Tuesday, November 20

Throwback Thursday: At 0-5, UCLA football is at its worst season start since 1943


(Daily Bruin archive)

(Daily Bruin archive)


Throwback Thursdays are our chance to reflect on past events on or near campus and relate them to the present day. Each week, we showcase and analyze an old article from the Daily Bruin archives in an effort to chronicle the campus’ history.

UCLA football is 0-5 for the first time since 1943.

Let that statistic sink in for a moment – that’s 75 years. In other words, the Bruins haven’t been this bad since the middle of World War II.

UCLA is in its first season under new head coach Chip Kelly, who signed a $24 million contract with the school in November. To make matters worse, the Bruins also shelled out more than $12 million to buy out former coach Jim Mora in the process.

But let’s forget about the team’s current issues and rewind back to 1943.

Fresh off of a season in which UCLA fell to Georgia in the Rose Bowl, it dropped to 0-5 on Oct. 30 after losing 28-0 at the hands of San Diego Navy in front of an estimated 7,000 naval members. UCLA entered that contest averaging a mere 3.5 points per game, and had already been shut out twice in the first four weeks of the season.

San Diego Navy’s game plan was to rotate its first and second team offense to keep its players fresh – and it worked.

Despite holding the Tars scoreless for most of the first half, the Bruins had a 49-yard field goal attempt near the end of the second quarter blocked and returned for a 50-yard scoop-and-score by the Tars’ Gene Kobzaff. San Diego Navy would take a 7-0 lead into the break.

The Tars scored their second touchdown of the day early in the third quarter on a 28-yard strike from Bill Cadenhead to Gene Lee.

San Diego Navy added another pair of scores in the fourth quarter after a 1-yard touchdown run from Bill McLaughlin and a 10-yard touchdown throw from Al Braga to Joe Bailey.

UCLA’s coach at the time, Edwin Horrell, was in his fifth season of what turned out to be a six-year tenure with the program. He finished his time as the Bruins’ coach with a 24-31-6 record.

UCLA ended the 1943 season with an overall record of 1-8 and finished last place in Pacific Coast Conference with a record of 0-4. The Bruins’ lone win that season was a 19-7 victory over Saint Mary’s at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The 19-point output in UCLA’s victory over Saint Mary’s was a season high for the Bruins, who never reached the 20-point threshold. They finished the season averaging just over 6.5 points per game.

Although today’s UCLA football team is scoring nearly three times more than it did in 1943, the Bruins could very well be headed toward the same fate in terms of success – or lack thereof.

UCLA is the only winless team remaining in the Pac-12, and the only team averaging less than 20 points per game within the conference.

The Bruins have seven games remaining on their 2018 schedule, with five of them coming against teams that have spent time in the top-25 rankings this season.

As UCLA adjusts to a new era, fans can only hope the Bruins fail to match the 0-7 start that the 1943 team got off to – but if they do, it won’t be the first time in program history that it’s happened.

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Ryan Smith is the 2018-2019 Sports editor. He was previously an assistant Sports editor in 2017-2018, and has covered women's basketball, men's water polo, baseball, men's golf and women's golf during his time with the Bruin.


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