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Pregame Guesses: Bye (Bye Week) Edition

A look back at last week's game and a look at no game tomorrow.

Isaako Savaiinaea is one of the freshman who played well in their first college game.
Isaako Savaiinaea is one of the freshman who played well in their first college game.
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cars - Bye Bye Love - Live 1978 (via yuffenough)

(This week’s video is Bye Bye Love by The Cars. I considered Bye, Bye, Bye by ‘Nsync and (Bye Bye Miss) American Pie by Don McLean [no, not that Don Maclean] and even Blue Bayou by Linda Ronstadt – but decided to go with The Cars. The Cars were one of the first concerts I ever say, probably in the first five. I saw them at the Universal Amphitheater when it was still an open amphitheater. That alone is sort of melancholy because they are tearing what is now known as the Gibson Amphitheater down to make room for a Harry Potter ride. The video is even sadder, in a way, because the singer of Bye Bye Love is the late Benjamin Orr, The Cars’ bass player who passed away from cancer a few years back. Sad. The Cars were lumped in with New Wave by some but ultimately they were (and maybe are) nothing less than a great American rock and roll band.)

There was nothing the least bit melancholy about UCLA’s win over Nevada last Saturday, though the summer heat trapped in the Arroyo did sap everyone’s energy just a little bit.

To me, it was a solid win. Nothing spectacular, but the type of win a very good team chalks up against a game opponent. The final tally looked like one of those SEC or Big 12 scores you see early in the season on the ESPN crawl at the bottom of your screen. After a while, you sort of get numb to it, but "LSU 61 – Southwest State 14" gets imprinted on your subconscious. I could just see some insomniac in South Carolina watching the middle of the night SportsCenter, falling asleep with the TV on and waking up knowing (but not knowing why) that UCLA routed Nevada out on the coast.

Maybe it’s good that the game was played so late, because all the media and fans back East only saw the score, not the game itself. What really happened is that some of them saw the first half, decided the Bruins weren’t living up to their Top 25 ranking and went to bed, only to wake up and find out we had a big second half. That image might be more impressive than the game itself.

From my seat in the Rose Bowl (and, by the way, never ever leave your house Westwood at 5 to get to Pasadena for a 7pm kickoff on the 110 when the Dodger game starts at 6. I curse you, Stadium Way) we had a nice, but flawed performance.

Brett Hundley put up some nice numbers, some very nice numbers, but a couple of things sort of bugged me about the way he played. First, he’s still not all that accurate on the deep ball. He overthrew receivers on post patters a few times from my less-than-vantage point. The other thing that really bothered me – and this is a holdover from last season – is that he seems really hesitant to scramble when there appears to be wide open turf in front of him. He did have a very good day running the ball on quarterback keeps, but he seems very reluctant to take off when all of his receivers are covered and the pocket collapses.

These are, obviously, nit picks. Hundley completed most of his passes and spread the ball around to a variety of receivers. Also, he seems much more in command out there, taking charge, moving guys around, calling audibles at the line of scrimmage. We’re in good hands at the quarterback spot for this season and hopefully for the next one.

(I actually began writing this Wednesday morning, but life got in the way and now I’ve got to finish in Thursday night. At the moment, the Broncos and Ravens just went into halftime with Baltimore up 17-14. Pretty good game. During the part where the players introduce themselves Rahim Moore said, "Rahim The Dream" Moore, U-C-L-A. That was pretty cool and I honestly don’t remember the last time a UCLA guy did an NBC intro. Jacksonville don’t play in prime time.)

Where was I?

Oh yeah, the Nevada game.

The play that’s most vivid in my mind was the one where Myles Jack came out of nowhere and knocked that pass out of a receivers hand near the sideline on the press box side of the field. In person, and from my vantage point, it looked like a sure completion. Jack seemed to appear out of nowhere to break up the play.

I’d like to think the play also served as a metaphor for what looks to be a very strong freshman class. There’s no way to mention all the names of rookies who made an impact in their first college game, but off the top of my head Tahaan Goodman made an impression, Eddie Vanderdoes just about justified Brian Kelly’s dickishness, Isaako Savaiinaea had three solo tackles, Deon Hollins had two solos and an assist, Alec Redmond played really well on the offensive side of the ball – damn the list goes on and on. I defy anyone to recall a group of freshmen who looked that good collectively in their very first game.

And, for whatever reason, Priest Willis didn’t even play.

* * *

I listened to some of Mora’s post practice press conferences this week and I think he was on to something when it comes to the early part of the schedule.

Someone asked him if he liked having the bye this early in the season and he said he liked it. At first I didn’t understand what he meant, because without really giving it too much thought I would have put it later In the year, you know, so that some of the guys who were wearing down over the course of the season would have an extra week of rest at a crucial time of the year. Week Two just seemed sort of early.

But Mora said that this week’s bye prevented the team from looking past Nevada to Nebraska and that it then gave the kids a chance to regroup and get their feet back under them before traveling to Lincoln. He and the coaching staff were able to use this week to work on fundamentals, that sort of thing. (He didn’t actually say that word for word, but that was the gist.)

I get what he’s saying. The Nebraska game looks crucial right now. They look beatable, actually, but any road win against a Top 25 Big 12 team would be very meaningful. UCLA has a real opportunity to pick up an early season signature win in a game the whole country will have a chance to see. Then we’ve got another bye New Mexico State the following week and it looks like we’ve got a real opportunity to go into the conference schedule with an unbeaten non-conference record.

I know, I know – let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. I get it.

But, look, it’s a bye week and there’s only so much you can say about an empty Saturday.

With that, here are your Pregame Guesses: Bye (Bye Love) Edition:

  1. Without a UCLA game to watch, what game are you most likely to look at tomorrow?
  2. What freshman were you most impressed with last week against Nevada?
  3. Since the NFL started tonight ... what two teams do you think will play in the Super Bowl?