UCLA left tackle Malcolm Bunche: ‘It’s redemption time’

Coming off its first loss of the season, one particular set of UCLA players may particularly eager to hit the field again for Saturday’s showdown against No. 12 Oregon.

“It’s redemption time, man,” said Bruin left tackle Malcolm Bunche. “As an offense, we gave up what, 10 sacks? It’s time to redeem ourselves. And we know it.”

Them, and just about everyone else who saw Utah pull a 30-28 upset at the Rose Bowl last Saturday. The Utes unleashed 10 sacks, including three straight to snuff a fourth-quarter UCLA drive just inches in front of its own goal line.

Those 10 sacks, Utah’s highest single-game tally since 1983, again exposed an offensive line that had appeared to improve through its first four games. After allowing five sacks at Virginia in a performance that offensive line coach Adrian Klemm called “one of the sh–iest performances I’ve been a part of as a player or a coach,” the unit buckled down: four sacks given up to Memphis, three to Texas, one to Arizona State.

Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. kickoff (broadcast on FOX) will provide the 18th-ranked Bruins a tremendous stage to either bounce back, or reaffirm the growing criticism.

Admittedly, it’s not entirely fair to pin every single sack on the offensive line. On several plays against the Utes, quarterback Brett Hundley — who has now taken 107 career sacks — could have gotten rid of the ball earlier. Coaches could have called for plays better suited against Utah’s heavy pressure off the edges.

Head coach Jim Mora’s standing argument has been that sacks are a product of the offense as a whole, and he stuck to that line again on Tuesday.

“It was some individuals that needed to play better,” he said. “It was us as a staff, putting them in a better position, maybe giving them some help when they were struggling. … We can run the ball. We can stay out of third-and-long. We can offer them help chipping or getting rid of the ball quicker.”

But Bunche also offered another cause for the offensive line’s troubles against the Utes.

“The environment, it was loud,” he said. “People weren’t speaking up, as far as between the center and the tackles. The tempo, we’re going fast, so sometimes we didn’t get the calls throughout the whole offensive line. We worked on it today, and we did a great job today.”

  • VB

    Man, if Klemm hated our performance against Virginia, I wonder how he would describe Saturday’s performance…

    • Keaton

      Not exactly fair for jack wang or any of these exporters to keep harping on ucla’ o-line this week for giving up 10 sacks against Utah. Most of those sacks, Hundley had time. Hundley is really holding on to the ball too long for a variety of reasons. If the line can give at least 3-4 secs of protection, Hundley/coaches should employ a few alternatives to taking a sack:
      1) don’t sit stagnant in pocket; move your feet/step up in the pocket/side step
      2) use that athletisicism and leg strength and run for it! I don’t care if they’re clogging lanes; Hundley has the ability to get through most of the time.
      3) scramble if needed; even throw in designed bootlegs/roll outs/qb delay runs
      4) have receivers dig in their routes more quickly so Hundley has immediate options
      5) Throw it high to a high-jumping receiver like Lucien or a big body like massington/Payton.

      Sorry for excessive “/” usage.

    • jameskatt

      UCLA’s performance was even worse this past Saturday. That is how Klemm would have felt. The Offensive line took two steps foward, then walked backward a few. There are stll things for the team to work on.

  • jameskatt

    One thing about Hundley that is a concern for the NFL: he may think too slowly for an NFL quarterback. The top quarterbacks have very quick releases. They go through their progressions at lightening speed.

    Marcus Mariota Jr – who is the same size as Hundley – has a similar skill and talent set but is far more NFL ready. Marcus is often compared to Colin Kaepernick. Both are similar in their athleticism and speed of thinking and ball release. Colin is much more fiery than Marcus and Hundley.

    Hundley has to speed things up. This is one reason he gets sacked too often. He is the most sacked quarterback in college football over the past 3 years. In the NFL, the players are bigger, quicker, and the game operates at a far faster speed then in college.

    Also, Hundley cannot be playing NFL pocket quarterback for UCLA as if he is trying to impress NFL scouts. This takes UCLA out of its game. This is at odds with the UCLA offense – giving Hundley an agenda different from the team’s. They have to be on the same page.

    The team needs him to be mobile so he can pose a threat to the defense. In the NFL, the defense is so quick and strong and hit so hard – particularly with an extra dose of Adderall or more – a quarterback risks serious injury if he runs excessively. But in college this is not the case. So a running quarterback helps take pressure over the other players – the offensive line, the running backs, and the receivers. A running quarterback opens up lanes for passes for example.

    Obviously, Hundley needed to stay at UCLA to have more seasoning, practice on speeding up his game. As an aside, perhaps he has ADD due to the hits he has sustained – in comparison to other top quarterbacks. Since half of the NFL uses Adderall, that wouldn’t be bad to consider. Just saying.

    One thing: forget about the Heisman. Game wins are the only things that count.

  • Catalina Kid

    I didn’t get to see the game against Utah. Could we not run the ball?

    • VB

      We did run the ball, but Utah keyed in on it, so we had to pass eventually. Pretty much every time HUndley dropped back he was either rushed, hit or sacked. It was pathetic.

    • Tommy B Low Us

      They were running the ball really nice with Perkins. Then perkins became ill and went out of the game. Too bad Perkins is a baller. Hope he feels well for the ducks.

  • VB

    It’s going to be really hard to redeem yourself from yielding 10 sacks in one game.

  • maestrodecinema

    It was loud???!!! They were playing at HOME, tell the fans to shut up. What a lame excuse.

  • Moises Rosiles

    re-watched some of the Utah game last night and man Bunch and Benenoch were getting beat consistently off the edges…gotta move your feet kids to stay in from of your man! But some of the sacks do fall on Hundley in my opinion, some plays he looked like he was stuck in mud just sitting back there.

  • https://www.facebook.com/charles.bucket.3 Charlie Bucket

    Malcolm, less moving of mouth, more moving of feet. we’ll judge whether you’ve redeemed yourself or not…AFTER the game.

  • Laker Rod

    It’s amazing the offensive tackles are playing this poorly heading into the 6th game of the season. I undertsand Bunche had no idea if he would be playing guard or tackle but pretty much off the bat he knew he was the left tackle and Benenoch the right tackle. 4 weeks in you would think each would have lost around 5-10 lbs to pick up some mobility. This isn’t a difficult problem to solve IMO either. The Bruins simply need to go double tight end at times or even single tight end. This will give confidence in the tackles and it will confuse the rushers as to if they should rush in or not. In addition, Hundley needs to roll out of the pocket at times. He’s a sitting duck if the rushers know he’s going to be in the pocket.

  • RutesForUtes

    Maybe the REAL reason there we so many sacks was just that the Utah defensive line is just that good?