Just needed a landing page for several notes and tidbits picked up during the week about Nebraska’s next opponent.
Don’t underestimate UCLA, which has had four top 15 recruiting classes in the last five years, according to Rivals. Talent’s not necessarily the issue.
But assimilating into coach Jim Mora’s culture will be a process. Plus, this team is young and inexperienced in several key areas (quarterback, O-line, linebacker). Are the Bruins ready for this type of challenge, this early in Mora’s regime? We’ll find out.
Emptying the notebook, UCLA-style…
>> Watch quarterback Brett Hundley on zone read options Saturday. Does he make the right decisions? It seems he’d rather hand off than keep it, more often than not. Nebraska has to execute well as it tries to defend that play, but it still needs fine-tuning on UCLA’s end.
>> One thing to note about Hundley, a highly touted recruit: Teammates say he possesses a veteran-like demeanor, rare for a redshirt freshman. Here’s what running back Johnathan Franklin said about his QB: “When Brett first got here, I kind of felt like he was a leader, just by the way he carries himself. The type of guy he is, he makes you better just by being around him.”
>> Franklin has talent, don’t get me wrong. He’s quick and slippery. Smart, too. But his 78-yard and 74-yard runs against Rice last week had to be the easiest touchdowns of his career. You could have driven a bus through those running lanes (the highlights here). Seeing the holes open up, “it’s one of those moments, you really can’t describe,” Franklin said. Well, I can describe it: Bad, bad defense. … Anyway, can a young offensive line (three freshmen and a sophomore) do it again, with a more complex game plan and against the variety of looks NU will show? That’s the question.
>> Tight end Joseph Fauria is a 6-foot-7, 255-pound matchup nightmare. He can move and he has good hands. Good luck, Alonzo Whaley. Good luck, Corey Cooper.
>> UCLA has the capability to play 3-4 or 4-3, according to NU coaches. The Bruins even utilized a two-down-linemen look at times during pass rush situations against Rice Thursday. The varied fronts makes it fun to be a defensive lineman, according to end Owamagbe Odighizuwa. “That’s what’s great about this defense,” he said. “We’re very versatile.”
>> The Bruins’ best linebacker, Anthony Barr, is a former offensive contributor. His left hand is wrapped to protect a broken finger, but that didn’t slow him down against Rice (six tackles, a sack and a couple highlight-worthy hits on the QB). He’ll fly around Saturday.
>> UCLA’s secondary appears to be pretty athletic, but I wonder if the Bruins will take as many chances as they did against Rice Thursday. Jumping passing routes. Playing with a single-high safety. Usually the best bet against Taylor Martinez is to sit back in a zone and make him beat you. We’ll see. Three seniors start back there for UCLA.