Verner saves the Bruin World by taking his 2nd Pick of the day 76 yards for the game-winning TD; With their 30-21 upset of almost-#1 Cal, the Bruins know that they could be 7-0 and #1 in the Country, but will focus on staying atop the Pac-10
You’ve heard of “alter egos?” Well, the Bruins showed their “Alterraun Ego” yesterday, and it was their GOOD SIDE. UCLA put together their best performance since Stanford, upsetting #10 California 30-21. The effort was far from perfect, but considering the competition, and considering the contributions from all three units, it was by far the most satisfying game of the year. The Sellout crowd caused THREE False Starts by the Bears, and spurred the team on repeatedly in a seesaw affair. [Click below for much more, plus 27 Cheer and Game Photos]
UCLA had to overcome the return of Cal Starting QB Nate Longshore, 9 Receptions for 136 yards and 2 TD’s by Bears’ Heisman candidate DeSean Jackson, 2 lost fumbles, and a slew of penalties. There have never been this many Pass Interference calls in a game, or at least that’s how it seemed. The Bruins got nailed repeatedly for them, even on Offense.
And there was one more thing that they had to overcome: A bizarre and heavily-booed decision by Karl Dorrell to NOT go for a 4th and short in Cal territory, late in the game, down by a point. He tried to draw Cal Offsides, then punted into the end zone. The Sellout crowd booed as loudly as they will ever boo their home team. Despite our desire to take the Coach’s side in these matters, on this one, it seemed like the Bruins were controlling the line of scrimmage, and should have attempted to power ahead for the First Down. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and if Cal had jumped Offsides, the plan would have been hailed as creative.
But behind the LEADERSHIP of Patrick Cowan, the Receiving (and Passing!) ability of Brandon Breazell, the Rushing ability of Kahlil Bell, and the overall studliness of the Bruin Defense, UCLA was able to overcome everything…barely.
With 3:08 left in the game, after All-American candidate Kai Forbath’s 3rd Field Goal, UCLA led 23-21. But Cal got a big Kickoff Return, and was in Field Goal range, preparing to win the game, when, for some reason, Cal Coach Jeff Tedford let Longshore throw a dangerous pass on 3rd and 6. Verner, who had studied this exact Bear tendency, jumped the route expertly, and took it to the house untouched. Dennis Keyes added another INT a moment later to end the game.
The Defense was superb throughout the game, although DeSean Jackson did get deep on a trick play, and had several big receptions. BUT, Running Back Deluxe Justin Forsett could muster only 76 yards on the ground, and Jackson LOST yardage on his 3 carries. The only real problem was P.I. calls, with one coming on a pass that was caught for a TD anyway. Regardless, they held Cal well below Cal’s expectations.
And on this day, they weren’t the only unit pulling their weight. On Special Teams, Aaron Perez punted 4 times, and DeSean Jackson had ZERO Returns (of course, one was the failed pooch after the questionable Coaching decision). Also, Forbath continued his awesome season, and perhaps should have been given a chance instead of trying to pooch it. In addition, Matthew Slater had a gigantic 49-yard Kickoff Return that was a huge momentum-turner for UCLA.
And finally, on OFFENSE. We have been saying that we prefer Olson to Cowan, but on Saturday, Cowan showed that he has what it takes to get this team to play hard. He was an emotional leader out there, and the team responded. The most noticeable difference was with the Offensive Line. The Blocking for running and passing was much better than in previous games (perhaps due to the personnel change, perhaps not). Cowan did not have to roll out or scramble nearly as much as expected. The pocket actually held up… at least long enough to complete short passes. Cowan found Receivers on Inside Screens and short slants to keep drives going all day. It didn’t hurt that Kahlil Bell got 142 yards in 22 carries, including a 64-yard run. The Bruins were able to get yards on 1st Down, to keep 2nd and 3rd Downs manageable for Cowan.
Cowan’s best pass of the day was an OUT to his brother Joe, who made a diving catch on the sideline. But the “best” pass of the day was thrown by Brandon Breazell, off a Reverse Toss from Cowan. Breazell heaved it 29 yards to the end zone, where Dominique Johnson outleaped two Defenders for the ball to score the Touchdown that put the Bruins up 20-14. Considering the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY to keep Cowan healthy, the Bruins’ Offensive Game Plan, was NOT too conservative, and as Cowan continues to get healthier, the Bruins’ Playcalling will continue to put points on the board, faster than the Bruin Defense gives them up.
So, even hough everyone knows that the Bruins “SHOULD” be undefeated and #1 in the Country right now, the TEAM understands and accepts its current position, and is dedicated to NEVER SAYING DIE, and to pulling out all the stops to WIN THE PAC-10.
Below are 27 photos from the Game, ending with 10 Cheerleader Photos that are so undeniably hot that they will melt your eyeballs (just in time for Halloween). Remember, all these Pics should ENLARGE BIG TIME when you click on them(!). And YES, there are many, many more where these came from…