Notes and quotes: UCLA 45, Colorado 23

— UCLA allowed Colorado a whopping 26 first downs, seven of which came on penalties. The Buffs’ highest first-down total this season prior to Saturday were their 24 in a season-opening win over Colorado State. Just three of those came on penalties.

The Bruins’ clearly aren’t going to shake their problem with flags. They had 11 for 122 yards, just 17 yards shy of their rushing total. It was the most yards UCLA has lost on penalties since giving away 138 against New Mexico State.

— Speaking of flags, Anthony Barr got a couple of roughing-the-passer penalties late in the game. Quarterback Sefo Liufau even pushed Barr in the chest after the first one. Either way, he looked pretty poised in the pocket for a true freshman.

— Devin Lucien wasn’t exactly happy with the win. The redshirt sophomore wasn’t among the eight receivers who caught a ball Saturday night, his second straight contest going unnoticed on the box score. He has just nine catches on the season, and no more than two in any single game.

He took to Twitter last night to vent:


He also tweeted (and deleted) “*Football” after his first tweet, as if to clarify the subject matter. Here’s guessing Lucien will calm down, but it’s not a good look going off on a public forum after a 22-point victory.

— Devin Fuller had the breakout game everyone’s been waiting for, scoring on two touchdown catches and another lateral. He had to reach back a bit on the first 76-yard score from Brett Hundley, and also did a great job filling in for Steve Manfro on kick returns. With 102 yards on three returns, he might need to get more looks there.

“I’m not into statement games or coming-out parties, but it was exciting to see him play well,” coach Jim Mora said. “We know what he is capable of. … When he has the ball in his hands, he can make things happen.”

— Senior Damien Thigpen had himself a nice game on what was a quiet rushing night for UCLA. He scored for the first time since returning from his torn ACL, and also broke out a nice 27-yard run to set up Fuller’s touchdown run. Thigpen led all UCLA backs with 38 yards on four touches, and could become a crucial part of the offense moving forward.

He also said he can see himself getting chances to return kicks again.

Meanwhile, neither Paul Perkins nor Jordon James got much traction on the ground. The latter had eight yards on six carries, but appeared to re-injure his ankle. Noel Mazzone mostly abandoned the run game, relying on Hundley to pick up yards on draws or scrambles.

— The offensive line protected Hundley well, allowing zero sacks.

“We tried to move the line, but they’re pretty good,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We did get there a few times, but we just weren’t able to get Hundley down. He kept getting away from us.”

The Buffs only have nine sacks on the season, tied with Arizona for lowest in the Pac-12, and have now gone back-to-back games without one.

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  • LTEfan

    When Mora decides that the penalties are a problem, then the problem might get fixed. He has now coached 22 games at UCLA, that is enough of a sample size upon which to decide that the coach’s attitude about the penalties is the root cause.

    • facescar

      He has previously declared publicly that penalties are a problem, but doesn’t know how to fix them.

      Some numbers:

      2013 (Mora) #1 in total penalties
      2012 (Mora) #1 in total penalties
      2011 (Neuheisal) #14
      2007 (Dorrell) #16

      In other years we were in the 30s or 40s.

      This not a brand new problem, but certainly an exaggerated one now. It’s likely related to Mora demanding the players play tougher but not doing a better job showing them how not to get penalized for it.

      His emphasis that “aggression penalties are always ok” is clearly not helping.

      • LTEfan

        It is Mora’s job to fix the problem. For him to say that he doesn’t know how to fix the problem is a symptom of the problem (him). He is an excellent coach overall, but in this aspect he has been very poor. Maybe bench the guys for a series who get the dumb penalties, like the personal fouls. Do something more emphatic to drive home the point that the status quo is unacceptable. There is too much physical talent on this team to have this many penalties. The players do not need to commit so many infractions to be able to compete with other teams. It is just lack of discipline.

        • Marc

          For what it’s worth, some of the penalty problem is the terrible PAC-12 refs. This collection of referrees is the worst in the country, and their supervisors are just as pathetic.

          Last night, I watched the replay of the Michigan State v Michigsn game. It was an incredibly entertaining game, even though it was mostly one-sided (second half). The thing that I took away most from that game was that if those were PAC-12 refs, the game would have been marred by penalties. The hits Michigan State was putting on the Michigan QB? In the PAC-12, a good proportion of those would’ve been penalties. Also, a lot more contact was allowed downfield.

          It is time for the PAC-12 to publicly answer some questions as to the way they wish to officiate their games. UCLA isn’t the only heavily penalized team in the conference. I would also be willing to bet if Stanford wasn’t a top-10 team, they’d also be getting more flags due to their punishing style of football. Somehow, I feel the refs are a bit disporportionate in their flag happiness.

          It’s no wonder Mora threw his arms up in the air flabbergasted in the fourth when Barr picked up his second 15-yard penalty. I saw the replay on the PAC-12 network and that all was atrocious. It was a disgusting display of the PAC-12 refs being the worst they can be.

          They need to be run out of town. I’ll gladly grab a pitchfork and join the angry mob.

          Seriously, Jack. Perhaps, you could investigate this and wrote up a nice Pullitzer Prize winning piece. Secure a few telephone interviews with conference management and, perhaps, a coach or two, as well as a statistician and a former ref or two. Boom! You’ve got an article worthy of national attention.

          This problem, IMO, is not much of a Mora problem. It’s a PAC-12 ref problem.

      • Yes, penalties are a problem, but the Bruins are discovering how to play well. It’s a process.

        I’d much rather have a beast learning to channel its aggression than a beauty powdering her nose.

  • bruinbiochem06

    I thought McCarthy got a sack

    • LTEfan

      McCarthy did sack the QB but was flagged for roughing the passer for “landing on him with all his weight.”

      • ProbationU

        McCarthy got a sack late in the game after the play where he drew a flag

      • jameskatt

        I’d take McCarthy’s attitude any time. We need more aggression from our players. But he does need to hit more like Barr so the quarterback is actually injured.

        • facescar

          No on every count.

          Our goal is not to hurt kids.

          We have plenty of aggression as is, and it’s what’s causing all these costly penalties.

          We’re playing well as is. We should never aim to hurt people.

          • Aggression (the alternative to which is passivity) does not necessarily result in penalties, a lack of control does.

            And we do want the defense hitting like Barr. (That’s like saying you don’t want someone scoring like Jordan, passing like Magic, or shooting like Bird.)

            You’re right that we don’t want anyone injured, and we don’t want cheap shots. But sometimes — like Barr on Barkley last season — it’s an unavoidable result of great football.


          Wow. What an idiot.

      • What an absurd call.

        Cheap shots should be penalized, not physical play. This is football, not ballet.

    • Jack Wang

      He did.

  • Bruin 34

    They need to keep letting Hundley air it out and take over games. This will open up the running game as defenses have to account for him throwing and running. The more they do this the more they won’t be able to stack the box and key on our rb’s.

  • Marc

    Many of us in section 22 were less than impressed with the win. Colorado basically had their best game in the pac-12 against UCLA, a team that would like to think of themselves as conference contenders.

    Conference contenders smash bottom feeders.

    First two possessions were absolutely terrible. I understand not driving down the field to open every game, but two straight 3 and outs?!?! Even the next scoring drive, while a nice deep pass for a touchdown, UCLA was still without a first down to that point.

    Arizona, Washington, Arizona State and USC are all going to be tough battles. Sitting at 6-2 right now, this team could finish anywhere from 6-6 to 10-2. Of course, we’d all like to see 10-2, but they will have to play A LOT better than they have been to get there.

    And, PAC-12 refs are the worst! The absolute worst! They should be concerned about keeping their jobs. They are absolutely pathetic losers!

    • EncinitasBruin

      +1. If we play like we did last night, we’ll finish 8-4, and will miss the P12 championship game. If we can clean up the penalties, fix defensive lapses, and re-establish the run game, allowing Hundley the time to throw and run at will, we finish 10-2. But with no run game teams will load the box and Hundley does not respond well to a lot of pressure…

      • If the o-line can maintain Saturday’s level of play, the Bruins have a great chance at a rematch with Oregon/Stanford.

  • EncinitasBruin

    Rushing – C+. Thigpen was the lone bright spot, showing why he is one of our most dangerous weapons. Welcome back, Thiggy. James showed a couple of flashes, and Jones had a nifty power run.

    Passing – A. Sure, it was “lowly” Colorado, but a QB can still miss passes and make mental errors against a poor D.Hundley didn’t: 79% completions, 345 total yds (273 air, 72 rush), 4 TDs, and the most impressive stat, 0 turnovers. Great protection OL against an overmatched CO front 7.

    Defense – C-. Am getting tired of the sloppy personal fouls thrown on McCarthy and Zumwalt (Oregon game). LOVE the aggression and intensity, but don’t need to showboat and incur flags for late hits. Giving up 26 first downs against CO is inexcusable.

    Special Teams – B+. Fairbairn was fine at 1-2, but Covington had a nice night at 43.3 per punt. Fuller looked great returning kicks (34.3 per return).

    Overall grade – B-. Concerned about our defense, penalties, and inconsistent running game. Will need to clean things up to win in the desert…

    Go Bruins! Beat AZ.

    • 92104bruinfan

      Solid take as always. I watched game on DVR yesterday and it appeared the Bruins wanted to just “get through” the Buffs with a win while resting Kendricks, and getting Hundley back on his feet. The D was less than impressive even with the penalties. Hopefully the D is dialed up with a healthy Kendricks ready to go in Tucson. Go Bruins!

      • EncinitasBruin

        Jack’s use of “hangover” is appropriate. There will be no quarter in Tucson if we dink around with sloppy penalties and defensive gaffs–not with Ka’deem Carey in the backfield for the Wildcats. If we allow a Ron Dane-type day for Carey, we are in trouble. Hope Kendricks is healthy; we need our leading tackler back.

  • bruinray97

    It wasn’t pretty, but I’ll take it. The defense had a longer “hangover” than the offense. Not as sharp as we’ve seen recently, but also kept CU’s good receivers from going deep. That ball control scheme by coach MacIntyre gave the Bruins D, and the crowd, fits. Hoping for the best next Saturday, as U of A will be looking for some payback.

  • 92104bruinfan

    It was great to see Hundley get his groove back. Mechanics were much better, sound decision making going thru progressions and taking off to run, and was letting it rip on sideline curl patterns. He ever so slightly underthrew Fuller on his first TD pass and underthrew Evans on a deep ball later in the game but that is getting nitpicky. Very few swing passes & bubble screens in this game and when they did go, they were effective since safeties weren’t cheating up. The ground game was okay enough to get by. Thigpen will be needed if JJ’s ankle is not getting any better. The most frustrating part was the defense which definitely didn’t have the same intensity it did up in Stanford and Oregon. Yeah, there were several penalties that kept the Buffs’ O on the field, Richardson will likely be playing on Sundays, and their true frosh QB Liufau is not bad…but there is no reason they should have moved the ball as consistently as they did on the Bruins. Hopefully the D just took a mulligan and is ready to go in Tucson to start off the make-or-break final 4 game stretch. Go Bruins!!

  • chriskim

    Get the big guy the ball. Shaq Evans should be running routes and Lucien should be targets for lobs. I don’t know why they keep lobbing the ball over to Evans to make crazy grabs. Lucien is the most talented receiver on the roster too!!