Another week, another game with UCLA playing down to the level of their opposition. And another week where UCLA let a much weaker opponent stick around all game - and another week where the Bruins needed a Marcus Rios interception to seal a victory and some heroics from Brett Hundley (plus some poor execution on the Buffaloes side in crunch time - if Colorado didn't flub it at the end of the first half and get the easy FG, UCLA loses this game by three points, especially since Colorado could have ran the clock down prior to kicking that last FG). Still, it's a win, which is certainly better than the alternative, but it has the exact same flavor as the narrow wins over Virginia and Memphis.
When the season got underway, the sunshine pumpers told us that it was still early, that the team needed time to get firing on all cylinders, that this team could still make the reasonable expectations placed on this team (win the Pac-12 conference title and play in a top-tier bowl). Well, we're now eight games into the season and this UCLA squad is the same mediocre play-down-to-the-opponent squad we saw in the first two games against Virginia and Memphis.
The Bruins were decidedly mediocre, unable to put away a Colorado team that has just two wins so far on the year. The talent gap between these squads is extremely wide - by comparison the #20-ranked Southern Cal Trojans came out and hung 28 points on the Buffaloes in the first quarter of last week's game. For UCLA, it was another sleepy, half-hearted, undisciplined (despite what Mora keeps saying - the penalties do matter and are killing this team) effort.
At every point that the Bruins took a commanding lead, UCLA would lull themselves back to sleep and let Colorado come back and make the game competitive. There's no doubt - this team absolutely lacks the killer instinct to finish off a team, to kick them when they are down, to, as they say in Mortal Kombat, FINISH HIM. The coaching staff has completely failed to instill that in this squad (along with making stupid play call decisions like running for it on 3rd and short from the shotgun, putting the RB well behind the line of scrimmage).
The once highly touted Heisman candidate, Brett Hundley, looked decidedly pedestrian (except for those last two runs to win the game in OT) today - but is that really Hundley's fault? The kid passed up on being a first round NFL Draft pick to return to Westwood to help lead to the Bruins in what was widely (and reasonably) pegged to be a huge season for UCLA football. Instead, he looks like he's regressed under the "coaching" of Noel and Taylor Mazzone. To be blunt - this coaching staff has FAILED Hundley. The talent is undoubtedly there - but the inability of either Mazzone to develop that talent is a damning indictment against their continued employment in Westwood.
It's a win - but this team looks nothing like the elite squad that they should have been. The season is still alive and the Bruin still have a shot at winning the Pac-12 South - but they don't look like the team with the heart and fire to seize it. We'll see how this teams finishes down the stretch, because there's no "easy" games left on the schedule (Arizona, Washington, Southern Cal, Stanford).