UCLA Falls Back To Earth With Loss
October 8, 2015
By Myke Williams
The UCLA Bruins were knocked off of cloud nine last Saturday when the Arizona State Sun Devils upset the seventh ranked Bruins 38-23 at the Rose Bowl. Just when you thought the Bruins were going to have one of the best seasons in school history along comes a bump in the road.
The good news is Ohio State lost a game it was supposed to win last year and they went on to win the National Championship. So there is hope for the Bruins but it does not get any easier because they travel to the bay area to play Stanford on Thursday, October 15 and the following week they face a very good California team at the Rose Bowl in another Thursday night game.
“That was a tough loss,” said UCLA head coach Jim Mora after the loss to Arizona State last Saturday. “We struggled on third downs (3 out of 14) and we struggled on defense. We have to own it, starting with me, our staff and our players. We just have to move on and that’s what we will do.”
The Bruins also need to find a way to stop the leaks on the defensive side of the ball. Losing several key defensive players to injuries has put the Bruins in a position they did not expect to be in this season. When the season started they looked like they were one of the deepest in Bruin history. Now they find themselves looking for players to get the job done.
The loss of defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and linebacker Myles Jack along with a top defensive back has put a lot of pressure on their backups. Two weeks ago the defense missed over 20 tackles against Arizona and last week that trend continue against Arizona State.
“Injuries are part of the game,” said defensive coordinator Tom Bradley last Saturday. “Excuses are for losers. We are going to keep fighting and get better. We have to battle through it. I look at myself first. I have always looked in the mirror and not out the window.”
One defensive player who has stepped up after all of the injuries is backup linebacker Isaako Savalinaea from Honolulu. Against the two Arizona schools he has been the best defensive player on the field for UCLA. “The best player on our team is our team,” said Savalinaea. “We have to go with what we have.”
The good news for the Bruins is that they have another week to get ready to play Stanford. The Cardinal are now ranked in the top 20 of Division I football with a record of 4-1. Their opening game loss to Northwestern is now considered a legitimate setback because Northwestern is 5-0 and is also ranked in the top 20. Stanford is led by its 6-4, 218 pound fifth year senior quarterback Kevin Hogan.