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Bruin Bites: "It All Comes Down To Coaching"

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Coming off of two bad losses, the local media stress that Mora the same won't work. Here are a few observations from UCLA football's local beat writers.

Scott Halleran

The local media spends day in and day out with the UCLA football team. They know this team, these coaches, and have a better view than most as to what is going on with the team. Let's take a look at what some of them are saying.

Ryan Kartje of the OC Register asks the essential question:

So how, after so much optimism and hype before season, does UCLA find itself freefalling?

In a conference call with Coach Mora Sunday evening, the press was given some direction for how to answer that question from Mora (from Kartje):

Whenever you write anything, the guy that should get all the blame is me, all right...Not the players, not the assistants – I’m the one that gets paid to do it the most. I’ve got the big shoulders. So if you’re ever in a situation where you’d like to blame someone, blame me.

And he is right. We have criticized the play calling and the work being done by some of our coaches and staff, but in the end, Coach Mora hired them, Coach Mora supervises them and Coach Mora can fire them.

Mora continues:

I wish you guys could see how how hard these kids work, and these coaches, but I know it doesn’t matter when you don’t win. It’s my job to shoulder the burden, so if there’s someone you’re aiming it, aim it at me, please.

We agree. But it doesn't mean that criticism of the assistants should cease. After all, if their actions are a problem, then what they are doing needs to be pointed out and fixed. Especially, when asked about Coach Ulbrich and the job he is doing, you get a response like this:

I think he’s doing a good job and getting better every week.

Ryan Kartje and Edward Lewis (of Bruins Sports Report) in their Cover Two Recap of Saturday's game had some very pointed things to say about the coaching staff as reflected on the field.

Lewis points out that while UCLA was never really in the game after the first quarter, that UCLA individually matches up well with Oregon and might even be better.

So clearly it came down to coaching.

With regards to the defense they note that Oregon ran at will. UCLA "didn't even have the fight to stay in this game" and they gave up three unanswered touchdowns. UCLA didn't look like they had a chance past the 1st quarter. They go on to discuss what an open, stand up guy Coach Ulbrich is. How he takes responsibility for the defense's performance and blame in front of the cameras but at some point "you just have to ask for more".

It's hard to really see a part of their defense in which they've improved in this season...

Kartje uses sacks as an example, noting that the press has been asking about sacks the entire season and UCLA still has 7 sacks in 6 games. Kartje goes on to discuss that lack of in-game and even different game adjustments Ulbrich has made on defense. He points out the he used the nickel all game long against Utah, and then again against Oregon.

It was kind of why are you doing that? Where are the adjustments?

They say that the coaching staff needs to make some big changes that will lead to a better team effort and stop it from spiraling downward.

Unfortunately, the biggest change they note is not in what is happening on the field, but in Mora's demeanor off the field. They said they thought they (the press) was all alarmed by Mora in the post-game press conference. Instead of being "pumped up", "rowdy", "pounding fists", and "in your mouth", he was talking about fan support and the player's energy. Like gbruin, they contrast this with Mora's fight and anger after last year's loss. Kartje:

I think people just want to see him mad.

but instead

he got somewhat defensive...

You wonder what's happening inside the locker room. What are they telling these guys. A lot of people would have given their complete trust in Jim Mora at the beginning of this season. I wonder how many still feel that way.

Watch for yourselves:

Chris Foster of the L.A. Times also points to the glaring problems with our ability to stop the ball:

the Bruins need to solve some serious issues. For starters, they have allowed 500 yards rushing the last two games.

Jack Wang from The Daily News also notes the defense's inability to stop the run:

The Ducks’ three unanswered touchdown drives to start the second half all ended on runs: one by Mariota and two by true freshman Royce Freeman, who rushed for a career-high 121 yards. They averaged 6.07 yards per carry, easily the most of any Bruin opponent this season.

Oregon (5-1, 2-1) gained yards so efficiently on the ground that it only faced two third downs in the second half.

(Emphasis mine.)

Wang quotes Myles Jack who may be saying it better than anyone:

"We have to change something that — maybe the coaches will figure out, or something we’ll figure out," Jack said. "Something’s gotta change."

Go Bruins!