UCLA’s win at Colorado just the latest in season of ugly games

Brett Hundley runs past Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie for an 8-yard, game-winning touchdown in double overtime. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

» UCLA snuck out of Boulder with a 40-37 win, but needing double overtime to survive Colorado is one more step down the hole of an underwhelming season.
» The Bruins still can’t shake the penalty bug, and are now losing an average of 80 yards per game to flags under Jim Mora.

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UCLA 40, Colorado 37: Head coach Jim Mora

UCLA barely escaped Colorado on Saturday, needing a Brett Hundley keeper in double overtime to finish out the 40-37 win. It was just the latest closer-than-expected performance in a season that has seen the Bruins struggle to close out against lesser teams.

Asked what needs to change, head coach Jim Mora said: “You mean winning? Well, we’re 6-2. So I hope nothing changes. I hope we keep winning. ‘Cause winning is the objective in competitive sports and we won. We will go back and evaluate everything, but boy — I hope nothing changes in terms of the result because I like winning.”

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Mora won’t commit to starting Conor McDermott at left tackle

UCLA head coach Jim Mora wouldn’t commit to 6-foot-9 redshirt sophomore Conor McDermott making his second consecutive start at left tackle on Saturday.

With injuries and inexperience having limited him to 22 snaps entering last week’s surprise start, McDermott held up impressively for 89 plays in Saturday’s 36-34 win over Cal.

With McDermott’s start shifting former left tackle Malcolm Bunche to guard, an offensive line that allowed 24 sacks in the first six games gave up just one to Cal.

Mora, however, is still cautiously approaching his use of McDermott entering Saturday’s meeting with Colorado.

“Has he done enough to stay in the starting lineup? Yes,” Mora said. “Will he? We’ll see.”

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Jim Mora: Tailback Paul Perkins ‘doing well’ after wrist injury

Running back Paul Perkins missed the fourth quarter of UCLA’s 36-34 win at Cal last Saturday with a right wrist injury, but practiced with it wrapped on Tuesday and appears on track to play at Colorado this weekend.

Bruins head coach Jim Mora said the tailback is “doing well.” Perkins is third in the Pac-12 with 116.6 yards per game, and also had four receptions for 75 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears.

Cornerback Fabian Moreau practiced after suffering what Mora originally called a “stinger.” Inside receiver Thomas Duarte is still limited after tweaking his hamstring, and did not practice in full on Tuesday. Unsurprisingly, Mora also said they were “doing well.”

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VIDEO: Jim Mora talks about UCLA’s approach vs. Cal offense

UCLA head coach Jim Mora talked on Thursday about the keys to stopping Cal’s explosive offense, and also touched on the state of the Bruins’ offensive line: offensive tackle Simon Goines, who has yet to play this season after undergoing ankle surgery in August, had “a good week of practice”; offensive guard Alex Redmond remains a gametime decision with a sprained ankle.

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VIDEO: Jim Mora says UCLA won’t make ‘wholesale changes’

Back-to-back losses against Utah and Oregon have knocked UCLA out of the AP poll for the first time in nearly two years, but head coach Jim Mora said Tuesday that the Bruins don’t need to hit the reset button.

“When you believe in what you’re doing, you don’t make wholesale changes,” Mora said. “I believe in what this program has become. I think anyone that looks at this program — where it was and what it has become, objectively — would say, ‘Why would you make wholesale changes?’

“Now, it doesn’t matter if you win, or you’re losing. You’re always tweaking things. If you panic, you perish. We’re not about to panic. There’s no reason to panic.”

What does he need to tweak? “We tweak everything. … That’s why we meet so long. To tweak things.”

Mora also talked about the Bruins’ heavy use of nickel formations, the health of tackle Conor McDermott and his growing role on the offensive line, and how college kickers compare to pros.

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Jim Mora asks media to blame him for UCLA’s struggles

UCLA head coach Jim Mora, late in the second half the Bruins' 42-30 loss to Oregon at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA head coach Jim Mora, late in the second half the Bruins’ 42-30 loss to Oregon at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

This is not the season UCLA had expected.

Popularly touted as a national title contender through most of the summer, the Bruins no longer even look like a conference contender. They started the season by stumbling through three unconvincing nonconference wins, getting by with timely plays despite some lackluster overall numbers. After a bye week, UCLA briefly found itself — storming out to a 62-27 rout at then-No. 15 Arizona State and bouncing back into the top 10 of the AP poll.

Reality hit a week later. Utah gashed the Bruins on the ground and won 30-28 at the Rose Bowl. On Saturday, Oregon followed that with a 42-30 victory over UCLA that never felt close.

Now unranked with even a Pac-12 South division title far from guaranteed, Bruin head coach Jim Mora told the media who to blame.

“Just remember whenever you write anything, that the guy that should get all the blame is me,” he said Sunday. Continue reading

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UCLA unranked in AP poll for first time since Jim Mora’s first season

This is a strange time for the Pac-12.

Stanford, the back-to-back conference champion, has two losses and is ranked No. 23. Arizona and Utah — which entered the season unranked since 2012 and 2010, respectively — are 16th and 20th.

And then there’s UCLA, which just two weeks ago was still a top-ten team.

For the first time since third-year head coach Jim Mora’s debut season, the Bruins have fallen out of the Associated Press completely. A 42-30 loss to Oregon on national television — one in which the Ducks led by as much as 32 — dispelled what little hope UCLA had left for making the inaugural College Football Playoff, dropping the Bruins from No. 18 to “receiving votes.”

They now sit one spot outside the top-25 rankings, with 110 points to No. 25 Marshall’s 148.

UCLA hadn’t been absent from the AP poll since Jan. 8, 2013, the final set of rankings following the 2012 season. The Bruins ended that year with a 49-26 loss to Baylor in the Holiday Bowl and dropped out from No. 17.

The full rankings below: Continue reading

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UCLA’s 42-30 loss to Oregon adds more questions to season outlook

UCLA bench looks toward the scoreboard during the second half of a 42-30 loss to No. 12 Oregon at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

» UCLA’s season is at a crossroad after a 42-30 decision against Oregon dealt the team back-to-back losses.
» Vinny Bonsignore’s column on Jeff Ulbrich’s mid-game outburst, and how it turned into a learning experience for the 37-year-old defensive coordinator.
» Larry Scott said the Pac-12 will review the punch Eddie Vanderdoes threw during the second quarter, one that did not result in an ejection.

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