1. The Bruins took control early and built a big lead going into halftime, but seemingly lost steam in the second half, unable to really step on the Huskies' throats - what does this UCLA squad need to do to be able to kill off a team and put a game beyond any doubt?
Tydides: Some of that was out of our control, like the ridiculous phantom pass interference on Lucien to wipe out a clear TD. Some of it was self inflicted, like whatever the hell that sequence was at the end of the first half when we did nothing with our last timeout rather than take a shot at the endzone. Overall I felt like we didn't do too badly here. Probably because it was a 2-3 possession game throughout the second half. We just don't roll like Oregon, that much is clear.
Achilles: I was watching at a party so didn't have my attention on every play, but my sense was that we were in control all the way. Washington never really got closer than two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and I felt we could score whenever we needed to. I felt it was a good road win vs. a bowl eligible conference opponent. No complaints.
AHMB: I thought we played well in the second half offensively. We only had five possessions in the second half, we scored on three of those possessions, punted on one, and the game ended on the last possession. Defensively, Washington was able to grind out a long touchdown drive and a couple of solid drives that ended with field goals. Some of that had to do with the fact that we were up big and playing the pass, but Washington was content in slowly churning up the field with the running game. The biggest problem was on special teams, where we got burned on 100 yard return and a couple other big returns.
IE Angel: Part of it is the way a mentality of doing the NFL style of coaching impacts the decision making. Less risks taken with leads, FGs, punts, field position are prioritized. Part of it in this game was the awful time management at the end of the first half (35-10 at the half versus 31-10 is a big difference) and the robbery of a TD pass on a throw to Devin Lucien.
2. While UCLA didn't seal the victory until deep in the fourth quarter, it was still a very solid road win, with the Bruins committing only one, maybe two, actual penalties, the offense mixing in both the deep ball and passes over the middle, and the defense did enough to keep Washington off balance on offense - which win was more comprehensive - Washington or Arizona State?
Tydides: This one. We depended on the big play against ASU and the body blows seemed to rock their psyche more than anything. Against UW it looked like we actually had a systematic plan to punish the Huskies. As you said, it looked like we were finally exploiting the middle to keep UW from closing in on Hundley. When the run was working with Perkins gashing the UW D again and again, we kept with it rather than try to get cute. I enjoyed this win a lot more because it felt more sustainable.
Achilles: This one. I thought that ASU contributed to our win as much as we took the game from them. That pick at the end of the second quarter that Adams ran back in Tempe was just a blunder by the Sun Devils. In this one, we were in command no matter what the Huskies did.
AHMB: We may have played a better all around game against Washington, but the win over ASU really showed how good this team can be against a quality opponent.
IslandBruin2: I enjoyed this one more. The ASU game was basically out of hand, so UCLA did not really need to demonstrate staying power. They had to against Washington, and they did.
IE Angel: The Eye Test is what I go by and this was a complete team win as opposed to the ASU game which was less of a blowout than it appeared on paper.
3. What positive developments do you see in this UCLA team as we enter the final stretch run of the regular football season?
Tydides: Being able to get into our opponents backfield is a big help. Seemed like through 8 games we couldn't get QB pressure to save our lives, and the last two games, while I don't think we registered a whole bunch of sacks or TFLs, we were disrupting the timing back there. That needs to continue if we want to keep putting pressure on ASU to win out.
Achilles: We're playing our best football of the year right now and I suppose that's what you want to see. Sure, it would have been better had we been playing at this level in September and improved from there, but it didn't work out that way. Two weeks ago I thought we could lose our last four. Now, I'll be disappointed if we don't beat Southern Cal and Stanford.
AHMB: The defense has really taken a step forward in the past couple of weeks. We're getting much better pressure with our defensive line, and we seem to rally to the ball much quicker. Overall, it just seems like the unit is playing faster.
IslandBruin2: Brett seems to be more decisive, and he is making the correct reads.
IE Angel: The secondary and defensive line are starting to look like the dominant units they should have been all season. The offensive line is gelling well, Brett Hundley is Brett Hundley. Penalties down. Play calling on both sides of the ball is much less infuriating.
4. What about the flip side of that - where could the Bruins improve going forward?
Tydides: IE can probably go into the details on this but there is a weird pattern emerging where our defense will seemingly take a whole series off. Misdirection often seems way too effective against us. I think that's mostly a LB issue but I'm probably wrong about that.
Achilles: Everything still needs to improve. We're playing well but there isn't one aspect of the game where we couldn't stand to do better.
AHMB: Consistency is key. The team shows flashes of how good they can be, and at those times we look like we can play with any team in the country.
IE Angel: I would like to see Myles Jack actually play a disciplined game of defense The offense could continue improving. I'd say linebacker play in general needs to improve. Would like the kickoff coverage to prove this game was just an aberration because they have been stellar in every game but this one.
5. With the Sun Devils beating an overrated Notre Dame team (always enjoy watching pompous hypocrite Brian Kelly lose), Arizona State is getting a lot of national attention as a potential College Football Playoff dark horse - considering how thoroughly the Bruins dismantled the Sun Devils, how much does that choke job against Utah hurt now?
Tydides: If we don't get help from ASU, this will be Mora's "Ben Howland against Memphis" season. Just like when we couldn't get over the hump despite having Love/the Prince/Collison/Westbrook on the same team, this could be where we look back and say how the hell didn't we do more with Brett Hundley. Forget the losers that think we should all be ecstatic with 10 wins. They have brain damage. We've got our all time TD leader and the winningest QB in school history under center (done in less than 3 years), and you have to strike when the iron is hot.
AHMB: As much hype as ASU is getting, they still have to win the PAC to get into the playoffs. Had we beaten Utah, we'd be in the same boat. The road still goes through Oregon. The Utah game was a monumental let down, but we can't forget the beating Oregon laid on us the following week. Oregon is the measuring stick, and Mora's program is not on par at this point. Look at the way Oregon dismantled Utah. Yes, Utah is a solid team and battled Oregon, but Oregon responded and destroyed them in the 4th quarter. Thats what playoff caliber teams do.
IslandBruin2: I agree with AHMB that we would need to win the PAC to reach the national semi's. But we would have at least been in one of the other four prestige games if we had come into Levi's 11-1. Even a loss in the championship game would have left us 11-2, with both losses to a top four team. We would have been in a prestige game for sure. Instead, we are looking at a Dorrellian bowl consolation prize. Utah is a killer.
IE Angel: I'm still more bothered by Oregon to be honest. I know Oregon is a national championship favorite, but that was the game I will regret in the future not a fluky Utah game where the offensive line imploded.
6. The extra point - fire away:
Tydides: It can't be stressed enough how fortunate we are to have Brett, and it's a real shame that the success or failure of this season is now out of his hands. He deserved to control his own destiny at this point of the year. The last three halves of football are more indicative of the kind of play and talent we and the national punditry expected out of us this year. The coaches showed up two and a half months late, and that's a rage inducing indictment against this staff. The fact that we can win out and still fail on the season just sucks...but at least it doesn't suck as much as basketball (I'd rather watch the Lakers this year than watch TIARA and little TIARA). There's 3 revenue sport games left this academic year, maybe 4 if we're lucky, so I really hope they're good.
AHMB: The next two games will tell me a lot about the state of the program. Mora has not lost to Southern Cal since he arrived, nor has he beaten Stanford. Neither team is the same that he is used to facing. Southern Cal isn't good by any means, but they have shown signs of life under Sark. Stanford looks like a shell of itself, but I guarantee there are a lot of proud players on that team that will continue to fight. Stomping out any hopes of a Southern Cal revival and finishing off a crumbling Stanford program to finish the regular season should be the goal.
Achilles: I don't know if anyone caught any of Kyle Allen playing for Texas aTm vs # 3 Auburn but he's really good. Some thought he was a UCLA lean and if he was, we missed out on a good one. On the other hand, if Josh Rosen is as good at Allen, we'll be really good next year. (I guess you would also have to factor in getting coached by aTm's coaches vs being coached by the Mazzones -- but still.)
IslandBruin2: Hats off to the SPTR's for killing Washington's chance to pull off a fake punt with their bogus "there is no penalty" nonsense. It was nice to hear Mike Pereira rip into the officiating crew. If we have enough embarrassments like that on national TV, Larry Scott will have to take action.
IE Angel: PAC-12 South is the 2nd best division in college football. UCLA still can win the conference, not 100% eliminated from the Playoff. Maybe 17 teams can realistically claim that at this point. Just keep winning games please, UCLA.
That's it for this week folks. Fire away in the comment thread with your thoughts on the close win over Washington as we continue to wait to see if Arizona State will stumble and let the Bruins back into the Pac-12 South race through the back door. It's a bye week for the Bruins this week, with hated Southern Cal on tap next.