Friday, August 31, 2012

Week 1: UCLA 49, Rice 24 - Game Recap

What I thought would happen:

The Bruins will start fast, scoring on their first drive and take a double digit lead. Afterwards the offense will begin to sputter, keeping the game a little closer than Bruin fans would like. Hundley will have a solid performance, while Franklin will have his usual 100+ yards. The Bruin defense will give up one big play that will show but a glimmer of hope to the Rice faithful, and then will get a big turnover to seal the deal. - UCLA 30, Rice 17

What did happen:

Take everything I said and double it. The Bruins started really fast with three big plays on route to a 19-0 start. The Bruin defense then reverted back to 2011 form, with big plays and poor tackling, while the offense began to sputter. Rice closed the gap to 29-24 and were driving for a chance at the lead after a Brett Hundley interception, only to have quarterback Taylor McHargue get knocked out on way to a Damien Holmes scoop 'n score. Rice never really threatened in the second half, while the UCLA offense began to pick up some rhythm. Brett Hundley really did have a solid performance, while Franklin had 200+ yards.

The Good:

-I don't care who it is. UCLA scoring 49 points and gaining 646 yards of total offense on anybody is a big deal (for Bruins fans if nothing else). UCLA's 49 points were the most scored by the team since 2005.

-Brett Hundley had a solid game his first time out, scoring on his first play from scrimmage. While it's important for him to keep building on this game, you can't help but get excited for what might be coming for this kid down the road.

-Johnathan Franklin seems to be showing no signs of slowing down. That's great news for anyone who was concerned of a drop off in production with the new offense. The running game once again seems to be something the Bruins can rely on.

-7 sacks. The Bruins have already matched half their season total from last year. The defensive line struggled at times in the first half, but took control of the game in the second. The Rice offense did next to nothing in the second half in large part because the Bruins took control of the line of scrimmage and wreaked havoc in the backfield.

The Bad:

-The Bruins clearly have ways to go on defense in terms of assignment football and tackling in space. Taylor McHargue and the spread option attack looked far too good in the first half, and you know that Taylor Martinez and co. are licking their chops.

-One of the areas that Mora Jr. was supposed to help the team was in discipline. 8 penalties for 107 yards later, UCLA still looks a very undisciplined group. On PAT's, penalties, and drops, UCLA left a surefire 15 points on the field. Going 2-11 on third downs isn't anything to laugh about either.

-The Bruins better figure out their field goal kicking situation in a hurry. The offense is nowhere near the level where it can expect to score touchdowns every trip inside the 30, and for UCLA, any points left out there will certainly hurt against a better opponent.

-Sheldon Price will more than likely continue to get picked on. The Rice coaching staff targeted his side of the field on numerous bubble screens and swing passes, and often picked on his side of the field on third downs. Either he has to get better, or the Bruins need to find someone else.

Looking Ahead:

A win is a win, and UCLA will take it in what was for the most  part a good start to the Jim Mora Jr. era. Hundley certainly gained some confidence, but still seems a bit hesitant to throw the ball down the field. The bigger concern for the Bruins will be the defense that looked far too lost at times against the spread option looks of Rice, and Nebraska was certainly taking notice. Special teams were a mess outside of Jeff Locke, and field goal kicking could be an issue all season long. To beat Nebraska, the line play will likely have to be steadier on both sides. Hundley will have to make a few more plays in the passing game, and the Bruins will have to have some success stopping the run. Even still, for one week, all is well in Bruin land. 

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