It's Monday morning, and it's an uneasy feeling: the Bruins picked up a win, by an impressive (on paper) score of 37-6. The defense stepped up to shut down the Houston offense, which prior to Saturday, had averaged 31 points and over 500 yards of total offense in two straight losses. On the other hand, the offensive execution was sloppy (to put it mildly) and one walked away with the feeling the Bruins dramatically underperformed, with UCLA committing 5 turnovers (two interceptions and three fumbles lost). On the other hand, this was the classic let-down game, where in years past, the Bruins have followed big wins with disappointing choke-jobs. So, while the Bruins did have a let-down, by the lofty standards they set for themselves following their victory over Nebraska, it still resulted in a 31-point beat-down of a team that gave the Bruins fits on their last trip to the Rose Bowl.
While it's still too early to see if Mora really has changed the culture of the UCLA football program (we'll see how we fare against tougher Pac-12 competition), all signs point to a turn-around in Westwood. For the first time since the decade of mediocrity under Chianti Dan began, Bruin fans have reason for optimism, and boy, does it feel good.
So, with that said, let's get to the bits and pieces of news floating around the UCLA-iverse at the beginning of this work week that finds the UCLA Bruins as the only undefeated Division I-A football program left standing in Los Angeles. Sounds pretty sweet, right? Here's the Bruin Bites for this Monday morning:
- Starting with football, for those who are still getting caught up with Mazzone's spread offense system (and wondering why we kept throwing the ball in the flat to a running back, even though Houston kept trying to jump the route), our good friend Josh Schlichter (who used to go by 03rdn9) had a very good post on Mazzone's offensive system over at Pacific Takes, explaining some of the main concepts (with handy graphics too!). Very good read.
- In case you missed it, the Regents gave final approval for UCLA to commence construction on the controversial Luskin Conference and Guest Center hotel project on campus. To no surprise, UCLA's tone-deaf administration seems more fixated on squeezing non-essential sketchy projects on limited campus for the sake of pleasing a high-rolling donor (never mind the incomprehensible logic of spending $112 million to get $40 million), rather than demonstrating any commitment to the football program (as blasted by Eddie George and Rick Neuheisel).
- On the other hand, the History Department is getting a $10 million donation from the Arcadia Fund, a British foundation, which will go to funding graduate students, seminars, and other department projects. Fortunately, the History Department won't need to spend $30 million in order to obtain the $10 million, which leads to the conclusion that Gene Block and his tone-deaf, clueless administration had no hand in securing this money.
- Turning to the non-revenue sports, the #11-ranked men's soccer team had only one match since last week's edition of Bruin Bites, taking on LMU, and dropping the Lions 1-0 on the road, to improve to 4-1-1 on the season. Ryan Hollingshead grabbed the winner for the Bruins in the 54th minute, thanks to a brilliant bit of service from Evan Raynr on the wing. Starting 'keeper Earl Edwards made his return from injury and notched three saves to pick up a clean-sheet in his return. The Bruins will next take on the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in Santa Barbara on Friday before heading further up the 101 to SLO to take on Cal Poly on Sunday.
- Their female counterparts, the #3-ranked Lady Bruins soccer team spent the weekend laying the wood to the competition, starting with a 7-0 beat-down of hapless Princeton at Drake Stadium on Friday. The Bruins came out firing, with netting the opener in the 7th minute, followed by Sam Mewis (18') and Taylor Smith (22') to give the Bruins a 3-0 cushion in just 23 minutes. The Lady Bruins didn't let up, with Zakiya Bywaters scoring twice in two minutes' time (24', 26'), followed by Taylor Alderete scoring in the 39th minute. With a 6-0 lead at the halfway mark, the Bruins went into defensive time-killing mode, with most of the substitutes seeing action, with substitute Rosie White grabbing the 7th UCLA goal in the 76th minute. The ladies kept firing on Sunday, dropping #18-ranked Pepperdine 4-0 in another solid beat-down performance. Katelyn Rowland notched six saves to pick-up another clean-sheet, while Zakiya Bywaters netted a brace (11', 53'). The scoring was rounded out by Taylor Smith (48') and Ally Courtnall (77') to improve the Bruins to 7-0-1 on the season. The Lady Bruins will next take on Washington State on Thursday at Drake Stadium.
- Turning to the defending NCAA champs, the #2-ranked women's volleyball team swept #18-ranked Pepperdine away, starting strong to pick up a solid win, 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-22). Tabi Love led the Lady Bruins (16 kills), while Rachael Kidder (14 kills, 7 digs), Becca Strehlow (37 assists, 7 digs), and Bojana Todorovic (15 digs, 6 assists) all made solid contributions to the Bruin victory. The ladies turned to Colorado State in Fort Collins on Saturday, and the Lady Bruins needed all five sets to put their opponents down, pulling out a tight 3-2 win (25-20, 22-25, 25-21, 13-25, 15-10). Tabi Love once again led the Lady Bruins (24 kills), while Rachael Kidder (13 kills, 11 digs), Megan Moenoa (45 assists, 6 digs), Bojana Todorovic (20 digs), and Karsta Lowe (10 kills) all kept up their high level of play to help UCLA pick up a hard-fought road win. With the victories, the Bruins now stand at 8-1 and will take on hated rival U$C on Wednesday at U$C before taking on Oregon State on Friday at Wooden Center.
- Finally, the #2-ranked men's water polo team headed north to Palo Alto for the NorCal Invitational Tournament, and the Bruins got their tournament started right, starting with a big 16-5 win over Concordia on Saturday, with eleven Bruins scoring and five netting a brace (David Culpan, Anthony Daboub, Lucas Reynolds, Josh Samuels, Chris Wendt). Later that day, the Bruins took on #7-ranked Pacific and edged out the Tigers in a tough-match, 9-4. The Bruins were led by Josh Samuels' hat-trick, with six other Bruins scoring in an evenly spread out attack. The following day, UCLA got the day started with a scare, beating Cal in overtime, 11-10, with Chris Fahlsing scoring the winner to complete his hat-trick. But the tournament would not end well for UCLA, with the Bruins falling to hated U$C (ranked #1) in the title game, 7-6. The Bruins fell behind early, 5-0, before storming back but falling just short. With the first loss of the season on the books, the Bruins now stand at 11-1 and will take on Golden West JC in an exhibition before taking on LMU on Friday.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to start the work week with. Fire away with your thoughts, takes, and additions in the comments thread.