Kendricks got the Bruins off to a good start. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Here is our third round table discussion for the 2012 football season. Enjoy and share pile on with your thoughts in the comment section.
1. Initial Impressions?
bruinclassof10: A boring, sloppy 31 point W over a winless Houston team. Some areas for concern including Hundley's consistency and playing against defenses that will stack the box when Jetski is in the backfield.
Ryan: Hundley finally looked like a freshman, which is concerning, but the real test will be what he learns from it and how he comes back next week. Otherwise, it was a bit sloppy. I can get used to sloppy 31 point wins.
Bellerophon: This should have been a much bigger victory. We scored a defensive TD in, what, 14 seconds?Houston is not good and we left a lot of points on the field. We’re going to face much stronger competition and we won’t be able to leave points on the field and expect to win. That said, to be not pleased with a win because it was sloppy and poorly executed and still win by 31 points is a VERY welcome change.
AHMB: I'm not a fan of moral wins or losses. The team did what it needed to win, and did so by shutting down an offense that gained close to 700 yards the week before. That said, the offense was sloppy despite gaining nearly 600 yards. It was a weird game, but it will give the staff plenty to work on this week.
gbruin: You can look at this game as a glass half empty (turnovers, penalties, poor execution) or half full (great defense, lots of players invovled on offense, 31 point win). Simply having that choice against a mediocre opponent after an emotional win is a step up from previous years. And I trust Mora and staff to clean up that half
Odysseus: Yes, we are leaving too many points on the field, yes the team didn't look particularly sharp against a bad team, but winning by 31 and complaining that the team didn't look particularly sharp is a world of difference from the last several years, when if the team didn't look sharp, it got pounded. The good thing is if the coaches do their job and the players respond, the team can learn from its mistakes and improve. Still, we need to step our game up because we're going to be facing teams with more speed and skill starting on Saturday.
tasser10: This defense looks like it's for real. Kinks are showing up on offense and the team needs to learn to stay focused for every game. There wasn't really a letdown as feared in years past, but the concentration level (on offense) was a few steps below last week.
freesia39: We didn't play up to our full potential yet won? Am I in bizarro world?
Achilles: Teams are getting more film of our offense and it's showing a bit. That's to be expected. We probably need to counter with some new wrinkles. I also wonder if we need to find another north south runner to go with Johnathan Franklin. The other guys seem to prefer going east west before cutting up the field. We have not replaced Derrick Coleman as of yet and our goal line offense needs work (these two things are not unrelated). The Malcolm Jones thing is mildly puzzling, because he should have been the bigger, straight ahead guy to go with Jetski. I don't know what happened with him, thus my puzzlement.
2. The Good
bruinclassof10: 31 point win and over 500 yards of offense on a day where our Bruins looked uninspired. Our team had 5 picks (Sheldon Price had 3, Abbott had 1 and McDonald had a nice INT with some yardage on the return). Geoff Strand announced USC's loss at the Rose Bowl which led to loud "Beat SC" chants. Jeff Locke did a great job
today. Eric Kendricks had a nice heads up play to open up the game. Also, Fairbairn was perfect today. I knew he had his doubters but he had a good showing. I also enjoyed the Datone Jones TD. It's always nice seeing a defensive player score. Last but not least, good seeing Kevin Prince in the game. He may not be Brett Hundley talent wise, but he is a Bruin and a warrior (unlike Chianti Dan) who deserves recognition from us. Nick Ekbatani was the honorary captain and it was good seeing him back at the Rose Bowl. Did I also mention that U$C
Ryan: The team came out with some fire. Sure, they weren't sharp, but they came out playing hard after a big win and that is a big change from the prior regimes, when big wins would be followed by 60 minutes of lethargic play. The great defense, especially in the backfield, gets two thumbs up as well and it was the best day yet for our special
teams. That I got to watch it all in a Palo Alto bar around a bunch of sad Trojans after sitting in Stanford Stadium and watching SC lose was just the cherry on top.
Bellerophon: The defense really stepped up. We had seen them get smoked for two straight weeks in the first half before locking it down in the second half to help us to victory. While the half-time adjustments were simply superb, but it was perplexing that Mora and Spanos weren’t able to shut down an opposing offense until halfway through a game. That seems to be fixed now since the defense played lights-out for the most part for all sixty minutes. Special teams was much improved, especially Fairbairn, and although the execution was sloppy, these guys did come out to play, which was also a welcome change.
AHMB: Winning by 30 points is always good, but holding Houston to 6 points is excellent. The defense took advantage of the individual talent gap between the two teams. Coach Spanos called a great game, and the team was one blown assignment away from a shutout.
gbruin: Defense. We had some questions after weeks 1 and 2, so it was reassuring to see them dominate an offense which has had some success this year. And despite 5 turnovers and JetSki being "contained", we scored 37 points. The only thing that stopped us was ourselves, and that's correctable. Special teams were sharp.
tasser10: The defense continues to be solid and fast. It's actually fun to watch compared to the dread of the last few years when they took the field. JetSki still had a good game despite a defense focused on stopping him.
Odysseus: We've been asking for a 60 minute game on defense and better special teams, and we pretty much got it. It's also good to see the team still take care of business even when the players aren't playing their best football.
freesia39: 31 point victory, over 500 yards of offense, and it never felt close. Ka'imi Fairbairn is starting to mature (I hope) as a kicker.
Achilles: We handily beat a team that we should beat. Not to continue beating a long dead horse, but last year's team gives up much more than a touchdown to a Houston team that throws so often. In the first two weeks, we were an offensive team, this week the defense had the big night.
3. The Bad
bruinclassof10: Sloppy game. Hundley looked a bit tentative and stared down his receivers when he threw his 3 INT's (one was called back for penalthy). Our D-line didn't get much pressure on the QB and their QB and our D allowed David Piland to score an 86-yard TD (granted it was in the 4th quarter with backups playing).
Ryan: That was not the best of this UCLA team in any phase of the game, except maybe special teams. The team can be better in every phase of the team and it is just a matter of discipline and attention to detail. There were a lot of boneheaded mistakes and because this team is young in spots, they cannot afford to make dumb mistakes to go along with those born out of inexperience.
Bellerophon: To say the offense was sloppy would be a huge understatement. Hundley was staring down receivers, which was a bit concerning and the execution on some of the swing passes was very poor (with Houston’s linebackers jumping the route often, which will lead to an immediate 6 points against Pac-12 level competition), so Mazzone will need to clean stuff up. Also, the offensive line showed its inexperience since the damn holding calls and false starts were frustrating (none more so than White’s holding that nullified the Hundley to Shaq Evans TD pass late in the game). Just overall a very sloppy effort.
AHMB: Not much to add here. It was a sloppy game from an offensive standpoint. Houston's linebackers were disruptive, and I don't think Mazzone took advantage of Houston's aggressiveness enough. While the offense gained over 500 yards of offense, they turned the ball over 5 times and it could have been worse- Houston dropped a few easy picks, including a couple that would have been easy touchdown returns.
gbruin: The sloppy offense was the obvious thing. I wonder how many of our fumbles and penalties were simply from lack of concentration. Hundley was mortal last night, and I hope that was a freshman thing and not related to his ankle. We seemed to give up more negative plays on offense, too, which I think shows the importance of Jeff Baca being on that line. I hope he's back and ready soon.
Odysseus: Still too many penalties and mistakes. The team will have to do better in all phases of the game in Pac-12 play.
tasser10: Hundley came back to earth a bit, but that was still coupled with a decent game where he hit 11 different receivers. Still too many mistakes and penalties on offense. And I didn't like the playcalling in the red zone very much at all.
freesia39: At times, it was hard to focus on the game. We had five turnovers. Brett Hundley had to throw, and he did... to Houston. Torian White was called for three straight penalties and there were a few other dumb ones. The overall flow of the game wasn't that great.
Achilles: Agree with bc10. Very sloppy performance, Hundley not sharp. We were reminded that he's just a RS freshman, he's going to have off plays, off series, off quarters, off halves and even off games. We still won by 30. That's a good thing.
4. Game's Most Valuable Player(s)?
bruinclassof10: Sheldon Price, Jeff Locke
Ryan: You tie a school record, you get MVP. Sheldon Price.
Bellerophon: Sheldon Price, Jeff Locke, Eric Kendricks, Datone Jones
AHMB: Sheldon Price
gbruin: Sheldon Price. The defense as a whole
Odysseus: Sheldon Price, he deserves it
tasser10: Sheldon Price, Jeff Locke
freesia39: Jeff Locke. (every week!)
Achilles: Jetski. The big holes weren't there and neither were the big runs. But he toughed out 110 yards on 25 carries on a very warm night in Pasadena. He also ran stronger as the game wore on. Honorable mention "MVC" to Lou Spanos for a very good defensive game plan.
5. Honorable Mentions?
bruinclassof10: Steve Manfro, Johnathan Franklin (he didn't score but
kept Houston's D keyed in on him all game)
Ryan: Jeff Locke, Randall Goforth, all of the running backs.
Bellerophon: Damien Thigpen, Jet Ski
AHMB: The rest of the defense.
gbruin: Jeff (death, taxes, and) Locke. Manfro. Thigpen.
Odysseus: Manfro, Thigpen, Datone Jones, Barr, XSF
tasser10: Johnathan Franklin, Datone Jones (TD!)
freesia39: Johnathan Franklin, Steven Manfro, Ka'imi Fairbairn
Achilles: Sheldon Price had a nice night.
6. What we hope to see vs. Oregon State?
bruinclassof10: Hundley and our receivers looked a bit off on passes that were completed for more than 10-yards so I hope to see more accuracy and more completions. Our special teams and D played well overall.
Ryan: An improved Hundley. He hit his first roadblock and now we have to see how he responds. It would help is his pass catchers could keep from getting stripped after they catch the ball too.
Bellerophon: I expect to see the offense get back into rhythm. I want to see Hundley return to the form we saw against Nebraska and I’d like to see the stupid mistakes minimized, or even better, eliminated entirely. Guys need to hold on to the rock, but the most important thing I’m hoping to see is the same defensive intensity against Oregon State for all 60 minutes that we saw against Houston rather than having to play it even for the first half before making shut-down adjustments as we saw against Rice and Nebraska.
AHMB: Another 30 point victory would be nice. It won't happen unless the offense shows some major improvement next week. Oregon St. plays solid, disciplined defense, and the team won't get away with the same sloppy play next week.
gbruin: focus and good execution. We are a better team, but we have to play a consistently clean game to win - no turnovers, minimize penalties, solid play on the OL and picking up blitzes.
tasser10: more accuracy on Hundley's passes, he'll need to be sharp against a team that can stop the run. And our defense has to terrorize the OSU QB and make him scramble.
Freesia39: I hope the playbook opens up a bit more against OSU. Sometimes I think we have been conservative in our playcalling, and that is not going to fly against the top teams of the Pac-12. I really want to see Franklin run off another 150 yards and three touchdowns so that people don't forget about him.
Achilles: Vs. OSU we need to be more varied on offense. I'm starting to see a repetition in the plays and if I'm seeing, it, Mike Riley is seeing it.
7. The Extra Point
bruinclassof10: I expected a letdown after a huge win over Nebraska so I knew this wouldn't be the best of games but I'm hoping Hundley and Baca are close to 100% against Oregon State. I hope Mora let them know that he was unhappy with the sloppiness of this game and that we can't play like this during the remainder of the year. Also, an overrated U$C team with an overrated QB lost. Ryan: I'm finding it really difficult to poke holes in a 31-point win. We have a lot to improve on from that game, but this is the same UCLA program that has been irrelevant for a decade-plus. While the expectations are for nine wins, we can't be too picky about how we win. That we can be sloppy and win that big is already an improvement. The key is making sure we are better next week than we we were this week. Bellerophon: This team is going to get destroyed at practice this week. Did anyone else see Mora’s comments as he was leaving the field? He talked about cleaning up the stupid mistakes and penalties at least three times, so it’s VERY clear that he knows exactly what the problem was and is looking to work these guys into shape cleaning that up. Mora strikes me as someone who is striving for perfection and, while I’m sure he’ll take the W, he didn’t seem thrilled with the execution, which is a VERY welcome change at UCLA, where Chianti Dan’s diseased culture of mediocrity has seemingly infected the entire athletic department.
AHMB: UCLA won a classic trap game by 31 points. I'll be honest, I expected Houston to play much better, and if they would have, we might be singing a different tune today. But it's hard to complain with an easy win, even if we all know that the staff won't be pleased and will probably put the team through a bit of hell this week.
gbruin: Honestly, I'm glad we had a crappy game, and that it came against an inferior opponent so it didn't cost us the way it would against a better team. Lots of errors and weaknesses were exposed, giving the players and staff a chance to see them and address them. I may be moving too fast, but I have faith that Mora and co are going to
jump all over those mistakes, and I have faith that this team will take it to heart. Next week will say a lot about this team. If we respond with a great game, then the sky is the limit.
Odysseus: All around better execution. As improved as the team is, and as critical as we've been of a 3-0 start, this team can really be something if it eliminates the mistakes, turnovers and penalties. But now we're into the Pac-12 and the team better keep improving.
tasser10: Not a great win, not an ugly win. But the best thing about being 3-0 is that you can go 4-0. I expect the team to come out sharp and play a much better game, with an earlier start time and a week of ass chewing by Coach Mora. Let's start conference play with a bang...or should I say, a BOOM!
freesia39: A UCLA win and a USC loss sounds like the best week so far!