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UCLA Football: Week Nine Notebook

There are many questions surrounding the overall health of several players at UCLA and having everyone at full strength, or close to it, is imperative given the tough test that lies a couple of days from now.

Jordon James hopes to be healthy for the Bruins when they face Oregon on Saturday.

The Bruins travel up North on Saturday to face the high-powered offense of Oregon. Opening kickoff for the Pac-12 Conference Showdown is set for 7:30 p.m. (PST) and will be broadcast on ABC or ESPN2.

In terms of injury updates, Eric Kendricks will be available against the Ducks after dealing with kidney issues. The status of Jordon James and Simon Goines is still up in the air. Stay tuned for more on that.

HARPING ON HUNDLEY

Seeing the struggles from Brett Hundley against Stanford in a 24-10 conference loss last week was a rare low for what’s been a bright career. But here’s a number from his past two games that says a lot: 35.

The digits are his rushing yards combined against Cal and the Cardinal. Part of the lack of production might was a result of how the offensive line has fallen apart. Part of it was Stanford’s excellent defense.

But for the second consecutive game, Hundley was primarily a passer. He did too much thinking instead of reacting. Here’s what he needs to do against Oregon. And if not, it could be another long day.

Play without fear. Play with nothing to lose. Trust his feet to make plays instead of trying so hard to prove he’s a passer. Stop forcing the ball. Let the game come to him. Just a couple of our suggestions.

It’s easier said than done. We believe Hundley’s low rushing yardage total correlates to the line woes. It’s now up to offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone to get him back on track and build up confidence.

PROBLEMS WITH PENALTIES

If the Bruins are going to beat Oregon, they need to cut down on the yellow laundry on the field. UCLA is ranked last among FBS teams in penalties per game (9.8) and No. 119 out of 125 teams in penalty yards per game (76.5).

It’s part of an unfortunate trend in the coach Jim Mora era as the Bruins finished last in both categories last year. We tried to ignore things, but against Stanford, all of the added mistakes killed the momentum of multiple drives.

The up-tempo offense from Oregon will surely test the discipline of the Bruins. Signs point to the coaches emphasizing patience and less holding in practice during this past week. It’s not something that the Bruins will fix right away, but it’s something to watch as they continue the second half of the season.

VANDERDOES GETS JOB DONE

As stated in our recent UCLA Report Card, Eddie Vanderdoes had a career-best day against Stanford. The freshman defensive lineman performed well and finished with 11 tackles against one of the best lines in the country.

While it wasn’t a great day for the unit, especially with stopping the run, Vanderdoes found ways to make plays and it bodes well for his future in earning more reps. Let's see if he can repeat that performance against Oregon.

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