UCLA vs. Stanford: Bruins lose to Cardinal, beat selves for good measure

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

UCLA needed to out work Stanford. Does picking up seven penalties before Stanford got their first flag count?

The loss the UCLA Bruins suffered to the Stanford Cardinal was wholly and completely, had the Bruins been any other team. Maybe not any other team, that's overstating it. But the Bruins, as they are currently constructed and operate, showed themselves to be incapable of stopping Stanford.

UCLA had been flagged 7 times for 75 yards by the time Stanford picked up their first foul. That's an impressive enough stat, but as if somehow offended by the fact that the Cardinal had gotten flagged at all, on the UCLA drive that followed the first Stanford penalty, Jeff Baca managed to pick up two fouls on the same play. Take that, he seemed to say.

I'm not being fair. I know that, but it was immensely frustrating to watch the Bruins take themselves out of a game they had every right to be in. I do not mean to diminish the effort put forth by Stanford, or to offer some kind of dismissive "they didn't beat the Bruins, the Bruins beat themselves," but UCLA did everything they could to hamstring their own effort. Drives started with penalties that put them behind in the down and distance, and scores were celebrated by personal fouls. It wasn't just the season-high yardage from penalties. Johnathan Franklin posted his third worst total for the season, a decent emblem of the way UCLA's efforts struggled against the Cardinal defense. Brett Hundley was victimized by a couple of bad drops, but he bears his share of the responsibility. He's stepped up so much this season it's easy to lose sight of the fact that he's a redshirt freshman, but anyone who had done so was reminded of that fact on Saturday, when seven sacks confirmed that he has trouble figuring out when to get rid of the ball.

Most of the mistakes UCLA made on Saturday seemed to be preventable. The penalties are the most glaring example, but there were blown coverages to correct and drops to avoid. The crucial question is not whether these are things that can be corrected, but whether or not the Bruins can correct them, and how fast.

At some point in the broadcast of Saturday's game, Gus Johnson or Charles Davis brought up head coach Jim Mora's reaction to the fact that his team has more penalties than any other FBS team. "Penalties don't correlate with winning," was apparently Mora's answer. That may very well be true, but a 20 year study proving an abstract point isn't as useful to the Bruins as something like, say, reviewing tape of the Stanford game. The next week would be better spent carefully studying mistakes made against Stanford and not sorting through data points.

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