Sunday, September 9, 2012
UCLA takes down #16 Nebraska. We're back, I think.
Brett Hundley, our first African American QB starter since a guy named Jackie Robinson, threw for 4 TDs, 305 yards and no interceptions against #16 ranked Nebraska in a 36-30 victory. It should have really been 5 TDs, but for a endzone drop by Fauria, but Hundley finished throwing an impressive 21 for 33.
The other standout of the game was Johnathan Franklin, who ran for 217 yards on 26 carries as well as caught 3 balls for 59 yards including the game-winning TD with 2:13 left. Last week he actually ran for 214 yards on just 15 carries for 3 touchdowns vs Rice, but the performance against the Cornhuskers is enough to get him some mention on the early Heisman lists.
The past few years, its been like pulling tooth to move the ball on offense. We had to work so hard for such little payoff. Even with all the different playmakers that Neuheisal did such a great job recruiting to UCLA, we didn't have a system to use them. We couldn't get them into space. Instead, we ran the dreadful pistol offense, ultimately resulting in zero points scored against $C. Its a credit to Neuheisal that he didn't burn Hundley's redshirt last year, instead allowing the freshman the opportunity to start 4 years should he win the job.
It was obvious at our spring game that Hundley was the most potent option we had at QB - he had the arm, and he was mobile. Mora showed us all that he understood football when he demoted Kevin Prince to 3rd string. What Neuheisal and Chow was thinking by starting that guy, I'll never understand. Hundley's only in his 2nd game so we can expect mistakes down the line, but his showing vs Nebraska makes him the most promising starter we've had since McNown (Olsen 2005 aside).
Now, a victory over a traditional national powerhouse early in the season isn't something foreign to UCLA in recent years. Back in 2010, we beat #7 Texas in their house 34-12. In 2009, we won at a Lane Kiffin's Tennessee team 19-15. In both cases, we found out later that they were on down seasons - Texas finished 5-7, Tennessee finished 7-6. So, we pessimistic Bruin fans know that there's a chance that Nebraska might just be on a down year.
But to the naked eye, it seems that Mora has indeed shifted our football culture. Our offense looks extremely threatening and our defense is hitting harder. Could this be the start of something special? Since 2002, we've had just 3 winning seasons, having exceeded the 7 win mark just once (10-2 in 2005). Ironically, now we just gotta find a real kicker.