It's Sunday afternoon, and for once, Bruin fans can relax and enjoy a complete victory. Not a butt-ugly small-margin win over a perennial loser from a fourth-tier university (read: San Jose State and Washington State), but a complete win, where the guys not only played well, but UCLA beat an opponent with a decent amount of talent. Yes, Zach Maynard is not the next coming of Andrew Luck, but he's been a solid QB the entire season, and Cal has very good talent on both sides of the ball, and Tedford is a pretty decent coach (although he's no Urban Meyer, Chip Kelly, or Gene Chizik), so this is a solid win over a solid conference opponent.
Now that being said, yesterday really illustrated one of the big strikes against this coaching regime: forced to play the younger guys because of injury and suspension, we finally saw Rick use the more talented players rather than the more senior players. In our much maligned defense, the big stars were Tevin McDonald, Stan McKay, Keenan Graham, Aramide Olaniyan, and Eric Kendricks. Each of these guys were seeing the field due to either injury (Tony Dye and Dietrich Riley) or suspension (Graham and Olaniyan as part of a reshuffled front seven due to Cassius Marsh's suspension), or in the case of Kendricks, because he is just flat-out better than the senior who was starting ahead of him (Sean Westgate, who has a lot of heart, but simply is not a Pac-12 level linebacker). But it wasn't just limited to younger guys: Datone Jones had his best game of the year after being shifted to the inside to make up for the loss of Marsh, which makes one wonder why this wasn't done earlier. On the offensive side of the ball, Jerry Rice, Jr. made two solid catches, but more importantly, Wade Yandall just cleared space wherever he went. Wade only got to play because Al Cid was suspended for the first half.
If anything, this game exposes the coaching staff: what took so long to get these guys on the field? We've been clamoring for the young guys to get an opportunity. There are a lot of talented redshirt freshmen and sophomores on the roster, guys with more potential than the seniors starting ahead of them (perfect example: Kendricks).
Good win for the guys, but a lot of questions remain surrounding the coaching staff, which leaves us convinced we still need wholesale regime change in Westwood. This is the UCLA team we should have seen all year long, but haven't, and ultimately that falls on Rick (and Dan).
With that, let's turn to the bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse for this lazy fall Sunday afternoon:
- Since we're talking about football, let's start with that. Peter Yoon hit on all of the changes on the defensive side of the ball and took note that a lot of new contributors were key to UCLA defense being as stout as it was against Cal, as well as the introduction of a new quarter package to address Cal's many wide receivers. What a difference it makes when you play the best players rather than the most senior.
- Turning to the NFL (it is Sunday, after all), in case you missed it, our very own Alterraun Verner (and one of my all-time favorite Bruins), has been posting over on our fellow SBN blog, Music City Miracles. If you haven't been following this young, articulate, great ambassador for UCLA, then you should. Let's keep our fingers crossed for ATV every Sunday (except when he is playing against the Niners, but perhaps that's just N and I).
- In other NFL news, local First Coast News down in Florida caught up with former UCLA running back and current Jaguars star Maurice Jones-Drew. If you didn't see the interview with MJD, you can catch it here. Also, last week, if you missed it, the Washington Post had a nice article on the friendship between MJD and fellow short running back Ray Rice, where the two talk about their similar life stories and friendship/friendly rivalry.
- If you haven't read anything on UCLA basketball this season, the Washington Post has a quick recap of all of the off-season's activity, as well as a quick season preview, focusing in on the Bruins' front court depth and the likelihood that UCLA will employ a lot of bigger line-ups.
- Likewise, Jill Painter at the Daily News has kind of a generic basketball preview, but she does take note that UCLA should be able to take advantage of its considerable size advantage and be able to play tough interior defense and pound the ball inside on offense.
- Also in basketball news, the AP pre-season poll came out and UCLA came in at #17. Arizona is the only Pac-12 program ranked ahead of the Bruins, coming in at #16. California just made it in at #24, while Washington was on the outside looking in, getting a lot of votes, but not enough to break into the top 25, at least not yet.
- Tucson will soon get a visit from a rather famous, and rather tall, cyclist. One of the all-time greatest Bruins, Bill Walton, will be participating in El Tour de Tucson, hosted by the University of Arizona Medical Center, with the proceeds going to a number of charitable organizations. It'll be kind of neat to see Big Red on a bike. If you're in the area on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, stop by and cheer on Big Red.
- Finally, in case you missed it, this weekend marked the 42nd anniversary (HT LA Bruin) since researchers at UCLA sent the first message from our own Boelter Hall to Stanford. Of course, this is another opportunity to remind folks to visit the brand new Kleinrock Internet Heritage Site on campus. I wonder if all of those UCLA haters on the interwebs realize that it's UCLA and Stanford they can thank for getting this thing off the ground. Mark Zuckerberg, feel free to cut UCLA a check whenever.
Alright folks, that's your Bruin Bites round-up of news from around the UCLA-iverse. Kick back and enjoy some NFL action in a weekend where everything went right: UCLA beat Cal (as we should) and U$C lost. Great win for the young guys yesterday and we're all very excited to see how these guys explode on to the scene next year with real coaching and an athletic department not run by a complete idiot (read: Dan, we're still coming for your job).