Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Mitch Chortkoff
Sports Editor 

It's The Jim Mora Era At UCLA

Wow --- Three Straight Wins Over USC

 

November 24, 2014

Ralph Hattenbach

QB Brett Hundley hands the ball off to Paul Perkins, leading runner in the Pac 12

I'm old enough to remember Red Sanders' impact when he coached football at UCLA.

And the dynasties of John McKay and Pete Carroll at USC, among others.

In this city with a remarkable cross-town rivalry the school with the more prominent coach often prevails.

That coach currently is Jim Mora at UCLA.

Mora has coached UCLA for three years and the Bruins, who couldn't beat the Trojans for a decade, have won the last three meetings.

The latest was the Bruins' convincing 38-20 victory over the Trojans Saturday night in the Rose Bowl.

Yes, UCLA had the home field advantage, but let's remember the Bruins also won convincingly last year, 35-14 when they didn't have it.

Brett Hundley has become the first UCLA quarterback since Cade McNown in 1998 to defeat the Trojans three straight times.

Hundley completes 73 percent of his passes this season.

Give Mora plenty of credit for turning around the UCLA football program which had lagged so badly in the recent past.

The son of a former NFL coach, the Mora kid quickly established a no-nonsense attitude for UCLA football players.

He has recruited very well, and that tells you that high school stars all over the country like what he's doing. The prize recruits who used to pick USC (well, some still do) now give UCLA serious consideration.

UCLA has also benefitted from USC's problem with the NCAA. USC's punishment from violations has been the loss of scholarships which leaves the Trojans undermanned.

Most college football teams have 70 players available for their games. USC suited up only 48 Saturday against UCLA.

So the pattern of the game was predictable. USC competed well for awhile, even taking a 7-0 lead, but was worn down when UCLA came on strong.

Give Mora credit for focusing UCLA's defense against Nelson Agholor, USC's outstanding junior receiver. No less than three defenders followed Agholor closely.

Ralph Hattenbach

Miles Jack rushing for a big gain.

In football terms, UCLA took Agholor out of the game. They gave up short yardage plays sometimes but eliminated Agholor's long, often spectacular ones.

This column deals exclusively with the UCLA-USC game because both teams have another important game this weekend, when the paper will already be past its deadline before UCLA plays Stanford Friday and USC plays Notre Dame Saturday.

We'll comment on these games and the impact they'll have on both team's overall season at a later date.

UCLA would qualify for the Pac-12 championship game Dec. 5 against Oregon if it defeats Stanford.

The Bruins have a 9-2 record, the only losses coming in consecutive games against Utah and Oregon.

But they haven't lost since then.

 

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