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UCLA Football: Memphis Post-Game Roundtable

Bruins Nation front pagers discuss the winnable game that got away.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

1.What word would you use to describe UCLA’s performance against Memphis and why?

Markybcool: Putrid! The defense was just an abomination and it starts with the coaches to the players. If you’re a defensive lineman and the offensive lineman engages with you for only a second and lets you go, it’s a screen and you circle back!!! They have all heard since youth football. It’s called RECOGNITION! Yet, in the first half we could not figure out how to stop the screen. So, is this coaching? NO!! As coaches we tell our players ALL DAY LONG how to recognize and diagnose screen plays and the role the DL, LB’s and DB’s have. Was the pursuit, or lack thereof of a certain UCLA LB on one of those screen plays the coaches fault? NO! Everything in life is about balance, and to boil ALL of the Bruins’ problems on D down to coaching is too simplistic and often comes from people that have never coached football a day in their life. Now is that to say that our coaches are not part of this Bruins problem on D? No, they have their hand in it.

AnteatersandBruins: Despicable. I can’t believe how the defense completely let the offense down. We’ve finally got somewhat of a run game going, and the defense takes three steps back. Our left tackle is playing out of position and you can tell, the screen killed us, and we couldn’t stop a two-year old running with a grenade.

DCBruins: I know everyone is angry but I am concerned about injuries on defense. I blame the coaches not as much for the 45 points but for the lack of recruiting depth. I think if we had even Kenny Young, we win the game.

Joe Piechowski: Disheartening. The defense was supposed to be a strength of this team and it has turned into a big liability.

2. The offense continues to look good, with the running game in particular showing signs of life after a year on life support. Is there anything they could have done better in this game?

Markybcool: No, they scored 45 points with 463 yards passing and 170 yards running. Not too many teams lose games with those kinds of numbers. Once again I thought Jedd Fisch called a pretty good game. I was a little critical of the way they rushed the play on the 4th and 5 with 1:01 to go in the 4th. I am one that feels that the most important play of the game does not need to be rushed at that spot of the field. Rushed plays cause rushed thoughts and mistakes, and on this play I would have liked for Rosen to have taken just a little longer. Granted, no TO’s and the clock running does not allow for much time to be spent calling a play, so that is a very small criticism.

AnteatersandBruins: They SHOULDN’T have had to do anything better. There was no reason for Memphis to put up points like they did. Yes, Riley Ferguson may be a dark horse as a quarterback, but Anthony Miller burned our defense all day long. I too, found the play calling subject at the tail end, but that has nothing to do with the overall performance of the game. This was just a complete lack of knowing and following through on assignments on the part of the defense.

DCBruins: Yes, Rosen made mistakes on the interceptions and still tries to play hero ball. Forget the Pick 6, if he does not throw the last interception we have a tie game. Yes, he played well but he has a bad habit of forcing passes when he should throw it away or take the sack.

Joe Piechowski: Well, the offense wasn’t as perfect as the Hawai’i game, but it was pretty good overall. Unfortunately, so was the Memphis offense.

3. No more questions about the offense, let’s focus on the problem. Has Tom Bradley shown anything that makes you believe he should keep his job at this point?

Markybcool: I think it will probably be a foregone conclusion if the rest of this season plays out like the first three games, Bradley will be gone.

AnteatersandBruins: At this point, no. I know we have some injuries, but our defense is playing like they didn’t even go to camp.

DCBruins: Again, I see the anger but I don’t want to discount the injuries. That said, this is football and we have a lot scholarships. I am not as angry about the scheming in this one as I am the recruiting of depth. Of Memphis’ first seven drives four were three and out. Another was 5 and an interception. Yes, we gave an 80-yard run on the first play and a bomb on the other TD but I still think the lack of depth coupled with the heat wore us down.

Joe Piechowski: I’m not sure that the problem comes down to Tom Bradley’s defense and I definitely don’t think it’s a recruiting issue. So then what could it be? Well, looking at the past few seasons on both sides of the ball, there have been a lot of injuries and players failing to play up to their potential, yet no one has wondered whether strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi could potentially be the problem.

Maybe, just maybe, Alosi is the reason players are not developing to their potential and frequently getting hurt.

4. What changes would you make defensively to try and salvage this unit?

Markybcool: I never thought that this unit was going to be some major strength of this team. Talking about the defensive losses that we had this year from last year’s team and filling them with 4 and 5 star players means nothing. There are no star ratings from high school that prepares you to play big time college football. Youth is good, but add a bunch of injuries and that combination kills you.

Make tackles, that would help as well. I do feel as the year progresses game experience will help this unit grow, and I think that it will get better but not much better.

AnteatersandBruins: As Coach would say, they need to get back to basics. Simple things like staying with your assignment, following through on tackles, recognizing offensive strategy, etc. Simple things that add up to big results.

DCBruins: Short-term, the defense will be better with Young and Wadood back. But I have no faith in us in the second half as we will wear out. Recruit.

Joe Piechowski: I’m not sure the season will be salvageable.

5. It’s the dreaded Stanford Week, and with both teams coming off big road losses, this game is suddenly shaping up to be season-saving for both teams. With that said, I’m going to put you guys on the spot: will UCLA end the streak?

Markybcool: It’s not like Stanford is some juggernaut this year; they just aren’t. If we had more guys healthy I would feel a whole lot better. Of course, I’m picking UCLA because my heart is sometimes bigger than my mind.

AnteatersabdBruins: I’m always Pollyanna. I wish I could say that last weekend taught them something and they’ll show up in Palo Alto with their hair on fire, but I just don’t believe it yet. Stanford lost last week because SDSU played out of character, but when it comes down to it, Shaw will out coach Mora.

DCBruins: We’ll have to a great game on offense. It would help to put together long time consuming drives but I don’t think our offense has it in them. Winning the turnover battle would also be huge. Not feeling it.

Joe Piechowski: This is the type of game UCLA should lose and I won’t be the least bit surprised if the team does. That said, Stanford is not what it once was and beating a depleted Stanford team is exactly the kind of thing that would make the Mora supporters say, “See! He is a good coach!” regardless of how bad the Cardinal really is.

6. The Extra Point - Sound off!

Markybcool: I thought we would be 3-0 heading into Stanford...Wrong! This coming up game is obviously a pivotal game, win, and momentum starts all over and the recent Stanford curse ends. If we lose, then the sky will probably officially fall on top of Bruins Nation.

AnteatersandBruins: It’s starting to feel like last year, but on the other side of the ball. I’m so disappointed right now that I already feel like we won’t even get to .500 so we get offered another lower tier bowl game. They may prove us wrong, and I really hope they do. But right now it looks like another LONG season.

DCBruins: Although I started by criticizing Rosen, let me say I really appreciated his running and guttiness. Memphis was letting him run and to his credit Rosen did. It was not pretty but Rosen really showed how bad he want to win in this one.

Joe Piechowski: All bets are off at this point until this team beats a team which is clearly a better team and, really, the next chance of this looks to be Washington, not Stanford.