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UCLA Football: BN's Stanford Post-Game Roundtable Discussion

The moderators discuss the Bruins' tough loss to the Stanford Cardinal.

Ezra Shaw

The Bruins are dealt their first humbling loss of the season and are now 5-1 (2-1 in the PAC-12) before this weekend's matchup in Eugene.

1. Initial Impressions?

bruinclassof10: Who let Karl Dorrell coach this game?

Achilles: Considering how poorly we played on offense, I'm surprised we were in the game as long as we were. This was basically a one score game until the last minute when Stanford scored late.

Odysseus: My overall impression from this game and from the season is that Mora and his staff have elevated the program to a pretty good level, but right now, UCLA is just not on the same level as Oregon or Stanford, and it won't be until Mora proves he can beat one of these programs. I don't want UCLA football to be average and I don't want it to be merely above average either. Don't get me wrong, Mora has clearly elevated the program from its worst historical 10-15 year period, but it's not where it should be. I don't believe in moral victories, but I do want to acknowledge that our players played hard, especially on defense, and we had a shot to win in the fourth quarter. Just not good enough a this point.

AHMB: Stanford outcoached and outplayed us. The game may have been close until the final minutes, but we never threatened to win the game. Our offense was stuck in neutral, and although our D played admirably, it was not a fair fight considering how much Stanford controlled the ball.

gbruin: Disappointing. This game was a progress report for our program, and our perfromance was a letdown. I agree with Odysseus above. The program is better than before Mora arrived, but it is still short of where we hoped it would be by now, and I don't think we are seeing the things that can gives fans real faith it will improve that much more.

Bellerophon: I can't say I'm surprised that we fell to Stanford in Palo Alto. Going into the season, I think most people would have chalked this up as a "probable-to-definite loss" but when you look back at how poor Stanford played against Utah and against us, this really was a winnable game that our Bruins could have taken if they came out and executed and played like they did that second half in Nebraska. David Shaw did everything he could to come out conservatively and keep us in the game, and Mora did just about everything he could to not seize the advantage. Don't expect the Ducks to be as generous.

2. The Good

bruinclassof10: Our defense played well in the first half until fatigue settled in.

Achilles: I thought the defense played pretty well all game. I haven't looked at the time of possession, but I assume we were dominated, the offense gave the defense no shot. The only thing I'd knock the defense for is not forcing any turnovers. We had a shot at a fumble recovery/return for six and couldn't come up with the ball.

Odysseus: Agreed, the defense gave a gritty performance.

AHMB: The defense played well for the most part.

gbruin: I'll agree the defense played pretty well though Stanford's current offense is far short of what it was in recent years.

Bellerophon: Obviously, the defense played outstanding. If the offense could have contributed anything to the game, the defense did more than their fair share of keeping the Bruins in it. The only other silver lining was that whatever chance there was Hundley would seriously consider jumping to the NFL after this season, those thoughts had to have been squashed with his extremely mediocre performance in Palo Alto: he's a great QB, a great Bruin, and he's going to be special -- but he's just not NFL-ready yet and that became apparent on national TV this past weekend. So, good in the sense that he'll be back next fall.

3. The Bad

bruinclassof10: Brett Hundley had his worst performance as a Bruin (but it's not entirely his fault) as of date. Receivers weren't getting separation and and our running game was nonexistent. False start penalties. Two left tackles being knocked out of the game. Losing Kendricks hurt us a lot on D too, as witnessed by Gaffney's 2nd half performance.

Achilles: An all around poor performance by the offense that highlighted every weakness we have: Poor play calling, Hundley's indecisiveness, an abundance of penalties, lack of high-end playmakers.

Odysseus: Penalties. I've said for a long time they would cost us a game. Well, as poor as some of my colleagues think this performance was (and I agree, it was terribly disappointing), we would have had a shot to win if not for the penalties. Just a killer. The coaching staff is responsible for this and they need to get it fixed. The injuries hurt a lot too and again, if we want to give the coaching staff some constructive criticism, they need to make sure to all the players have that "next man up" mentality. Particularly on the offensive line, it's not there right now. I think Klemm has done an admirable job preparing his starters and a great job recruiting, but he needs to do a better job making sure the backups are prepared to play.

AHMB: There was a lot more bad than good. The offense was inept, which stemmed from the fact that Stanford's banged up defensive line dominated our depleted offensive line. The team never got into rhythm, and when the team started to get things going, they quickly shot themselves in the foot with penalties.

gbruin: The coaching decisions regarding play calling and player rotation, vulnerability along the offensive line. Hundley had his worst game, but that happens, and I'm not worried about Brett. Brendel's recent performance is far more concerning in the big picture. Oh, and punting from the 35 yard line, under pretty much any circumstance, ever.

Bellerophon: Let's see, where to begin? Hundley's inability to hit open receivers deep, Brendel's inability to properly snap the ball, the incredibly stupid decision to not use Malcolm Jones at all after he started out strong, and most importantly, the lack of any kind of killer instinct from both the coaching staff and the entire offense.

4. Game's Most Valuable Player(s)?

bruinclassof10: XSF and Anthony Barr

Achilles: Sean Covington

Odysseus: Barr

AHMB: Defensive front 7.

gbruin: I guess I'd say Barr, though I want to see him rushing the passer more and not being used in coverage so much. Considering how much time they spent on the field, the whole front 7 played very well.

Bellerophon: Myles Jack, Anthony Barr, Jordan Zumwalt, and XSF.

5. Honorable Mentions?

bruinclassof10: Kai'imi Fairbairn

Achilles: Malcolm Jones ... LOL ... what happened to Jones after the first few plays of the game?

Odysseus: Zumwalt

AHMB: Defensive secondary.

gbruin: Sean Covington was very good. Malcolm Jones started out on fire,

Bellerophon: Malcolm Jones was a stud when they actually played him; Covington was pretty solid; Devin Fuller and Jordan Payton did well when they actually got the ball in their hands (which wasn't often enough)

6. What we hope gets addressed against Oregon next week?

bruinclassof10: Everything on offense.

Achilles: Agree with bco10 - lots of things to address on offense. We're not going to find a game breaker or another tackle, so let's focus on the penalties and playcalling.

Odysseus: The offense needs to be able to figure out how to stop killing itself with boneheaded penalties and how to make the running game work again. I'm not as down on the offense as some, but it will only work with a running game.

AHMB: Mazzone had better get the offense fixed before we get to Eugene, because we're not holding the Ducks to 24 points next week.

gbruin: Brendel's play, Hundley's accuracy, Jordon James' ankle, and the coaches' failure to stick with what works.

Bellerophon: Ditto to what they all said.

7. The Extra Point.

bruinclassof10: This was an ugly game with a lack of creativity on offense. Hundley had some success scrambling for 1st yards, yet we continued to throw screen passes for a lack of yards or no gain. Not Mazzone's finest game.

Achilles: I'm starting to wonder if Hundley is being told to be cautious about running because we have no back-up? I still think he left a lot of yards out there, even though it appeared Shayne Skov was spying him a lot of the time.

Odysseus: Mora has told the players not to accept average. Well, I don't want to accept average either. It's time for everyone to step up if they want to be more than average to above average.

AHMB: Despite the penalties and futility on offense, I came away from the game thinking Stanford was the better team and deserved to beat us. They played better overall, and specifically dominated our line in the trenches. They executed their game plan by running the ball and keeping our offense off the field. Our program clearly isn't where it needs to be yet, and it's up to Coach Mora and the staff to get it there.

gbruin: You look at the roster and at parts of the games thus far, and there are flashes of really great things. Was Stanford a better overall football team? I'm not sure. I am sure that they executed better and made better decisions and didn't hurt themselves as much as we did, and that was the difference on Saturday. There are so many little things holding us back, and they all seem within our control to fix, and it's really frustrating to still be saying that again and again and again.

Bellerophon: How this team bounces back from this loss, both in Eugene, and over the course of the season will be very telling in terms of where this program is going under Mora.