OK, as of this writing the UCLA Bruins are officially at the halfway point of their football season.
Their record: 3-3 overall, with a mark of 1-2 in the Pac-10 Conference.
Being that I predicted a 6-6 finish at the start of this campaign, 3-3 is where people figured that the Bruins would be now.
Without a doubt, the one big highlight is the 34-12 win over the then-#7 Texas Longhorns in Austin. Rick Neuheisel’s team dominated on both sides of the ball that day and burned the nation’s second ranked rushing defense for over 250 yards on the ground; it was a game where everything went right.
Unfortunately, there were more low lights that highlights in Westwood this year.
The worst low for the Bruins was clearly the Bay Area schools, Stanford and California, outscoring UCLA by a combined tally of 70-7, which included the Bears routing the Bruins in Berkeley last Saturday 35-7.
In those two losses, the “pistol” offense was more like a peashooter as mistakes galore were made in the form of penalties and turnovers.
Not to put the blame for the Bruins’ woes solely on him, as the receivers have mostly been sub-par, but it’s getting clearer by the day that Kevin Prince is the wrong man to quarterback UCLA, if they want to be a consistent factor and a Rose Bowl contender in the Pac-10.
So far this year, Prince has completed less than 50% of his passes. His interceptions have outnumbered his touchdown throws (3), and though he has been hurt for much of the year, he seems to have regressed from 2009 as far as development.
The fact that Prince has thrown for less that 100 yards in each of his last three starts hasn’t helped his case, as he’s shown that he lacks the arm strength to keep defenses honest.
A change to sophomore Richard Brehaut, who did well against Washington State when Prince was out with a bad knee – which continues to bother him – may be necessary.
Jonathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman have been a two-headed monster at running back during the Bruins’ recent three-game winning streak; UCLA is among the FBS’s top 30 in rushing offense.
However, Franklin still has issues in regards to fumbling; his cough-up against Cal deep in the Bruins’ territory led directly to a Bear score.
The defense has been up-and-down, shutting down opponents like Houston and Texas while getting toasted in other games.
As the second half of the season commences, what concerns me the most is that UCLA’s schedule is chock full of tough teams like # 17 Arizona, # 24 Oregon State, and crosstown enemy USC.
If the Bruins thought they were in the frying pan with Cal and Stanford, they may well be in the proverbial fire with their next opponent on October 21st; the Oregon Ducks are merely the nation’s second ranked team and are on a complete roll right now, particularly on offense with running back LaMichael James.
And to potentially add salt to the wounds, the game is in the toughest place to play in the conference, Autzen Stadium in Eugene – plus it’s on a Thursday night on national TV; ESPN is showing what may be dead Bruins walking.
The way things are going, it would not surprise me – at all – if the Ducks put up fifty points on UCLA, at least; I expect the score to possibly be 59-10 or something of that nature.
As such, there are six games left in UCLA’s 2010 season.
Whether or not they result in mostly victories or defeats remains very much to be seen.