UCLA looks ahead to Alamo Bowl, not back at Stanford

UCLA looks ahead to Alamo Bowl, not back at Stanford
Quarterback Brett Hundley and his UCLA teammates are having a hard time escaping the question of whether they've recovered from the loss to Stanford. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA's football team arrived in San Antonio on Sunday. Stanford came along as overhead baggage.

The Bruins hit town to play Kansas State in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2. But their 31-10 loss to the Cardinal in the season finale was a big topic of discussion during a news conference Sunday.

Coach Jim Mora was asked about the loss that cost the Bruins a spot in the Pac-12 Conference championship game.

"I think they have [gotten over the loss]," Mora said about the Bruins. "But you never want it to go away. I think we can draw from it."


More importantly, Mora said, the Bruins "need to focus on getting ready to play Friday night against a very good Kansas State team."

The Stanford question was not going to go away so easily. Quarterback Brett Hundley was asked about the loss.

"We want to be able to get out there one more time after that loss, but at the same time we want to be able to get over it and move on," Hundley said.

First, though, linebacker Eric Kendricks' opinion on the Cardinal loss had to be solicited.

"I don't know if we'll ever get over it, but I think we're ready to play this next game and we're very excited and we couldn't be more happy to be here," Kendricks said.

Friendly visit

UCLA coaches and players were scheduled to attend the San Antonio Spurs' game Sunday night. It will be a chance to get an up-close look at former UCLA guard Kyle Anderson, a rookie with the Spurs.

"Kyle's my buddy," Kendricks said. "I'm excited that he has been playing so well."

Anderson, a first round draft pick last spring, is averaging 3.1 points per game.

"It should be fun to watch Kyle play," Hundley said.

Water level

Kendricks said corralling Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters would be a chore.

"You never count him out of a play," Kendricks said. "You have to always account for him running the ball even when it is a pass play. You can't just relax ever in a play because plays will be extended and he scrambles in the pocket."

Waters has 3,163 yards passing and 471 yards rushing this season. He has thrown for 20 touchdowns and run for eight.

Mind games

Kendricks has 471 tackles, a UCLA all-time record. Getting them requires a delicate balance.

"I try to read [the offense] as fast as possible," Kendricks said. "My problem is when I watch too much film, or try to read too much into what is happening. I recognize the formation and try to guess what play will happen. Teams have wrinkles off those plays. I have to have an idea of what is going on, but use my instincts and reactions to do the right thing versus trying to guess."

Road warriors

UCLA has won nine consecutive games away from the Rose Bowl. The last time UCLA lost away from Pasadena was at Oregon in 2013.

"Apparently, they keep their focus between the white lines on the road," Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder said.

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