Pac-10 Week 1 Notes and Observations: UCLA Bruins
UCLA Bruins 1-0 Overall (0-0 Conference)
This Week’s Score: UCLA 33 – San Diego State 14
Next Week’s Opponent: @Tennessee
UCLA started the 2009 season in terrible fashion (down 14-3 to start), but responded well while getting contributions from a variety of exciting new players.
QB Kevin Prince looked like a freshman making his first start, finishing 18-29 for 176 yards passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. SDSU DC Rocky Long threw a lot of looks at Prince, and I was impressed with how he handled himself for the most part. I loved the power running of Derrick Coleman as well as the speed of Jonathan Franklin, and the compact style of Milton Knox should provide a different dimension for the run game in ’09.
On defense, Rahim Moore was tremendous for the entire game and picked off three Ryan Lindley passes. Obviously the defense did not start well out of the gate, but once they settled down it became clear that this unit has the potential to be special in 2009. Price, Carter, and Verner looked good as usual, but the injury to Hester is an absolute depth killer at corner.
With a solid win to begin the year, UCLA will now make the trip to Neyland Stadium to take on Lane Kiffin’s upstart Vols. Tennessee looked good this weekend, so a win in a hostile SEC stadium would be huge for the Bruins.
Defense, defense, defense. After getting caught flat footed on the first two drives of the game (including inexplicably allowing WR Vincent Brown to get behind everyone on the second drive leading to a 78-yard touchdown pass), the Bruins settled down and completely shut down the Aztecs for the rest of the game.
Rahim Moore’s three interceptions led the way on defense, and Alterraun Verner capped off a nice day with a field goal block return for a touchdown. The defense was every bit as good as advertised save the first two drives of the game.
Kevin Prince was far from perfect in his debut, but regardless of the final line, he was a noticeable upgrade over Kevin Craft. He’ll have to be better next week for UCLA to have a shot at beating Tennessee, but either way it will be a great experience for him to get a hostile road environment under his belt before Pac-10 play begins.
Derrick Coleman’s big day set the tone for a nice day on the ground for UCLA, racking up 69 yards and a touchdown on only four carries. All things considered, it was a nice opener for UCLA, and the final score wasn’t really indicative of how much the Bruins controlled this game from the second quarter on.