Bruin Defense Forces Six Turnovers In 37-6 Rout


It’s a good sign of the progress that UCLA’s football program has been making so far this season when the Bruins can beat someone by a large margin and Johnathan Franklin, who happens to be the nation’s leading rusher, says afterward…

Sep 15, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins player Datone Jones (97) celebrates with quarterback Brett Hundley (17) after catching a 17-yard touchdown pass against the Houston Cougars at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kriby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

“That was an ugly win, we made a lot of mistakes…We have a lot to work on. We haven’t maximized our potential.”

With UCLA committing five turnovers in their 37-6 handling of the Houston Cougars before a crowd of 53, 723 at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night, Franklin hit the nail right on the head.

It was a good thing, then, that the Bruin defense played lights out in forcing six turnovers of their own, including five interceptions, with three by Sheldon Price, the most by a UCLA defender since T.J. McDonald picked off three passes against Cal last year. They almost pitched a shutout until Houston quarterback David Piland ran for an 86 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter,the second straight game that an opposing quarterback had such a long run against the Bruins.

Other than that, UCLA had a stellar defensive performance as they only gave up 14 first downs for the game and 139 yards on the ground.

As for the offense, although Brett Hundley committed some first year starter mistakes and threw two interceptions of his own, he had what could be called a big day with 320 yards on 27 of 42 passing, with his two touchdown passes, including a seven-yard score to usual defensive lineman Datone Jones in the first quarter, who had to change his jersey number to go in on offense, matching his two picks.

Franklin didn’t rush for 200 yards like he did in his previous two games, but he did move up to second place on UCLAs all-time rushing list with 110 yards on 25 carries. The senior is now a mere 171 yards short of Gaston Green’s all-time mark of 3,371 rushing yards.

Despite the Bruins’ problems, which also included them failing to score from Houston’s one- yard line in the fourth quarter when offensive lineman Torian White committed three straight penalties – a false start and two holds that cost UCLA 25 yards by himself, which ultimately led to an interception – the game was never in doubt as linebacker Eric Kendricks took a fumbled lateral on the second play of the game and ran it in for a 23-yard score.

The Bruins used that touchdown, Jones’ score later in that quarter, and the first of Ka’imi Fairburn’s three field goals to take a 17-0 halftime lead, and never looked back.

At the end of the day (or, more accurately, the night), it was a win over a team that they were supposed to beat. It raised UCLA’s ranking to number 19 in both the AP and coaches’ polls and their record to 3-0, but something important must be mentioned:

They may be able to beat Houston with five turnovers, but they definitely will NOT be able to beat future opponents if they continue to play as sloppily as that, starting with next week’s opponent, Oregon State.

Which also happens to be the Pac-12 Conference opener and, with the Beavers upsetting then-#13 Wisconsin in their first game, promises to not be a pushover.

The bottom line here for Bruin Nation should be this:

It is good to get a win over an opponent that they were supposed to beat in Houston, but they absolutely must clean up the turnovers and penalties – 8 for 60 yards last Saturday for 293 on the year, still the most in the FBS – if they are going to beat Oregon State next Saturday.