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The UCLA Bruins took a step back in their loss to the Oregon State Beavers, but only a step back. There are still concerning issues the team needs to clean up.
Here's the thing about the UCLA Bruins. They need a lot of time to undo their bad habits.
UCLA has been so underwhelming for so long they've seemingly forgotten how to do the simple things. They've struggled to create a vertical downfield passing game. They've had trouble getting the offensive line to execute on a consistent basis. They've seen their defense made countless mental mistakes despite excellent talent at every position. And everything eventually snowballs.
So when they lose a close, hard-fought competitive game like they did against Oregon State, there's reason for disappointment, but reason for encouragement.
The Beavers gave the Bruins their best, provided a blueprint for the standard of excellence UCLA has been striving to find for over a decade. Oregon State came right out and gave UCLA their best shot, making huge plays on offense and matching things up. A year ago facing such adversity, UCLA might have caved into a hole and never got back off the mat. This year there were far more encouraging signs that the Bruins will be a little bit more gutty than that.
UCLA's run game never got going. That is generally a death knell for the team's chances to succeed at doing anything of worth, particularly for a team that depended so heavily on Johnathan Franklin's legs to keep the offense moving forward. If UCLA doesn't pile up rushing numbers, they usually get blown apart.
Yet although the offense was far less effective with Franklin doing less, it didn't crash into a ditch. Brett Hundley had his hiccups, but when he was forced to pass the ball he made the most of his opportunities. Hundley spread the football out to 11 receivers, and had some big explosive plays like his late first half touchdown to Shaquelle Evans that he delivered right on stride. Hundley also managed two very successful second half drives that kept UCLA right in it. The UCLA defense struggled throughout the first half and made a few critical errors in the second, but the Bruins also managed to force two big turnovers.
The thing is UCLA's next game is against Colorado, which should be a cruiser of a game if the Bruins have their heads screwed on right. If they can get past Cal on a Saturday night in Memorial, the Bruins will be 5-1 and still very much in control of their Pac-12 destiny with very beatable foes ahead of them.
UCLA just needs to stay resilient. They will reap the rewards if they do.
SB Nation Snippets
Joe Fauria had an atrocious game. A false start penalty that probably cost UCLA a touchdown on the goal-line. Dropped pass on third down on the second drive of the game.
Fauria eventually got replaced at Y by Darius Bell, who actually had a nice game; but he commits a holding penalty and a false start penalty.
Steven Manfro had a tough game, with two drops and a near fumble on the goal-line.
Sheldon Price. Enough said.
More missed tackles in this game than the other 3 games combined. Less swarming to the ball on defense.
Drops, penalties, and general lack of execution. We saw some disturbing signs of it against Houston. But the issues blew out in the open yesterday afternoon. Perhaps it's just a two game funk the Bruins are going through after the high of Nebraska. But we need the coaches to get these issues addresses sooner rather than later. I don't really care about Mora or his staff saying how things need to get "cleaned up." Again, we have been hearing all that for more than a decade.