Grades: UCLA 49, Rice 24
August, 30, 2012
By Peter Yoon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesBrett Hundley had a 72-yard touchdown run on his first collegiate snap as he led UCLA over Rice.
The UCLA Bruins rolled to a 49-24 victory over the Rice Owls in their season opener on Thursday night in Houston. Here is a closer look at how the Bruins performed in various categories.
Freshman Brett Hundley was an impressive 21-for-28 for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He made smart decisions for the most part and showed a good command of the offense, spreading the ball to nine different receivers. His one interception was a really bad mistake, however, reminding you that there will still be growing pains. Richard Brehaut chimed in late with 101 yards passing, including a nice deep throw to Devin Lucien.
Wasn't the Pistol offense supposed to put up these kinds of numbers? Johnathan Franklin simply dominated with 214 yards rushing and touchdown runs of 74, 78 and 22 yards. Hundley had a 72-yard touchdown run on UCLA's first play from scrimmage -- his first snap at the college level. UCLA had 343 yards rushing -- more than they had in any game last season with the Pistol.
The UCLA defensive line dominated with seven sacks, including two by Datone Jones and Sheldon Price got an interception on Rice's second possession. A pass interference call against Aaron Hester set up a Rice touchdown that made the score 19-17, however and Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue completed and efficient 17 of 28 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
For most of the game, the Bruins really struggled to defend the option and ended up giving up 173 yards on the ground -- 95 by quarterback McHargue. The liberal use of blitzing early left open spaces that Rice seemed to find. The Bruins clamped down in the second half, however, and gave up only 51 yards on the ground after the break.
Jeff Locke saved this from being a fail with three punts inside the 15 and eight of eight kickoffs for touchbacks, but the rest of the special teams was a circus. Having three extra-point attempts blocked is inexcusable at any level. Also, Dalton Hilliard ran into Steven Manfro attempting to make a fair catch on a punt. It resulted in a turnover that led to a Rice touchdown.
Pitching a shutout in the second half after giving up 24 in the first half is a sign that the staff made some very good adjustments in the locker room. The play-calling on offense was superb as indicated by the bevy of long touchdown plays and mind-boggling 646 yards in total offense. Still get docked for not having the extra-point unit ready for the rush, but overall a very good debut by Jim Mora and staff.