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UCLA Football: Bruin Nation's Southern Cal Trojans Post-Game Roundtable Discussion

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The writers and editors of Bruins Nation discuss the 2014 season's eleventh game, a complete demolition of Seven Win Sark's Southern Cal Trojans, with the Bruins making it abundantly clear to everyone in Los Angeles that they own the city, all while managing to keep themselves alive in the hunt for the Pac-12 South division crown and a seat in the conference title game against Oregon.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

1.  The Bruins spotted the Trojans a touchdown and gave up a for-sure touchdown in the fourth quarter when Hundley mishandled a snap, so while the scoreline didn't reflect it, how good did it feel to watch the Bruins smack the Trojans down?

gbruin: It felt really good. No, it was great. No, it was freakin awesome! And the fact that everyone, Bruins and trogans alike, know that game was a blowout and not as close as the score reflects is really satisfying.

Achilles: Great win, the mistakes don't bother me. We are playing much better than we were earlier in the year and that's a really good thing. Mora has made a point of saying he could care less about blowing a team out. As fans, we need to get used to that -- we want to blow SC out, Mora really doesn't care.

AHMB:  It's crazy when an 18 point win doesn't reflect how big of a blowout the game really was, but it really wasn't a very competitive matchup.  Southern Cal only had two drives longer than 3 plays in the second half, and one of them came when we were up 25 and content with letting them run for 4-5 a play.

IslandBruin2: We need to savor this moment.  Football is obviously a team game, but this was Brett bouncing back from his monumental opening gaffe, and taking control.

uclaluv:  It was amazing.  This football game was such a pleasure to watch, even without the rain!  So much joy!  Like Achilles, the mistakes didn't bother me so much.  They were more of an annoyance.  I think if I had been watching on TV I would have wanted a bigger blow out, I mean who doesn't want a bigger blow out.  But in the stands, with the crowd, everyone just so jazzed, even the usually stoic folk...it felt like total domination.

IE Angel: Since I have now seen this game three times all the way through and still smiled when finishing it, I would say it felt pretty damn good.

2.  Zach Banner liked to run his mouth last week about how UCLA didn't own Los Angeles - now that Owa Odighizuwa embarrassed the Trojan in a nationally televised game, do you think Mr. Banner has learned to keep his mouth shut?

gbruin: A trogan "learn"? Hahahahahahahaha! Ah, yeah, good one. Ok, what's the next question?

AHMB:  Who is Zach Banner?

IslandBruin2: Ditto AHMB

uclaluv:  Ditto AHMB & IB2.  And no, I think some trogans never learn to keep their mouths shut.

IE Angel: Owa's film for the NFL draft will be littered with Zach Banner, so I am personally glad Banner decided to mouth off. I'm sure Deon Hollins and his entire family are glad also. Zach Banner will be on a lot of highlight reels because of this game, not for his play though.

3.   What positive did you see in the Bruins' demolition of the Trojan chumps from Southern Cal?

gbruin: Confidence. Huge confidence by the Bruins. The early pick 6 didn't rattle anyone. They just came back with no panic or yips and played the game we knew was in them. Players made plays. The O Line handled a good defensive front. The defense was awesome against what has been a prolific offense. We've battered the coaching staff, with good reason, for much of this season, but they also did a really great job getting the team prepared for that game, especially DC Ulbrich and DL coach McClure on the defensive side.

Achilles: As above -- we're improving, significantly. Much credit is due Jeff Ulbrich and Adrian Klemm because the defense overall and the offensive line are so improved. We execute better, have cut down on mistakes and are committing fewer penalties. I have to give extra credit for the way we game-planned against the Trojans' best players. Agholor, Allen, Smith -- they had a few catches and a few yards -- but not much. Myles Jack tracked Agholor quite a bit and the guy did nothing.

AHMB:  It's amazing how much pressure changes the game.  A few weeks ago, a light came on with our defensive line and we started getting consistent pressure.  We've tallied 12 of our 22 total sacks in the past three weeks, and it seems like the defensive line is getting pressure on every single play.  Consequently, we've allowed less than 300 yards per game in those games and won them all pretty convincingly.

IslandBruin2: The biggest positive for me is that in our last three games over decent opponents, we are not winning each game in identical fashion. We are finding ways to win which depend on the flow of the game. Score 17? Give up 7. Give up 30? Score 44. Give up a Pick-6? Roll.

uclaluv:  Do they look like they know what they are doing out there?  Yes.  That is so different to me.  The defense was amazing.  Like Achilles said, the fact that they held Agholor to 3 receptions for 24 yards!  There is just no way to explain how impressive that is.  I am really liking that the d is getting more creative.  Myles played three defensive positions, he must have had a blast.  Ulbrich said they didn't even plan to blitz much, but because coverage was so good, it was just there for the taking (Kessler that is).  Our secondary play and scheming was huge.  On the offense, g has it right.  There is a whole new level of confidence.  This football is good to watch.  The fact that they aren't getting penalized like they did in what now feels like a whole different season, has really allowed them to find a rhythm.  I have to credit the players and the coaching staff for the different team we see out there.

IE Angel: This looked like a College Football Playoff team. That was a dominating win over a good football team.

4. What about the flip side of that - where could the Bruins improve going forward as they turn their attention to Stanford?

gbruin: They need to maintain that performance for 60 minutes. I understand the game was over by the end of the third quarter and the trogans had quit by then, so there is the naturally tendency to ease off the gas a bit there. I want the Bruins to challenge themselves to see how long they can play that well. Do that for 60 minutes and anything is possible with this team.

Achilles: Everything. I'm not kidding. This team is playing well, but I really believe everything needs improving. I'd like to see the pass rush perform as well against Stanford's top shelf offensive line as it did against Southern Cal's line.

AHMB:  I agree with Achilles.  The thing is, we have Stanford and potentially Oregon left on the slate, programs that we haven't beat since 2008 and 2007, respectively.  Those programs have earned the same sort of preparation and focus that we put in versus Southern Cal.  We have to play our best game of the season this Friday against Stanford.

IslandBruin2: We can't give up a short field to Stanford. Our punting team helped $C twice last week. Stanford's offense is not strong, but in a potentially low scoring games, short fields to the opposition could be trouble.

uclaluv:  I agree with all of the above.  They need to be focused for 60 minutes.  They need to be incredibly disciplined against a very disciplined team.  This is going to be won in the trenches. Stanford is extremely reliable in there and they use extra bigs on offense.  We need to be too disciplined and reliable too.  I think we will be.  I hope players don't tighten up and start thinking too much with so much on the line.  It looked like that was happening in the first drive against $c.  They play their best when they trust themselves and let it flow.  Relaxed & focused.

IE Angel: The running game on offense could stand to improve quite a bit on their performance in this one. They struggled in this game, from Paul Perkins to Jordon James to Nathan Starks before garbage time. The offensive line did a great job pass blocking, but the holes were not there for the backs. Brett Hundley was a non-factor on the ground for much of the game. He didn't need to be, but he will against the Cardinal. On defense, the Bruins get a boost with Ty Montgomery likely missing the contest which will balance out the likely absence of Ishmael Adams and Priest Willis in the UCLA secondary.

5.  Jim Mora has managed to beat the Trojans in every year he's been the head coach in Westwood, but he hasn't found a way to beat either Stanford or Oregon - the two teams standing between UCLA and a conference title and possibly a spot in the College Football Playoff - is this the year Mora finally gets over the hump?

gbruin: It should be, for Stanford at least. I'll worry about Oregon when we get there. But this Bruin team right now is clearly better than Stanford. I don't think we could say that last with such certainty year, and it probably wasn't true before that due to Luck and their OL. This year, the Bruins absolutely should beat Stanford.

Achilles: Agree with g. We should beat Stanford this year. We're better, they're not as good. And we're not going to get outcoached by them. Oregon -- well Oregon is, IMO, the best team in the country and is led by the best player in the country. If the playoffs started tomorrow, I'd bet on Oregon to win it all. I'll worry about them if we beat Stanford.

AHMB:  Apparently I should have read question 5 before I answered question 4.  We have to beat Stanford before we get a shot at Oregon, and I think this should be the first time since 2008 that we beat the Cardinal.

IslandBruin2: I agree with g. One step at a time. If Seven Win Steve can beat Shaw, there is no reason that Mora should not be able to.

uclaluv:  Stanford, yes, and I also agree about taking it one step at a time.  We are not the same team we were the last two seasons.  And neither is Stanford.  But I think it is more about us than it is about them.  The confidence and skill is showing at every position.  It's like a bridge, with each part of the structure built strong and to last.  I think they can cross the bridge this year.  Stanford for sure.  Oregon, well that would really be something.  I agree with Achilles that Oregon is the best team in the country and beating them in that situation would be incredible.  We might just be capable and ready. Hopefully we will get to find out.

IE Angel: I am not all that worried about Stanford because they have beaten this group of players on UCLA twice or three times depending on their age. No reason to be a trap game to a team that has beaten you. Plus it is at home, plus the Bruins are clicking on all cylinders. Plus Stanford is one of the worst offenses of any Power 5 conference team. Oregon is a different animal, but I will answer that question in the next roundtable.

6. The extra point - fire away:

gbruin: One reason Stanford has dominated us the last 3 years is that their coaching staff had a better game plan and had their team better prepared going in. Our coaching staff has shown a lot of positives the last 3+ weeks, but they'll have to step up even more for this one. We have a better roster, and Shaw is not a good in-game coach. This game is ours for our coaching staff to win.

Achilles: I've written before that this team lacks stars and the skill positions and I still stand by that. However, Paul Perkins had really become an A- back and that's a compliment. He's not an A or an A+ -- he doesn't feel like a threat to go all the way on any given play like a Maurice Jones-Drew or a DeShaun Foster. But he is good for 100 tough yards on the ground now and I'm really impressed. The receivers, too, don't necessarily have an A+ guy. But they've become such a solid unit. Jordan Payton, Eldridge Massington, Thomas Duarte, Devin Fuller, Devin Lucien, Mossi Johnson -- this is a very good group. Maybe they don't have one guy who requires double teaming, but they have a lot of guys who you can go to (and I didn't even name everyone). Also, they do a hell of a job downfield blocking. A lot of the yards Perkins, Jordan James and Nate Starks are picking up downfield are because the receivers are blocking their asses off. Much credit to Kennedy Polamalu and Eric Yarber because their groups are playing really well and are very, very fundamentally sound. I want to finish up by noting that Deon Hollins had a really good game. He's been criticized in some corners and he deserves the praise.

IslandBruin2: I compliment $C students and players about once every other decade. But hats off to them on Saturday. There was a TV picture of the $C fans in the students doing what looked like a V sign in the 4th quarter. I thought- "Victory? The score is 38-14. What are they thinking?" Then it hit me. They knew damn well what the score was. They were flashing their high school GPA. And then I noticed the C on Kessler's jersey. I thought- "Damn. He is showing his high school GPA also." For a team with a captain who tried to portray himself as the 2nd coming of Lassie, rescuing his nephew, this was refreshing candor.

uclaluv:  I want to thank this team, coaches, players, everyone, for making the $c game something to really look forward to again.  The last three years have been the most fun I have had in forever.  Three years ago, when we just killed them coming out, wow, it was an amazing few minutes and it feels like that party has never ended.  Let's keep doing it.  Even when eight was great, it didn't feel like we had the kind of domination this team has put on them the last three years.  And this is the first game where I didn't have to deal with an arrogant, drunken $c fan yelling "you suck" or some such thing, even after they had lost.  In the stands, you could feel from the onset the change in the attitude of all of us witnessing this.  The team and the fans were ready to get the party started.  No dread.  Just fun for all.  And Sam standing on our logo just reflecting the current UCLA vs. Southern Cal zeitgeist.  And I also want to comment on the receivers.  They have such fight in them to get the ball and hang on to it.  They have really impressed this year!

IE Angel: Two wins in the next 11 days. That is all that stands between UCLA and a shot at the College Football Playoff. In the last 11 days of the real regular season, UCLA is still in the discussion for a national championship. Think about how crazy and awesome and frightening and exciting that is. Been quite the season, need to finish it on a high note.

That's it for this week folks. Fire away in the comment thread with your thoughts on the dominating win over Southern Cal as we gear up for a huge showdown against Stanford to clinch the Pac-12 South division title and a chance at redemption against the Oregon Ducks.

GO BRUINS