Barely winning, UCLA football approaches Texas with caution

During Saturday’s postgame press conference, the reporter could not even finish his question – “What do you have to do to get your team to not overlook (Texas)?” – before Jim Mora interrupted him.

“Oh, don’t even worry about that,” the coach said, laughing lightly, while raising both his palms forward. “We aren’t going to overlook them.”

After all, Mora knows that much he has to ensure.

Because if the Bruins’ first two games – each of which required the full four quarters to finish off a 2013 sub-.300 opponent – are any sort of prelude to the season’s remainder, it’s that this UCLA team can not afford to overlook anyone.

In time, maybe even as early as Saturday against the Texas Longhorns (1-1) at AT&T; Stadium in Arlington, Texas, it seems like No. 12 UCLA (2-0) won’t be able to afford anything less than its best performance as the competition toughens.

As of now, the pages on the Bruins’ storybook are starting to wear thin.

Mora has laid it out clearly multiple times. We haven’t played our best yet, he says. There’s much to improve upon, he adds. And he usually ends with the same sentiment: Next week, we’ll play better.

Now, next week is too far away.

“We can’t wait to fix things,” Mora said in a Sunday evening teleconference. “We have to fix things right now.”

If philosophy dictates that the seed of achievement is desire, then, thus far, UCLA can at least take comfort in that.

“I’m happy with the win (against Memphis) but I’m not satisfied,” said sophomore right tackle Caleb Benenoch. “We’re a hungry football team.”

Against Texas, which will likely be without opening-day starting quarterback David Ash and possibly up to three starting offensive linemen, UCLA should expect a welcoming meal as the expected favorite.

Looking at the statistics sheet, if the mismatch on paper – Texas lost 41-7 at home to BYU Saturday, while UCLA scored 42 points in a victory – comes to fruition, a buffet might be better served.

Yet if things are not up to UCLA’s expectations again on Saturday, perhaps a loss is just what the team needs.

Sometimes, an appetite needs to grow a little larger before it’s ready for the feast.

“Sometimes you need to go through tough times in the beginning (and) iron it out,” said junior wide receiver Jordan Payton.

“It kind of just helps things later down the road.”

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