Franklin Mint gets bad taste out of Bruin mouths, with 158 yards Rushing and 3 TD’s to Key 31-13 upset of #23 Houston
Sorry for the delay, but there was so much celebrating — of Touchdowns, of Interceptions, and of not sucking any more — that it took forever to go through the photos and pick the best ones. So… here are the top 42. PLEASE NOTE: The photos all have CAPTIONS now (the first three are hidden, pop-up, mouse-over captions).
Watch out, Texas!
The demise of the UCLA Football Program has been greatly exaggerated… by me and everyone else. The Bruins were a completely different team on Saturday night, as they dominated the Houston Cougars 31-13 for their first win of the season. The Cougars were 2-0, ranked 23rd in the Country, and led the Nation in Scoring, this year and all of last year. But before their star QB Case Keenum hurt his leg and left the game, the Cougars were already down 21-3, and Keenum had already been picked twice.
Apparently, it takes an All-American to steal a pass from an All-American: Both Rahim Moore and Akeem Ayers nabbed INT’s, and returned them a long way from deep in Bruin territory. Moore got his on a deflection, and Ayers got his in typical Ayers style — leaping, close to the QB. And during Ayers’ 77-yard Return, he faked out Keenum, who walked off the field, but was carted to the locker room. Sadly for Houston, their 2nd String QB got knocked out by a brutal hit by Patrick Larimore, separating the QB’s shoulder.
The Cougars would have fared better in the 2nd Half if Keenum were available, but because the Bruins controlled both lines of scrimmage, it looks like UCLA would have won the game even if Keenum were able to continue. UCLA’s Offensive Line opened huge holes for Jonathan Franklin, allowing “Jet Ski” to collect a career-high 158 yards Rushing and 3 Rushing TD’s. Franklin played like he was Walter Payton reincarnated, juking and side-stepping tacklers to get into the secondary time and time again. Every time it looked like he was going to be stuffed, he managed to slither forward for 5+ yards.
Before the game, I would have lobbied for Malcolm Jones to get as many if not more carries than Franklin. But after Franklin’s breakout performance, and Jones’ failure to exploit the same Defense, Franklin obviously gets the nod. And that doesn’t even take into account Jones’ 2 drive-killing, lost fumbles. Jones should still be a huge part of the gameplan, but Franklin is the undisputed Starter.
Speaking of undisputed Starters, the second-best runner on Saturday night was Kevin Prince. The Bruin Quarterback took advantage of excellent fake hand-offs, set up by previous, actual hand-offs that looked like the same play. The misdirection confused Houston repeatedly, giving Prince enough room to amass 60 yards with his legs. Good thing, because he passed for only 99. Cory Harkey and Taylor Embree dropped good passes that would have helped Prince’s stats, but otherwise, the Receivers were better on Saturday night than in the two losses (as was everyone). Ricky Marvray made the Highlight Reel play, by outjumping two defenders for a pass, then coming down out of the sandwich to gain another big chunk of yards.
It looks like Starting Prince was the right choice, although admittedly, we don’t know how Richard Brehaut or Darius Bell would have done in his place against the vulnerable Houston Defense. Regardless, Prince threw a few bad passes, but was 100% better than when he was injured. I wanted him to start every game, but I will admit the possibility that he was brought back too soon, at the expense of the team… but I definitely don’t blame the Coaching staff for that difficult-to-make decision.
Houston fans, however, should blame thier Coach, for opting to kick a Field Goal late in the game when they were down by 21. Didn’t seem like throwing in the towel was the right choice there.
Getting back to owning the trenches, the Bruin DEFENSIVE Line and front seven was vastly improved. They held Houston to very minimal gains on the ground, with the Cougars’ leading rusher averaging only 3.7 yards a carry. Once again, Akeem Ayers and Sean Westgate were the most active players on the team, repeatedly blowing up Houston’s plans. Fellow Linebacker Patrick Larimore made tons of noise as well, with hard (and clean) hits that knocked a Quarterback out of the game, and knocked the ball out of a Cougar’s arms, into a Turnover.
The D-backs got beat deep a few times, but Keenum and his back-up brigade generally missed the open targets. The whole Defense was more fired up, played with more passion, and executed a more-aggressive gameplan. They pressured the QB more, and swarmed all over ballcariers. According to Rahim Moore, they were inspired by all the reports of them sucking. Well… if that’s what it takes, I’m happy to be have been wrong… for the cause.
Even the Special Teams were sharper, holding a Cougar who has 5 Kick Return TD’s to no big plays, and Embree returning a Punt deep into Cougar territory.
Next up is a date in Austin, where even being victims of another blowout won’t be as painful as it would have been if it meant starting 0-4. With the encouraging signs of Saturday night, the Bruins can now, still look forward to battling for a Bowl-placement finish in the Pac-10, even if they can’t handle the Austin humidity and the #4 Longhorns. Then again, the Bruins are riding a one-game winning streak against ranked opponents from the Lone Star State, so maybe they’ll make it two, to thoroughly SHOCK me, for the second week in a row.
Now, please enjoy some photos from the game, and some Cheerleader photos that will blow you away with Covergirl-caliber girls, in the familiar blue and gold.