(AP) – Like so many once-trendy Hollywood nightclubs a short drive from campus, No. 12 UCLA has found out how quickly you can go from hot to not.
The Bruins have dropped five spots in the AP Top 25 over the last two weeks, with voters clearly less than impressed by closer-than-expected wins over Virginia and Memphis. For linebacker Myles Jack, there are more pressing concerns than where UCLA sits in the rankings heading into Saturday’s visit with Texas.
”As long as we keep winning our games, that stuff will take care of itself,” Jack said. ”We have to take care of internally what is going on in that locker room.”
What is going on right now is trying to figure out how to come up with a complete performance on both sides of the ball.
The Bruins’ defense was opportunistic in the 28-20 win over the Cavaliers, returning two interceptions and one fumble for touchdowns to prop up a subpar performance from quarterback Brett Hundley and the offense. Against the Tigers, the offense was picking up the slack for the UCLA defense in the 42-35 win.
UCLA (2-0) gave up 469 yards of total offense, allowing Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch to throw for a career-high 305 yards. A highly regarded front seven led by Jack finally produced its first sack of the season, but allowed 4.2 yards per rushing attempt.
And the Tigers’ final drive, which ended at the Bruins 41 when time expired, was determined more by questionable clock management than any particular defensive adjustment or standout play by UCLA.
That doesn’t exactly bode well for Pac-12 play, with games against high-powered Arizona State, Utah and Oregon to open the conference schedule, following the trip to face struggling Texas (1-1) this Saturday in Arlington.
”We can’t wait to get things fixed,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. ”We have to fix things now. … (Older) guys like us, we understand how fast life goes, and I don’t think these guys always understand it, so it’s a matter of making them understand it’s important right now.”
Jack noted that elements of the Memphis offense had caught UCLA off-guard, showing ”wrinkles” that were not seen on tape study from games dating back through last season, but laid most of the blame with his group.
”It really just came down to us making mental errors and stuff, little things,” said Jack, who had six tackles with one tackle for loss. ”That will be corrected this week.”
Another immediate challenge for UCLA comes from the Longhorns’ dual-threat quarterback, Tyrone Swoopes, a redshirt freshman listed at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds. Jack played with Swoopes in a high school all-star game in 2013 and is well aware of what he can do.
Even though UCLA faces mobile quarterbacks every season in the Pac-12, Jack said Swoopes’ sheer size makes him unique.
”He’s a big dude, man,” Jack said. ”He is a good player. He has got an arm, he can run, he’s big. He’s going to fall forward, so you really have to hit him. He is a talented player and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Swoopes figures to be the Longhorns’ quarterback for at least the next few weeks. Coach Charlie Strong said Monday that starter David Ash is out indefinitely with concussion symptoms he began feeling after a 38-7 season-opening win over North Texas.
Swoopes was 20 of 31 for 176 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his first career start last Saturday as BYU demolished Texas 41-7 in Austin.
Strong was still calling his first defeat with the Longhorns “embarrassing” two days later, and he wasn’t pleased with the lack of reaction to him posting reminders of Texas’ 2013 loss to BYU around the locker room prior to this season’s meeting.
”Anywhere else I’ve been, some player would have run through there and tore all that down. They probably would have burned it in the locker room,” Strong said Monday. ”It’s like nobody did nothing. I did it just to see what we would do, see if somebody would just get (mad).”
Already without his top QB, Strong may not have one of his most proven receivers. Senior Jaxon Shipley is questionable with a head injury.
Strong said his two suspended offensive tackles will still be out against UCLA and gave no indication if two other potential starters, safety Josh Turner and wide receiver Daje Johnson, would return anytime soon.
Now the Longhorns’ focus shifts to Hundley after they had trouble defending another dual-threat QB in BYU’s Taysom Hill. Hundley has yet to do much on the ground after piling up 748 yards rushing last season, but he threw for 396 and three TDs against Memphis.
“He’s up for the Heisman. He’s a great quarterback. He can make all the throws,” Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “If you’re a defensive back, that’s what you want to go against. You want to go against a team that’s going to throw the ball.
“We were tested a little bit last week, and this week we’ll get an even bigger test.”
UCLA and Texas have split six meetings, with the Longhorns winning the most recent 49-20 in Los Angeles in 2011.