Game 2 of the UCLA football season resulted in a UCLA win, and here are some of BN's final thoughts, to go along with DC Bruins experience, the Eye Test, and the Bruin Tweets about winning it for Nick.
1. Initial Impressions?
bruinclassof10: Wow. I'm so glad we won this for Nick. RIP #36. Thank you classy Nebraska players, fans and officials.
IE Angel: Nebraska is an absurdly class school and fanbase, have a ton of respect for them. There was absolutely no need for them to do anything to support the passing of Nick, but they went above and beyond. Hope that they can go on to do big things this season. Hope for a rematch in the Rose Bowl.
Bellerophon: I was extremely impressed with how classy the Nebraska fans were. I was a huge fan of Texas fans after travelling to Austin for our upset win in 2010 after they impressed the hell out of me with their class both before and after our 34-12 win. But, I think the way Nebraska's fans and program responded to our program's tragedy put them above and beyond in my book. As for the Bruins, this was a great win, not just for the kids and coaches on a personal level, but for the program in a bigger picture kind of view.
Achilles: Football games have four quarters, 60 minutes. It's a mistake to start forming definitive opinions midway through the second quarter. In case no one else noticed, this is the second week in a row we were much better in the second half than the first.
AHMB: I'm going to agree with IE Angel and Bellerophon here. I am very impressed with the sportsmanship and class Nebraska showed in this very difficult week. I am equally impressed with how Coach Mora and his staff got our team ready to play, and how our team fought through a difficult first half and won a difficult road game.
gbruin: I already wrote that this is the best win we've ever had in football. It's almost a shame to put it behind and move on. I've never been so proud of our team, or of our opponents. Hats off to Nebraska fans.
2. The Good
bruinclassof10: The 2nd half. The Bruins showed up determined to prove their #16 ranking, as the D did not allow a 2nd half TD for the second consecutive game. Hundley fell into rhythm with his receivers, as the Bruins cruised to 28 unanswered points.
IE Angel: Pretty much everything after the 8 minute mark in the 2nd quarter. UCLA beat up a good football team on the road. The play of the defensive front seven was great, limiting Taylor Martinez to negative 12 yards rushing (that counts sacks though, so it's probably just a single digit number). The interior of the offensive line in Xavier Su'a-Filo, Jacob Brendel and Alex Redmond was strong throughout. The play of Brett Hundley. Lots of good to go around.
Bellerophon: The third quarter was amazing. If the Bruins can show that kind of football for four solid quarters, they will be a force against any opponent. Hundley was a stud, never losing his poise or confidence, despite lacklustre play and falling behind 21-3. UCLA QBs of the past would have wilted under the pressure, but Brett really showed the kind of leader he is. I'm confident he'll stay for next season, and you should pencil him in now on the Heisman short-list for the 2014 season. He's really showing the maturity and mental gifts that could make him elite.
Achilles: Once the team loosened up, they played great. And it should be noted that the defense really wasn't that bad all game. Two of Nebraska's touchdowns came after turnovers (the int and the botched punt). Love Myles Jack.
AHMB: In hindsight, I think the game was mostly good. Yes, the Huskers jumped out to an early 21-3 lead, but 14 of Nebraska's points came off turnovers giving the Huskers a short field. The offense wasn't in rhythm and it threw the start out of whack, but once the offense got back on track the team showed how explosive they can be.
gbruin: The way our team didn't flinch when they got behind, they just got better. We know what kind of talent we have, but this game showed what kind of character we have.
3. The Bad
bruinclassof10: The entire 1st half felt like an entire game during which we got blown out. Taylor Martinez was running Nebraska's offense with ease and the Nebraska D didn't show any signs of giving up any large chunks of yardage. Kenny Bell is a stud receiver too, exposing our inexperienced secondary. Ka'imi Fairbairn needs to nail those FG's and Sean Covington can't allow punts to hit him square in the facemask.
IE Angel: The blips of bad special teams play that bruinclassof10 mentioned. The first quarter just seemed to start with only one team awake. I do love that Coach Mora didn't use that as an excuse; but the 9 AM start time is bizarre and I can't imagine that Nebraska liked it much either. The lack of a pass rush is disconcerting also, but Nebraska does have a solid offensive line, so that might be a red herring.
Bellerophon: The first half sucked. Big time. I'm not thrilled with how poor our defense looked the first half, which seems to be developing into a consistent pattern with Spanos (piss-poor first half showing, followed by amazing half-time adjustments to turn them into a lock-down give-up-nothing stud defense in the second-half). I'd like to see a strong defensive performance for an entire game before anointing this team as being worthy of a top-ten ranking or serious contention to knock Oregon off in the conference title game.
Achilles: The slow start. Also, our corners need help from the pass rush because they aren't ready to guard guys in man coverage yet.
AHMB: Obviously, the rough start is a concern, especially considering how the team often got off to slow starts last season. It's understandable given the fact that it was an early game after a tough week in a hostile environment, but it has to get cleaned up.
gbruin: I could understand the slow start on Saturday, but it's something we've seen before, so it's a concern. We'll have to play all 60 minutes against Stanford and Oregon and ASU. The secondary is too loose in pass coverage. That may be a function of youth right now, but they will need to tighten up in the weeks ahead. Also, too many dropped passes.
4. Game's Most Valuable Player(s)?
bruinclassof10:I I'm going with the popular pick here. Brett Hundley never panicked and tried to do everything by himself, but played like a savvy vet going into the 2nd half. Since he's the emotional and spiritual leader of the team, I think that they fed off of his cool and never thought once that this game was out of reach. He also threw for 3 TD's too.
IE Angel: Tough to not give it to Brett Hundley. I'm on record of saying I don't think he'll be back next season, but a fan can hope. He's just a spectacular talent.
Bellerophon: Hundley. Do I need to say more?
gbruin: Hundley. For his play and for his leadership.
IE Angel: Cassius Marsh and Jordan Zumwalt on defense. Anthony Barr had a freakish second half, but those two were steady from the first quarter onward and are a big reason why the game didn't get out of hand in the early going.
Bellerophon: The entire UCLA defense during the second-half, but I was impressed with Myles Jack - that kid is going to be a special linebacker for the Bruins in the next few years.
AHMB: Jordan James. He seemed a little dancy to start the game, but once he started making decisive cuts, our offense looked unstoppable.
gbruin: Anthony Barr. Remember when we were asking where he was in the 1st quarter? He ended up with 11 tackles and created all sorts of mayhem for Nebraska. We will always remember that incredible moment when AJ ran the fumble over and handed it to Mora. Go back and watch Barr on that play (6:04 here) Beast mode. He flies in from 3 yards deep and out wide, beats a double team, hits the running back 2 yards in the backfield, and causes that fumble with the tackle. He was a one man wrecking show at a time when Nebraska was still in the game and about to score. That play sealed the game, and IE better write about it next summer ;-). Randall Goforth also gets big props for his great individual effort on the fake punt. Jordan Zumwalt had one of his best games as a Bruin, too.
6. What we hope gets addressed against New Mexico St.next week?
bruinclassof10: Slow starts and making defensive adjustments before halftime.
IE Angel: New Mexico State is not a good team, so not a lot will matter in what gets addressed. UCLA could start slow and still be up three scores at the half. I'd like a shut-out, but that seems to be asking a lot. If anything, I'd like to see Brett be able to connect on the deep ball.
Bellerophon: I want to see a consistent, dominating performance from the first minute, through the last. I'd like to see the team come out firing on all cylinders instead of needing an entire half to wake up from their slumber. I want to see a 40+ point beat-down and I want to see Jerry Neuheisel running the offense for at least half of the fourth quarter because of how far ahead we are.
Achilles: A good start and maybe see some improvement in the kicking game?
AHMB: I'd like to see the team come out and play from the opening kickoff.
gbruin: No emotional letdown after this week. Even though N Mex State may not be highly regarded, we need to play solid football from the kickoff. I hope we get lots of playing time for the 2nd and 3rd and 4th string in the 3rd and 4th quarters. I also want to see Ka'imi hit a 45+ yard FG from the hash marks. His distance is fine but he has to start hitting those angles.
7. The Extra Point.
bruinclassof10: We have one of the best linebacking corps in the nation.
IE Angel: Up to #13 in the AP Poll and I'd expect to be around there in the Coaches Poll as well. This could be a memorable season if everything goes well, I'm going to enjoy writing about it.
Bellerophon: I expect us to take care of business next week against the Aggies, and if we play solid like we did against Nebraska in the second half, we should be able to scrape out a win in Salt Lake City (away in Utah has always been tough for UCLA, so I'll take a close win, even though the Bruins are far-and-away the better squad), and Cal is just LOL terrible (amusing to see some spin from Cal beat writers about the Bears after losing at home to an Ohio State team that didn't have its starting QB), so the odds are the Bruins will be undefeated when they travel to Palo Alto on October 19 for a rematch of last year's Pac-12 conference title tilt. I think that's the game where we'll really find out how special this team is or isn't.
Achilles: RIP #Pacman
AHMB: Sal Alosi deserves a raise. Our team looks incredibly athletic. They're bigger, faster, and more agile this year. It's amazing that our inept athletic department went years without a dedicated football strength and conditioning coach.
gbruin: We had three penalties in the game. Three! In the game! That's normally just a single offensive series for us. Bruins are getting better, and I'm seeing things in this team I have seen since ‘88. I like their humble enthusiasm and how each player looks like he is playing for his teammates and coaches more than he is playing for himself.