Resilient. Determined. Lucky. You can use many adjectives to describe the UCLA football team after last night's win against Utah. Too many people thought this would be an easy game for UCLA. I guess some of us have been around long enough to know otherwise. Heck, I even called it before the season (I actually had predicted a loss myself). The defense won the night, without a doubt, but I am sure people will wonder why the offense was not clicking. Well it was a combination of things, including the weather, the crowd, but also the fact that we were just playing against a good defense. On top of things, people forget that Dennis Erickson is the offensive coordinator for Utah. You can bet that he gave the coaches a lot of insight into Mazzone's system and playcalling. Erickson isn't some run of the mill coordinator. He's a national championship winning coach who has been pretty successful in various stops in college and also coached in the NFL. He knows his stuff, so it's like Utah having two head coaches. I am very glad that we beat them, because they are bound to make some noise in the division.
In any case, here are a few items related to last night's game to whet your appetite on all the additional info you will get throughout the day. I just have to say, it's so much more enjoyable to watch the other games on Saturday after UCLA wins!
- First, the obvious, stated by the guys at the LA Times. With the win last night, UCLA finally reversed two jinxes: its past Thursday night meltdowns, and of course the Beehive State Jinx. Prior to this win, UCLA had been outscored 134-12 in Utah, with our last touchdown coming in 1995. Dorrell's 2007 team was ranked 11th before being spanked 44-6 (barf) in Salt Lake City. Morawan Kenobi deserves a bunch of credit for the new mental toughness of this team.
- Speaking of mental toughness, Andy Staples of si.com focuses on how the Bruins overcame a lot of adversity to come out on top. The defense definitely gets one of the game balls, forcing 6 turnovers is really impressive against any team, let alone against a solid offensive team like Utah. But I think the medal there goes to Brett Hundley, who led a masterful drive right after scoring a pick-six. That's the stuff of Sundays, being able to shake off not just a bad play but a potentially game-changing bad play. Even more impressive was the fact that Hundley came up with the play that ended up being the game winner. It's a great read, I really recommend it.
- Aside from being mentally tough, Brett Hundley was also a jack of all trades last night. He threw for a TD, ran for a TD, had a TD reception and also a punt! Still he continues to be humble and you can bet he will spend a lot of time studying the tape to see how to deal with blitzes. As Coach Mora even admits, the Utah blitzes were masterful. UCLA will really have to figure out how to deal with them if they want to have a remote chance against Stanford and Oregon.
Lastly, I would really like to point out the fact that the win last night was a total team effort. In the past, the team would have crumbled under this kind of pressure. But every one stepped up and there were many heroes. Paul Perkins had an amazing night and gives UCLA a lot to look forward to. Another freshman, Myles Jack, had the game ending interception. The defense once again did not allow a TD in the second half (!). Devin Fuller threw a TD pass. The receivers stepped up with Shaq Evans somewhat limited. Fairbairn was money.