Jim Mora: UCLA embraces ‘underdog’ mentality

Touted widely as a national title contender, UCLA was favored by 20-plus points against both Virginia and Memphis.

The Bruins escaped Charlottesville with a 28-20 decision, and held off the Tigers 42-35 at the Rose Bowl last weekend. Needless to say, many analysts are rethinking UCLA’s position on the college totem poll. After starting the season ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll, the Bruins have dropped to No. 12 — falling behind USC (ranked ninth) for the first time since Oct. 28, 2012.

The problems have been difficult to narrow down. In the season opener against Virginia, UCLA scored three defensive touchdowns and held the Cavaliers to 4.6 yards per play — carrying a stuttering offense to victory. In the home opener against Memphis, the Bruins rolled up 540 yards of offense but allowed 469.

But can an underperforming 2-0 squad now be considered an underdog? Head coach Jim Mora wants it that way.

“I don’t want expectations to become a burden,” he said Tuesday. “Knocking us back on track — no. Maybe just refocusing a little bit. Getting back to the roots of who we are. We’re an underdog. That’s who we are. We like it when people doubt us. That helps inspire us. I’m not saying it should, but it does. …

“I just think we were tight. I think that we let the outside expectations become a little bit of a burden for us.”

  • c2blum

    Bruins got a 2 game Mulligan, time to play like the Championship caliber team they were touted to be!

  • VB

    It just makes no sense. Other top ten teams have high expectations and they perform just fine, blowing out teams by 60 points. Why is it that UCLA is the only top 25 team struggling with “high expectations?”

    • MPPBruin

      Because everyone else in the top 10 is used to being there.

      • ProbationU

        The first 2 weeks may end up being a footnote. If we keep winning, it won’t matter at all. It is a tough road ahead. Our being ranked #12 is as meaningless as our pre-season ranking of #7.

        • UCLA Bleauz

          Nice stereotype…….C’mon…. you’re better than that……

          • ProbationU

            Which stereotype? The arrogance? It doesn’t afflict all Trojans but it does afflict a large portion. Oregon getting there too.

          • EncinitasBruin

            It’s true, Bleauz. The perception by a lot of normal, non-idiot UCLA fans (like ProbU) is that SC embraces a certain brand of arrogance that is unique. Sort of like, “We are special, we know it, and we know you are jealous of us.” It’s actually an excellent rhetorical trap, because when someone protests to the contrary, the SC fan says, “See, you are arguing because you ARE jealous.” (Sort of like Hamlet’s famous, “”The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”) Look, SC is a great school–only a mindless troll thinks otherwise. I don’t have a problem with the univeristy (academics, campus, etc), I just have a problem with the portion of fans that project an air of superiority. Some of my SC relatives don’t, and some do.

          • MPPBruin

            I do have a problem with the campus. Very bland.

          • UCLA Bleauz

            No doubt, it’s a crap hole in a crappy area, although some improvements have been made with new buildings and the new HH athletic facility is now state of the art ….and we FINALLY have a basketball arena that we can be proud of…..now if we only had a halfway decent team to fill those seats…….

          • ProbationU

            I have been to campus and it was nicer than I thought it would be. Not to be intentionally snarky, but it ain’t Westwood/Bel-Air. Downtown LA is coming along nicely and if SC could increase their security perimeter around the campus further it would be a good idea. Perhaps they provide shuttle service downtown? I don’t know, but would probably be a good idea. And a possible free service to call and pick up kids that have been drinking.

          • ProbationU

            I look at Trojans like everyone else..individuals. Bleauz is reasonable and fun to debate with..there are others that are arrogant for no reason…FightON for instance.

            Perhaps he is overcompensating for something?

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

            (You’re the exception that validates the stereotype.)

        • Laker Rod

          That’s the problem within itself. When UCLA is the “underdog” then they perform well. When they are ranked in the Top 10, the Bruins tighten up and historically choke.

          This not only happens to UCLA though. Many college teams choke. Oregon usually can’t handle the pressure but Oregon has been pretty high consistently these days and they came through against Michigan State.

          The Bruins just need to become more familiar with being ranked high and performing well under pressure with the spotlight on them.

        • MPPBruin

          I don’t put too much stock in rankings at this point. There’s plenty of season for all of this to shake out, good or bad. That being said, I think there’s something to having a culture of winning that you don’t have to establish. I’m sure that there is some pressure that is alleviated just by knowing that you’ve been there before and done all this throughout your career.

    • EncinitasBruin

      FSU hasn’t. Alabama hasn’t either. I think the pollsters give those perrenial top 10 teams some passes when they only win by 6. But not UCLA, as we are not usually in such airy territory. Still, UCLA has no excuses for underperforming in their first two tries. Win big in Texas and we could be back in the top 10 going into the ASU game. If not, we are still 3-0.

    • JPKB

      No one asked you VB troll. You haven’t fooled anyone since the first day you posted here! Go back to your condom board, Sucster.

  • USC KICKS YO BOOTY

    Fight on you bastards

    • EncinitasBruin

      Flagged.

      • USC KICKS YO BOOTY

        Oh gosh, I’m scared, a u clowns fan flagged me

        • ProbationU

          A clown university should recognize a clown when he sees one. Saved any more drowning nephews lately?

          • USC KICKS YO BOOTY

            Right cause a ucla player has never lied. It only makes the news with SC because people care because we are actually regarded as a football school.

          • ProbationU

            You are regarded as a football school, no doubt. UCLA is highly regarded as a University. There is a difference.

            Find me one instance where a Bruin has created a lie about saving someone’s life and then had the “football school” perpetuate that lie. Find me one instance of a Head Football Coach call his “daddy” AD in the press box to help him deal with the “mean” referees. Try finding something and then prove it…or get your weak a$c home little boy.

            And last time I checked, when BOOTY was your QB, it was his booty that got kicked. And the last 2 years as well.

          • USC KICKS YO BOOTY

            USC is a great uni, and you know you’d be lying to say it wasn’t. Who cares what John David booty did? Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, and Matt Barkley beat yall

          • EncinitasBruin

            You really don’t want to go head-to-head with Probation U. You will lose. Quite the rapier wit and intellect. I’m not joking JD Booty. Go back to the end of the bench.

          • Tommy B Low Us

            Haha! You are a joke.

          • UCLA Bleauz

            We decided to save the world, instead….. it’s so much trendier, don’t you think?…..

        • EncinitasBruin

          Come on, TrojanFan, we can see you behind that curtain…

      • UCLA Bleauz

        Is this the first “flagged” post in Inside UCLA history?

        • EncinitasBruin

          The trolls run freely here on Inside UCLA, just like over on your blog. Heckling is kinda entertaining, but using vulgarity and profanity isn’t tolerated here in Bruin Nation. See, Jack already removed Booty Boy’s 5th grade comment.

          • UCLA Bleauz

            Yeah, Inside USC is like the Animal House of blogs….Wolfie thrives on it…..my can of troll repellent ran out a long time ago. ….

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

            (That’s not fair to 5th graders.)

  • commentar

    Since we’re on the subject of rose colored projections, let’s just say that the polls actually under-projected Memphis and Virginia instead.

    • EncinitasBruin

      Well said. Memphis played both 12-1 Louisville and 12-1 UCF tough last year, and Virginia put up 59 past weekend. Yes, we were overrated, but also yes, our first two opponents were underrated. I think the truth of how good we are is yet to be fully determined.

  • Laker Rod

    Mora made a comment about he doesn’t really care about certain personnel of the opposition and is more concerned about the scheme and what they are trying to do. While it’s true the scheme is important….I think it’s a mistake not to see what personnel is out there. The good college coaches attack the young linemen and secondary, etc. You always go after and expose the true freshmen. You want to create doubt in their minds early and it’s easiest to do against true freshmen and inexperienced players.

    UCLA needs to jump on Texas fast and stomp them and never let off the gas. After getting spanked by BYU, Texas is having lots of doubt right now and mentally you have to expect they will try to bounce back so if they get some early momentum then watch out. UCLA must prevent Texas of getting any ideas of winning or having a close game.

    No more stalled opening drives. The Bruins must score on their opening drive. Even a field goal would be good and then a defensive stop.

  • FIGHTONtoVICTORY

    Heisman Huntly and the boys have sure been looking great!
    You’re coach can’t even handle the low expectations at UGLY. His hot-head mentality is starting to show, just wait until the losses start piling up.

    Looking at UGLY’s schedule, you guys will be lucky to win 7 games.

    Don’t lose to texas!

    • EncinitasBruin

      Yeah, 396 yards and 3 TDs is terrible.

      • FIGHTONtoVICTORY

        Because Memphis is “underrated”, right? LOL!

        Don’t lose to texas!

        • +_=

          Repeating the phrase “don’t lose to texas” (sic) = Your secret fear of SC losing to the Eagles.

    • Toejam For Life

      At least he didn’t need daddy to come down and fight his battles for him!

      • FIGHTONtoVICTORY

        Maybe he should! Anything to help!

        Don’t lose to texas!

    • Tommy B Low Us

      Please do lose to Boston College and the clown college probably will.

  • FIGHTONtoVICTORY

    The only UGLY grads i deal with on a weekly basis are the cleaning crew at the office!

    • EncinitasBruin

      FOTV means well. He keeps trying to get us upset by calling us UGLY (get it, instead of UCLA). I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m deeply offended and have lost sleep over this terrible name.

      • FIGHTONtoVICTORY

        Yikes! You really shouldn’t be losing sleep over faceless posters on a blog. What you should be losing sleep over is the fact that UGLY’s best team in decades is turning out to be not so great.

  • howie1347

    Well, we all know UCLA is a bunch of losers and now they even admit it. They were very lucky to win those two games. Can you imagine how happy I would have been if they had lost both games? On the other hand, I would like to see them win until they meet USC who will beat their pants off — I’ll looking at 50 to nothing and maybe a big hit on the quarterback from the blind side.

    • +_=

      Thinking UCLA will lose at home to SC = The Polish in ’39 believing the Wehrmacht is coming to Poland on a strictly humanitarian basis.