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UCLA's take-away after big loss to California remains to be seen

'We don't forget about it, but we try to learn from it,' Coach Jim Mora says, as some fans worry Bruins will fall into past habits. Consistency in the game, and in recent seasons, has been an issue.

October 08, 2012|By Chris Foster, Los Angeles Times
  • UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is sacked by Cal's Nick Forbes.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is sacked by Cal's Nick Forbes. (Tony Avelar / Associated…)

For those UCLA football fans who may have spent the last four years overseas, living in a country without Internet access, the Bruins' performance Saturday was what you have been missing.

California's 43-17 victory in Memorial Stadium was a flashback the Bruins hope doesn't become a flashpoint. Where this goes from here has to be on the minds of UCLA fans, some of who have been known to jump ship at the first wave.

UCLA plays Utah on Saturday, then has a bye before playing at Arizona State on Oct. 27. The Sun Devils currently sit atop the Pac-12 South Division standings.

"We don't forget about it, but we try to learn from it," Coach Jim Mora said of the California loss. "That's how you develop consistent play."

Consistency was hard to find Saturday, and even harder to find the last few seasons. UCLA has started strong a few times in the last decade. Then October rolls around.

The loss Saturday gave the Bruins a 6-18 October record since going 10-2 in 2005.

Mora does not consider past seasons, but he pointed out that these were growing pains.

"We're six games into a new system, new terminology, new way of doing things," Mora said. "We have to continue to push, push, push and get to the point where we're consistent week in and week out."

Mora said that, after watching the California tape, "the score was not an indication of the game. It got away from us at the end."

The Bruins helped it along considerably. They had six turnovers. Quarterback Brett Hundley was sacked five times and battered on several other occasions. There were also 99 yards in penalties.

Defensively, the Bruins allowed five plays of 30 or more yards — four pass completions, one open run. Three went for touchdowns and another set up a touchdown.

The immediate response was consistent.

Said cornerback Aaron Hester: "You got to play disciplined."

Said running back Johnathan Franklin: "It was just mental mistakes."

Said receiver Shaquelle Evans: "We shot ourselves in the foot tonight."

All of which could be the trappings of a young team. The Bruins start three freshmen and a sophomore on the offensive line and have used 12 true freshmen this season.

But UCLA has had plenty of the moments the previous four seasons. Bruins fans will wait to see what comes next.

"In the NFL, you're not dealing with developing minds, developing personalities," Mora said. "Some of these kids, this is their first real experience with failure. They're not as old, not as weathered, not as mature, not as used to criticism as older guys are. You have to be careful, calculated and handle it the right way."

Rival scorecard

Mora, new to the college game, said last week that he was unaware that California was a UCLA rival until a "couple players told me."

He inherited a situation in which the Bruins are on the blunt end of their two main rivalries.

The loss Saturday left UCLA 6-20 against California and USC since 1998. The Bruins have lost seven consecutive road games to both teams.

Injury report

Freshman tackle Torian White left the game Saturday because of soreness in his knees. Mora said White would be "managed" during the week.

"It's a fine line, because he's a young player," Mora said. "He needs those snaps during the week. At the same time, you don't want to overwork him so he's sore and can't perform on Saturday."

Jerry Johnson, who has had a rib cage injury, also left the game Saturday. Darius Bell injured a shoulder during the game and could miss practice this week.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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