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UCLA Football: Bruins Nation's Oregon State PostGame Roundtable Discussion

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The writers and editors of Bruins Nation discuss Coach Mora and the U.C.L.A. Bruins ninth game of the season and their first shutout, 41-0, against the Oregon State Beavers.

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Let's jump right in to this week’s Bruins Nation Oregon State Beavers Postgame Roundtable.

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1. After giving up 554 yards of total offense to Pac-12 South bottom dweller Colorado Buffaloes, the Bruins’ depleted defense makes a 180 degree turnaround and shuts out the Oregon State Beavers. What made this possible?

Bruinette88: The Beavers.

Mexibruin: Well, as I understand it, this was only Nick Mitchell’s second start, replacing the regular starter Seth Collins. Aaaaaand, he threw 3 picks. That certainly has to help. As we heard last week, our defense features a lot of players learning new positions. Either they matured in their roles against OSU, or the Beavs were simply overly generous.

uclaluv: The defense seemed much more aggressive in this game and the coverage seemed to be outstanding (allowing the aggression to succeed). From the Eye Test I also see that their O-line was really overmatched physically by our D-line. And as Mexi said, this was Mitchell’s first start (although he has played). So I think it is in part our d finding their way and settling in and going up against a weaker offense. I think we will find out this week against a good offense how far our defense has come. I would love to see the aggression continue.

beer&math: Talent and a good coach at DC. I think this game shows that the depth at defense that Mora recruited is legit. Granted, we played a back-up QB and it was a low-tier Pac-12 North team, but the back-ups playing on defense are getting better quickly and a shutout is rare indeed to see. Even IEAngel’s EyeTest didn’t find too much wrong :)

2. Which Bruin student-athletes were your top performers on offense? On defense?

Bruinette88: On offense, Josh Rosen. On defense, Takkarist McKinley.

Mexibruin: As always, Rosen and Perkins are at the top of my list. And, that’s appropriate. So, let me give my shout outs to Soso Jamabo who put up 90 yards (and 1 TD) on only 9 carries. I also have to give Thomas Duarte his proper respect for putting up 116 yards (and 2 TDs) on only 6 receptions.

uclaluv: On offense - Rosen to Duarte. This is quickly becoming one of my all time favorite combinations. Nate Starks run was brilliant and Soso really showed his elite ability. But of course it all starts with the line and Caleb Benenoch had an exceptional game!  On defense - Takkarist McKinley was a beast and Johnny Johnson gets a resounding two thumbs up for his tight and smart coverage.

beer&math: I’m going from memory here so bare with me: Think back to the drive in the second quarter that started on the 4 yard line. Jamabo gets a first down, then Rosen fumbles the snap and Iese manages to get his mitts on the ball on a head’s up play. Then something sublime occurred. Rosen was nearly tackled in the endzone for a safety (after a penalty) but his feet movement blew me away. He looked like a ninja out there or like a ghostly figure floating around at will. Rosen found Iese who brought the ball back to the original line of scrimmage which set-up the 60+ yard bomb to Kenny Walker III. Rosen’s footwork on that play is burned into my mind. That was cool to see.

3. What’s your take on the offensive false start penalties against Oregon State?

Bruinette88: Welcome to the world of Pac-12 officiating.

Mexibruin: I believe Rosen and Mora have said it all. I doubt the Pac 12 is going to do anything to the SPPTRs. I doubt they are going to do anything to OSU. I think the coaches and players have to take it as a lesson and move on.

uclaluv: Well, my first take is that when you subtract the false, false start penalties from the total penalty count - the Bruins were much improved penalty wise in this game. The official stats say UCLA had 10 penalties for 71 yards. So given that 7 of those penalties were false starts - UCLA’s "true" penalties ranged anywhere from 3 to 10, depending on how many false, false starts there were (for which OSU should have been penalized). In the Eye Test it appears that a minimum of three of the false starts were created by the defense’s illegal shenanigans, so that would drop us down to 7 penalties for 56 yards. On the one hand, the officials in the conference are always going to do stupid things. On the other hand, this shows improvement in this area. I also really liked how Jake Brendel addressed it yesterday - no big deal, we dealt with it. And, of course, it gave OSU something to celebrate (after they would pull it off), so that’s a nice thing.

beer&math: I didn’t know what to think since it is clearly cheating from OSU. I surely thought there’d be outrage amongst all of BN! Yet, we beat OSU so badly, 41-0, that in the end it doesn’t feel like a big deal worth getting upset over (going to follow Mexi and Brendle’s lead). I’ll spin it positively and say that the team handled adversity well (and, to Mora’s credit, they have since he’s been leading the team) by adjusting to it on the fly by going with a silent count. Oh &, Luv’s comment above is really funny!

4. Many around the Bruinverse, myself included, are calling for Coach Mora to replace offensive coordinator (OC) Noel Mazzone. After scoring 34, 37, 24, 56, 23*, 35*, 40, 35, and 41 (asterisk represents the two losses) good for #28 in the country in scoring offense, is it unrealistic to expect a better OC?

Bruinette88: If you think like Dan Guerrero, then good is good enough, and being ranked 28th in anything is satisfactory. Of course you’d also think that finishing fourth in the Pac-12 in basketball is pretty darn good, and that a couple of runner-up finishes in the Pac-12 South in football is absolutely delightful. However, my expectations for our football program are higher than that, so expecting better isn’t unrealistic unless there’s an immovable roadblock in the way.

Mexibruin: Not at all. Out of those scores, how many were TDs scored by the defense? How many were scores on short yardage situations after the defense got us a turn over? Going back to the actual question, we know that many coaches are made to look brilliant by the quality of athletes they have at their disposal. The real question is "is it realistic to expect a different OC to do better with the players we have?" And, the answer, in my opinion is a resounding yes.

uclaluv: Absolutely not. I have the same questions that Mexi has. As Coach says, "success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming." I don’t think this offensive coordinator has achieved anywhere near that kind of success. I think the pure talent and intelligence of many of our players has been able to overcome many of the flaws in offensive scheming and play-calling. I think there are games where Mazzone does a good job, but then there are games that look like no preparation took place (game planning, watching film, etc.). This inconsistency is not success. Again from Coach, "Self-Control creates consistency. Consistency is crucial to getting to the top and staying there."  Mazzone has consistently shown he is incapable of being consistently near or at the top of his game, or near or at the top of the kind of game UCLA needs its OC to be if the Bruins are to be a force in college football. As Mexi said, we have some amazing talent on the offense. Under Mazzone we have had two of the best quarterbacks in the nation. So, Mexi’s question and answer are exactly right: "‘is it realistic to expect a different OC to do better with the players we have’ And, the answer, in my opinion is a resounding yes."

beer&math: This question is tough since even in defeat Mazzone’s offense has managed to put points on the board. Yet, I think it’s critical to appeal to the Eye Test. The points on the scoreboard can fool pedestrian observers, but it will not fool IE Angel’s critical eye. Also, Luv is dead on about consistency since Mazzone’s offense can go through long periods of droughts. We need fresh blood in that position who isn’t going to take games off like Mazzone is prone to do. With the talent and experience we have on hand, an innovative coordinator can immediately take this team to the elite level.

5. Courtesy of Seth Chandler: How much bigger is the gap between U.C.L.A. and OSU than the gap between U.C.L.A. and Stanford?

Bruinette88: An order of magnitude bigger. OSU hasn’t won a Pac-12 game this season, and only won 2 conference games last season. At the moment, Oregon State is a bottom-tier Pac-12 program. The Bruins may not be an elite Pac-12 program yet, but they are a helluva lot closer to the top than the bottom.

Mexibruin: Tricky question because I think there is no real gap between UCLA and Stanford. The problem, as I see it, is that A) Stanford matches up well against us, and B) their coaches have a solid idea how they want to use their players. Oregon has beaten Stanford, so it’s not simply about power football vs spread football. Oregon has a firmer mindset as far as how they want to play football.

uclaluv: There is a real gap between OSU and UCLA in talent. Going through the Eye Test, IE points to several places where our players are just bigger, faster, and more skilled. We now have the number one rated quarterback in the nation, the number one running back in the nation, we had a 5* quarterback for three years. We have running back that rushed for the most yards in the conference last year. We have superior talent everywhere. So there is a big gap, as there should be. When we make the same comparison to Stanford, can we say they are superior to us in every position? Clearly not. So the gap that exists between UCLA and Stanford is not one of talent. Rather it is one of what is being done with that talent and how the team is prepared for the given opponent. There, there seems to be quite a sizeable gap!

beer&math: The Stanford gap is all mental since it’s between the coaches. Stanford’s David Shaw always comes out looking better than Mora and less predictable against UCLA. I’m not sure why Mora keeps trying to out-Stanford Stanford, which isn’t going to work since that is not the type of athletes UCLA has recruited. The talent gap is non-existent (basically equal though the past few years, if not to UCLA’s favor) so Mora and Co. need to figure out their identity and stick to it. As to the gap between OSU and UCLA, well what we saw on the field was telling. I believe Coach Anderson will make the team more competitive but not to UCLA’s level anytime soon.

6. I predicted this three-game winning streak after the brutal Stanford loss, then that we would lose the final three games to Wazzu, Utah, and $outhern Cal. I’m still sticking with my predictions, but what do you think?

Bruinette88: According to my analysis, the probability that the Bruins will drop all three games  (as you predict) is less than the probability that they will win all three games, but not by a lot. I reckon that the most likely outcome is two wins and a loss, which is slightly higher than the likelihood of one win and two losses. All of which leaves me with one question: when did you become so pessimistic about this team, b&m? ;-)

Mexibruin: I think all three of those games are toss ups. And, that’s a shame, because only one of them should be. I don’t think we lose all three, but I would not surprise me if we do. I think we’ll win two of the three. But, a big part of that is wishful thinking. I think Wazzu is going to be a tough but winnable game, Utah is unwinnable, and Southern Cal is toss up with advantage for SC playing at home.

uclaluv: I am concerned about all three games. I think the defense is coming together, but we will see this week, as we take on a good offense in Wazzu. I do think UCLA will win this one. I think UCLA should win against Utah. It’s an away game - which tends to be a good thing - Ka’imi Fairbairn is in great form, and I think our d can handle them. My real concern is Southern Cal. I don’t think they should win. But we’ve beaten them three years in a row and they’re going to be up on their high horse and raring to go. I truly hope I’m wrong about this. So what do I really think? We could win all three. We could lose all three. Josh is ready. Let’s see if the coaches are.

beer&math: Like I said in the question, I am predicting doom and gloom. Though, the complete opposite is also likely, as is every other permutation of results. Leach’s Wazzu team looks dangerous but I can also see Mora blowing them out as we match up well against them. The Pac-12 is unpredictable so just strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. By the way, let me make it clear that I don’t have faith in the coaches coming up with effective game plans but I have all the faith in the players. Will they need to overcome ineffective scheming? We’ll find out soon enough.

7. The extra point - what else is on your mind?

Bruinette88: Three of UCLA’s seven false start penalties were in the third and fourth quarters with the Bruins leading by 31 points or more. What did the Beavers hope to accomplish with their gamesmanship at that point in the contest? Were they hoping to impress recruits, perfecting the art of cheating, or saluting the career of Pete Carroll? Is what they gained worth the cost to the reputation of the program? Are they hoping that local high school players will think "sure, the Beavers suck, but if you want to learn how to cheat, Oregon State is the place to be!"?

I know that I wouldn’t want to see those tactics from the Bruins. I want to be proud of the way the team goes about its business. As far as I’m concerned, character matters.

Mexibruin: I think those who have been drinking the Kool Aid of the last three games are about to get a rude awakening. There is that old saying, that "adversity does not build character, it reveals it." Well, we’re about to see what our coaches are made of. I know what we have in the players. But, I’m not looking forward to some of the coach speak we are going to hear in the coming weeks.

uclaluv: I really like boring games like the last one where we pull away. I’d love to see us continue to do this. I was pleased that we didn’t go conservative and that a lot of guys got in the game. I was really hoping that Roosevelt Davis would have scored a TD at the end of the game. He gives his all for this team and has been tremendous on special teams - so dang, if only he could have gotten it into the endzone.

On a totally different note, I learned that the Bruin Fan Alliance is making it possible for three bus loads of students to go to the Utah game! This is awesome and something the athletic department could and should have been doing all along. But I really like that they are not only raising these issues with the department, but are taking it on themselves to get students to the game.

One more thing: Duarte’s always open!

beer&math: I agree with Mexi as you can surmise from my "gloom and doom" from my answer above. I just don’t think Mora can lead a team to a win in a "big game." Of course, I hope I’m wrong!

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That’s it for the Oregon State Beavers Postgame Roundtable. Thanks to everyone for sharing their thoughts and I welcome anyone else to share their own answers in the comments.

If you have any of your own questions, fire away in the comments as well.

GO BRUINS!