LOS ANGELES >> Several UCLA players called their season-opening comeback against Texas A&M a “dream.” The season is now quickly starting to resemble a nightmare.
After back-to-back losses, the Bruins are trying to right the ship at home against Colorado at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and avoid a three-game skid entering their bye week.
“We’re 2-2, we got a lot of football left to play,” head coach Jim Mora said. “Great competitors and really good teams, they respond in these situations.”
The coaches went through their weekly postgame ritual of watching the game film together Sunday. They evaluated all aspects of the team and identified points of improvement for each.
For the defense that gave up 405 rushing yards to the Cardinal, it’s tackling in open space, trusting your teammates to operate within the scheme and playing with “maniacal effort.”
The special teams wants to jump-start the kick return unit that is averaging only 19.3 yards per return.
The offense, which has rolled up 571.8 yards per game, must cut down on turnovers.
“To me, no one has really stopped us but us,” Mora said of the offense that has turned it over 10 times while producing only 10 points off five takeaways.
Three of UCLA’s four turnovers against Stanford occurred in Bruins territory, including a fumble for Christian Pabico that put the Cardinal at the UCLA 42-yard line. Pabico had a 21-yard completion that would have converted a nearly impossible third-and-20, but the redshirt junior lost the ball while fighting for extra yards.
Mora said he wishes now that the play would have been called dead, but didn’t think it should have been as the pile was still moving forward when the ball came out. The coach can’t fault his receiver for displaying the same competitive spirit he preaches every day.
“He’s just so competitive, it’s hard not to tell him to keep trying,” Mora said of the play. “But maybe at some point, you say, ‘OK, I’ve got what I can get, I’ve got the first down, I’m feeling people all over me, maybe I just myself go back a little and the whistle blows.’ But in the heat of the moment, when you’re a great competitor like these young men are and Christian is, that’s a tough one.”
Odogwu out for Colorado
Offensive lineman Sunny Odogwu will be out against Colorado, Mora said Monday. With a bye week coming, Mora hopes the oft-injured grad transfer will have enough time to recover from nagging injuries that have sidelined him all…