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Across the field: The UCLA Q and A

Aug 30, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; UCLA Bruins head coach Jim Mora reacts against the Rice Owls during the second half at Rice Stadium. UCLA beat Rice 49-24. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE
Aug 30, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; UCLA Bruins head coach Jim Mora reacts against the Rice Owls during the second half at Rice Stadium. UCLA beat Rice 49-24. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE

As we gear down to Saturday evening, we took the time to ask some questions from our SBNation friends over at Bruins Nation about how they are feeling about the Nebraska Cornhuskers trip to the Rose Bowl for their game against the UCLA Bruins.

We asked about Jim Mora, their game against the Rice Owls last week in Houston, and the possibility of the Rose Bowl getting the RedOut treatment.

1. Seems like Saturday was a pleasant surprise to Bruins fan as the way the offense took off away from home. Was this a mirage? Or do you think Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin are the real deal?

Bruins Nation: Indeed, we enjoyed the game thoroughly and we are definitely hoping that this was not a mirage even though Rice is not a powerhouse. Although it is too early to tell, it was great to see innovative and gutsy playcalling. After years of frustrating, conservative playcalling, it was refreshing to see our offensive coordinator, Noel Mazzone get the ball to our young playmakers who had been limited by last year's Pistol offense (such as RB's Jordon James, Steven Manfro and WR Devin Lucien). Brett Hundley was a highly touted recruit who's confident and has the fan base behind him. This was our first glimpse into the future and that first snap (for a long rushing TD) showed us two things. 1, that he is a special player and 2, he has the ability to scramble elusively when the play breaks down which is something that we haven't seen in a while. Johnathan Franklin is the real deal. He was the Pac-12 player of the week after the Rice game, and is the 7th all-time leading rusher in UCLA history with only 849 yards left to take the #1 spot.

2. First home game at the Rose Bowl, and there are fears in Los Angeles that Husker fans may take over the stadium. True fear or do you think it’s just a mirage?

Bruins Nation: A very true and legitimate fear. The majority of UCLA fans have little to absolutely no faith in our athletic department leadership, since we have the most incompetent AD in the nation in "Chianti" Dan Guerrero who gets an overinflated salary while the rest of the university suffers from budget cuts. (I'm a recent graduate so I've seen the Athletic Department bungle countless things from trying to sell UCLA football tickets to Fresno State fans in 2008 to absolutely bungling the Pauley Pavilion renovation - don't even get me started on Chianti Dan's mismanagement of our football and basketball programs!).

We know y'all Huskers travel well and that California is the state that has the third most Nebraska alum so we expect to see a Rose Bowl that is mostly different shades of blue (another Athletic Department failure to align on UCLA's "blue" color), but are prepared to see a Rose Bowl full of blue, red and other random colors. Not everyone has bought into the Mora regime yet and if we do see a Rose Bowl that is decked out in red, we are sure that UCLA Athletics did another "fantastic" job marketing UCLA football.

3. Jim Mora Jr has seemed to want to get the attention from the other side of town. Does he need to win this game to really get that thought process going? Or will a loss not dent that plan?

Bruins Nation: Yes, this is a must win game for Coach Mora (actually Jim Mora, not a Jr.). He will definitely gain momentum heading into Pac-12 play and former head coach Rick Neuheisel won big (W vs. a ranked Tennessee game) in his first game. Southern Cal has the limelight and the media attention now so a big W vs. a ranked team would be huge for us. A close loss wouldn't derail the train but I don't think Jim Mora is the type of coach who enjoys any kind of loss. A huge loss would be bad and would show that there is a lot of work to be done.

4. While the defense seemed to struggle the first half, they pitched a shutout the last 30 minutes of the game. What did Lou Spanos and crew do better in the second half in Houston?

Bruins Nation: It's been a while since we saw half-time adjustments so that was also refreshing to see. Our D was aggressive and blitzed throughout the game, but I think that it was more about not overpursuing and sticking to the assignment that helped us shut out Rice in the 2nd half. We need to see our secondary step up - they were the weakest link and will need to step up, especially in run support against a potent Nebraska running game and a mobile QB in Taylor Martinez. Also, our F-back turned LB, Anthony Barr stepped up in a huge way and was a menace in the backfield. That helped a lot.

5. Give us the players to watch on both sides of the ball that will make a difference in the game.

Bruins Nation: Offense: Brett Hundley, of course. All eyes will be on him and we expect big things out of him during the next game and beyond.
Joe Fauria, our 6'8 tight end (or Y) is a walking mismatch and we didn't see him as much as we hoped last week. We hope he'll get more looks as well. RB Jordon James, WR Devin Lucien, RB Johnathan Franklin and OL Xavier Sua' Filo are all big play guys too.
Defense: LB Anthony Barr. He was a very pleasant surprise and looked natural as a LB. We also expect big things from our DL from true freshman Ellis "Ellis Island" McCarthy to senior Datone Jones. If our veteran corners Sheldon Price and Aaron Hester can't get it done, look for one of our youngster corners (Ishmael Adams, Randall Goforth, Marcus Rios) to step in and get some PT.

6. Finally, what’s your prediction for the final score and how the game will play out in the hills of Pasadena.

Bruins Nation: I'm an optimist so I'll say Coach Mora starts off the year with a big bang (no pun intended - there will be fireworks after the game). UCLA 31 Nebraska 27