- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Record: 5-2, 2-2
The general consensus is that the UCLA Bruins are probably a little ahead of schedule seven games into Jim Mora's collegiate coaching debut.
With a young offensive line, a redshirt freshman quarterback and brand new systems on both sides of the ball, the Bruins have, for the most part, looked pretty good.
When we look at the two losses, they fell at home by a touchdown to Oregon State, which in retrospect isn't exactly a "bad" loss, seeing as the Beavers are a Top-10 team. The loss at Cal was really the first and only time we saw significant breakdowns in communication. Worth noting that UCLA bounced back with victories after each loss and the defense only gave up one offensive touchdown in the win over Utah last week.
Through their first seven games, the Bruins are one of five Pac-12 teams to be averaging at least 30 points per game on offense while ranking sixth in scoring defense, yielding 22.6 points per game. Running back Johnathan Franklin got off to a blistering start and picked up some early Heisman buzz, but that has settled a bit. He still leads the Pac-12 in rushing (125.4 yards per game, 878 total yards) and rookie quarterback Brett Hundley has ranged from good to outstanding. With a 66.5 completion percentage and 14 touchdowns, he ranks fourth in the league in passing efficiency.
Eric Kendricks and Tevin McDonald are among league leaders in tackles and Anthony Barr is among conference leaders with seven sacks. After a bye this week, a tough back end of the schedule finishes out with No. 10 USC and No. 20 Stanford.
Offensive MVP, Brett Hundley: There's good reason to give this to Franklin for the outstanding season he's put together so far. But Hundley has been just as amazing -- and the fact that he's a first-year guy makes it that much more impressive. To go with his 14 touchdowns, he's also rushed for five touchdowns -- one more than Franklin. He's taken to the offense quickly and is the most exciting young player in the conference.
Defensive MVP, Anthony Barr: An argument could be made for the resurging Datone Jones or the versatile Damien Holmes. But Barr, who switched to the defensive side of the ball, has blown up. He has 37 tackles -- 11 for a loss -- to go with his sacks. He's also broken up a pair of passes, notched three quarterback hits and forced a team-high three fumbles.