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UCLA Football vs. Nebraska Post-Game: BN Roundtable Discussion

September 8, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins running back Johnathan Franklin (23) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
September 8, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins running back Johnathan Franklin (23) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

A huge victory over a ranked Big-10 opponent not to mention, a great home opener for our Bruins! Here are some of our thoughts from the game - special thanks to everyone for their feedback.

1. Initial Impressions?

bruinclassof10: I'm a believer! This is a completely different Bruin team than we are used to. The performance vs. Rice was nice but we got to see the character of this Bruin team with the way they didn't blow it against Nebraska like the teams of the past would have. So far, we know that Mazzone is a top notch offensive coordinator, Brett Hundley is everything we had hoped he would be as a dual-threat UCLA QB (and more!) and Johnathan Franklin is playing like an early season Heisman candidate. Spanos is also very, very good at halftime adjustments and I enjoy his aggressive defensive playcalling. Props to Coach Klemm too. Our OL was a big question mark heading into the season but they manhandled Nebraska's D-line.

dcbruins: Fun to watch. For the first time since I can remember I was not thinking about how we were going to blow it but how we were going to win it.

freesia39: That was a game of good screaming at the TV. I enjoyed myself watching that game, and it has been quite a while since I could sit through a football game without ... much anxiety.

Bellerophon: Now, that was the kind of game we’ve been waiting for as UCLA fans. For the first time in a long time, as I watched this Bruin team keep its poise throughout the game, I kept wondering when we were going to finally win it, rather than the impending feeling of doom, wondering when we were going to blow it. Hundley took a huge step forward, and it’s amazing what happens when you put the most skilled guys on the field and get them in a position to make plays.

AHMB: Our team looks transformed. The team speed is fantastic. Our defense was aggressive, and our offense was explosive. It's amazing how quickly Coach Mora and the new staff have taken ownership of the team, but the guys have bought in and they're no longer playing below their ability.

Odysseus: Yeah, I'm definitely drinking the Kool Aid now. Everything about watching the team is so much more enjoyable, it's now actually fun to watch the games. What a concept! Our defensive backfield without Price looked a lot better.

gbruin: This is the kind of game where we would make a few mistakes and end up getting blown out. Not this team. Totally different mindset and discipline and attitude. You could see it in the second half. I told the editors in the 3rd quarter this game was ours.

Ryan Rosenblatt: That was about as good of a performance as we could have expected from the Bruins. They played with energy and purpose against a good team and came away with a win over the 16th ranked team in the country. Noel Mazzone had a great gameplan and Lou Spanos made some fantastic halftime adjustments, so thumbs up to the coordinators. The players were sharp and even the most maligned unit, the offensive line, was very good. There is still plenty to improve and it was hardly perfect, but they are things you expect a young and inexperienced team with a new coaching staff to have early in the season. We were never going to get perfect, but we got good.

tasser10: This is the first time since the game at Texas that I haven't changed channels during a UCLA football game because the team was simply unwatchable. Even when we were winning in the last few years, I couldn't stand watching our team, playing slow, making mistakes, boring football. This is an exciting team to watch. The offense is dynamic and the defense is fast and furious.

Achilles: What I really noticed was how in control Mora was on the sidelines. He's totally composed, totally focused. The team reflects his play. It's amazing what having professional football coaches on your staff does for your program.

Ajax: UCLA football is on its way back. If we decide that UCLA has turned that proverbial corner at some point this season, we may look back at this game as the point where that turn began. What we saw Saturday was the confluence of competent coaching and talent. It's about damn time.

2. The Good

The UCLA Bruins are a team that is well coached. Let that soak for a minute. Our offense matched or stayed ahead of Nebraska and our D stepped up when they needed to step up. Our coaches made adjustments and called great plays. Fairbairn made all of his PAT's.

dcbruins: First half offense, second half defense and Johnathan Franklin. We were a couple plays away from a perfect first half on offense and made a couple big plays in the second of defense. Also, Johnathan Franklin made some great individual plays, he is a true star.

freesia39: Coaching adjustments. Holy cow, we have them. I was happy with the overall effort of the team, minus the penalties. Also, Johnathan Franklin is pretty darn good. We should talk about him more.

Bellerophon: There was way too many good things to talk about. From the coaching to the OL to Hundley to Jet Ski to the secondary stepping up (except Hester), the Bruins played well across the board. Oh and in case you missed it, Jet Ski is the NCAA Division I leader in yards on the ground. If he can keep churning out 100+ yard games, he’ll be in the heart of the Heisman race at the end of the year.

AHMB: There was a lot of good on Saturday. When an offense piles up over 600 yards, it's a good day. It doesn't matter if it's against Rice or Nebraska. Or Rice and Nebraska. Defensively, we played well enough to beat a good offensive team, and sometimes that is just what you need.

Odysseus: Yeah, the adjustments, for two games now on defense have been great. We have a real quarterback, real coaches, and an explosive offense.

gbruin: I keep saying it...line wins games. From the D's point of view, if you can't get to our QB, who do you focus on? The play calling is unpredictable and so variable, and the skill guys are great when they get the ball. Also, we owned that 4th quarter. Better control of the line on both sides. Our players were faster and stronger at the end of that game. Also, the second half adjustments on defense made a huge difference.

Ryan Rosenblatt: The starts and ends with the offensive line for me. There was a lot of other good on both sides of the ball, but holy hell, the offensive line looked like a real, competent unit. They opened up holes for the running backs and Brett Hundley had all day to throw. I never thought this offensive line would look as good as it did at any point in the season and we got it in game two. Two thumbs up to them and Adrian Klemm.

tasser10: Refusing to lose. Getting punched and getting back up. Putting mistakes behind them. Hundley's poise. Anthony Barr's beastiness. Datone awakening. Playmakers given opportunities. Coach Mora's demeanor on the sidelines. The Mayor running a strong campaign.

Achilles: Team is totally poised. Team responds to adversity so well. Look, it's a high level college football game against a ranked Big 10 opponent. You're gonna get popped in the mouth a few times. How well you counterpunch is crucial.

Ajax: The offensive line and Coach Klemm. Hundley had what seemed like an eternity to go through his progressions. The offensive line also gave the Huskers a dose of their own Big 10 medicine in the running game. How often do you see the black shirt front 7 get pushed around like that?

Brett Hundley. Love his composure and efficiency. He gets happy feet when he sees pressure up the middle, but it did not result in any serious mistakes Saturday. His ceiling is off the charts. The pass to Manfro was a thing of beauty.

Anthony Barr. Wow, what a revelation. His athleticism is a perfect match for the OLB position in Spanos’ 3-4 scheme. And let’s not forget coach Ulbrecht for getting him up to speed so quickly after the position switch.

3. The Bad

bruinclassof10: This one is tough. From my view at the Rose Bowl, it seemed like UCLA was getting called for penalties that were questionable but then again I'm a little biased. I'd like to see fewer penalties overall and I'd like to not feel nervous every time we're lined up to kick a field goal. I know Fairbairn can get it done.

dcbruins: We made some stupid penalties. We were lucky to not have three late hits instead of the one we got called.

freesia39: Like I said earlier, I really hated the penalties. Some were just .. stupid. I'm also worried about Fairbairn, but I think he'll figure it out as the season goes on. I also wish we'd stop celebrating small plays.

Bellerophon: Aaron Hester. The PI penalty was almost as pathetic as his play-acting when he threw up his hands and acted surprised the flag was thrown at him. He and Price have always had a lot of potential but never lived up to it. Goforth was huge, except for the drops (but on the positive side, he was in the right place at the right time, whereas in years past, no one would have been there at all). I’d like to see Mora shake up the secondary if Price and Hester continue to falter. Abbott played damn good at CB with Goforth joining McDonald as our safeties. The penalties overall need to improve and the defense still needs to show it can lock an opponent down for an entire game, rather than just the second half. Nebraska is good, but the defense will need to take the next step to slow down U$C, and Oregon (if we both return to the conference title game).

AHMB: Most of the bad occurred in the first half. Whether is was vacated gaps, missed tackles, or blown assignments. The problems were mostly corrected during the game, but I guess the bad would be another slow start (or overaggressive start) by the defense.

Odysseus: We need to do better on special teams and we need to finish drives better, especially in the red zone. The defense was giving up too many yards and too many points in the first half, but again, great second half adjustments.

gbruin: The D still seems to rush themselves out of the play at times. They need a bit more discipline while attacking. We still seem a bit vulnerable at inside LB. Too many penalties.

Ryan Rosenblatt: Penalties, penalties, penalties. The refs didn't help us out with a few of the penalties, but there were a couple other penalties that I thought should have been called and weren't so we'll call it even. Need to tighten things up and keep the yellow hankies away.

tasser10: Aaron Hester still costing his team. 4 straight pass playcalls when Brehaut came in in the red zone, when Franklin was being beastly. Kicking still inconsistent. Baca false starts!

Achilles: The defense is a work in progress. Guys are giving up containment and allowing big plays. The tackling could improve.

Ajax: Way too many penalties (notwithstanding the phantom PI call). Special teams, especially Mr. Fairbairn. I know he will only get better, I just hope that we don't lose a game as a result of his growing pains. Also, we needed a touchback on that last kickoff to Nebraska.

4. Game's Most Valuable Player(s)?

bruinclassof10: Same as last week but with a tweak. Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin. Our entire D deserves a shoutout for stepping up big in the 2nd half and annoying Taylor Martinez into ineffectiveness.

dcbruins: Johnathan Franklin. His stat line is obscene and he was as good or better than that line. It seemed a number of times he turned a tfl into a gain. He was a stud.

freesia39: Johnathan Franklin. Two straight massive games. At first he was just chipping away, chipping away and then he finally seized control.

Bellerophon: Jet Ski and Brett Hundley.

AHMB: I'd normally go with JetSki, but since he's been named I'll give my vote to Torian White and Simon Goines. They both played a hell of a game and held a pretty aggressive front silent in only their second career games.

Odysseus: Jet Ski.

gbruin: JetSki, Datone Jones, and Jeff Locke.

Ryan Rosenblatt: Johnathan Franklin takes the honors offensively with another huge game. It wasn't just the running or the catching either. He was a real leader out there. Defensively, Datone Jones was incredible and it went well beyond the safety. He was a terror for the Nebraska offensive line all game.

tasser10: JetSki, no doubt, Hundley close second. MVPlay goes to Datone Jones and the safety, Momentum changer. The Zumwalt crushing tackle close second.

Achilles: On offense, Hundley, for the way he came right back in after rolling his ankle. On defense, Datone Jones.

Ajax: Offense: Jonathan Franklin. Defense: Datone Jones

5. Honorable Mentions?

bruinclassof10: Big Joe Fauria, Jeff Locke, Steven Manfro, the O-Line held it down too

dcbruins: Anthony Barr and Datone Jones. Barr is a beast. Jones made the big safety and almost had a spectacular interception. Jones is finally living up to what we have been hearing about him in practice.

freesia39: Datone Jones and Anthony Barr. I cannot stop raving about the two of them.

Bellerophon: Fauria, Datone Jones, Damien Holmes (playing great as a ILB), and Barr.

AHMB: Anthony Barr, Owa, and Datone Jones.

Odysseus: Datone Jones, Hundley, Barr, Abbott

gbruin: O Line and Coach Klemm.

Ryan Rosenblatt: Brett Hundley, Anthony Barr, Tevin McDonald

tasser10: Hundley close second. MVPlay goes to Datone Jones and the safety, Momentum changer. The Zumwalt crushing tackle close second.

Achilles: Devin Lucien, for a hell of a catch.

Ajax: Offense: Brett Hundley. Defense: Anthony Barr

6. What we hope to see vs. Houston?

bruinclassof10: Mora the same! I'd like to see us strike early and often. Jerry Johnson had a few targets during the Nebraska game but didn't capitalize. I'd like to see him rebound with a big game. Devin Lucien has been making spectacular catches - I'd like to see him haul in a receiving TD.

dcbruins: The pass rush creating havoc against Houston. We have played two great halves on defense, let's put together a great game on D.

freesia39: More of the same, indeed. I want us to play two good halves of football, on both sides.

Bellerophon: This is the real test of whether Jim Mora has really changed UCLA’s culture. Don’t forget: the Bruins have beat big-time opponents before (Rick’s victories over Tennessee, or the huge win in Austin in 2010), but then always followed it up with a major let-down against some weak opponent that they should have easily beat. Let’s see if Mora can keep these guys focused, especially now that the Bruins are being shown some love by the media. The Bruins should win, and win big (esp. at home against a Houston team with a new coach and without Case Keenum), so anything less than that would be a concern.

AHMB: I want to see Brett Hundley come out of the tunnel and go back into it healthy. UCLA has had a problem keeping quarterbacks healthy for far too long, and seeing Hundley go down for a series against Nebraska had my heart racing for a bit. Thankfully, he came back and finished strong, but the ankle proved to be gimpy on the kneel downs at the end of the game.

Odysseus: It would be nice to see the team put together a complete game. I'm not complaining, but I'd like to see fewer mistakes, and I'd like to see the defense play well for two halves, fewer stupid mistakes.

gbruin: Better discipline on defense. Cleaner game with fewer penalties. Kevin Prince and Jerry Neuheisel getting mopup time in the 4th. DB's holding on to those picks.

Ryan Rosenblatt: More improvement. Besides the fact that the Bruins looked good out there, it was great to see the team improve from week one. If they can keep improving from week to week then they will avoid the let down after the big win that we've seen from the Bruins before.

tasser10: Consistency, no letdown. Improvement in kicking game.

Achilles: More of the same, with hopefully some improvement with the tackling and not giving up big runs.

Ajax: Further growth and progression by the defense. As bad as they are, Houston has a potent passing offense. I want to see improvement in the secondary, especially in man coverage by the corners (I’m looking at you Hester and Price). I expect the offense to have another big day. Cut down the penalties.

7. The Extra Point.

The talking heads on ESPN (Holtz, May, Davis) think that this UCLA team has bought into Coach Mora's philosophy. My nomination for plays of the game: Datone Jones not falling for the handoff to the RB and sacking Taylor Martinez in the end zone for a safety and Andrew Abbott's interception to kill Nebraska's 4th quarter drive. D stepped up big and deserve major recognition this week.

dcbruins: Brent Hundley's ankle is a worry. He was not quite the same in the second half after tweaking his ankle. The offense needs him healthy and a 100%.

freesia39: I'm so glad that we created a great game experience for all the recruits at the game. UCLA is the place to be.

Bellerophon: When Brehaut came in, our offense just could not punch it in. That’s a bit of a concern. If Hundley gets hurt, we could be in for some major problems. Devin Fuller presents a very good option off the bench, but if he’s behind Brehaut and Prince (and we know how far they can take us), he’s obviously not yet ready to step up (and will probably redshirt this year). So let’s hope our medical staff can keep Brett all in one piece: he’s way too critical.

AHMB: We made them. Yes, Fairbairn missed a couple of fairly easy field goals, but I like the way the staff has handled him. I really think he'll iron out his issues and be a better kicker in the long run for it.

Odysseus: Let's enjoy this victory and let's also remember, that where we are now, ranked in the top 25, is where we should be pretty much every year. Chianti Dan's horrible record of incompetence has lowered our expectations. this is what it should be like all the time.

gbruin: I know Rice wasn't a great team, and I guess we'll see how good Nebraska turns out to be, but I believe this team is for real. We were the better team on Saturday. For the game, we were stronger, faster, tougher, and we wanted it more. Now I need to see how this team responds next Saturday against Houston. I am anxious to see if we keep that killer attitude and put them away quickly, or if we lag and let them hang around. In the past, this would have been an easy letdown game. I think this team is different.

Ryan Rosenblatt: We saw again this week that the schedule is breaking right for UCLA. Yeah, Oregon St. had a big win, but that game is at the Rose Bowl. The supposed tough road game at Cal is looking easier too. The only thing that looks better than the Bruins' intensity is their schedule

tasser10: Neuheisel (or his coaches) couldn't coach very well...but he certainly recruited some good or great players. I still think Hundley might have saved his job last year if he hadn't been, thanks Rick. And I am really liking the poise and the game plans this new staff is putting together. Breeds consistency, hopefully.

Achilles: Major, major, MAJOR props to Adrian Klemm. Our offensive line is patchwork with young guys starting and all that and so far they've really held their own. The whole group should get an honorable mention for MVP.

Ajax: There are so many positives to take from this game. Unlike the last few seasons under Neu and KD, I felt like the Bruins could be blown out on any given Saturday regardless of the competition. With this staff and the schemes they have implemented, I don’t see that happening. The team appears to be much more focused and prepared. Not only are they physically stronger and faster (thanks Coach Alosi), they look confident. They tasted blood in the water against the Huskers and closed them out like good teams do. With all that said, the Bruins must continue to grow and improve against inferior competition.

Please share your thoughts and insight from the Bruins big victory over the Cornhuskers.