BN folks, we lost Round 1 but get a rematch on Friday. Here are some of our thoughts on Saturday's regular season finale against the Stanford Cardinal.
1. Initial Impressions?
Ajax: More than anything else, the Bruins were physically dominated by Stanford on both sides of the ball. Stanford is a very good team and their ranking is well deserved. That said, I think they are beatable with some adjustments.
Achilles: Stanford looks like the team that beat Oregon and went overtime against Notre Dame. Very fundamentally sound, very talented, very well coached. Nothing fancy, but creative. We didn't play out best game by a long shot -- and part of the reason is SU and part was just a bad game.
DCBruins: Last week I wrote: " This is a very strange situation. There is a good chance we will play Stanford again in the championship game. . . . Do we go vanilla and save some things for the next game against Stanford for the PAC 12 Championship? Interesting to see how Mora deals with this." I think he went vanilla and conservative. Let's see Barr and the defense set loose next week and Mazzone with some tricks in the play book.
freesia39: They kicked our butts, and they kicked it good. Stanford is goooooooooood. We're not as good.
gbruin: Stanford has a bit better team than we do. We can absolutely beat them, but we have to play a clean game to do so. Unfortunately, we had too many penalties, drops, turnovers, and other times when we just didn't execute well enough to beat them. Stanford won't beat itself. We will have to play a much better game next Friday.
AHMB: Stanford dominated the game in the trenches, especially with their defensive line, but all is not lost. With some adjustments, specifically in pass protection, run defense against heavy sets, and kick return game, UCLA has a shot to win the Pac-12.
bruinclassof10: Stanford was the better team on the field today. The vaunted front 7, Hogan and Taylor impressed. I hope Mora, Mazzone and staff have some tricks up their sleeves for the rematch - we'll need it.
2. The Good
Ajax: There wasn't much that was good about this game.
Achilles: Fairbairn's long field goal suggests we have a weapon now that we didn't have earlier in the year. Good for the last two games this year, good for next year, too.
DCBruins: Joseph Fauria has become a consistent and very good player. He is now less flakey then he was at the start of the season or earlier in his career.
freesia39: We get a second chance at Stanford. I refuse to believe that was our best effort.
gbruin: Umm...I guess we got a chance to see our mistakes. There is no secret about what we need to fix. Now we have to do it.
AHMB: We get a second shot.
bruinclassof10: We get a second shot at them and we put up more points against the Trees, than Oregon did.
3. The Bad
Ajax: Offense: Pass protection was not good, but at the same time Hundley has to learn how to get rid of the ball. It could have been Stanford's defense, which is very good, but the offensive play calling seemed to lack imagination.
Defense: Rushing defense. The Bruins have no shot to win unless they can at least slow down Stanford's running game.
Special teams: Kenneth Walker has potential to be a good KOR, but he has to learn how to get down.
Achilles: Too many long runs against a stacked box. Poor tackling. Odd decision making, like Brett Hundley not taking off and running when it appeared he had room to run.
DCBruins: Punting on fourth and short. Barr is pass coverage too much. Barr is an amazing pass rusher but we made him effectively a strong safety in this game covering the tight ends.
freesia39: Ugh we were dominated. I mean we were dominated in all facets, except what, kicking?
gbruin: We have very little margin for error against Stanford. The O Line didn't play well enough. We need a more consistently positive running game. We cannot give away plays with drops or poor throws. Our kickoff return game is really poor.
AHMB: Pass protection, run defense against heavy sets, and kickoff returns. Stanford was able to get pressure with 3 or 4 rushers, gashed us with heavy sets, and consistently blew up our kickoff return blocking.
bruinclassof10: We allowed 35 points on D and allowed Stepfan Taylor to run all over us. O-line penalties were bad and the pass protection wasn't there like they were during the Southern Cal game - we'll need a lot of help to contain Stanford's front 7. That might be the best front 7 in all of college football. Hope Goines is able to return. Our secondary was getting burnt.
4. Game's Most Valuable Player(s)?
Ajax: Offense: Shaq Evans and Joe Fauria.
Defense: No MVP's this week.
DCBruins: Eric Kendricks. I just think he deserves a shout out for all he does. If he was not playing with Barr, we would think of him as our defensive MVP. He again led UCLA in tackles.
freesia39: Joe Fauria and Shaq Evans.
gbruin: It's hard to pick someone when you get beaten and play badly. Joe Fauria and Shaq Evans had good games. Simon Goines showed us how important he is. Anthony Barr played well.
AHMB: Joe Fauria.
bruinclassof10: Shaq Evans? I don't complain too much about horribile officiating because I've gotten used to it and figure it should balance out, but for Stanford, the SPTR's definitely acted like an invaluable 12th man.
5. Honorable Mentions?
DCBruins: Ka'imi Fairbairn. Kudos to Mora for letting him kick the 48 yarder. Ka'imi Fairbairn looks much better.
freesia39: Kai'mi Fairbairn
gbruin: Ka'imi Fairbairn. How great has his progression been this year?
AHMB: Shaq Evans.
bruinclassof10: Brett Hundley, Ka'imi Fairbairn and Joe Fauria.
6. What we hope gets addressed against Stanford next week?
Ajax: Offense: I expect Hundley to improve on his pocket awareness and getting rid of the ball rather than taking so many sacks. The slow developing pass plays must be limited. While it is necessary to run some play action off the zone read, I would like to see more 3-step drop quick hitters on slant/ out/ hitch dig routes. I would also like to see more utilization of screens and draws to counter Stanford's aggressive pass rush.
Defense: The Bruins are going to have to find a way to counter Stanford's running game. Getting Hogan in third and long situations should be the goal.
ST: KOR's have been terrible the last couple weeks. I expect the Bruins to put in some work on this aspect of the game and show some improvement.
Achilles: We need to be more creative on offense and maybe take more chances on defense. I don't know if we beat them if we just stand toe to toe with them and try to bang it out. Not on their home field. I'm not saying go to trick plays or totally change the game plan. I'm just saying we need to show them a few things they haven't seen from us before.
DCBruins: A creative gambling game plan. I don't want to have the feeling we didn't try everything we could.
freesia39: #freetheplaybook #freehundley
gbruin: We can't get in 2nd and 3rd and long situations on offense, whether by penalties, losses in the run game, or sacks from poor blocking or holding the ball too long. The offense has to stay on the field and keep putting up pints. On defense, we just have to be more sound to the prevent big plays.
AHMB: The most important thing to do is match their physicality and keep the game in front of us. Once Stanford got a big lead, we lost our ability to stay balanced and allowed Stanford to pin their ear backs with their defensive front and consistently drop back into a conservative shell.
bruinclassof10: We're going to have to get creative and our D will give up points, but we'll just have to have an answer for Taylor, Hogan and Ertz.
7. The Extra Point.
Ajax: 1 game for the Rose Bowl. Figure out a way to get it done.
Achilles: Stanford is the best team we've played this year. That said, I dont think they are unbeatable.
DCBruins: I am still mad at the PAC 12 that the regular season did not end against USC. Mora had a good regular season that deserves that as ending.
freesia39: I've forgotten the game already. But for the players, I hope they keep a little memory of that game to motivate them for what they came here for - The Rose Bowl. The real one. You came to play the bowl games that everyone watches, and isn't on at 11am on a random Thursday in December.
gbruin: See what we did wrong. Fix it. Go out Friday, show our skill and character, and play a perfect game.
AHMB: We're playing for the Rose Bowl. Can't wait. Can't Wait. CAN'T WAIT.
bruinclassof10: Let's hope for a better showing the second time around this time in Palo Alto. The LA Nights jerseys don't look so good when we lose in them.
Round 2: Chop them down!