UCLA just finished up an undefeated (3-0) out of conference season with a 59-13 beating of hapless New Mexico State. The Aggies scored 14 points in garbage time against second stringers. While the score looks decent for a top-15 team, this was to date UCLA's most sloppy and uneven performance to date, giving the Bruins' a lot to think about, and few important issues to address heading into a big conference opener against Utah in about couple of weeks.
The player of the game for Bruins? We will go with Steve Manfro. The White Mamba got the Bruins jumpstarted in first half (one of the few guys who started the game in focus) with an explosive kickoff return, a rushing and receiving touch down. It was also awesome to see the Bruins line up with 10 guys on the field in our first play to honor no. 36.
In terms of stat-lines, Bruins finished the game with
640 692 offensive yards (boxscore). Brett Hundley threw for 3 TDS (and 2 ugly picks), completing 23 of 36 passing attempts for 281 yards. Jordon James had his third consecutive 100+ rushing yard game finishing the night with 164 yards on the ground (in 19 carries) and 2 TDs (the second one was a 19 yard beauty which included a sick spin move).
On defense Cassius Marsh, Randall Goforth, Ishmael Adams, Erick Kendricks, and Anthony Barr had solid games but we need to keep in mind the competition. It was a bummer to see the second string blow the shoutout in Q4 but oh well.
I have to say though the Bruin offense was kind of fun to watch in garbage time. Jerry Neuheisel looked like a more than a serviceable QB as a backup (completed 8 of his 10 passes for 92 yards). He looked like a well coached game-manager and Malcolm Jones looked solid with 2 determined TDs, making a case for few more reps in the coming weeks.
Let's get back to the glaring issues that will be on our minds after this game. As IE Angel mentioned in his second half thread the Bruins got off to a slow (and arguably ugly) start against a punching bag program with sloppy penalties and really careless turnovers in the redzone (that probably cost us 21 points).
Bruins finished the game with 14 penalties for 128 yards, 7 of which came in the first half. As Mora said during the half time to Pac-12 Network's sideline reporter this is simply not acceptable. We know Mora has been dismissive about the penalties last year but these numbers are ugly - especially against this kind of garbage competition. The Bruins came across as an undisciplined and out-of-control team at times.
Also, speaking of not too hot, while his stats look okay, Brett Hundley had one of his worst games as the starter in his Bruin career. Hundley looked out of sync from the get-go. He missed wide-open receivers and threw inexcusable picks in the red zone in his second series in the first half and in the first one in second.
Simply put if the Bruins are serious about taking the next step this season as an "elite" program - they need to do much better job of getting started in the first half, otherwise, they will get smoked in Palo Alto and in Eugene, and may just fall on their faces against Utah, a well coached team which is improving by the week.
Hopefully the coaches and players will come back with renewed focus and turned up intensity as they will have few extra days to prepare for a difficult road trip against the Utes. With that I will turn the thread over to you. If you have extended reflections, please share them in the fanpost. Otherwise, fire away.