Good morning everyone. Bruins are "enjoying" their "bye" this weekend. They will start practicing Monday for what should be the biggest game to date for Coach Jim Mora in his first year at UCLA. The game at Arizona State is important and perhaps a potential season defining one for number of reasons.
Bruins got the season off to a decent start at 4-1. We had a great chance of sending a signal that this year's team was something different than previous Bruins teams that have gotten off to a good start (on the score board) under both Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel. Those two respectively had 6-2 (Dorrell in his first year) and 3-0 starts in Westwood (Neuheisel in his second season). But, none of those guys were able to put together substantive successful seasons out of those starts because both of them stumbled in the Bay Area trips and were beaten (in some instances just blown up) by the Trojans. Beating Cal at Strawberry Canyon, would have been a huge psychological boost for a UCLA program that hasn't won there since 1998. Yet Mora's Bruins came out uninspired and put together a lifeless performance that shattered any sense of progress from last 10+ years.
So Mora and his Bruins will have another chance to get over the hump next Saturday when they take on Arizona State in Tempe. They will have a chance to reverse two incredibly UGLY trends that are good datapoints of how irrelevant (and a joke) UCLA program has become under the incompetent leadership of Dan Guerrero:
- TWO (2) - number of road wins against conference opponents with a winning record since 2003: That is how many road victories UCLA has ahad gainst a conference team with a winning record during the Dorrell and Neuheisel years in Westwood. That is right. The last time UCLA won a road game against a conference team with a winning record was in 2007 when we beat Oregon State, which finished 9-4, ranked #25, third in the conference. And the year before (2006), we beat a mediocre 7-6 team in Tempe. That's all we got. 2 TOTAL wins against conference opponents with winning record in last 10 years of Dorrell, Neuheisel and Mora (Chianti era).
- TWO (2) - number of wins against teams coming off a game week of at least one extra day of rest. That is right ladies and gentlemen. UCLA has a record of 2-10 in games which they played with either a full bye or at least one or more extra days of rest (due to playing games on Thursday or Friday the week before) since 2002. And the record here is littered with ugly losses such as Arizona 12-48 (2011 w 12 days of rest), Oregon 13-60 (2010 w 12 days of rest), Washington 7-24 (2010 w 8 days of rest), BYU 0-59 (2008 w 14 days of rest), Arizona State 9-34 (2008 w 13 days of rest), Washington 19-29 (2007 w 14 days of rest) and Southern Cal 19-66 (2005 w 14 days of rest). The only two wins we have had after bye week in Chianti era was a 14-0 win against Oregon at the Rose Bowl in 2007 when the Duckies were playing with their third string QB and of course 13-9 (2007 as well). But that is it.
So if the Bruins really want to make a statement that this year is something different, they will have a great chance to prove it next Saturday when they take on a 5-2 (and kind of reeling) Arizona State in Tempe. They know, they haven't proven much this year yet despite putting together record of 5-2, which came against teams with a combined W-L record of 11-20. From Peter Yoon:
The Bruins looked OK in a 27-20 loss to the No. 8 Oregon State Beavers, but two weeks later looked dreadful in a 43-17 loss at California (3-4). It's difficult to figure out if the team is getting better as the season goes on, so it's no wonder Bruins fans still have questions and doubts about the legitimacy of UCLA's position at this point in the season.
"It's warranted," senior receiver Joseph Fauria said. "We have a lot of disbelievers with our past non-success. It's only fair for them to believe that and we have to win more games for people to start jumping on the bandwagon."
Actually Joe, we are on the wagon. We have always been on it and have never left. That is why we still are taking time to care about our alma mater, even though it has been irrelevant (and at times a total joke) in the world of college football last 10+ years. We are still here. The question is whether the team will show up. I like what Datone had to say (emphasis added)
"Eagle Bank Bowls, Kraft Hunger Bowls, those are bowls they just throw you in," defensive lineman Datone Jones said. "The last ones, you know. It's time for UCLA to start playing in the bigger ones. We have great players on this team and great players deserve to play in the bigger games."
Nice sentiment Datone. Now if they can go ahead and get a win on the road against Arizona State, they will get to stop two aforementioned ugly trends and finally put UCLA in a position to escape irrelevance of the ugly Chianti era in Westwood.
Couple of quick other items worth noting
- Before he said goodbye on Inside UCLA, Miguel Melendez had a nice piece go up on the OC Register about our special teams addressing its "issues" from last few weeks. We can't afford those mistakes going forward. And speaking of Melendez, it'd be awesome if another outlet picked him up, or he consider writing as his passion. At the very least, we wish him lots of luck in his next endeavors. Easily one of our favorite writers since we have started blogging seven years ago.
- Ralph Irvin has a great video report up from Thursday's scrimmage including solid highlights featuring Jerry Neuheisel and Nate Iese among others. Dear Lord Jerry sounds just like his old man. It's pretty crazy. Check it out.
Enjoy the college football action today. As always would love to hear thoughts on the info. above or you can use this as an "open thread" until our open thread goes up late this afternoon.