Well, that sucked, am I right?
Stanford looked as vulnerable as they have since Harbaugh came to Palo Alto and built them into an imposing smash-mouth, physical football team, and we failed to capitalize. With a golden opportunity to win a huge road game over a top-15 opponent, the same opponent that denied us the conference title last year in a 3-point loss in the same venue, the Bruins laid an egg. The offense was uninspired and stagnant, the coaching staff looked confused at best, and it was just an all-around poor effort by UCLA this Saturday. Fortunately, David Shaw looked as conservative as Mora and Company, which really kept UCLA in this game. Don't expect the same mistake next week from the Ducks, who will come out firing and look to score fast and score often.
But, the one good thing is that UCLA can still bounce back and win the conference and go to the Rose Bowl, but if Saturday's performance is any indicator, there should be major alarm bells when it comes to beating Arizona State (which looked pretty impressive in beating Washington). There's enough talent for us to steam-roll Colorado and we're definitely better than Arizona, so there's two more division wins we should have in hand. That leaves the Sun Devils and the Trojans as the two major obstacles for UCLA returning to Palo Alto or Eugene again for the third Pac-12 championship game. Both are games we should win, but that won't happen if the Bruins don't right the ship quickly. So, with that said, let's take a look at the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse this Monday morning:
- Starting with Saturday's deflating loss to the Stanford Cardinal, Stewart Mandel at Sports Illustrated has a pretty good recap of the game, taking note of the Stanford players being fired up to produce a win after their disappointing loss in Salt Lake City the week prior. The question then becomes, will our Bruins react the same way, and come out on fire against the Ducks? Or will they simply roll over in Autzen?
- Speaking of the Ducks, the Bruins picked the worst time to head to Eugene, with Oregon getting all-around super-playmaker De'Anthony Thomas back in time to face us this upcoming Saturday. Out for the past three weeks, it would have been a huge boost to the Bruins if the Black Mamba had missed out just one more game. But, he'll be back just in time for the Bruins' nationally televised fight against the Ducks. Let's hope the offense can figure out how to keep scoring because this game looks to be a full-on shootout.
- Turning back to the Stanford game, the more astute observers noted that starting senior DE Cassius Marsh was nowhere to be seen during the first quarter, and played only sparingly throughout, with Ellis McCarthy and Eddie Vanderdoes seeing more action than normal. Per the Los Angeles Times, after the game when Mora was asked if Marsh was being disciplined, Mora declined to confirm or deny, saying the issue "should stay in-house."
- Finally, if it wasn't clear in the wins over Berkeley and Utah, it should be now: Brett Hundley is not a NFL-ready QB. Oh sure, the talking heads on WWL will keep him high in their projections (don't forget that lead-moron Mel Kiper Jr. projected JaMarcus Russell as a top draft pick, comparing him to John Elway), but the smart observers are seeing that Hundley's mechanics and decision-making are simply not NFL-ready yet. Dan Greenspan, writing for NFL.com, recapped Hundley's performance this weekend and concluded (correctly) that Brett had all the tools to be a franchise NFL QB, but needs another season in college to develop and polish his game.
- Speaking of the NFL, some of our favorite Bruins didn't fare too well this week in the professional ranks. Johnathan Franklin still finds himself seeing little action in Green Bay following his fumbling problems and the return of starter Eddie Lacy, getting only 6 yards on 2 carries against Cleveland this week.
- Jet Ski's best-known UCLA running back predecessor didn't fare too well this week either, with Maurice Jones-Drew only picking up 37 yards on 9 carries and 19 yards on 2 receptions, with no scores to speak of in the woeful Jaguars loss to the Chargers. How bad are the Jags? When you make Ryan Matthews look like an outstanding running back, your team flat-out sucks.
- And speaking of MJD, Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke and Doug Farrar discussed three NFL trades that really should happen before the trade deadline closes, with one of the obvious ones being MJD finally escaping the disaster that is the Jaguars. The two SI writers think a trade to Miami in exchange for a future draft pick makes sense for everyone involved, given Jones-Drew's age, remaining contract, and the fact that Jacksonville is a long way from being a contender.
Alright folks, those are your bits and pieces of news from around the football-related UCLA-iverse. Fire away with your comments, additions, thoughts, etc. in the thread as we kick off yet another work week.