The Drive, Episode 2: Winning is the Goal

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We demand teams to win. And, when winning isn’t enough, we demand they win by more.

UCLA went across the country for its season-opening game against Virginia, kicked off early and led the entire way. And all the Bruins got for their effort was dropping four spots in the Associated Press Top 25, from No. 7 to 11.

Episode 2 of Pac-12 Networks’ The Drive culminated with head coach Jim Mora’s postgame speech following UCLA’s 28-20 defeat of Virginia. It was readily apparent the Bruins were dejected by their performance against an opponent they were expected to rout by three scores.

Mora’s upbeat response to his team’s disappointment was a promising forecast for a UCLA bounce-back in Week 2, however. That final scene from Episode 2 of The Drive reinforced a belief I’ve held as to why UCLA has found immediate success under Mora.

The talent was there. Rick Neuheisel recruited outstanding players. Mora and his staff instilled a toughness in those players in short order, bringing over concepts from his time as an NFL head coach.

But Mora hasn’t run the program like an NFL franchise. Watching Episode 2 of The Drive immediately after the 2014 finale of Hard Knocks provides an interesting contrast into just how much more businesslike NFL clubs operate–which makes sense, because

Mora has struck the right balance between NFL principles, while embracing the more personal element of college football.

Now, make no mistake: The Bruins were not welcomed back to Westwood with a grease-down and shiatsu, to borrow a phrase from Turkish in Snatch. Mora was an unhappy camper on Tuesday’s Pac-12 teleconference call, which certainly translated to UCLA’s practices.

But the Bruins head into Week 2 and their home opener 1-0. Whether by eight points, 80 points or one point, the result goes down in the win column.

Kenny Clark is Already a Winner

With all the attention paid to, and discussion and dissection of the results on game day, the roads that lead to Saturday can go overlooked.

Features like Episode 2’s spotlight on defensive lineman Kenny Clark make The Drive compelling.

Clark could have easily been derailed by his dad’s incarceration, but the infrastructure around him as him on pace to succeed, no matter how the Bruins perform on game day.

Getting a Look at Virginia

One segment in Episode 2 was devoted to Virginia’s preparation for UCLA. Perhaps because Season 1 of The Drive featured two teams instead of just one, there wasn’t enough time to include much on Cal or Arizona State’s opponents.

Having an inside look at Virginia made for an interesting new angle to the series. Hopefully this is the first in a recurring facet of The Drive this season.

Myles Jack Doesn’t Get Enough Credit

The above subhead might strike some as ironic. After all, Myles Jack is the reigning Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year, the only player in conference history to accomplish this feat.

He’s been touted as a Heisman Trophy contender and is UCLA’s indisputable second-most recognized name behind quarterback Brett Hundley.

And yet, much of the attention paid to Jack is because of his two-way performance in the final month last season. But Jack really doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his play at linebacker.

A montage of Jack’s big plays in the fourth quarter against Virginia drives home just how valuable the sophomore is to UCLA’s defense.