1. Our Bruins followed last week's extremely disappointing loss to Utah with arguably an even worse loss to the Oregon Ducks this Saturday - which loss was more devastating to UCLA's season? Can this season be saved? If so, how?
Achilles: Oregon was way way way worse because it was one of our measuring sticks for the season. They didn't just beat us, they crushed us. We were not competitive. It we had beaten Oregon, we could have called Utah "just an upset." But now we know: we're not good. The season can be saved by winning out, but LOL at that.
Tydides: Oregon. Even elite teams have hiccups, and well coached but underrated teams like Utah are the ones that usually spring the upset. This, of course, relies on the presumption that you have an elite team, which was something we could still delude ourselves into believing 3 days ago. Not anymore. Oregon showed us what an actual elite team looks like, on our own field, and we simply weren't up to the task. Because nothing less than an elite season would be considered a success in this, Mora's third year, and because the nail is effectively in that coffin, Oregon is a worse loss. No, the season cannot be saved.
Uclaluv: I agree Oregon. The Utah game was a bad loss and there was so much "to fix". But this game showed that things were only going to go down, not up.
JoeBruin15: The loss to Oregon was worse because it was supposed to be the game where we broke through and proved we were an elite team. Instead, all it did was raise more questions. The quotes from the Oregon coaches are a serious indictment of our coaching staff. Considering that it was possible to go undefeated this season and that we have two losses after just six games, this season has already been wrecked. It could haave been really special. Now, we'll be lucky to win the Pac-12 South.
gbruin: I think losing to Utah was a more devastating to our season, because that's a team we need to beat in our own division. Not to say we shouldn't beat Oregon, and putting aside how we lost, it's still Oregon, and they are far better than Utah. If Oregon was our one loss this year, it would be easier to put it behind us. Now, can the season be saved? Sure. Just win out, baby. Of course, we haven't seen anything to think thats a realistic possibility.
2. Another year, another loss to the Oregon Ducks - how do the Bruins go from here to climbing back to the top of the Pac-12? Is that even possible with the current coaching regime?
Achilles: We're so far away I wouldn't even know where to begin. I think it's possible with the current coaching regime, but only if they acknowledge that there needs to be major changes. If they think we just need to "execute a little better" they're nuts.
Tydides: Climbing back? Maybe if we extend the timeframe back a quarter century. As currently constructed, this coaching staff is maxed out. Look at the talent on the field. Look at how they're being used. This is where IE's eye tests are supremely helpful, because it shows in no uncertain terms how woefully unprepared this staff is. These guys could make the Seattle Seahawks look average in college with this un-creative, conservative, one-size-fits-all BS on both sides of the ball.
Uclaluv: I don't think we can do it with the coordinators. With Mazzone, I don't think this is really his priority frankly. I think you saw it after the first game in the drive when Mora tried to rib him about scoring some points. I think he is more into him than into what this team needs to do to win. I think there are reasons he hasn't stayed anywhere very long. He needs to be gone. As for Ulbrich, it's a different problem but just as bad. He is a position coach not a coordinator. The fact that he played the same package, nickel, against both Utah and Oregon says it all. I mean really, do you think they're the same kind of teams? And that he kept playing the pass against Utah even after they switched out quarterbacks? I just don't think he has a clue as to what he's doing. You can hear it in the interviews. They are not qualified for different reasons to be our coordinators. We cannot move up in the Pac-12 with them there. So, what about Mora. To me it depends on whether he gets that or not. With the right coordinators and staff, I think he could take UCLA back up to where it should be. But is he capable of doing that, finding the right people and letting these people go?
JoeBruin15: So, we now have an offensive coordinator who was fired once at halftime and we have a defensive coordinator who almost quit before halftime. Our offensive line coach has taken an offensive line that was bad and actually made it worse. Our quarterback coach is not qualified to be a coach at UCLA. Coach Mora needs to recognize this and clean house.
gbruin: Is Mazzone going to change his offense? Is Klemm suddenly going to get the line play up to their skill level? Is Ulbrich going to learn how to be a creative and adaptive coordinator? Theoretically, it's possible if the current regime makes some pretty fundamental changes. In reality, I don't think they have it in them to change.
3. With the Bruin faithful having seen both of Mora's coordinators lose their composure under stress - first, Noel Mazzone allegedly giving the middle finger to a section of UCLA fans - second, Jeff Ulbrich's sideline meltdown - are the wheels coming off the bus for this regime? Is this the beginning of the end for Mora or can he still turn it around?
Achilles: If it's the beginning of the end, it's metaphorical or we won't see it until much later in retrospect. This AD just gave Alford an extension for no reason at all, just because he could. He's two years from even thinking about needing a new football coach. If we go 8-5 and one of the eight is over SC, it will be considered a "successful" season. We'll learn a lot about Mora if we come back next year with the same staff as this year.
Tydides: I have no idea what's going on with them right now, but I think it's safe to say these guys are not on the same page right now at the very least. We know Mora will be back for at least next year, but Mazzne has to be a dead man walking, and at the very least Ulbrich needs to get reaquainted with the LBs because that's who he's going to be coaching up next year. Whether you can do such a wholesale replacement of both coordinators and hold things together afterwards, well, I guess it's possible, but I don't think I've ever seen it happen. You do the math.
Uclaluv: I agree with Achilles. The wheels may or may not be coming off the bus, but whether or not they are in some sense is irrelevant given our current AD. I do think they are coming off. I also think Mora could turn it around. But I don't think he can this year unless he let's at least one of these guys go. I think statements like Jack's about something will fix it I guess say it all. Without making a change now, in one of the postitions, and changing both before the next. There is no way to get the bus moving. But again, it's a moot question because Dan is not the man. Even if Mora were to go, who would come in? Even if the bus continues to roll off the cliff and crash onto the rocks, will Dan notice and do anything about it? It's like the proverbial question about the tree in the forest. No one is there to hear it.
JoeBruin15: Yes, the wheels are starting to come off the bus. Mora needs to act boldly and swiftly. That's the only way for him to turn things around. If he is not willing to make the necessary changes, then we will definitely point to this game as the beginning of the end.
gbruin: I don't think this is necessarily the beginning of the end for Mora, but it probably should be the beginning of the end for those two coaches. Mazzone's offense is stale and isn't surprising anyone, nor is it maximizing the talent on the field or the opportunities within the game. Ulbrich did a very good job as a LB coach and we would do well for him to resume that role. Mora has done some good things in his first couple years, but he'll need to make some major changes to regain that momentum.
4. It wasn't a fun game to watch, but what positives were you able to take away from this beat down by the Ducks?
Achilles: The crowd hung in there on a hot day when they had nothing to cheer for. 80,000 plus.
Tydides: Was a lot quieter in the idiot sunshine pumper department this weekend.
Uclaluv: Okay, I have two real ones. 1. Paul Perkins has been getting some good coaching and has become the solid rb we have needed. Also, he is in there consistently, instead of the committee thing, and is a star. It really irked me when Mazzone remarked that he has to break through to the next level now. Instead of 10 yards, break out for 50 or whatever he said. Yes it would be nice if he had that break out speed, but really. This guy is the one real ray of sunshine this year (especially now that teams have figured out ways to take Ish out of the return equation). 2. I do think the receivers have gotten better. There are still issues there, but when I think back to the dark days of our receiving corps, I do feel thankful for them. Of course given those two things, it is even more incredible and upsetting that we can't put more than one solid offensive performance together.
JoeBruin15: Perkins was the biggest positive. It's too bad our offensive coordinator wasn't able to call plays that would get him into the end zone.
gbruin: Paul Perkins. Anthony Jefferson. The OL actually did some decent run blocking. And the long snapper seemed to do a good job.
5. Where do you see the Bruins finishing in the Pac-12 now? Do they have any realistic chance at still winning the South Division and making it to the conference title game? And if they somehow do manage to pull it off, does anyone have any confidence that the Ducks won't just steamroll the Bruins again?
Achilles: No chance to win the South. Which is good because Oregon would kill us again.
Tydides: We won't win the South, and I guess that's all that matters because a failure is a failure is a failure.
Uclaluv: We won't win the South. If we did it would be like the first year we won it, everyone else failed and let us have it. So if the rest of the south collapses and Oregon shows up...oh hell no. Not that again.
JoeBruin15: We are going to need to win out and Utah will need to lose two more games in order for us to win the South. That seems like a longshot at this point. If it should actually happen, Oregon will roll over us again easily.
gbruin: Man is the South wide open. First it's $c. Then it isn't $c, and it's us. Then it isn't us and it's Arizona. Then it isn't Arizona and it's, umm, it's, uh. Hmm. Southern Cal may have the easiest remaining schedule. Wouldn't that be a bucket of salt in the wound? I say we have as good a chance as anyone else in the South, but I don't see the consistency or the execution needed to make it happen.
6. The extra point - fire away:
Achilles: We need to stop kicking field goals.
Tydides: It's still shocking and disgusting that there exists a segment of our fanbase that not only has no expectations of this team, but wears that like a badge of honor. Like they're proud to be a brainless, drooling, knuckle dragging sockpuppet lapping up every word out of Morgan Center and Mora's mouths like gospel. Where did they learn this behavior? It sure as hell wasn't UCLA. As embarrassing as it is to have a flop of a football team and a fraudulent player-blaming head coach, it's even worse to know that somewhere out there I'm being associated with a whole gaggle of low-expectation-having-mother-fers who are proud to stand behind a team that looks like a bunch of headless chickens so long as the chickens try hard.
Uclaluv: What Achilles and Tydides said (although I wouldn't put it quite the same way as Ty!). I get so upset with a coach that continues to put a kicker who is so inconsistent out there, just to see him fail. He should never be out there for anything 40+ yards. Period. We have a better chance, no matter what the circumstances, of getting whatever we need with the offense. And now I can't believe I just said that. But it's true, if the right plays are called. Man it's like a lose, lose. Either attempt a field goal or let Mazzone call a play. As for the fanbase. I don't mind fans that just want to show up and watch and just be casual fans. I actually envy them. But the ones who criticize others for caring and watching and wanting more, well that is upsetting. I think what really is painful to me as a fan, is that it is such a great feeling when your team is relevant, in the conversation, doing great things that are fun to watch. I thought we'd have that this year and it is really disappointing that we don't. But what is worse is what the players must be feeling. I really admire, respect, and like the guys on this team. They are so easy to get behind and give your all to. They really are special and I was so looking forward to getting to see them accomplish all that they are capable of. They deserve only the best!
JoeBruin15: The past two weeks have been extremely painful. I don't understand why so many so-called Bruin fans are willing to accept mediocrity and just accept losing. Maybe it's because they don't care enough. I don't get it, but I refuse to stand by and accept the bull that our coaches are shovelling. BN has never shied away from looking at things realistically. We won't stop now just because Coach Mora had two of the best seasons in the last twenty years. The standard is national championships, not second-tier bowl games. Bruin fans need to look at things more analytically.
Finally, we need to stop trying unmakeable field goals and Coach Mora needs to reset his expectations in this regard. What he called a "makeable" field goal last week, wasn't. I will have a lot more respect for him when he stops deluding himself and goes for it on fourth down, instead of settling for three point attempts.
gbruin: As bad as losing is, the way we have been losing (and even winning before that) is what really hurts. It just breeds disappointment and anger, and then that disappointment and anger infects the fans and apparently infects the coaches, too. This was supposed to be such an exciting season and it's become totally toxic. And that, by the way, is not BN's fault. We're just the messenger. People who are pissed at BN need to take an honest look inside themselves and admit what they're really angry about.
That's it for this week folks. Fire away in the comment thread with your thoughts on the Oregon beatdown as we figure out where UCLA football goes from here as the team gets ready for an afternoon showdown with the UC Berkeley Bears.