We had an amazing day of college football all Saturday. Late in the afternoon, Utah pulled off a thrilling win against no. 5 Stanford legitimizing UCLA's big road-win from 10 days ago. We also saw Missouri upset no. 7 Georgia earlier in the day. Texas beat no. 12 Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout. The stage was all set for UCLA to make an explosive statement against a terrible Cal football team and make a much-anticipated return in the top-10.
Instead with Terry Donahue watching on, tonight Jim Mora's UCLA Bruins put on an uninspiring and dull performance against a sorry Bears team by sleepwalking through a boring win. The final score was 37-10 but it wasn't really all that fun or satisfying to watch. Actually, at times they were kind of unwatchable. In fact this game brought back nightmares of those boring, stale, underachieving talented Donahue team from the 80s and 90s. Yuck. Here is the box score.
The stars of tonight's game were the members of the Bruin defense, who shut down a pretty explosive Bears offense. The Berkeley offense was limited to 315 yards as their much-hyped freshman QB was under duress most of the night. They also helped to put away this game in second half with a key interception from Randall Goforth and then a stand at the goal-line. That's about the only bright spot I can think of for the Bruins for tonight because rest of it was sloppy, ugly and often downright embarrassing.
While we racked up 490 overall yards offense, it didn't exactly look like a well-oiled machine against a bad football team. In fact, Mazzone's red-zone offense was down right atrocious as the Bruins kept settling for FGs after FGs after getting near the goal-line. Sometimes the offense - from it's coaching staff to all the players - simply looked disinterested. Except for few drives here and there, they were just ugly to watch.
Brett Hundley's stat line looks okay on paper. In fact they look worthy of a Heisman candidate. He finished the night with 409 yards, completing 31 of 41 passes and throwing 3 TDs. However, Hundley looked off through number of stretches tonight. He made number of bad throws and poor decisions through the night. Our running game also looked bad against a bad defense. The combination of Paul Perkins, Steven Manfro and Damien Thigpen didn't do all that much, leaving many to wonder where the **** was Malcolm Jones when it really mattered?
Mora and his staff didn't show much of a killer instinct early on. Bruins had a chance to blow this Cal team out in the first half after cruising to a 17-0 lead. Yet, instead of going for the kill, the offense sagged with vanilla Donahuesque play-calling. Mora also had a chance to send a message to his team about how badly he wanted to win this game in an impressive and focused fashion. Instead he had the team punt away weakly on fourth and short against a poor Cal defense playing with its backups.
Mora especially had a chance to send the team a message in early third quarter when Goforth intercepted a pass and returned it Cal's 16. Bruins got down to Cal's 4 yard line. Instead of going for a TD to kill the Bears for good, Mora settled for a FG in classic Donahue move. Donahue was on the sideline today and it appeared that his pathetic conservatism infected our coaching staff tonight.
Mora also doesn't seem to have any answer for our penalty issues. It was ugly tonight and those penalties kept UCLA from blowing out a terrible, injury depleted Cal football team. Especially egregious were Cassius Marsh's back -to-back offside calls in second quarter, after which he then got kicked out of the game for allegedly throwing a game. It was totally selfish, and inexcusable move on the part of a senior. If Mora doesn't figure out the penalties issues, Bruins will mostly likely be looking at 0-2 record in next two weeks, and looking for silver-linings with the usual moral victory nonsense.
Oh and it needs to be mentioned. ESPN announcers were jokes. Mike Patrick is an ACC/SEC asshat. We know that. But, Ed Cunningham, the ESPN color commentator is a complete jackass. The guy is not exactly a disinterested observer given his Washington Huskies background. His analysis were off the mark all night and it appeared as if he were rooting for the Bears. He also didn't seem to comprehend that UCLA actually had a football history prior to arrival Pete Carrolls' "Cheatey Era" in South Central, which included stretch of 8 straight win over the Trojans and also multiple victories in the Rose Bowl. Whatever Ed.
Anyway, where do the Bruins go from here? Color me ambivalent. Being 5-0 is nice. We will probably get in the top-10 tomorrow which is pretty cool. But if we keep looking like the same sloppy, undisciplined team like w have against lesser opponents such as New Mexico State and Berkeleys of the world, we are not going to go anywhere in next 2 games. And coming out with simply moral victories in those two games will not be good enough, given how high the stakes have been raised in Mora's so called #BruinRevolution.
Guess we will see how the team responds this week. But at this point we are getting tired of the slow starts, bad penalties, poor play in the red zone against mediocre to bad football teams. 5-0 record notwithstanding, these mistakes will cost us sooner rather than later. MEH. Right now we are not feeling very warm and fuzzy after another sloppy win. Hope, it feels different after next Saturday.
With that -- fire away in our post game thread. As always, if you have extended reflections, feel free to blog them in our fanpost section.