Mora, Mazzone, Hundley too much for Trojans ... again

BY foxsports • November 23, 2014

The good news, USC might never have to see Brett Hundley again. The bad news is the brain trust -- UCLA head coach Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone -- don't appear to be leaving Westwood anytime soon.

The gap between USC and UCLA is as wide as the Bruins have made the field look in the last three years against the USC defense. Mora and Mazzone, in three seasons, have defeated three different USC head coaches -- Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron and most Saturday, Steve Sarkisian, in the Bruins' 38-20 win over USC on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.

Bubble screens and swing passes have been staples in Mazzone's offense even prior to his stop in Westwood, and it's been a big part in UCLA taking the upper hand in the crosstown rivalry in recent years.

Saturday, however, he threw a new wrinkle into it.

"They run it a little different than most teams," USC linebacker Anthony Sarao said. "Most teams will just man up. What they do is they force a outside linebacker like me when we out in coverage, they'll double team me with both receivers and force a corner to make the play and force everybody to rally to the ball."

USC cornerbacks were forced to make tackles. And for the majority of the night they couldn't, allowing the Bruins to pile up big plays.

USC came into the game with the mindset of making Hundley be a thrower instead of a runner and, for the most part, they executed that part of the game plan. Hundley rushed for a net total of two yards. The only time he saw daylight was on a 15-yard touchdown rush in the third quarter.

Forced for most of the night to make plays with his arm, Hundley stepped up to the challenge, completing 22-of-31 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Ten different players caught passes.

The power of Mora and Mazzone showed itself. Mazzone's playcalling forced USC to defend the entire field -- horizontally and vertically.

"If you don't account for Brett in the running game, he'll pull it and run which we saw on the one touchdown," Sarkisian said. "They spread you horizontally to defend the three receiver sets. They have a good run game with Perkins and you have to defend Brett on the run so you just get deployed all over the field which in turn creates a lot of space and when good athletes have the ball in space, generally speaking, that's how you get big plays."

UCLA got a lot of them. The Bruins averaged 6.2 yards per play. Despite having an average field position of their own 28-yard line, they found the endzone five times against the USC defense.

As for Hundley, he improved to 3-0 lifetime against USC. The last time the Trojans lost this much to one quarterback in this rivalry was when Cade McNown went 4-0 against them in the late 90s.