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UCLA Football: USC Post-Game Roundtable

The writers and editors of Bruins Nation discuss UCLA’s 36-14 loss to USC.

NCAA Football: Southern California at UCLA Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Well, that happened. Let’s just start by asking what went well for the Bruins.

Robert Bastron: Turnover margin of +2. Didn’t allow any big returns from Adoree Jackson. The first couple of drives on offense... I guess those are good things.

AnteatersandBruins: Fafaul threw at least one interception in every game he started except this one. Props to this guy for playing his heart out in a usually hostile environment. We also scored first and the first quarter looked pretty darn good.

Nirya: Well, that first quarter was kind of fun. Jordan Lasley once again showed why he’s the best WR on the team, looking like the only WR able to get consistent separation from the USC corners. Oh, and no turnovers. That was nice to see.

Joe Piechowski: The first two scoring drives went well. That was about it.

2. The offense did its thing. That is, the offense looked competent for a few drives then looked as if the entire concept of football was foreign to them. Honestly, at this point in the season I have no real leading question I could ask, so feel free to just fire away on any thoughts on the offense.

Robert Bastron: I honestly think that may have been heightened adrenaline going into a rivalry game, and the line getting blocks they aren’t normally getting. After the first quarter, reality set in and things were back to normal. The offense can’t move the ball, and it really couldn’t move the ball against a talented, athletic, and well-coached defense.

AnteatersandBruins: I agree with Robert. They came out of the locker room high off of someone’s get up speech, settled in, and went back to old habits. Bad blocking from the offensive line, dropped pases, etc.

Nirya: The first quarter running game was maybe the funniest thing I’ve seen all year, like UCLA was running a rope-a-dope all year with their run game just for this weekend. But yeah, I think we all assumed it would be as bad as it was the next three quarters.

Joe Piechowski: The inability of the offense to keep drives going cost them the game. UCLA punted seven times in the game compared to only twice for Southern Cal. When you keep giving the other team the ball back, you can’t expect to win.

3. The defense had one of their worst outings of the year, as USC’s gameplan completely neutralized anything the Bruins attempted. How did you feel the defense did?

Robert Bastron: As Bradley said after the game, USC was always just a step ahead of the defense. They couldn’t get to the quarterback, and they really couldn’t get the Trojans off the field on third downs. I’m not sure the guys weren’t in the right places, they just weren’t making plays.

AnteatersandBruins: The defense seemed like they were always two seconds behind anything USC did. Not getting to Darnold was huge and they seemed to be moving in slow motion all night.

Nirya: UCLA got out-coached on defense almost as badly as the offense was. USC recognized what a force Takkarist McKinley is, and ran plays designed to neutralize him, with rollouts and quick outs. They also recognized that Randall Goforth is the worst coverage back on the field, and consistently picked on him all game. I don’t know what the defense could have done at that point, because they were just never put in a position to succeed against an offense running with the efficiency USC had.

Joe Piechowski: The defense just couldn’t stop the Southern Cal offense. Again, Southern Cal only punted twice. Sure, we had two interceptions, but that just wasn’t enough in this game. The defense has to stop the opponents’ offense from getting into the end zone and our defense couldn’t do that on Saturday.

4. At 4-7, UCLA is essentially eliminated from any bowl berth (yes, a win next week and UCLA could conceivably apply for a bowl waiver, but we’ll cross that bridge if we get there). Either way, this can only be looked at as a failure. With an offseason of uncertainty looming, what would you like to see happen this next week against Cal to build towards next year?

Robert Bastron: A win always feels better than a loss, but I’m not sure there’s anything I could see that would make me feel better going into the off season, as I’m now just anxious to see what changes will happen in the coming weeks/months. Mora’s not going to be fired; if he leaves, it’ll be his own decision, which I don’t think will happen--he’s not going to be hot on the market after this season. So what’s he going to do? I think we’re all pretty onto who needs to go, but can a head coach who’s only fired one assistant before fire some guys he’s worked with for years? What kind of replacements does he bring in? Are we going back to the spread full time? The Cal game I just hope isn’t a total disaster; as fans, I think we’re already asking what’s going to happen next.

AnteatersandBruins: I told my husband this morning that I just want to see the seniors go out on a win. EV, Fafaul, and the others that have put the time in deserve to go out on a positive note even though the season wasn’t what any of us expected. I really want to see what changes are coming. There’s no doubt that something has to give.

Nirya: At this point, you need to give the younger players more play, if only to evaluate what kind of talent the team has going forward. There’s going to be changes in the coaching staff, so knowing what personnel the team has would be beneficial. Of course, UCLA didn’t seem to recognize what personnel they had this year when they completely changed the offense, so......

Joe Piechowski: I’d like to see one of the freshman quarterbacks to get the start. Get someone some game experience prior to next season. PLEASE!

5. The Extra Point - Sound off!

AnteatersandBruins: I was surprised that the game wasn’t more hostile like it had been in past years. It’s almost as if everyone walked in knowing the outcome and went through the motions. The bowl wasn’t sold out, the crowd was flat, and the USC fans didn’t even turn out like they normally do. At just over 71,000 in paid attendance, it was a pretty disappointing rivalry game.

Nirya: I still can’t believe we’re at a point where Steve Alford might have more support from UCLA fans than Jim Mora does. That’s where you have to give Alford credit: he recognized what talent he had brought in and catered the coaching style to take advantage of that i.e. high speed, open offense. The football team took their personnel and put them in a system they weren’t built for. That should be the biggest takeaway from this season: bad evaluations of where the team was.

Joe Piechowski: FYI...Are we a basketball school again? Sigh.

Go Bruins.