UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has his own Mazzone-esque way of looking at things. Typically it involves a humorous analogy. And per usual, he didn’t disappoint.
When asked to assess his offense’s performance in the 24-10 loss against Stanford after watching the game film, he offered this:
“Sometimes you take your young kids to the movie and they misbehave,” he said. “They are throwing popcorn on the floor and running around the aisles.”
For those who don’t speak Mazzone, that’s his way of saying things didn’t go according to plan. Chalk it up as another great Mazzoneism.
“That’s a really good defense,” Mazzone said of Stanford. “They play a lot of people tough. They are a veteran group. We didn’t play as well as we wanted to. But it’s part of the process. Part of becoming a good team and a good offense is you’re going to have your moments when a little bit of youth shows through at times. It was a great experience for us. It’s a game we were excited to play and it’s one that will help us grow.”
They’ll have to grow fast. Because the Bruins are going on the road for a second straight week -- this time to Oregon to face the No. 3 Ducks, who boast the league’s top scoring defense, allowing just 17.3 points per game. It will be the first time UCLA has faced Oregon in the Jim Mora era.
This was just the sixth loss for UCLA under Mora and the first of the year. Coincidentally, or maybe not, three of them have come from Stanford. Mora said so far he has been pleased with how his team has responded to their first check in the loss column.
“They impressed me immediately last year with their ability to re-focus,” Mora said. “If you want to be a good football team, there has to be a consistency to how you prepare and how you perform and how you handle wins and how you handle losses; how you handle games against opponents like Stanford and Oregon; how you handle games against teams you may be heavily favored against. We’re trying to develop a standard here and our guys have really embraced it. It’s about developing a consistency regardless of what the situation is. That’s what good teams do and that’s what we’re striving to do.”
It’s a given that the Bruins will have to perform better on offense if they hope to top the Ducks. Pre-Stanford, UCLA was averaging 45.8 points per game and 547 total yards (323.6 in the air and 223.4 on the ground). The Stanford game paints a different picture, as the Bruins posted season lows in points (10), total yards (266), passing yards (192) and rushing yards (74).
Plus, UCLA’s already-young offensive line has gotten younger because of some injuries. That doesn’t bode terribly well for quarterback Brett Hundley who has been sacked 65 times since the start of last year -- 10 more than any other quarterback in FBS -- and pressured (hurried or knocked down) 169 times, second only to Washington’s Keith Price.
“We’re young, but it has to be next man up,” Mazzone said. “Every game snap those guys get helps us because it keeps building that experience. It’s a talented group and they did some good things. They just need more experience.”
For Mora, dealing with losses has been a transitional experience moving from the pros to the college game.
“I think you’ve got to be a little bit more gentle with the college kids,” he said. “They are younger. They have a million different things going on in their lives that NFL players don’t have going on. It’s more concentrated on football. It’s a profession. They are professionals getting paid at the next level rather than student-athletes playing for the love of the game at this level.
“What you always want to do is hold yourself and hold them to a higher standard, enforce that standard and hopefully they’ll embrace that philosophy.”