Bruins looking to bounce back from loss

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
4:13
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- It's bounce back time for UCLA.

Again.

The Bruins, who made a season of bouncing back from losses last year, will try to do so for the first time this season when they play at Colorado on Saturday at 3 p.m. Pacific in a game that will be televised by the Pac-12 Network.

UCLA (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) is coming off of a disappointing 27-20 home loss to Oregon State and faces the difficult task of trying to get back on track on the road against a team that is riding high after its thrilling comeback victory at Washington State last week.

But UCLA coach Jim Mora says he believes that if the Bruins want to show that they are turning a corner, they must show the mettle to bounce back this week against the Buffaloes.

"I think it's critical," Mora said. "I really do. For us as a football team to show ourselves that we can handle adversity and that we can bounce back and show some resilience. For our fan base to restore any faith that we may have lost by losing Saturday. Just to get our momentum back. It's very important."

Last season, for all the ugly losses, the Bruins shined in bounce-back games. They started with a loss to Houston, then came back to defeat San Jose State the following week. After a 49-20 blowout loss to Texas at home, the Bruins got a rare conference road win at Oregon State.

It wasn't until after a demoralizing 50-0 loss to USC in the regular-season finale that the Bruins broke their pattern of following losses with a win as they went on to lose to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game the following week and then three weeks later lost their bowl game against Illinois.

Those losses are ancient history as far as this year's Bruins are concerned, however, as Mora was not the coach then. He has implemented a different program with different expectations and standards and now must see if his team can rise above the first loss they have encountered in this era.

"I like the challenge," Mora said. "This early in the development of this new program, to see where we are and see how we handle it and see if we have the mental toughness. To see where we are and where we need to go, I think it's a great opportunity for us."

It's also an opportunity to add another road win. The Bruins won their first road game of the Mora era at Rice in the season opener, and now will try to get their first conference road win under the new coach. The victory at Oregon State last season was the outlier for UCLA, which was 1-5 in conference road games last season and was outscored 223-68 in the five losses.

In 2010, UCLA went 0-4 in conference road games and was outscored, 174-61. UCLA's only conference road wins over the last four seasons came against Oregon State last year, Washington State in 2009 and Washington in 2008. Those teams finished with records of 3-9, 1-11 and 0-12, respectively.

Colorado (1-3, 1-0), appeared headed for a similar type of season as those schools, but came back from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit at Washington State last week and Mora said that makes them as dangerous as any team.

He said the key for UCLA will be to keep the focus on playing well, paying attention to details and execution rather than trying to avenge a loss from last week.

"We try to keep the focus on us and the way we're playing rather than the opponent, where we're playing and what the game means in terms of rankings or bouncing back and things like that," Mora said. "For a coach there's a rub there because you want to emphasize that you have to bounce back, but you don't want that to be the emphasis. ... We have to play to our standard so you're always trying to balance that."

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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