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Catch and Release — Ishmael Adams’ 95-yard Interception Return TD and 105-yard Kickoff Return TD, plus 5 TD’s by Brett Hundley — including 2 80-yard TD passes — sink the Trident-carrying Sun Devils, as #11 UCLA reels off 28 straight points and reels in its 4th win in a row, 62-27

Holy Mackerel!  The Bruins have finally landed, back on their lofty perch.  While many crabby people around the Country had bought the “UCLA is floundering” school of thought hook, line, and sinker, others were angling for a different reality, and singing a different tuna:  That it was just a matter of time before Jim Mora’s UCLA “full-to-the-gills-with-talent” team would surface, scale the mountain, dig deep into their soles and produce a pearl, play with porpoise, flex their mussels, reel-lize their full potential and put together a whale of a game.  On Thursday night in Tempe, it wasn’t perfect, but now the naysayers should clam up for a while, and stop spouting their (a)balone, after UCLA filleted Arizona State 62-27.

The Bruins started slow, falling behind 17-6 due to a tentative, porous Defense and a mistake-prone Offense.  The Bruins were committing too many penalties to get any momentum, while ASU, led by their 2nd-string QB, got into the end zone twice, both on passes.  The second one was right over Fabian Moreau and Jaleel Wadood, and it looked like the Sun Devils wouldn’t miss their Star QB, who was out with a Foot Injury.  But when the Bruins fell down by 11 — at the start of the 2nd Quarter — that’s when everything changed, and the UCLA that was ranked #7 before the season started, suddenly appeared.

The Bruins exploded for 21 straight points in the quarter, starting with a short pass by Brett Hundley to Eldridge Massington, on which the defenders collided and Massington was able to flee 80 yards to paydirt.  The Bruin Defense also stepped it up a little, as Anthony Jefferson — with his back to the passer — miraculously snatched a pass out of the hands of a Receiver for a remarkable Interception.  Hundley almost capitalized with a bomb to a wide-open Massington, but the ball was just ever-so-slightly overthrown.  The Bruin Defense stayed strong, though, and aided by a dropped 3rd down pass, forced ASU’s first punt (ASU dropped several balls on the night — can’t blame THAT on the back-up QB).  On the ensuing drive, a 17-yard run by Paul Perkins, a long pass completion to Thomas Duarte, and a scramble by Hundley put the Bruins in striking range.  The drive was culminated by a play from the Myles Jack formation, where Jack was a decoy, and Nate Iese got open for the short TD toss (just like in the Texas game).  The score gave the Bruins their first lead at 20-17.

ASU got the ball back and marched down the field with time running out in the 1st Half, and was in range to tie or take the lead back, when Ishmael Adams snagged an errant pass (this one you CAN blame on the back-up QB), and traversed the field all the way to a 95-yard Pick-6.  So instead of ASU being tied or ahead at the break, UCLA was up 27-17.  When Mora’s team has had the lead at the Intermission, they were 20-0, and this game would be no different.  And that momentum (and confidence) was supplied by Adams’ game-turning play.

The Bruins received the 2nd Half Kickoff, and on the very first play from scrimmage, Hundley hit Jordan Payton down the sidelines for another 80-yard TD, and just like that, UCLA led 34-17, with a 28-0 spurt.  ASU countered with a Field Goal to cut the margin to 14, letting Bruin fans know this game was not over… until the subsequent Kickoff, which Adams fielded 5 yards deep in the end zone, and utilized a great block by Special Teams Maven Ryan Hofmeister, to take it all the way to the house, upping the lead to 21.

On the following ASU drive, the Bruins got to the QB forcing (and recovering) a fumble, which the Bruins converted with Nathan Starks’ 1-yard TD run, making it 48-20.  ASU came right back with a TD drive to cut it to 48-27, clinging to life late in the 3rd Quarter.  They then forced a Bruin punt, and were driving in the 4th Quarter to stay alive.   They then dropped a sure TD pass, then converted on a 4th and 4, but then failed to convert a 4th and 2, on a pass behind the Receiver.  UCLA took the ball and scored on another Hundley-to-Payton connection, and at 55-27 with 10 and a half to go, the game was over.

When the Bruins got the ball back again with about 6 minutes to go (after a nifty goal line stand), Mora INEXPLICABLY left Hundley in the game.  After an 81-yard run by Perkins (giving him 139 on the night) — Hundley got hit in the head, almost to prove to the World that leaving him in was a stupid decision.  The Devils were flagged, the drive continued, and Hundley was okay, and stayed in the game.  He finished off the drive with a QB sneak for his 5th TD of the game (4 passing), but Mora was lucky there.  Padding stats for the Heisman Race is NOT justification for putting Hundley in harm’s way in a game that is already decided.  Besides, Jerry Neuheisel could benefit from some more snaps.  You never know when he will be called on again.  After the Hollywood Script that WAS the Texas game, I could easily see needing Jerry against SC, after the dirty trojans cheap shot Hundley to the sideline.

Regardless, Brett’s 5th TD (that DOES look good on the ESPN stat page) made the final score 62-27 — a 35-point victory ON THE ROAD against a quality Pac-12 South team who came in undefeated and ranked #15.  HOWEVER — Don’t buy into the oncoming hype.  Yes, the Bruins played well, but there are still problems.  ASU was NOT really a #15 team without their Starting QB.  The back-up did ok, but he did commit three very bad Turnovers that weighed heavily in the outcome of the game.  Also, the Bruin Defense gave up 626 Total Yards of Offense.  Moreau was victimized several times, Wadood made 10 tackles, but did not play as well as he did in his coming-out party last game, and even Eric Kendricks — who was awesome overall and also tallied 10 Tackles — missed a tackle on a huge 4th down that ASU converted in the 3rd Quarter.  Also, the Bruins committed 8 penalties for 78 yards — 7-for-70 in the 1st Half.  They will need to clean that up — like they did in the 2nd Half — if they want to stay on this roll.

The Bruins were successful thanks to superior talent (especially at QB), to an Offensive Line that is finally now gelling (Hundley is deadly when given time to make good decisions), and to the outlandish skills of Adams (and the whole Special Teams unit).  UCLA fans and Football fans around the Nation have finally caught a glimpse of WHAT COULD BE, when the Bruins are firing “on all cylinders,” as Hundley said right after the game.  But the next game will be another test, and it’s mainly a MENTAL one:  Can the Bruins perform well when they are EXPECTED to be stellar?  They failed to live up to the preseason hype in their first 3 games, and didn’t put together a solid 60 minutes until people started to discount them.  Now that they will be media darlings again — and heavy favorites — will they still deliver, or will the Playoff Committee “cut bait”, and say that there are plenty of other fish in the sea to pick for the Final Four?

"PLENTY OF ISH" was published on September 26th, 2014 and is listed in Blue & Gold News.

Comments on "PLENTY OF ISH": 1 Comment

  1. UCLADal wrote,

    Ish-kabibel! I think that was from an old Scooby Doo episdoe….

    Great write up T-H! Great game by our Bruins. Still lots of work to do but things are looking good! GO BRUINS!

    [T-H’s Note: I actually thought about Ishkabibble but thought no one would have any idea what I was talking about!!]

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