UCLA knows it can play better than Saturday’s performance vs. Memphis

The offense was unbeatable; the defense looked mortal; and Kenny Starks is really fast. There were quite a few takeaways from No. 11 UCLA’s close call against Memphis on Saturday night.

The defense gave up 496 total offensive yards to the Tigers — the most they’ve given up to a non-conference opponent under head coach Jim Mora. Baylor held that honor after torching UCLA for 494 yards in the 2012 Holiday Bowl, but that was a game the Bruins lost to a quality opponent in disastrous fashion. 

Saturday was significantly less disastrous, but the Bruins insist that Memphis was still a quality opponent.

"They were a really good defense and not many people gave them a lot of credit," receiver Jordan Payton said. "On this team, we definitely gave them a lot of credit."

Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich felt he wasn’t creative enough with his play-calling, but his players took the blame themselves.

"We were all in position to make these plays and it comes down to making them," cornerback Ishmael Adams said. "When it comes down to it, I feel like (the coaching staff) has always put us in a position where we can make plays. I felt like we were. I know I missed some tackles and I know that this week I’m not going to miss any tackles."

Adams wasn’t the only one missing tackles. It was a dismal tackling performance, one that was uncharacteristic of Mora’s UCLA.

"It was just technique," linebacker Myles Jack said. "Us personally, we have to answer and make our tackles. That’s inexcusable. We are more than capable of making our tackles."

But there were three big positives the team took away from Saturday night. Their names are Thomas Duarte, Paul Perkins and Kenny Walker — three relatively new faces who may not be new for very long.

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For Walker, his 62-yard touchdown catch was a sigh of relief after the redshirt sophomore sat out all of last season while recovering from disc surgery.

"I’ve still got a lot to do, but it was a lot of relief," Walker said. "I’ve still got a whole season left and now the coaches are expecting big things out of me now since I caught that ball. So now I’ve got to come this week and be prepared for Texas."

The damage is done and it was minimal at best — the Bruins dropped only one spot in the AP poll — and this week’s opponent is a big one, but even Texas still is searching for many answers of their own. 

"We’ve done what we should but we just haven’t taken it to the level that we need to yet," Adams said. "The level that we know we can play at."