UCLA aiming for max energy, efficiency

LOS ANGELES — Two days after defeating Colorado, the No. 19 UCLA Bruins are realizing that while it was a winning performance, it wasn’t quite what they’re capable of.

The offense found its rhythm and the defense made stops, but it took an entire half for the team to find its excitement and energy. It was nothing special and the Bruins are realizing they will need to play more efficient, more intense and with more enthusiasm from here on out with an unforgiving schedule ahead.

The Bruins allowed 381 total yards and the penalties that have plagued them all season continued to mount. Of the defense, linebacker Anthony Barr felt it was nothing impressive.

“We did alright,” Barr said. “It was an average performance overall.”

Offensively, the Bruins were able to make some strides. The running game returned somewhat with Jordon James and Damien Thigpen making strong gains in their returns from injuries, but the passing game finally returned.

“I think it’s consistency,” said quarterback Brett Hundley. “It’s understanding that if a defense is going to try to play low on you, you’ve got to be able to consistently hit a deep ball and take shots at the deep ball. Even if we don’t complete it every time, it’s letting the defense know we’re going to take deep shots.”

Hundley had his deepest ball yet when he connected on a 76-yard touchdown pass with Devin Fuller late in the first quarter. It was a perfectly wound, tight spiral that Fuller caught over his shoulder near the end zone for Hundley’s longest career pass and Fuller’s longest career reception.

“That was a pretty bomb right there,” Hundley said.

“My eyes got big when I saw that ball in the air,” Fuller said. “The game plan (last) week had me going on deeper routes so I knew I would have the opportunity to have a long completion.”

Hundley performed well amidst controversy last week. Just a few days before the game and only a few days after the worst performance of his career, a report surfaced that he had met with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports agency.

On Monday, Hundley was finally able to put both the rumors of this meeting and the notions that he and the UCLA offense are struggling to rest.

“I guess when you have a decision to make, people just throw out stuff like that,” Hundley said. “I guess stuff like that happens.”