D-LUSIONS OF GRANDEUR — The Defense that looked so good last week while bailing out the Offense gives up 469 yards to lowly Memphis, as the Bruins once again struggle to escape an unranked foe, leaving many doubts as to whether UCLA is as good as they thought they were coming into the season; Meanwhile, the UCLA Spirit Squad lives up to their lofty expectations in the Bruins’ home debut
Half of the UCLA Football team is all that’s needed to beat the likes of Virginia and Memphis, but it will take the whole team to compete in the Pac-12. On a day where u$c upset #13 Stanford in Palo Alto — thereby sending Fair Warning to the Bruins that UCLA’s ownership of L.A. could be in severe jeopardy — UCLA countered by barely surviving powderpuff Memphis, 42-35 in a game that was still in doubt all the way to the final gun.
The Bruins failed to dominate the Tigers because the UCLA Defense did not come close to playing as well as they did in Virginia. Maybe they got a little complacent after their stellar performance a week ago, or maybe they REALLY missed Safety Randall Goforth, who injured his shoulder on Saturday night, left the game, and never returned. The Coaches said that the Defensive players were not giving 100% on every play. Whatever the reason, the Tigers torched them for 469 yards.
But just like last week, the weak half of the team was picked up by the other half. The better half this time was the Offense, as Brett Hundley passed for 396 yards and 3 TD’s: a 62-yard bomb to Kenny Walker and 2 to Thomas Duarte; Paul Perkins ran for 2 TD’s and Myles Jack ran for another. The Bruins were up 28-21 at the Half, and 35-21 in the 4th quarter. But the Tigers came back with a drive to cut the lead in half, and then the Offense made their one big mistake — Hundley threw a Pick-6 — and suddenly the score was tied at 35.
Hundley shook off the INT, though, and drove the Bruins down the field, connecting on a 33-yard strike to a wide-open Duarte to put UCLA up for good. The Tigers had three chances to tie, but the Bruin Defense finally stiffened when it really had to. They were helped out at the end, when atrocious play-calling by Memphis squandered any chance they had to tie the game in the final minute.
Is it possible that the 2014 Bruins — led by Saviors (Coach) Mora and Hundley — really aren’t that good? Some glaring problems continued to haunt the Bruins, as Placekicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed an Extra Point, Punter Matt Mengel averaged only 34 yards per kick, and the Bruins committed 9 Penalties for 85 yards, including one on a critical failed 4th Down attempt by Memphis that gave the ball right back to them.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. The bright spots included Wide Receivers and Tight Ends getting open and making catches, and the Line giving Hundley time to find them. Paul Perkins looked pretty good running the ball, and Freshman Running Back Nate Starks got in and had an 11-yard carry. Obviously the Offense can put some points on the board, and they would be much more explosive if the Coaching Staff took the shackles off Hundley’s legs and let him run free. I understand that they don’t want him to get hurt, but when the competition stiffens, the Bruins will need Hundley to run out of the Read Option formation if they are to be successful. The misdirection creates huge lanes for Hundley to exploit, and even the threat of that possibility opens up everything else for the Bruins.
Speaking of stiff competition, next week the Bruins travel to Texas to face the Longhorns. You would have thought that that would provide a good test for the Bruins. But Texas got pummeled by BYU on Saturday, so maybe the Bruins can get another win with just one of their two main units performing well.
And speaking of units performing well, let’s talk about the 2014 UCLA Spirit Squad. Of course I am biased because I was on the Selection Committee for both Dance and Cheer, but I think everyone who saw them would agree: I did a good job! 😛 The Squad looks fantastic, the new choreography is splendid, and the students are already in midseason form. There are TEN new additions to Dance and Cheer units, so it will take a little while for me to be able to correctly label the photos and tell you about the new individuals. But in the meantime, just enjoy all the photos, and the totality of the squad.
One last thing before I unleash all the new photos: One of the best parts of Saturday was seeing so many former Spirit Squad members in attendance to support their successors (and to support the Football team). I was overwhelmed by the kindness of these girls — they are so sweet and such good people. I really, truly appreciate the way they treat me. I hope they come to every game. I’m talking about Kayley, Amanda, Kali, Sarah, Kelly, and Erica. Dana was there as well, but I didn’t get to talk to her. I also talked to some Moms and Dads, and of course, to many of the current squad members, who it seems will continue the tradition of being personable and down-to-earth, despite being so beautiful and talented!
Here are 48 photos from the game and the pre-game rally. Click of them to enlarge them, especially the horizontal ones. And most importantly: Come back during the week, because I have hundreds more from which I will be posting all the good ones. I’m trying to show you all the new talent, but only 11 were posing for photos where I was, so I may not get everyone this week. Hopefully at the next home game I will capture the beauty of anyone I missed this week,