A quick look back to August shows a whole host of preseason hype surrounding the UCLA Bruins. For a team that finished 10-3 last season including a victory over Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl, the expectations were undoubtedly going to be astronomical.
A large bit of success can be attributed to coach Jim Mora who, in just two short years, rejuvenated the atmosphere in Brentwood.
Moving to the offensive side of things, we have the dark horse Heisman candidate, quarterback Brett Hundley. There was talk that if the now redshirt junior would have entered the draft this past may, he would have likely gone as a first round pic. Though talk is cheap, all summer long Hundley was still projected to be a Top 10 pick in the next NFL Draft.
Hundley was only the beginning when it came to the skill that stacked the Bruins roster. For instance, there is the dynamic duo of senior Jordan James and sophomore Paul Perkins in the backfield who combined for 1,107 rushing yards last season.
And that’s only a peek at the Bruins offense. Clearly, there is talent to be found on the field for UCLA.
As it stands, UCLA is 4-2 with four contests left, all of them major proving points. A team that started out on such a high pedestal has had even further to fall, dropping 18 spots in the rankings from No. 7 to No. 25.
UCLA has developed a habit of playing down to their opponents this season, their only true victory earned against Arizona State.
With each new matchup, UCLA seems to raise more questions than it answers out on the field. For Instance the Bruins needed double overtime to secure a win over Colorado. This seems almost laughable, for a once-top ten team.
Coach Mora tried to make light of the situation.
“We wanted to see what overtime felt like. You know, keeping it interesting… we’re not perfect, got a lot of going to do, but we are resilient,” he quipped.
Couldn’t agree more, coach. UCLA is slipping through the cracks, barely clinging to the number 25 spot it seems.
“[turnovers are] something we need to be conscious of,” offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said.
Then there is the issue of the Bruins and their knack for picking up penalty yardage. In 2012 and 2013, UCLA was among the nation’s most penalized teams. Though their average has decreased on the season, there is still work that needs to be done.
That gets coupled with the issue of missing potential big-yardage plays. Whether this is a result of overthrowing the ball or receivers missing cues, it resulted in 5.1-yards per attempt against Colorado.
UCLA gave up a 17-point lead against Colorado as well, the harrowing Knight in True Blue, Hundley, stepping up in double overtime to secure the win. Needless to say, something has gone awry in the Bruins program and is in desperate need of attention. These last four contests will be a true test of it UCLA deserves to run with the big dogs or not.
*Section Photo credit to Joe Robbins, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA Today Sports