Like Coach Rick Neuheisel told the crowd at the Rose Bowl after UCLA's 23-9 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats this past Saturday, "it wasn't pretty."
Though the Bruins had the lead throughout, mistakes continued to plague the team; UCLA had 80 yards in penalties, including several personal fouls on offense and an illegal formation call that negated a touchdown in the first half.
Despite all of that, the Bruins found a way to win.
Kevin Craft, seeing his first action at quarterback this season, performed better than he did during much of 2008, completing 13 of 24 passes with a 51-yard touchdown to Terrance Austin that sealed the game in the fourth quarter, his first since October of last year.
Craft had more zip on his passes and, for the most part, seemed more sure of the offense, not to mention the fact that he had a better offensive line this time around.
The Bruins running game was solid, as Johnathan Franklin rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown, with Derrick Coleman adding 46 yards on eight carries.
And the defense did a good job, giving up just 69 yards on the ground and being lights out in the fourth quarter. They sacked Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman six times, including twice in the last minute of the game after a UCLA fumble gave the Wildcats hope. Coffman was also intercepted twice by Alterraun Verner.
The best thing about this win in front of a crowd of 67,311?
It showed that the Bruins can come up with victories despite adversity and mistakes, as well as the fact that they are 3-0 for the first time since 2005, when they went 10-2.
The bye week coming up for UCLA will be welcoming, as it will give the Bruins time to rest, heal injuries, and most importantly, correct the mistakes and penalties that they have made.
By the time they meet Stanford in Palo Alto on October 3rd, the Bruins will be in a good position to go 4-0; they will certainly have a good chance to win at the Farm.
The Cardinal have a running back in Toby Gerhard who is an absolute stud, but UCLA has the personnel on defense to stop him, or at least not let him affect the game. If the Bruins are successful against Gerhard, they should be in good shape.
Though the Bruins are still a work in progress, I know a lot of teams that would love to be 3-0 right now, including crosstown enemy USC, which lost a shocker to Washington 16-13.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the bye week and the Stanford game, which will be the Bruins' Pac-10 Conference opener, will play out—will UCLA continue to make the progress that they have been showing thus far?
Stay tuned to find out.
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