Lincoln, NE (Sports Network) - In what will no doubt be an emotional contest
on Saturday, the UCLA Bruins will battle the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a clash
of Top 25 teams at Memorial Stadium.
Though UCLA won its first game of the season, the team suffered a tragic loss
earlier this week. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Nick Pasquale was killed in
a car accident on Sunday morning.
Somehow the Bruins must now turn their attention to Lincoln where a big hurdle
awaits. UCLA has been off since its season-opening win against Nevada on Aug.
31 in which the Bruins posted a 58-20 decision in the Rose Bowl. Though idle
this past weekend the Bruins managed to inch up the most recent AP Top 25 and
are now sitting at No. 16 in those rankings.
It was business as usual for the Cornhuskers in their second game of the
season. Led by dynamic quarterback Taylor Martinez, Nebraska rolled up 479
yards of total offense en route to a 56-13 rout of Southern Miss. Nebraska is
now 2-0 for the fifth time in Bo Pelini's six seasons at the helm. Nebraska
has also won 10 straight games at Memorial Stadium, where the Cornhuskers will
be again in the next two contests.
A year ago UCLA defeated Nebraska, 36-30, to catapult the Bruins into the
national rankings. The win tightened up the all-time series, which Nebraska
leads by a slim, 6-5, margin.
Nebraska fans will remember how dangerous Brett Hundley was for the Bruins
from a year ago. There did not seem to be a sophomore slump affecting the
Bruins signal caller in the opener. Hundley completed 22-of-33 pass attempts
for 274 yards and two scores and also rushed for 65 yards and a pair of
With Hundley playing at such a high level the Bruins continued their offensive
success since Jim Mora took over as head coach, producing 58 points and a
staggering 647 yards of total offense. Just like Hundley, the Bruins got it
done through the air (302 yards) and on the ground (345).
It seems that Jordon James will be the replacement for Johnathan Franklin, who
was the team's leading rusher a season ago. Against Nevada, James carried the
ball 21 times for 155 yards and a touchdown. Paul Perkins had 55 yards on five
rushes. For now it looks like James will get the bulk of the rushing attempts
for Mora, a coach who likes to run the ball.
"(James) is the number one back. He's our starter right now," Mora said, while
adding there will still be work for the rest of the Bruins running backs. "You
know how we're going to play offense. We are going to roll those guys through.
We will have to use multiple backs."
Shaquelle Evans got off to a fast start as he looks to build on an impressive
2012 campaign when he caught 60 passes for 877 yards. Though he did not get
over the century mark in the opener, Evans hauled in a team-high six passes
for 81 yards and a touchdown. No other receiver on the team really made much
of an impact, as Hundley connected with 12 different receivers in the win over
While Hundley was the man everyone was watching on UCLA's offense, it was
Anthony Barr that got the attention on defense. Barr played well against
Nevada, collecting five tackles, while showing his patented ability to wreak
havoc in the backfield as he had two stops for loss. However, it was Keenan
Graham who registered two sacks and Eric Kendricks (11 tackles) who was the
most reliable tackler.
As a team, the Bruins held Nevada, which ranked eighth in the country last
season in total offense, to just 353 yards and 4.1 yards per play. UCLA did
hurt itself by committing 12 penalties in the contest.
Pelini has his own multi-faceted quarterback in Martinez to counter UCLA's
Hundley. Martinez is creeping up a number of all-time lists at Nebraska as he
concludes his career. Martinez has thrown for a meager 325 yards this season
but has been extremely efficient (32-of-45) and has made the most of his
attempts with six touchdown passes. Where Martinez is truly at his best is
making plays on the move, as he has rushed for 114 yards on the campaign and
is a constant threat to tuck the ball and run.
Martinez's running ability complements the overall scheme for the Cornhuskers,
who currently have four different players who have already reached the century
mark in rushing. Ameer Abdullah (36 carries, 228 yards, two TDs) is the
primary option, but Terrell Newby (136 yards) and Imani Cross (119 yards,
three TDs) are also integral parts of the gameplan. Cross is utilized
primarily in short-yardage and red zone situations.
Kenny Bell (10 receptions, 102 yards, TD) and Quincy Enunwa (eight receptions,
85 yards, three TDs) might not have eye-popping statistics, but are reliable
pass-catchers when called upon.
The Cornhuskers defense showed marked improvement from week one, when it let
up 30 points to Wyoming, to week two against Southern Miss. Setting the tone
early with two interceptions in the first quarter, the Cornhuskers limited the
Golden Eagles to 284 yards of total offense and just 16 first downs. Nebraska
forced four turnovers in the game as a whole and are tied with Michigan State
for the second most turnovers gained in the Big Ten. While the turnovers are
great, the Cornhuskers do need to improve on getting pressure, as they have
just one sack in two games.
David Santos has been reliable as a tackler for the Cornhuskers with a team-
high 16. However, Josh Mitchell (10 tackles, 3.0 TFL) and Stanley Jean
Baptiste (seven tackles, two INTs) have been the real playmakers on defense.
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