Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Midseason review: UCLA
By Ted Miller
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
It's been a tale of two seasons for UCLA.
The Bruins started 3-0, with an impressive win at Tennessee. Then their run defense turned soft and they lost their first three Pac-10 games.
Starting quarterback Kevin Prince broke his jaw in the waning moments at Tennessee, but Kevin Craft was good enough to lead the Bruins past Kansas State the next week. He couldn't do the same against Stanford, but the defense -- previously rugged -- was just as much to blame. It yielded 174 yards rushing to the Cardinal.
The next two foes, Oregon and California, followed suit. Oregon rushed for 221 yards and Cal rushed for 289.
The Bruins bowl prospects -- once strong -- are suddenly threatened, particularly with four of their final six games on the road.
Offensive MVP: The Bruins, who ranked 116th in the nation in rushing a year ago, are running the ball much better this year because of tailback Johnathan Franklin, who ranks ninth in the conference with 72.2 yards rushing per game. Franklin averages 5.0 yards per carry and has scored five TDs.
Defensive MVP: Seeing that dominating defensive tackle Brian Price was the overall Pac-10 midseason defensive MVP, let's go with cornerback Alterraun Verner. Verner, an All-American, doesn't get challenged much, but he has collected three interceptions so far and is tied for third on the defense with 37 total tackles.