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Spaulding Report: UCLA Football Trying to Regroup Before Cal

Head Coach Jim Mora and WR Jordan Payton talked about some of the Bruins' problem areas and what they need to do to end their two game losing streak.

Sr WR Jordan Payton has been a consistent leader and performer for an inconsistent Bruins team this year.
Sr WR Jordan Payton has been a consistent leader and performer for an inconsistent Bruins team this year.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Mora started his Sunday comments by pointing out that today is really like a Tuesday, which means, good news, we've skipped Monday!

Hey, I'm trying to find a bright side, ok?

It's actually seemed like a whole string of Mondays for the last couple weeks actually, and things aren't getting any easier this week as the Bruins must regroup and regroup quickly as QB Jared Goff and the California Bears potent offense is coming to Pasadena this week.

Kenny Young did not practice today as he attended a funeral in Louisiana for his grandmother. First and foremost, our thought go out to Kenny and all his family. Young arrived back in Westwood near the end of practice today.

One the injury front, which continues to swell like the Battle of the Bulge, Conor McDermott did not practice and is "very questionable" with a knee sprain. Mora said he was walking without a limp today. If that's the good news, expect to see Kolton Miller get his first start at left tackle. For what it's worth, he has looked good in practice this year and in limited game time reps this season including the second half of Thursday's game.

Deon Hollins missed practice today and there was no word on his specific condition. Alex Redmond injured a hand on Thursday but returned to practice today.

Per Jack Wang and Inside UCLA, Nate Starks suffered a head injury on Thursday and did not practice today either.

One of the first comments after practice today was about the punting situation. Lost in the wasteland that was the Stanford game was the anemic punting game. Matt Mengel averaged just 37.8 yards on 6 punts with a long of 46 and never flipped the field in the Bruins favor. Now it probably didn't change the outcome much last Thursday, but this isn't an entirely new problem. Mengel is averaging just 38.0 yards on the season. There have been some short fields here and there, but that average just isn't good enough and the Bruins are losing the ongoing field prosition battle more than they have to. Mora would only say that they "are working on some things" and noted the short punts are at least reducing any long returns. Ahh, but that's not the sort of solution we're looking for, though, coach.

Mora talked about the dramatic differences between Stanford's heavy pro style offense and Cal's Bear Raid spread style and the challenges that presents the defense facing them in consecutive weeks. He said the defense "struggled a little bit" against Stanford and "hopefully we'll play better this week", which I don't think is gonna strike a lot of fear in to Cal's offense or gonna put any ease in to Bruin fans' minds.

One reporter had the nads to at least dance around the subject of the Bruins annual midseason swoon and asked if this season seems like last year with the two early October losses. Mora responded by saying that he counted all his coaching games in his career and it came to something between 590-600 games and that he believes that he believes their course is correct and doesn't require any drastic changes at this point. He then touched on the problems with flags and noted that he is bothered by the non-aggressive penalties and that they have to emphasize those issues in meetings and practice. He pointed out, but didn't quite call out, the ridiculous targeting and offensive PI penalties from Thursday, but then the Bruins sure haven't earned any benefit of the doubt in the penalty game, and like the punting, were just some small problems in a gigantic disaster.

I guess it still kind of feels like a Monday after all.

Thanks to Ed Lewis and Bruin Sports Report for the video.

Senior WR Jordan Payton is one of the Bruins who has been a consistent mature leader week to week and he showed it again after practice today. Payton had the honesty to say "the penalties killed us" and they need to be more disciplined (have we heard that around here before?), and was downright diplomatic in discussing the offensive PI call on him on the Bruins first drive. He spoke about the pattern of midseason back to back losses and said the little things are killing them, and that they don't need to change things as much as they first need to fix the mistakes they are making.

Thanks again to Ed Lewis and Bruin Sports Report for the video.

There's your Spaulding Report. Turns out today is Sunday. So, once again, tomorrow is Monday.