Aug 30, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Damien Holmes (43) reacts against the Rice Owls during the second half at Rice Stadium. UCLA beat Rice 49-24. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE
Well, a lot of good things came out of that game, and a lot of bad things as well. As Freesia pointed out, it was a tale of two halves.
This UCLA Bruins football team is much more enjoyable to watch than the last few years.
The new 3-4 defense is bringing a lot more pressure. This is true in terms of sacks, 7 last night compared to 14 all of last year, but the defense also got a push and broke up some running plays as well.
As noted by gbruin, this team can make some big plays, but can be susceptible to them as well.
And it was good that the team reacted to adversity and closed out the second half:
UCLA rolled up 646 yards total offense, 357 coming in the opening half, the most productive half by a Bruins offense in 14 years. Hundley finished with 270 yards total offense, completing 21 of 28 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Franklin rolled up 214 yards on 15 carries, finding the end zone three times.But as much as UCLA's lightning start ,Mora was pleased with the way the Bruins closed down Rice in the second half and the way a series of young UCLA players responded to their first game.
Mora has definitely changed the mindset. The team felt like it was playing to win, not playing not to lose. This is best encapsulated by the decisions to go for it on fourth downs (and it paid off), as well as the decision not to run out the clock at the end of the first half. (That worked out too, although not exactly as planned).
Damien Holmes made some big plays and was the defensive star of the night, or least he made the headline plays. Datone Jones was good, this is the type of play we need from him all year long. Anthony Barr was beastly, it looked like he'd playing linebacker all along, and it also looked he definitely should have been playing linebacker all along.
Now, there were still too many mental mistakes, false starts, things like that. Those need to get fixed. Eight penalties for 107 yards is just unacceptable. Those types of mistakes cost you against better teams.
Now for the really bad news. I was not impressed by the pass defense at all. At times, Rice appeared to be moving the ball through the air with ease. Cornerbacks Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price did not have their best games. Price was much worse though, when he was trying to jam receivers, he looked like he was playing patty cake. He looked burnable all night. Pac 12 offenses will destroy him. If Price can't improve, we need some of the underclassmen to step up and taking the starting role away from him. The one positive is that if the defensive front can continue to generate pressure without rushing too many, it will help.
Before anyone accuses us of looking at the glass as half-empty, it's not just us. Of course there's Slimers the clown, but Baxter Holmes noted that the team definitely had growing pains, and Bruins OC Noel Mazzone felt that the team never truly established an offensive rhythm.
The box score will give UCLA fans optimism: 646 total yards, 343 on the ground, 303 in the air. Plus, the Bruins' first five plays from scrimmage resulted in three touchdowns. But their win was not without growing pains.
"I never felt like we were getting in any kind of rhythm," first-year offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said of UCLA's first outing in its no-huddle, spread offense.
Overall, a good first win, but there's lots of room for improvement