- A win! How does it feel to finally win one in the past few months?
Robert Bastron: It feels better than another loss! Sure, it was against Oregon State, but it probably helps the team to have broken the losing streak and have that off their chest before heading into the practice week for SC; a bit of a sigh of relief for us fans, too.
orlandobruin: A win is a win is a win. Sure it was against arguably the worst team in the PAC 12, but UCLA got the “W.” The Bruins will need to be much, much better to have a chance against Southern Cal this weekend.
Nirya: I’m happy for the players, but this victory felt hollow. Yes, it’s hard to say the game was ever in doubt, even after the interception and quick touchdown to start the game for the Beavers, but there was still just a ton of issues in this game to feel great about it.
Joe Piechowski: Let’s keep this in perspective. It was Oregon State. They’ve consistently been one of the worst teams in the Pac-12. This game should have never been in doubt, but the fact is that it was another close game until Randall Goforth ran back his interception for a TD. Let’s not celebrate too much. We have Southern Cal this Saturday night.
2. UCLA broke 100 rushing yards for the first time since the Arizona game back on October 1st. So the run game is completely fixed forever, right?
Robert Bastron: Absolutely! Nah, I’d be surprised if it looked any better than the worst run game performances coming up this week in the Rose Bowl. Though there may be reason to believe that is has slightly improved from the worst--running the spread, Fafaul getting a bit better throwing the ball.. I’m not expecting 100 yards on Saturday though (maybe against Cal).
orlandobruin: Uh . . . no. I like that they used some of the younger guys, Jalen Starks and Stephens. Frankly, Jamabo has been a huge disappointment to me. I thought he could be the sound coming of Adrian Peterson. Boy was I wrong. Nate Starks doesn’t seem to punish defenders as he did before this year. I still like Bolu too.
Nirya: Yeah, I’m not very confident in the run game going into this week’s game. Suffice to say that USC’s defensive line is a step up from Oregon State’s. There’s just too much wrong with this whole run game scheme for it to be fixed during the season.
Joe Piechowski: Over the past few weeks, I’ve started to rethink our offense. Right now, I’m of the opinion that, perhaps, Mazzone’s offense, coupled with the talents of Brett Hundley and Paul Perkins, actually hid how bad our offensive line was and that falls on the Run Game Coordinator Adrian Klemm. The run game will not be fixed until he is given his walking papers and a real offensive line coach is hired. I agree with orlando regarding Soso Jamabo. He’s had a very disappointing season and I hope things turn around for him because he has so much potential. But, then again, one of the biggest problems with UCLA Football has been the fact that the team has not lived up to its potential. And, that’s a big reason why Mora needs to go.
3. It felt like this game featured the most drops by wide receivers this season. Is there even a fix going forward for this group?
Robert Bastron: Drops by receivers, even after they had the ball caught; and drops by a running back. I don’t know that there is a fix except--as we’ve stressed here--to stop playing the guys who drop passes more than guys who don’t. But even Darren Andrews had a drop on Saturday, one of the most sure-handed receivers on the team. If the offense didn’t play so sloppy, we would’ve won by four touchdowns and the game would’ve effectively been over just after halftime.
orlandobruin: Juggs machine? Over and over and over? I directly attribute at least two losses (an argument can be made for more) to dropped passes. UCLA could be 6-4 instead of 4-6 if the receivers (and tight ends) could just hold on to the g-damn ball. It is bitterly disappointing and is occurring across the board, even if some players bear more of the brunt than others.
Nirya: Well, there’s a simple answer: shorten the rotation and play your more consistent (and talented) receivers more often. Actually, I take that back. There’s an even simpler answer: get a new wide receivers coach who actually understands that concept.
Joe Piechowski: I agree with Nirya. A new receivers coach is likely needed, but I also don’t trust Mora to find a good one. If you replace Mora, you’ll get both.
4. The defense only gave up 17 points in this game, and both touchdown drives by Oregon State began inside the UCLA 20. How did you feel about their performance?
Robert Bastron: Well, the bad: They uncharacteristically gave up a lot of yards through the air, and to the worst passing offense in the Pac-12. But, it’s still hard to get mad about only giving up three points on honest drives. The defense will have to get some help from the offense and special teams to have any hope against the Trojans on Saturday; one key to winning will not be allowing Sam Darnold and co to start drives already in the red zone.
orlandobruin: I love this defense. They gave up one long drive that resulted in a field goal. Two of the Beaver TDs were on very short fields and the other was a fumble recovery. I know Oregon State is not good but the defense did more than enough of its share to contribute to the win. Conversely, the offense did just enough.
Nirya: I’ll be honest, this wasn’t their best performance (that was against Colorado), but they played extremely well in this game. There were some causes for concern, like the passing defense issues that Robert pointed out, but overall this is a defense that should keep UCLA in the game next week.
Joe Piechowski: If it wasn’t for the defense, the team would really be getting slaughtered each week. Could they have played better against the Beavers? Sure, you can always play better. I would like to have seen Takkarist McKinley make more plays and harass the QB more like he did against Colorado. But the defense still got the job done this week.
5. It’s Rivalry Week. USC is coming off an emotional road victory over Washington. Can the Bruins bring the Victory Bell back to campus?
Robert Bastron: Anything can happen! The defense is good enough to keep the team in a game against anyone, including Southern Cal. But, as has been the case all season, it’s the offense that has questions, and they’ll be up against the best defensive line they’ve faced all season. Can they beat SC with an anemic running game and a former walk-on at quarterback? The O will have to play mistake-free (something they’ve been unable to do) and probably get a lucky bounce or two their way.
orlandobruin: This is the 10 year anniversary of 13-9, which featured a better Southern Cal team and a lesser UCLA team. As Robert said, anything can happen. For UCLA to win, however, the Bruins will need to eliminate the turnovers, drops, and offensive miscues. This team has the talent to win the game; the question is whether the team can execute to win the game. UCLA will need to play its best game of the season to win on Saturday.
Nirya: 13-9 is actually about what this game is going to have to be, at least stylistically. That game featured a defense that played lights out and an offense that struggled, but did just enough. The defense should do well; that performance against a similar Colorado team was what will be needed. The offense is going to have to find a way to move the ball consistently, whether that means the offensive line finally figures out how to run block, or more likely the receivers have their best game of the season and minimize the drops, allowing them to attack a (relatively weaker) USC secondary.
Joe Piechowski: I might be convinced that Jim Mora should keep his job (while returning last summer’s extension) if he can pull off a win this week. But, it’s going to take a complete game of football for that to happen and it’s something we didn’t see last week or any week this season. At the risk of “sounding negative”, I’m going to look at this realistically and emphatically say “No!” The point spread at the MGM currently sits at 13-1/2 points. I don’t even think we’ll cover that spread.
6. The Extra Point - Sound off!
Robert Bastron: It’s the ten year anniversary of 13-9. The game is again at the Rose Bowl, and the Trojans are again surging. On the Bruins’ side? Not at all surging, but the defense is elite, while the offense--oh, with a backup QB--has struggled. Not saying it’s going to happen! But if UCLA does pull off the upset, the score would probably have to look pretty similar.
orlandobruin: John Barnes, John Barnes, John Barnes. Channelling John Barnes!!!!
Nirya: I don’t know why, but I’m oddly confident heading into this game. I think it’s because I know UCLA has the talent to compete, and I think USC might be too emotionally drained from last week. Plus it’s a rivalry game; anything can and does happen.
Joe Piechowski: Yes, I agree that anything can happen. The records are out the window. But, let’s not forget that Jim Mora is below the Karl Dorrell Conference Line in conference play. Not only has Mora gone 3-9 against his last 12 Power 5 opponents, but his conference winning percentage remains lower than Karl Dorrell. The KDCL is .571 (24-18). Jim Mora’s conference record after OSU now sits at .568 (25-19, including the 2012 P12CG). Mora should be coaching for his job this Saturday. He might not be, but he should be. Hope may spring eternal, but hope is not a strategy. And, hoping the team beats Southern Cal and UC Berkeley to become bowl-eligible is not fixing the deep problems with this football team.