Pac-10 Week 2 Notes and Observations: UCLA Bruins
UCLA Bruins 2-0 Overall (0-0 Conference)
This Week’s Score: UCLA 19 – Tennessee 15
Next Week’s Opponent: Kansas State
This was an outstanding win for UCLA and the Pac-10 conference. The Bruins played in one of the most hostile environments in all of college football and beat a team that was looking for revenge and oozing with confidence. Rick Neuheisel’s infectious personality is starting to manifest itself within this UCLA football team.
The win was especially impressive when you consider all of the young, inexperienced players that Neuheisel used in Knoxville. There will be doubters who believe that UT QB Jonathan Crompton had as much to do with the Bruins success as anything else (he threw 3 INTs), but Chuck Bullough’s D was tremendous at all three levels.
The D-line penetrated Tennessee’s massive offensive line all day, and not just Brian Price. The play of other d-lineman like Bosworth, Holmes, and Jones made life miserable for the Vols. When running gaps did open, Reggie Carter and the linebackers quickly closed them. As good as the front seven was, the secondary was lights out. Rahim Moore is playing at a super-human level (5 INTs in two games, two against Tenn) and teams shouldn’t even bother looking Alterraun Verner’s way. I mentioned Courtney Viney as the player to keep an eye on for UCLA, and he stepped up huge at the other CB spot.
For those people who labeled the Bruins as a soft team, this game should help to erase that sentiment.
Unfortunately, the Bruins big win came with some bad news. QB Kevin Prince is expected to miss 3-4 weeks after suffering a fractured jaw on a third down play in the endzone at the end of the game.
It’s a shame that Prince will miss time considering his performance Saturday. What can I say about the Bruins freshman QB? Prince showed heart, resiliency, and guts while making very few errors (11/23 101 yds 1 TD, 0 INTS). Did he look like a freshman at times? Absolutely. Was he perfect? Not even close. But make no mistake about it; Prince is a budding star who grew up a lot in Knoxville, and hopefully he makes it back soon.
Now, it is very important that the Bruins don’t lose momentum with Richard Brehaut or Kevin Craft in the game. This team can win with defense, special teams, and a solid run game, but the QBs must limit mistakes.
My only warning for UCLA: Remember BYU. One week after beating the Vols last year, disaster struck in the form of a 59-0 beat down at the hands of the Cougars. Neuheisel must make sure to have his young team ready for a hungry Kansas State squad.