UCLA coach Jim Mora downplays his argument with Jeff Ulbrich

If someone makes a big deal out of a sideline argument between two coaches, that person doesn’t understand sports.

At least, that’s what UCLA head coach Jim Mora said after cameras caught him arguing with with defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich in the second quarter — after Oregon scored its second touchdown in an eventual 42-30 win at the Rose Bowl.

Ulbrich walked toward Mora and followed him, then handed over his playcard and removed his headset.

“How many of you guys have ever been on the sidelines coaching a game at any level?” Mora said. “I go to my kid’s pee wee game, and coaches are “Arrgh!” — grinding. And it’s a game in front of 12 fans. Continue reading

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No. 12 Oregon downs UCLA in mistake-filled game

PASADENA >> Oregon’s visit to the Rose Bowl on Saturday went so well, it turned its own fumble into a touchdown.

Early in the third quarter against UCLA, Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota took the snap on second-and-10. He bobbled it, letting it bounce a few feet forward and to the left.

But with no Bruin defender anywhere near him, the Heisman candidate simply scooped the ball back up in stride and ran around 20 yards untouched to the end zone. Capping a 10-play, 80-yard drive that gave Oregon an 18-point lead, it was just one of many disastrous moments in UCLA’s 42-30 loss.

The Bruins have now lost six straight games to Oregon — two under third-year head coach Jim Mora — but Saturday’s mess was arguably the most discouraging of them all. Continue reading

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Pac-12 will review penalty on UCLA’s Eddie Vanderdoes

A penalty against UCLA defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes in the second quarter will be reviewed further by the conference, said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott.

Vanderdoes appeared to throw a punch at Oregon running back Thomas Tyner on the bottom of a pileup. He drew a 15-yard penalty — giving the Ducks an automatic first down on what would have been third-and-3 just past midfield — but was not ejected.

Oregon scored five plays later, when Marcus Mariota threw a screen pass to Tyner for a 21-yard gain and a 15-3 lead. After the play, UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich also got into a heated argument with head coach Jim Mora, handing over his headset.

Scott said at halftime that he already has a video clip of what happened on Vanderdoes’ penalty.

“Anything that could possibly be a fighting act is reviewed by the conference office,” he said. “That’s something we’ll certainly take a look at on Monday.”

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What to watch: No. 18 UCLA vs. No. 12 Oregon

No. 12 Oregon’s arrival at the Rose Bowl on Saturday could give UCLA a chance at a program-altering win it sorely needs right now — even if head coach Jim Mora was reluctant to acknowledge it this week.

What to watch heading into today’s 12:30 p.m. kickoff:

UCLA offense vs. Oregon defense: For all the talent and skill that Brett Hundley possesses, he can’t do much once he’s dragged to the ground. And considering that the Bruins’ allowed 10 sacks in last week’s loss against Utah last week, it’s almost surprising that the final 30-28 margin wasn’t larger.

The offensive line isn’t completely to blame for all those sacks, but even the staff agreed that the protection on the edges were lacking. Starting tackles Malcolm Bunche and Caleb Benenoch are playing out of position after arriving at UCLA as guards, something that especially showed against Utah defensive ends last weekend. A significant part of the Bruins’ hopes for an upset will depend on if the unit up front can redeem itself — an opportunity that Bunche himself suggested earlier this week.

If Hundley has time to throw, he should be able to find holes in the Ducks’ defense. The redshirt junior has stretched the field in his final season at UCLA, and already has nine passes of at least 40 yards — just eight shy of his previous two-year total. Those nine passes rank him third in the country in that category, behind Cal’s Jared Goff and Washington State’s Connor Halliday.

After allowing fewer than 5.0 yards per play in five of the last six seasons, Oregon is giving up 5.73 this season. Continue reading

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UCLA still hoping for spot in College Football Playoff

Right before the college football season, UCLA looked like one of the better choices for the betting man.

Popularly thought of as a dark-horse national title contender, the Bruins drew 14-to-1 odds to win the championship — sixth-best in the country. Fast forward six weeks, and the team has fallen to 25-to-1 according to online sportsbook Bovada.lv, good for a 13th-place tie with TCU.

A 30-28 loss to a then-unranked Utah last week exposed a UCLA squad that had looked flawed for most of the season. Naturally, that isn’t deterring the now 18th-ranked Bruins’ own hopes about earning a spot in the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff.

“Absolutely,” said UCLA defensive back Anthony Jefferson. “If we just do our job every week, and compete, play our butts off, I think we’ll have a great opportunity to make the playoffs.” Continue reading

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VIDEO: Jim Mora talks about UCLA’s play in big games

Last year’s loss to Oregon prompted one of Jim Mora’s most emotional postgame outbursts as UCLA head coach. Asked about the Bruins’ performance in high-profile games with the No. 12 Ducks again looming this weekend, he found a different tone.

“We’ve won a lot of high-profile games,” Mora said Thursday. “We’ve beat Nebraska twice. We went on the road and beat Texas. We beat Southern Cal twice. For people to say we haven’t won high-profile games, I would absolutely dispute that.”

Mora also talked about Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, and the value of that senior defensive back Anthony Jefferson provides to the UCLA secondary.

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