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Getting the party started right ...

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So the Southpaw Jesus is the story of this Sunday. That much is obvious.  But we are going to start with the other big story from the Rose Bowl - the play of Bruin Defense - also on the minds of every member of the Bruins Nation. From the OC Register:

[I]n a 31-10 season-opening victory over Utah on Saturday in which quarterback Ben Olson made an promising debut as a starter, the Bruins' defense displayed and thoroughly enjoyed a total turnaround. Playing under first-year defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker and with a new aggressiveness, the Bruins completely stymied an offense that threw a lot of different looks at them, a lot of formations and motions.

They held a Utah offense that had six starters returning from a unit that had scored 41 and 38 points in its final two games. The Utes' 10 points was their fewest since a 3-0 victory over Brigham Young in 2003. Quarterbacks Brett Ratliff and Tommy Grady (Edison High) could complete only 14 of 34 passes for 175 yards.

Utah did not convert even one of its 11 third-down plays into first downs - the average gain was only 0.18 yards.
That last stat is truly stunning. I have to say every time our defense was facing 3rd down situations, my stomach was all tied up knots, as replays were going through my head of chunk of yardage our defense kept giving up time after timing in those exact same situations over the years. That was truly impressive.

More on the defensive efforts from Brian Dohn:
The Bruins defense, oft-maligned the last two seasons, showed spunk under new defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker.

Freshman cornerback Alterraun Verner, a Mayfair High graduate, led the way with a game-changing interception return for a touchdown late the second quarter, but he was far from the only star.

Utah's spread-option offense fizzled, accumulating 112 rushing yards (more than 100 yards less than UCLA allowed in 2005) while starting quarterback Brett Ratliff was hurried or misfired en route to completing 13 of 31 for 162 yards.

Making matters more satisfying for the Bruins was the perceived trash-talking coming out of Salt Lake City during the week.

"It's all about respect," Bruins safety Chris Horton said.

"Everyone was saying Utah's going to come up here and throw the ball on us and do all this and all that. We put pressure on (Ratliff) up front, and we held our deal on the back end. If nobody's open, there's nobody to throw the ball to. They talked about a lot of stuff, but this is our house."

And UCLA's defense was at its best in the second half, when the Utes managed 79 yards and three first downs. In fact, four of Utah's six second-half possessions ended without a first down.
As Dohn noted true frosh Al Verner was the defensive star:


AV celebrating his first TD (Richard Hartog / LAT)

The kid had the game changing interception which he ran it back to the house. But he also showed some freshmen inexperience biting on couple of plays. That is ok. We will take that. He is only going to get better. Yes there is definitely room for improvement in this defense. I would like to see more pressure from our DL. I don't think it was still the second half when the DL (Justin Hicks I believe) got to the Ratliff. And, it was the secondary again who were leading the tackle stats (Keyes led with 7 tackles). We need to see lot more pressure from this DL.

But still not bad at all for the first game. Now to the offense.

Yeah let's talk about the Southpaw Jesus:


The nickname fits as BN has a new section (Richard Hartog / LAT)

What can we say? You already know the stats. To me the amazing thing to watch was Ben's poise and maturity. We heard all about his left cannon of an arm. We knew he could fire off those tight rope passes. But it was the calm and poise that was amazing. I think the most impressive TD was his last one to Everrett when he called an audible at the LOS. When it looked like we were going to go with another run play, BO surveyed the D, called an audible, and threw that fade for Everett to jump up and grab it. He also did it another point of the game, when he just coolly avoided pressure, move a little to his left, and hooked up with Everett again (IIRC) for a spectacular completion (which was reversed by the replay booth) along the sidelines. Simply amazing stuff. I am not ready to compare him to Cade yet (Ben needs to beat SC). But to me he had the best game of any QB in the country yesterday.

Adande on how Southpaw Jesus ran the team:
Sure, the 318 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions were nice. And the .758 completion percentage (25 for 33) is actually misleading because receivers dropped at least three passes that Olson delivered right where he was supposed to.

What was so impressive was the way Olson ran things. His first seven passes went to different receivers, and he connected on his first nine passes out of the gate. He played with confidence from the very first snap, when the coaching staff decided to indoctrinate him with a pass play.
And on BO's confidence permeating through the whole team:
If the quarterback's that confident, everyone else usually falls in line. You could say Olson's cocky, but it's in a good way.

"In a great way," wide receiver Junior Taylor said. "He has that swagger, that inner character about him. But he's very humble. He's had a lot of pressure on him since he came back from his mission. And I think he's handled it great, just from the way he came in from day one to now.

"I wasn't shocked by his performance tonight. I won't be shocked by what he does this whole season."

The only time Olson looked awed by the experience was when he sat down at the table in the news conference room.

"Never been in here before," he said.

As I looked at him, I kept glancing over at the giant Troy Aikman poster hanging on the wall and felt strangely comfortable making the visual comparison. It might have been Olson's first time in the room, but everywhere he went Saturday he looked as if he belonged.
Again all this is not news to this Nation.

More coverage on the game from the LA Times, including this game report from Lonnie White

Bruin TEs (Moya and Paulsen) are also getting a lot of love in today's papers: from the Daily News and the LA Times. The way BO was connecting with Paulsen reminded me of how Cade used to connect with Farmer in all the key moments. Moya had the first TD catch from BO, but Paulsen (except for that one drop) was stepping up time after time in all the key moments (5 catches for 9 yards).

Again yesterday was just a start.  We expected that win. Now we are set up perfectly for a start that should lead us to meeting the minimum expectations for this season.

And yes massive props to Coach Dorrell and his staff to getting this party started right.

GO BRUINS.