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September 19, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Hangover

This hangover is a lot better than the previous two. It was good win for the Bruins, but still, there are issues that have to be addressed, and though many don't like to hear about it, this team is still a work in progress and thankfully progress were made against Houston Saturday Night.

If there were any doubters, Johnathan Franklin showed what he is capable of doing when he gets the necessary touches. On the night, Franklin carried the ball 26 times for 158 yards and three touchdowns.

The thing that Franklin proved is he runs hard. He actually softens up the defense for the others at this point. Not only can't a defender arm tackle him, but Franklin also has the homerun speed. If he can stay healthy this is only the beginning for Franklin.

Kevin Prince also managed the game well. He made some mistakes, but this is a new offense and he did miss camp. Prince was the team's second leading rusher with 60 yards and they were key chain moving yards. His touchdown run was a heart run. He tried to shake and bake the defender, but he when the defender wasn't fooled, Prince went blue collar, lowered his shoulder for the score.

One more thing about Prince since he has his detractors, his stats would a lot better and the production of the offense too, if the wide receivers made plays that were there for the making.

Even last night, there were a couple touchdowns left on the field and a few first downs as well, but for the most part the offense performed how it is supposed to. Still if the Bruins are to have any chance of winning Austin they will have to play an almost perfect game and that means executing and that means you don't leave plays on the field.

Defensively the Bruins were opportunistic, much like they were last year. Much of that could be attributed to an aggressive, pressured filled attack that didn't allow Houston's offense to get any rhythm.

UCLA's key stats on defense were nine tackles for loss, five pass breakups, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one sack.

It is funny how well linebackers can play if they aren't battling offensive linemen to get to the ball. You can attribute that to David Carter and Nate Chandler who demanded attention from linemen leaving Patrick Larimore to rampage ball carriers.

Larimore's performance may put him in the running for Pac 10 defensive player of the week. He led the Bruins with 11 tackles, three tackles for loss, two pass breakups and one forced fumble.

Though he didn't get the tackles that Larimore had, there is an excellent case for linebacker/defensive end Akeem Ayers for Pac 10 defensive player of the week as well. He was so busy that at times it looked there were two of him out there.

On the night, Ayers accounted for five tackles, two of them for loss that accounted minus 16 yards and that backbreaking pick at the goal line that he returned for 77 yards. Turnovers are bad enough, but a turnover in the red zone that gets returned for 77 yards is demoralizing. The only thing that could have been worse for the Cougars would have been a pick for six.

Andrew Abbott had his best game as a Bruin. He took advantage of his extra paying time as he was second on the team with seven tackles and two tackles for loss.

Bruin safety Rahim Moore picked off his first pass of the game and then promptly returned the interception 44 yards.

Winning feels good and it is an excellent habit to get into, but there is a price tag and the is hard work. The Bruins need to have an even better week of practice this week and truly make this their de facto second game of the year. It is usually the second game of the season where you see the most improvement.

UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel told the team after the Stanford debacle they are starting the season over. So in this do over season the Bruins are 1-0 heading into Texas and if they can improve like most teams do in their second week then they could make things interesting, but it will be a very tall task for a young team still trying to figure out who they are.

Thankfully they have that first victory under their belt and the confidence that goes with it. If Prince takes a giant step forward then anything is possible if the defense creates opportunities.


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