starts talking about the Heisman,” head coach Jim Mora said.

Hundley took personal responsibility for the offense’s struggles, but also didn’t (couldn’t?) offer much explanation for what went wrong. He had an uninspiring effort at Cal two weeks ago despite a career-high 410 yards. A similar showing against another Pac-12 bottom-dweller in Colorado won’t be encouraging.

3. The Bruins’ linebackers are elite. The unit is good enough that the Bruins have a chance against just about everyone. The quartet combined for five tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Anthony Barr and Myles Jack were as solid as ever on the outside, and Jordan Zumwalt tied a career high with 10 solo tackles — flirting with flags along the way.

First time since its 2012 loss to Stanford, Oregon didn’t hold a halftime lead. Sure, the Ducks broke loose in the fourth quarter, but that’ll happen against almost any defense in the country. Besides, it’s not like the Bruins took any pressure off by, y’know, scoring.

The most telling words may have come from Zumwalt. Asked if UCLA’s offensive struggles were making it harder on the defense, he said: “Next question.”

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  • Jacob Ramir

    Offensive play calling was atrocious. Our defense played lights out and was gassed after our offense couldn’t produce. Not sure why Mazzone would basically take a player out of the play by motioning him back. It did nothing all night. Why CNM was so stubborn to keep trying something that didnt work is unclear? Two weeks in a row the offense couldn’t help our D out. As a qb Hundley needs to react to his progressions quicker. Play calling has not been smooth… Either way go Bruins all day! I love seeing our D hit like they did yesterday. Hat’s off to them. Zumwalt is a wrecking machine. Barrs a beast, EK is like glue out there and MJ is a freaking baller!

    • Cheap seats

      It’s always easy to put things on play calling. I watched the first half and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Yeah — it could’ve been better on some downs, but think there were bigger factors.

      I wonder how the game would’ve been if played at the RB. (btw – why was the last regular season game also played in Eugene? I thought teams alternated)

      I suspect it would’ve been much different. Playing against Oregon almost makes some teams “over prepare” and makes the kids think they have to score on every snap. Add that to the loudest crowd in the Pac-12, a bunch of freshmen starting with occasional calls that goes for the Ducks and you almost have too much to deal with.

      The Hunley of the Nebraska comeback and the ASU win last year comes to mind when I think of him on the big stage. Again, I wish they played the Bruins here..

      • sandyduck

        Playing at the Rose Bowl wouldn’t have mattered. Oregon played a very mediocre first half. . . . and still won by 28!

        • Cheap seats

          Won by 28? Or padded their lead at the end?

          btw – I’m not a UCLA fan.

          It will be interesting when you guys face Stanford this year.

          • sandyduck

            It looked like UCLA had their first teamers in clear to the end. Hey, it’s OK. No team has stopped the Ducks for 4 quarters this year.

          • Cheap seats

            You mean no team has stopped the Ducks for even TWO quarters.

            As unstoppable as you guys may seem, the biggest issue with any high powered offense is that it will stall and lose rhythm on the big stage.

            The BCS championship usually has a 3 week+ layoff and especially in the game against Auburn a few years back, the rust shows and you can’t jump on teams.

            Part of me wants the Ducks to lose to Stanford. However, if that happens, we won’t get our dream matchup of Bama vs. Oregon. We all know that the SEC-baised BCS will never allow a 1-loss Pac-12 team in the championship.

          • stevieb2

            “any high powered offense will stall and lose rhythm on the big stage. ” ??

            You must be right because the Duck’s offense was awesome in SOME games but not the big stage because…

            Winning the Rose Bowl is not the big stage

            Winning the Fiesta Bowl is not the big stage

            and especially…Playing ucla is not the big stage

          • Cheap seats

            Ahem…LSU at Cowboys stadium? Auburn in the NC? What’s the excuse in those games?

          • stevieb2

            Aah, if only the ‘Ruins played on the big stage, so they could show the Ducks the proper way to perform.

            Wait! You mean the game on Saturday was not the “BIG STAGE”? #12 at #2. Oh, I know…the inaugural Pac-12 Championship game…was that the big stage? how did UCLA do on those big stages?

            Oh, I forgot…the definition of the big stage is a game the Ducks lost. (insert sarcasm font)

          • Cheap seats

            You’re assuming I’m a Bruins fan. :)

            Smack aside, I know you love your Ducks. I think we’re both willing to agree they and Stanford are head and shoulders above the conference right now. Now that Stanford has lost, you guys are the pac’s only hope against Bama.

            Looking forward the Duck’s visit to Pasadena next year. Should be fun..

  • Joe Blow

    ucla is just not that good. Face it.

    • The Craw

      But, still better than Southern Cal.

      • Joe Blow

        That’s what’s so funny about you clowns. You have to try and compare yourselves with USC. SC could care less about f ucla. You’ll always be second fiddle until you quit worshiping the cross town institution and focus on your own crib. Tie for 2nd in the South……with SC. Guess you’re getting there. ROFLMAO

        • The Craw

          Not focused on SC, just on you.

          • Joe Blow

            We are one in the same. Lose On!
            Mora is a crybaby and will end up a loser. Big mouth, nothing to back it up. Just blah blah blah. BUT, he fits in well.

          • ForTheLin

            Just like a Trojan, can’t spell, can’t write, can’t argue, regresses back to junior high when upset.

          • Joe Blow

            I think you’re mixed up. You know I’m right. YOU aren’t THAT GOOD. Live with it. We are. We KNOW we have a LOUSY team this year.

          • The Craw

            It has been scientifically proven that males who use all capitals to denote supposed importance suffer from erectile dysfunction.

          • Joe Blow

            It’s also proven that bRuins are second class to SC alums

          • EncinitasBruin

            My gardener’s an SC alum. LOL.

          • gotroy22

            Oh no the heartbreak of ED!

          • jameskatt

            Yes. Erectile Dysfunction.

        • UCLA Owns the Rose Bowl

          Your presence here exposes your obsession with UCLA. pUSC’s measure of success is now focused on whether or not the dominant program in town wins or loses. That makes sense, actually. Losers are always attracted to winners.

          • gotroy22

            Ruins are on Scott Wolfs site, why are you afraid of a contrarian position?

          • EncinitasBruin

            gotroy, most of us are not afraid of a contrarian position or a great interchange about our rivalry. But logging on to the opposing team’s blog to troll has nothing to do with an intelligent discussion. Does it? And I’d ask the same question of UCLA fans who troll Wolf’s blog.

          • Joe Blow

            Oh right. That’s why all you ucla clowns follow and compare yourselves to USC.

        • Pingon27

          Let them stay at the University of South Central where murder, rape, robbery and cheating is all they know on how to get ahead in life. If you want to get in a drive by, drive by U of S Cheaters. By the way tell your boyfriend Reggie Bush the Heisman looks really nice in the office of the NCAA.

          • Joe Blow

            Can’t come up with anything better that THAT? Weak, but then so is everything about Trade Tech in WW.

          • Joe Blow

            BTW, you know I’m RIGHT.

          • jameskatt

            Only a loser says that.

          • jameskatt

            Erectile dysfunction is weak. It gets worse when you drink.

          • Joe Blow

            You’d know.

      • gotroy22

        We’ll see November 30th. You haven’t won at the Coliseum since the current high school recruits were born. Why would that change with your lack of running game and Huntley locking in on receivers so everyone in the stadium knows who he is throwing to?

    • jameskatt

      Nestor, UCLA is better than last year.
      And it is better than Cal and USC.

      • Joe Blow

        WAKE UP idiot. SC knows it’s not any good this year. You are dreaming and drinking the Kool Aid. Wake up. You’re not that good!

      • gotroy22

        If you are better why did you struggle with Utah? We beat them handily yesterday missing our best player Lee.

        • ProbationU

          I guess you and my buddy Joe Blow decided to move over into a better neighborhood. So much for complaining about trolls on the SC site. Fight on men of Troy. Next week you get another loss in Corvallis.

          • Joe Blow

            Hang on in Denver

          • ProbationU

            The game is here. But I appreciate the good wishes. When is the last time that Trojans were effective against the Beavers in their house?

        • jameskatt

          UCLA was beaten soundly by Utah the last 2 years. This year we won. That is a big improvement.

    • UCLA Owns the Rose Bowl

      Hamilton swings and misses–yet again.

      • Joe Blow

        Here’s your reality: No National Championship, No BCS Bowl and No Pac 12 Championship.
        You guys are laughable.
        And BTW, we KNOW we stink this year.

        • jameskatt

          Nestor, who do you including in “we”? Obviously it is not UCLA nor its fans.

          • Joe Blow

            Hmmm, drinking again.

          • jameskatt

            Nestor, why do you drink so much?

          • Joe Blow

            Why do you have so many “handles”?

  • Scott

    Is there something wrong with Hundley – some sort of undisclosed injury, perhaps? Shoulder? Concussion from, I think it was Utah, where he was seeing double?

    • William Miller

      Good observation. Hundley’s lack of production does seem to correspond to post concussion like symptoms.

    • jameskatt

      I agree. Hundley needs to be checked out. He needs an MRI of his brain. I suspect he is like a fighter who is unconscious but still standing.

      • Joe Blow

        He’s as dumb as a rock, just like all the Kool Aid drinking f ucla alums

        • EncinitasBruin

          New material needed, Hamilton. You’ve been booed off the stage but can’t seem to leave the club. Just too much envy for the surging Bruin program.

          • Joe Blow

            It’s been “surging” since 1954. Hahahahahahahaha

          • EncinitasBruin

            At least there’s a surge, instead of things going backwards.

        • jameskatt

          You are repeating yourself, Nestor. You need an MRI to see how much brain shrinkage you have suffered.

          • Joe Blow

            And you’re not?

        • Pingon27

          Is this idiot still allowed on these sites. He’s an embarrassment to himself. People like that usually have an issue with their small penis.

          • Joe Blow

            That’s really not the case. Just ask your wife.

    • facescar

      Do you want to say his 410 yard performance against Cal was also a product of his concussions?

      I don’t think it’s anything like that. The vision was supposedly a contact issue. Doctors cleared him for concussions symptoms on the field.

      He’s just not making the correct reads against tough, confusing defenses. He needs to improve.

  • Conrad Rios

    Nice recap, reality is sometimes hard to swallow. Still, no excuses here but it’s cool we are in a possition to bitch and moan about shoulda-coulda-wouldas… This staff needs to be kicked in the face by such loses… Good to great comes from such experience. But the real measurment comes from what happens next week and beyond (I.e. UDUB). GO Bruins.

  • Marc

    Noel Mazzone’s stock is dropping quickly in Westwood. The offense is predictable and limited. The swing passes don’t seem to be setting anything up over the top. The read-option is slow-developing and doesn’t seem to offer the varying looks you see with other teams (Oregon).

    I was telling the guys I was watching the game with that in my opinion Brett Hundley is not that great. That was met mostly with anger and disbelief, but I stand by my take. He’s the best QB UCLA has had in a long while, but he isn’t great. He is slow, very slow. Both with regards to choosing the option on the read-option, deciding who to throw to (or when, more accurately, as he often stares down the receiver), and he is slow tucking and running when the pocket collapses.

    The line played well last night, Mazzone’s play-calling and Hundley’s execution were the problems.

    When UCLA’s linebackers blitz, the opposing team has a quick slant or inside screen to create a play where the players vacated. It’s the same when a UCLA corner or safety blitzes. The opposing teams all seem to have an answer.

    This doesn’t appear to be the same with UCLA’s offense, IMO. Is that on Brett Hundley? Audibles, anyone? Oh, wait, let’s just call that read-option and slowly send the running back into the blitzing linebackers. That ought to work!

    Defense played great.

    • Joe Blow

      Wah wah wah. You aren’t that good. (Now come back with a USC comparison)

      • Marc

        What bar you at? Drunk idiot. Wanna get your face kicked in?

        • Joe Blow

          Oh wooooo. You’re too s t u p I d to spar. Must be a typical powder blue gang banger.

        • EncinitasBruin

          Marc, if we step over the dog shat, it doesn’t stick to our shoes. We all need to simply ignore the trolls in the same way.

      • gotroy22

        They just won’t listen to reason Joe. They will always be a basketball school and we will always be the football school.

        • UCLA Owns the Rose Bowl

          The biggest question this year for pUSC: Will Haden petition the NCAA for a waiver so his 6-7 team can play in a bowl game?

          • Tom Oday

            Isn’t that known as the UCLA ruling?

          • UCLA Owns the Rose Bowl

            Actually, the ruling was made famous when Georgia Tech, at 6-7 in 2012, was awarded a waiver to play the pUSC in the Drug Cartel Bowl, and became the first-ever losing team to win a bowl game.

        • Joe Blow

          Duh. They’ll never get it. Owns need Depends. BTW, Depends, like fucla did?

          • UCLA Owns the Rose Bowl

            What language are you speaking here, Hamilton? I literally cannot understand what you are trying to say.

  • WhatsBruin

    Hundley has put too much pressure on himself and he’s not ready for it. Also the Bruins continue to struggle with the run. Against Oregon on 2nd down ucla was stuff several times setting u 3rd and 6 and 7 instead of 3rd and 2 or 3. Hundley needs to just relax and go thru his reads. The play calling is vanilla but I’m not sure Hundley has the confidence right now to constintently make the throws he made last year. He reminds me a whole lot of what Kieth Price went thru. Sad thing is that Kieth Price never really recovered. Hope Brett does. Go Bruins!

    • EncinitasBruin

      Great post. BH has a ways to go. He’s in some sort of mental funk that we didn’t see last year–except for the atrocious Cal performance. Let’s hope he isn’t Keith Price 2.

      • bruinray97

        I agree about the mental funk. Could this “funk” be somewhat of a sophomore slump? The young qb hasn’t really been able to throw deep this season. I think he misses Fauria as his safety net, and Jetski as both a reliable option and calming presence. The Keith Price analogy is spot on.

  • EncinitasBruin

    Two realities for the Bruins right now:

    1. We played two of the top five teams in the nation into the fourth quarter. Game wasn’t over at Stanford until about 2 min left when Duarte falls down and BH is picked off. Oregon wasn’t over until about 13 left in game when–again–BH throws a disastrous pick.

    2. We lost two games we could have won because our offense collapsed under pressure. Surprisingly, the young OL played well. I live right around the block from La Costa Canyon HS, Scott Quessenberry’s alma mater, and connected with LCC coach Sean Sovacool on Wednesday when Scott was named a starter. He said Scott was pumped and up to the task. And that was true. He played really well on the left side. Ironically, two of last year’s bright spots–Hundley and Mazzone–were our weakest points last night. Predicatable playcalling and critical QB mistakes in the clutch.

    UCLA under CRN would collapse at this point and the season, stumbling to a likely 8-4 or 7-5 finish. Under Mora, however, I believe his vision, combined with our stellar D, will carry us to either 9-3 or 10-2. But 10-2 ain’t happenin’ unless someone helps BH get his groove back.

    • Cheap seats

      CRN also wouldn’t have led a comeback in Nebraska.

      I always wondered when the departures of Fauria and Franklin would catch up. He was your best 3rd down and red zone target while Franklin’s replacements are not at his level.

      The fake punt and Hundley’s pick in the red zone were killer. With those 2 plays, UCLA is up 21-0 and it’s a totally different mental approach for the Ducks who haven’t been put in that situation since SC was beating them big in 2011.

  • jameskatt

    The offensive problems are hurting the defense.

    UCLA’s defense is fantastic. They play hard. They have All-American, NBA-quality players.

    But if they have to play all game because the offense can’t do its job, then they risk getting injuries and fatigue. This is what happened in the Oregon game.

    I felt sorry for the defensive players.

    UCLA had the nation’s top-2 offensive team until the last few weeks when it stopped being able to run, pass, convert 3rd downs, and simply move the ball.

    The offense reminded me of the Neuheisel years.

    Hundley has lost a step. He thinks too slowly. He has had game-ending interceptions. He can’t throw the long-ball. He just moves slow.

    He had to be taken out temporarily in the Utah game. He said a contact lens fell out. I actually thought he had a concussion from a fall in the field. He hasn’t been the same since then.

    At the very least, the whole offense needs to drink a quad-espresso machiato before each game to improve their alertness and reaction times – particularly Hundley.

  • jameskatt

    As the game becomes faster and quicker, players reach their limits.

    This is why hardly any player is capable of playing in the NFL. The Professional game is so much faster and quicker.

    In playing Stanford and Oregon, Hundley has reached his limits. He simply is not as quick and fast as Oregon’s quarterback – who is in the same year as Hundley.

    Either that or Hundley had a concussion in Utah and hasn’t recovered.

  • gotroy22

    You poor gutties got your hopes up once again. You’ve been listening to your band playing “Moving On Up” since 1998 and it’s always the same result. Let me help you out- your only signature win this season was against the sucky Cornhuskers. You will win at home against Colorado but you better prepare for your 8th straight loss to us on the road at the Coliseum on November 30th. We’ll try to hold it down to 42 on that great defense of yours.

  • crudbud

    No one on UCLA’s defense should be called “elite”
    550 years to Oregon
    450 to stanford
    5 yards per rush in one game and 9 in the other.

  • Proud75Duck

    I was most impressed with UCLA’s defense. They were aggressive and very physical against UO, which was a good warm-up for what the Ducks’ offense will face next against Stanford. I think Oregon’s defense is underrated, so don’t be so tough on Hundley. The Bruins are a young team; I don’t look forward to my team facing them in the years ahead.

    • jameskatt

      There are still remnants of the Neuheisel team attitudes – where players aren’t ready to play and make lots of unforced errors. But this has changed tremendously with coach Jim Mora. To think how long it has been since UCLA has been in a major bowl. We have long had a draught at head coach. Jim Mora changes all that. And it is only his second year on the job.

      It is the system changes – starting with the head coach down – that over the course of 4-5 years completely overhauls a program so it can win. I’d say we are off to a great start.

      We have to keep the pipeline of great players entering UCLA going. That pipeline takes 4-5 years to fill.

      We have to keep building a winning attitude among the players. This usually also means getting great players.

      The defense has done fantastically. The offense has recently been in a serious slump. Hopefully they can put things together – albeit with significant injuries.

    • EncinitasBruin

      Thanks Proud75 – Oregon should defeat Alabama in the title game if you guys can get in sync against Stanford. Stanford is not as good as they were last year (still very good, but not great), and the Ducks are better. UO 31 Stanford 21.

  • EncinitasBruin

    I think a lot of of our offensive woes have to do with Torian White and Jordon James being out ever since the Utah game. Prior to that, we were high-octane, and Hundley was making good reads and throwing down field with accuracy and confidence. Losing White and James (who was ranked #5 in the nation rushing before Utah) has caused shakiness with our offense, and things have dominoed from there – loss of Goines, elite defenses in Stanford and UofO, etc. All those things have combined to cause Hundley to press, and to shake his confidence. Let’s not forget that two weeks ago he had a “mediocre” performance against Cal–and threw for 410 yards (!)

    Nothing like a cupcake defense to reinvigorate your QB–I expect a big game from BH against the Buffs, whose passing D is ranked #105 in FBS.

  • Bruin 34

    I’m actually happy to read everyone’s posts. Shows me our expectations for UCLA football and how the culture has changed. While I’m not happy about both loses. Our defense has been elite and will continue to be. We’ve started a record 18 true freshman and this team is so young! I don’t think everyone realizes how this is going to pay off in the next few years. I remember how at this point in years past we would be 3-3 or 2-4. Its a work in progress and I have faith in our coaching staff. We will be favored in every game from here on out. Only team to really worry about is ASU and they aren’t that good either! Love all my fellow Bruin fans! I feel you. But remember where we were before Mora. The future is shining bright! Go Bruins!

    • EncinitasBruin

      +1. Mora is 14-7 as our head coach: 8-1 at home, the sole loss a 27-20 slugfest against a very good OSU team. Also, 5 of Mora’s 7 losses have been against highly ranked teams (Stanford three times, Oregon, and Baylor–and all those games were either away or at a neutral site). Our two toughest games, against ASU and UW, will be in the Rose Bowl–a huge advantage. I think we run the table going into the Mausoleum showdown…

      • Joe Blow

        Hahahahahahahahaha. My sides hurt. You’re a second tier or third tier program.

        • EncinitasBruin

          Yes, we are currently a second tier program, that’s been wallowing in mediocrity at the 3rd tier for a decade. But at least we are not unranked and fourth tier….

          • Joe Blow

            Like you’ve virtually been for 50 years?

          • EncinitasBruin

            No, like USC is now, due to a horrendous former coach, ridiculous sanctions, and an injury-depleted roster. Hey, you’re the one who keeps chirping about how lousy SC is… I don’t care about the last 50 years–really.

          • Joe Blow

            You are full of it. Period. You keep your mouth shut when we are up. And pump your pom poms when we are down. You should care about the past, otherwise your school is total dog $ _ _ t.

  • Gang-green II

    Duck fan here . . . Good effort by the Bruins, very impressed by the D, esp. the linebacking corps (though Zumwalt should have been flagged at least twice yesterday). Barr is a stud, and Jack is damn good as a freshman.
    Good luck to you all the rest of your season (except in the Pac 12 CG, if it’s against the Ducks ;-)

    • EncinitasBruin

      Thanks Gang Green. Looking forward to the Ducks clown-stomping the Trees next Thursday night.

  • Cliff Sakata

    Joe Blow, don’t you have anything better to do? Seems like a waste of time to me.