The UCLA Bruins accomplished a great deal in Jim Mora‘s first season as head coach. They won nine games, including their first win over the USC Trojans in six seasons, clinching the Pac 12 South Division title in the process. But for every high, there was a lull which manifested itself in bad losses. While that could be explained away because of the inexperienced roster in 2012, there will no excuses for inconsistent play in 2013.
Mora stepped into a great situation at UCLA with a redshirt freshman who took the quarterback position by storm last season with Brett Hundley showcasing dynamic playmaking on the ground and through the air. He also got the benefit of turning a third string fullback into a Defensive Player of the Year candidate with Anthony Barr. Young and inexperienced stars emerged for him out of the woodwork, making his transition to Westwood all that much easier.
But that youth and inexperience also reared its head in less helpful ways. It resulted in a horrendous blowout loss to the 3-9 Cal Bears and showed up as the Bruins looked disinterested in the regular season finale loss to the Stanford Cardinal. Their poor showing against the Baylor Bears in the Holiday Bowl could also be chalked up to inconsistent performance and it left a lingering sense of disappointment over the program after what should have been a great season.
In 2013, the Bruins will have the weight of expectations on their shoulders and a year of experience under their belt. There won’t be any room for varying degrees of effort or execution like they saw at times last season. Mora must make sure that the experience his young team gained in 2012 turns them into a consistently winning group in 2013.