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September 6, 2009
Bruins start slow, finish fast
The Bruins shook off a sloppy and shaky start to upend Aztecs 33-14. In the first quarter the Bruins shot themselves in the foot with penalties that extended the drive that ultimately turned into San Diego State's first touchdown. The Aztecs went 14 plays for 69 yards on the drive.
UCLA's offense did what everyone had hoped for. They started out fast when redshirt freshman Kevin Prince hit Terrence Austin with a strike for a 20 yard gain. The Bruins moved down the field with Prince hitting on 5-6 for 67 yards.
The drive stalled partially because of a bizarre call. It was an offsetting call where Aztec linebacker Miles Burris was holding Taylor Embree who was called for pass interference. What Embree was doing was trying to dislodge Burris from his person so he could run a route.
The Bruins ended up settling for a field goal to make the score 7-3, Aztecs.
The Aztecs came right back with a quick score of their own when San Diego State quarterback, Ryan Lindley threw for his second touchdown of the night. This was a 78 yard toss to Vincent Brown that came on a third and 10 situation.
The Rose Bowl was beginning to get a tad nervous, but this very young team stayed poised, and senior Terrence Austin gave the Bruins the big play they were looking for when he returned the kickoff 65 yards to the Aztec 12 yard line. On the very next play, Johnathan Franklin had his first carry as a collegiate, and he raced 12 yards for a touchdown.
After giving up a quick first down, it was at about this point in the game, that the Bruins found some defensive swagger, and started to take control of the football game.
Defensive tackle Brian Price picked up his first tackle for loss and the Bruins picked up their game.
San Diego State accounted for 160 yards in the first quarter and could muster up 117 more the rest of the game.
The Aztecs had the ball for 9:46 of the allotted 15 in the first quarter, but after the defense stiffened. San Diego State could only accumulate 4:30 of clock in the second quarter, 5:58 in the third and what bode well for both sides of the football; the Aztecs only had the ball for a paltry 3:47 of the fourth quarter. There aren't many teams that will win game only have the ball for less than four minutes in the fourth quarter.
UCLA ended up having the ball for 35:59 opposed to San Diego State's 24:01 in that stat tells the story why the Bruins ended up victorious.
Another stat that the Bruins showed marked improvement on from year ago was where they would start their possessions. The Bruins for the first three quarters the Bruins averaged starting their possession at their own 41, where the Aztecs average starts for the first two quarters was their own 25.
All in all it was a very good first effort for a very young team that will only get better.
In his first start in over two years, Prince was 18-29 and touchdown. He did have two interceptions and fumbled the ball to San Diego State, but the defense was up to the task.
Sophomore safety, Rahim Moore had an outstanding game, displaying his ball hawking skills, picking off three passes, tying a team record and one pass deflection. The defense as a whole had seven pass deflections for the game.
The running backs all showed flashes of why UCLA head coach, Rick Neuheisel feels he has great group of young people on the offensive side of the ball.
"We saw glimpse and I said that to the crowd after the game," Neuheisel said. "We had some great plays by some of our young backs. Derrick Coleman, Johnathan Franklin, Milton Knox and Damien Thigpen, there at the end. They all made plays."
"We saw glimpses, certainly with our young quarterback (Prince)," Neuheisel said. "He showed that he can play at this level and then he showed that he was a freshman."
Neuheisel was pleased with his defense, too.
"It was a great night for Rahim Moore, who set a school record with three interceptions" Neuheisel said. "It was also a great night for Courtney Viney, who had to play corner in the absence of Aaron Hester.
"We saw young mistakes that people make when they haven't been in the fire before," Neuheisel said. "We should improve a great deal between week one and week two, and we have to if we're going to be competitive on Knoxville. We are excited to 1-0."
True freshman quarterback Richard Brehaut also saw action tonight in the fourth quarter and was 2-2 for 39 yards.
It was far from perfect, but it was a very good start for a very young, but talented football team.