The UCLA Bruins will certainly benefit from having a bye in the second week of the season. The extra amounts of preparation for the Nebraska Cornhuskers will serve the team well.
It is a bit unorthodox to have a bye this early in the season. Most programs would probably prefer one toward the middle of the season when the various nicks and bruises begin to pile up. However, the extra time to practice and work on fundamentals should help UCLA's young roster.
UCLA's 58-20 victory over Nevada in the opening week made some things quite apparent.
For one, the Bruins look more comfortable from a scheme standpoint on both sides of the ball. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone manufactured a game plan that accounted for 647 total yards. The defense, led by Lou Spanos, allowed only one touchdown in the second half.
The continuity on the staff should allow for improvement and growth. It's been the first time in seemingly a decade where UCLA returned both the offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator in the same season. Without constant coaching changes, the units can better gel and become more advanced in the said schemes being employed.
Secondly, UCLA played 15 true freshmen in the contest. The high amount of freshmen played shows credence to the notion that the class is incredibly talented.
Linebacker Myles Jack was second on the team in tackles with eight on the night. Defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes had six tackles, including two for loss. Rush end Deon Hollins applied constant pressure on the quarterback all night long.
The amount of impact from the class was very apparent against Nevada. Not only does the influx of ability make the team more talented, but it also makes it considerably deeper than a season ago.
Jim Mora was interviewed earlier this week at practice. He spoke about the pros and cons of having a bye week this early in the season.
The head coach liked having a bye week between the Nevada and Nebraska games because it "allowed the football team to focus squarely on Nevada without looking ahead to Nebraska."
It's very conceivable to believe that a young football team could theoretically overlook a smaller school while being fixated on a ranked, high-profile opponent the following week. The bye didn't allow for this to happen.
The Bruins committed 12 penalties for 93 yards in the contest against Nevada. It's somewhat expected with a young, inexperienced roster. With a bye week, some of those penalties can be addressed, with the idea of prevention for the following week.
There were times where Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo gashed the defense with his running ability. He had more than 100 yards rushing on the read-option.
UCLA will face a similar proposition with Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez. It's imperative that the defense keeps containment on the edge against the Cornhuskers' speedy signal-caller.
Not only does it help that UCLA faced a mobile quarterback in the opener, but an extra week of preparation will also go a long way in determining the nuances and tendencies of Martinez as a runner.
Lastly, the extra week will help to regenerate the overall health of the squad. Mora made it a point to say that the fall camp in San Bernardino "was grueling. This allows them a chance to bring it back a bit."
The extra preparation also allows the team to "go back and work on some of the fundamental things that reared their head in the Nevada game."
It's always nice to have ample time to prepare for a ranked team on the road. The environment in Lincoln will be very challenging. Given the overall youth of UCLA's roster, an extra week this early in the season should serve them well heading into such a vital non-conference test.
UCLA will face off against Nebraska Saturday, Sept. 14 at noon ET. The game will be played at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.