That three-game winning streak looks like nothing more than a speck in the rearview.
Just a week after emerging from an ugly, five-loss slump during the holidays, the UCLA men’s basketball team looks as disjointed as ever — losing back-to-back games at Oregon State and Oregon, and all but certainly saying goodbye to already slim March Madness hopes.
The weekend trip north resulted in arguably the Bruins’ worst two-game stretch of the season, one that saw them shoot 35.8 percent from the field while allowing 57.3 to their opponents. And it’s not as if UCLA had the excuse of facing top-notch competition (neither the Beavers nor the Ducks are ranked) or being worn out by travel (a seven-day layoff before Thursday’s loss). And yet, this is a team that — as presently constructed — does not look capable of doing anything right on either end of the court.
It is easy to point at the absence of Tony Parker as the reason for the Bruins’ struggles. The junior center had been in the middle of what looked like a career breakthrough, averaging 15.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in four games and helping UCLA establish a consistent inside-out offensive attack. But during individual workouts this past weekend, he began suffering from back spasms and remained at home while his teammates flew up to the Beaver State. Continue reading →
Colorado has only given up 12 sacks this season, good for the second-best mark in the Pac-12.
UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley said the key to besting the Buffs is to rely on get-off and speed rushes — as well as using his hands to avoid chop blocks.
“When they try to chop block you, they try to tear your ACL,” McKinley said. “To me, that’s dirty. To them, it’s their job. But to me, it’s pretty dirty.”
Asked if he’d noticed any other Pac-12 teams use chop-blocks, McKinley pointed out Utah — which beat UCLA 30-28. Oregon and Arizona State, on the other hand, weren’t major offenders. “Cal, their running backs did it a lot,” he continued. “I’d come in there full speed, and their little running backs just might go straight for my legs. So did the little tight ends they have.”
After reviewing a clip of Eddie Vanderdoes’ punch against Oregon last Saturday, the Pac-12 has decided not to hand out additional punishment to UCLA’s sophomore defensive lineman.
Vanderdoes received a personal foul penalty during the second quarter of the Bruins’ 42-30 loss for punching left tackle Jake Fisher. The flag gave the Ducks 15 yards and an automatic first down on what what would have been third-and-3 at the UCLA 47-yard line. Oregon scored a touchdown five plays later on Marcus Mariota’s 21-yard screen pass to Thomas Tyner, taking a 15-3 lead.
“I made a stupid decision,” Vanderdoes said. “I regret it. That’s not me. I’ve never done that before to a player in a game.” Continue reading →
UCLA receiver Jordan Payton talked on Monday about the team’s mood after losing to Utah and Oregon — the second straight year that the Bruins have lost back-to-back games in the middle of the season.
“We have to get this out of our system,” Payton said. “This one hurts a lot because you put a lot of time and effort into understanding how big that game was. For us to go out there and kind of just play like we did, it’s sad. It’s hard. …
“Now, we have to win. Now, we have to do everything right. Now, our backs are fully against the wall.”
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 →
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 →
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.”
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 →