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UCLA Football: BN's post Southern Cal Beat Down Roundtable

UCLA outclassed Southern Cal on the field on Saturday, prompting the panic hire of of a mediocre coach. Find out what our moderators have to say about it all.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Initial Impressions?

IE Angel: There are rarely better days/weeks than those after beating Southern Cal. It was possibly the best weekend of football that I have ever witnessed (the Auburn-Alabama ending, Ohio State-Michigan. many others on Saturday, Friday and Thanksgiving games, even an entertaining Sunday). It was a great weekend to be a football fan.

gbruin: There is nothing sweeter than beating Southern Cal, except beating them by the biggest margin in over 40 years. That was the most complete all-around game we've played this year, and the final score reflects what happens when the Bruins do that.  Scary thing, look how much room there is for improvement, too.

Ajax: What a great all-around performance. That was the most prepared this team has been for a long time.

Achilles: I thought we'd win and we did. They beat Stanford, yeah, but I was never all that impressed with Southern Cal this season. We played really well in all phases of the game and slowly blew them out.

Odysseus: This was a very good all-around win.  We dominated all phases of the game.  I only wish we would have dropped 50 on them.

Bellerophon: That felt good. The Bruins are back and in a big way.  This group of players is talented and confident and it's a welcome change from the Dorrell days when coaches and players were hoping to just be competitive with mighty Southern Cal.  There's no fear from these kids and they act like they own Los Angeles, probably because they do now.

AHMB:  Last year felt good, but this year was better.  We beat them from beginning to end thoroughly.  It was the most complete game that I've seen under Coach Mora, and it instantly raises the bar for what I expect to see going forward.

2. The Good

IE Angel: Holding Southern Cal to just 314 yards of offense and 14 points, probably the most complete defensive performance of the season from beginning to end. Brett Hundley's steadiness throughout the game. The performance of the coaching staff and players. The general exuberance at the end and after the game from Coach Mora and the team. There were lots of reasons to be happy about this game.

gbruin: The defense was very solid throughout, keeping the trogan big play guys in check, and the pressure got better as the game went deeper.  The play calling was very good this week and generally kept the D guessing where the ball was headed.  It was great seeing the Bruins adjust to the apparent mismatch with our O line vs their D line by running shorter routes and getting the ball out of Hundey's hands quickly.  Hundley was great - efficient, decisive, confident.  Let's see more of that going forward.  Great job by Ben Wysocki stepping in the line, too.  Ishmael Adams had a great game on both D and on returns.  Cassius Marsh and Anthony Barr were monsters.  Devin Lucien looked great.  And getting called for just five (one offsetting) penalties in a game with glasses ref is incredible.

Achilles: Great defensive performance and Noel Mazzone had his best day play calling all season long. Also, some of the seniors -- Cassius Marsh and Anthony Barr in particular -- showed up in their last SC game and played great.

Odysseus: Great to see Anthony Barr have another memorable performance.  Brett Hundley played his best game of the season, Mazzone called his best game of the season, the penalties were even better except for Benenoch's ejection and Adams' near ejection.  Really pleased for the players and students, especially the seniors.

Bellerophon:  It was a complete victory in all three phases of the game.  Ishmael Adams return game was excellent and I think we found our primary return man for next season, barring injury or someone else exploding on the scene.  The defense did an outstanding job of limiting the Trojans' very talented WR corps and I thought Barr and Marsh really did outstanding getting pressure on Kessler. On offense, Mazzone called his best game as UCLA's OC, mixing in the swing passes with mid-range crossing routes, and a nice mix of run and pass plays.  Seting up the Hundley bootleg for a TD with the Jack play action was very nice.  The penalties were down and despite injuries and an ejection (more on that in a bit), these guys really stepped up and won a big game.

AHMB:  Pretty much everything.  Our guys showed up and balled out from start to finish.

3. The Bad

IE Angel: The reckless penalties or near penalties at the beginning of the game. Caleb Benenoch's ejection was unbelievably immature (but also the stiffest punch from a football player I've seen since LeGarrette Blount knocked out that Boise State defensive end, put that Trojan on his knee), as was Ishmael Adams' near ejection.

gbruin: The overall lack of discipline early, with our guys biting at the trogan baiting.  We gotta keep our heads better than that.  Aside from that, it's hard to critique much.  In the long term, we need to improve on our interior run game, and the DB's can improve on coverage a bit. Also, the last 2 games our D line needed to do a better job keeping our inside backers free.

Achilles: We still make too many penalties.

Odysseus: Really just the personal fouls at the beginning.  Other than that, sure there might have been a few missed tackles or other mistakes, but it was a remarkably clean game.

Bellerophon:  Caleb Benenoch's ejection.  I get that it's a rivalry game, that emotions run high, and that you're being baited, but you have to learn to control your temper and not let an opponent get in your head like that.  Kendricks missed some tackles he would normally make, but that's about it.  There wasn't much to complain about.  Hell, even Glasses Ref wasn't that bad (by his normally atrocious standards).

AHMB:  Benenoch's punch and the overhyped start in general.  We came out too fired up, but once we settled down we dominated.

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

IE Angel: Obvious choices would be either Anthony Barr or Hundley, so I'm going to go with Ben Wysocki. He played at a crazy high level after Benenoch was ejected. A better performance from him then we could have expected out of Benenoch, honestly. There was lots of time for Hundley to throw, and he didn't really need that much with how quick he was making decisions.

gbruin: I'm not as nuanced as IE and just go for the obvious, so I'll give co-awards to Cassius Marsh and Anthony Barr.  Marsh had his best defensive game of the year and maybe ever, and for a guy who's had a hot head in the past, he showed great maturity ignoring the trogan baiting and just played great football instead. Despite getting held on virtually every play, Barr was awesome and made game changing plays.

Achilles: Marsh and Barr.

Odysseus: Agreed, Marsh and Barr were pumped up in the right way and they came up huge in their senior seasons against Southern Cal.

Bellerophon: The entire offensive line wasn't dominating, but despite inexperience, playing out of position, they did their job against a very good Trojan front seven.  They gave Hundley just enough time (most of the time) to find his receivers in the intermediate passing game, they opened up some nice holes for Perkins and Jordon James. Marsh, Barr, and Hundley all get honorable mentions.

AHMB:  Hundley and Marsh.

5. Coach of the game?

IE Angel: Going with Jeff Ulbrich here. The special teams this season has just been off the charts. The blocking schemes on kickoff returns have given Ishmael Adams the chance to shine and Adams has taken the opportunity. The kickoff and punt coverage teams continue to impress (though there was one big punt return by Agholor). 23rd in net punting, 19th in kickoff return defense, 18th in punt return defense (top 5 before this game), 5th in kickoff returns, 0 blocked kicks/punts allowed versus 6 blocked kicks/punts. Those numbers are outstanding. I'd take this special teams unit over any in the country.

gbruin: Agree on Ulbrich above.  I want to add that for all the well-deserved heat he has taken this season and especially lately, Noel Mazzone deserves big props for Saturday.  All the things that were wrong with the game plan against ASU got fixed this week.  Hundley made quick reads and throws, negating the trogan pash rush.  We saw a better variety and distribution of routes.  There were fewer zero yard runs up the middle this week in favor of getting the ball on the edge quickly and getting our RB's more space.  I didn't like the run up the middle with Myles Jack on that 4th and 2, but the give to Eddie Vanderdoes for the TD Hundley's fake and bootleg for a TD later were great calls from that same package.

Achilles: Jim Mora. It's his team. He had everyone ready.

Odysseus: Ulbrich has been the coach of the season, and Mora clearly had everyone ready, Spanos has been consistently good but I think for all the criticism we have leveled at Mazzone, he deserves credit for this one.

Bellerophon:  Adrian Klemm.  He has a patchwork offensive line against a Southern Cal front seven that had a lot of talent (but not much depth) and his kids got the job done.  Games are won in the trenches and Klemm's unit led the Bruins to a victory.  Nothing they did will make SportsCenter, but it helped UCLA come away with a huge win in the Coliseum.

AHMB:  I thought Mazzone called his best game, mixing his play calls up and setting up Southern Cal's defense all night.  Again, he raised the bar and I expect to see this kind of play calling from here on out.

6. At what point in the game did you know it was over?

IE Angel: The awesome part of this game was that it was always a question of when UCLA was going to put the Trojans away. Going up 14-0, then 21-7, then 28-14, then 35-14. It was just a matter of pulling away. As for an actual moment, I'd say when Southern Cal fumbled and Myles Jack scooped it up at the start of the 4th quarter in UCLA territory.

gbruin: The strip-sack by Barr and recovery by Marsh late in the 4th.  Ballgame.  Pandemonium.  Joy.

Achilles: It's all a blur to me, I don't remember too many specific plays. I'll go with the play when the SC back just dropped the ball and Myles Jack picked it up. That knocked the wind out of SC's sails.

Odysseus: I agree that it always felt as if we were dominating, but there was always that nagging doubt until Kessler got Barrjacked for the strip sack.

Bellerophon: In the fourth quarter, our Bruins went out following a stalled UCLA drive with 10 minutes on the clock and held the Trojans to a three-and-out.  At that point, I knew the Trojans still hadn't figured out how to move the ball on Spanos' defense and with 9 minutes left and a two TD lead, they weren't going to in whatever little time we left them with the ball.

AHMB:  I thought Southern Cal's only chance to win was to get up on us early.  We got off to a bad start, but once we got rolling and Southern Cal hadn't put any points on the board, I was confident that we'd win.

7. The Extra Point.

IE Angel: UCLA has a chance to be one of the first four teams in the first NCAA Championship Series (what are they going to call those games?) next season. With or without Brett Hundley. The talent returning is among the best in the country, the Bruins get Oregon, Southern Cal and Stanford at home. The front line might be the best UCLA's ever had with Eddie Vanderdoes, Ellis McCarthy, Kenneth Clark and a returning Owamagbe Odighizuwa. The entire offensive line will likely be back (I expect XSF to return because he's played out of position all year). Only Shaq Evans will be lost from the skill position group (I don't really count Damien Thigpen or Malcolm Jones). The linebackers lose Barr and Zumwalt, but there is more than enough talent everywhere else to supplement that. The entire secondary will be back and older. Plus Jim Mora has a chance to capitalize on this win and build an elite recruiting class (Joe Mixon, Adoree Jackson and Malchi Dupree would all be instant contributors if UCLA could land them). There is no excuse, with or without Hundley, to not be in position to win the Pac-12 in 2014.

gbruin: This is why we were harping all season on wanting the team to stay focused and play a full 60 minutes.  Remember, this was a rejuvenated trogan team playing at home with tons of talent and 5 straight wins, so it wasn't like we were playing a bunch of scrubs, and our Bruins dominated them in all 3 parts of the game.  That's what our team is capable of.  If we had played like that against ASU and Stanford, we're 11-1 and hosting the Pac-12 title game and are heading to the Rose Bowl.  I don't say this to be punitive or look at the glass half full.  It's the exact opposite.  I honestly believe that Coach Mora and the team feel this way, too, and I realize that it's always easier said than done.  But knowing that, we can and should celebrate what we've done, but let's keep aiming higher, too.

Achilles: I thought we'd win our last four games, but we didn't. I think it really showed something that we came right back after losing to ASU and kicked our rival's ass. Under prior regimes, we would have folded.

Odysseus: Next year can be something special and the talent, depth, and schedule will be there.  The leadership from the coaches and players needs to be consistent so that the team is able to play 12 games like the victory over Southern Cal.  If that happens, watch out.

Bellerophon:  While the win over Southern Cal is nice, we still came up short by not winning the Pac-12 South.  With the talent on this roster, with or without Hundley, we should be able to re-take the division and, if Hundley is back, win the conference and be playing the Rose Bowl at the end of next season.

AHMB:  It really sucks that we have to wait 12 months to play Southern Cal again.

8. The Extra Extra Point: Thoughts, reactions to Sarkisian hire by Southern Cal.

IE Angel: Best case scenario outside of rehiring Lane. If there is one thing that Sarkisian has proved in Washington, it is that he knows how to win less than 6 conference games. Who could ask for a better path for Southern Cal moving forward? This hire also has to call into question the merits of Pat Haden as an AD over there. Not a great couple of hires so far for him. The baseball program is a joke, their basketball hire looks bad and they've just moved to their second straight Pete Carroll staff promotion. Good week to be a Bruin.

gbruin: In all seriousness, I cheered.  I mean, they're still *$c, right?  They can get whomever they want, right?  I was genuinely worried they'd make a serious run at Saban or Meyers, and then have a real shot at Sumlin or Briles or an SEC coordinator.  DeRuyter at Fresno State would have worried me.  Sark doesn't worry me.  We know what he is already, and it shows how far they've fallen to settle for a guy like that.  It really sounds like Haden rushed this, and that doesn't make sense.  Maybe he took Coach Hiring 101 with Dan?

Achilles: I just don't understand why Haden acted so quickly. What was his hurry? They fired Kiffin months ago to get a jump on the process and they hired Sarkisian after one interview one day after losing to us. Someday I'll find out why they panicked like that. Sark doesn't impress me at all. He's going to be totally dependent on having a great staff. I was scared they'd hit a home run. This is a foul ball.

Odysseus: Haden panicked, it's as simple as that.  He looked as clueless as Chianti Dan hiring TARA because he didn't want a protracted search and the appearance of multiple rejections.  There are some solid choices out there like DeRuyter or some others along those lines.  It looks like Southern Cal decided that they want a Mack Brown-type head coach, someone who goes along with the administration, recruits well enough, and is well-liked by boosters and alums.  The difference is, in his prime, Mack Brown actually won at a fairly decent clip.  Welcome to Southern Cal, Sevin Win Sark.  Maybe at Southern Cal he can go 8-4 every year instead of 7-5.  It's a great day to be a Bruin.  We Own This Town.

Bellerophon: I'm not as down on Haden as some of my colleagues are, but not because Seven Win Sark is anything to fear at Southern Cal.  Sure, the better talent and recruiting advantages will probably translate into an extra win or two, but the Sarkisian hire doesn't have any buzz factor and Trojan fans have to be concerned that they hired a guy who has been decidedly mediocre in Pac-12 conference play, despite having a lot of talented players in Seattle.  But I think Haden may have made a smart move because Sarkisian is really just a glorified interim head coach - he's the short-term play and if he ends up blowing up, then it's a nice gamble for Haden.  But when Sark fails to reach their lofty expectations, Haden will be able to show him the door in a couple of years and search for a top-tier candidate without having to compete with the likes of Texas, Nebraska, and Florida for the best coaching candidates (which impacted this hiring process as some of Southern Cal's first options elected to stay put or hold out for Texas/Nebraska/Florida), with the added bonus that when Sark is shown the door, by then the sanctions will have ended and a new coach will not be hampered.  Of course, UCLA can throw a monkey wrench in this plan by capitalizing on the Trojans' collapse to completely take-over Los Angeles.  History dictates that the Trojans will be back and will challenge the Bruins for Southern California dominance once again, but if Mora plays it right, he'll have a strong hand to swat away that challenge when it inevitably comes, rather than folding like a cheap suit in the Karl Dorrell mold.

AHMB:  The timeline is interesting.  Sark is hired on Monday, yet Coach O was playing for the job on Saturday night?  Seems fishy to me.  More likely, Haden and Sark already had a deal in place, and Coach O never had a real shot.


Feel free to chime in.