Eddie Vanderdoes

No. 25 UCLA avoids double overtime scare in Boulder

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On Saturday afternoon in Boulder, Colorado No. 25 UCLA (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) was unable to deal a knockout blow to Colorado (2-6, 0-5 Pac-12), but the Bruins found a way to a victory in double overtime. UCLA had a 24-7 lead on the Buffalos in the second quarter but had to hang on to a 40-37 victory to pick up a bowl-eligibility clinching win on the road. Brett Hundley‘s eight-yard touchdown run in the second overtime gave UCLA the hard-fought victory.

Hundley also passed for 200 yards and rushed for 110 yards with two combined touchdowns to lead UCLA to the victory. Paul Perkins broke some big runs early in the game and ended the day leading all players with 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns as well.

The Bruins scored a late touchdown in the third quarter to pad its halftime lead, but Colorado scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to push UCLA to the final whistle. Myles Jack was inserted at running back as UCLA needed to punch the ball across the goal line in the third quarter. Jack has been used sparingly this season, but his 16th rushing attempt of the year led to his second touchdown of the year. It could not have come at a better time for UCLA, as he ran right through a would-be-tackler for the touchdown on the outside.

Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau tossed each of this two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, each being caught by Bryce Bobo. That kept hope alive, but it was the defense that really provided life in the fourth quarter by stopping UCLA twice on a late drive. The first stop on third down ended up having the drive extended with a roughing the passer penalty to allow UCLA a free 15-yards and a first down to retain possession. Colorado held the Bruins once more, this time stuffing a fourth down and short play with three minutes to play. UCLA tried handing off to Eddie Vanderdoes out of a timeout on fourth and short, but Colorado played it perfectly for the stop.

Colorado then went to work on offense, methodically moving downfield into field goal range. While coming up short of a go-ahead touchdown, the Buffs settled for a game-tying field goal off the leg of Will Oliver from 35 yards.

The overtime was brought to a stop as UCLA was driving closer to the end zone. The game was paused for a while after the helmet of Colorado defensive back Tedric Thompson banged into the knee of a UCLA player. The impact left Thompson on the ground for an extended period of time before being placed on a stretcher and carted off the field while being consoled by a Colorado trainer or member of the medical staff. The defense pulled through for a stop on the first two plays after play resumed, holding UCLA to a field goal. Colorado answered on their first overtime possession with a long field goal to force a second overtime. After Colorado kicked a second field goal to take a 37-34 lead, Hundley answered with two good runs on the ensuing possession to seal the win.

So where does UCLA go from here? The Bruins are still well behind the pack in the College Football Playoff hunt, which may be out of reach the rest of the way. UCLA will host Arizona next week in one of many key Pac-12 South match-ups the rest of the way. The Bruins also still have to play at Washington and at home against USC and Stanford. The Pac-12 South is still up for grabs, and the Bruins should have enough pieces to make a run for it, but they will have to play a better game moving forward than they did against Colorado.

Colorado sinks to 0-5 in Pac-12 play and is now on the brink of missing out on postseason eligibility. With six losses, one more and Colorado will be ineligible for postseason play for a seventh straight season. Colorado’s last bowl season was 2007.

UCLA QB Brett Hundley is just fine with 2 first half TDs vs ASU

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Arizona State has stayed one step ahead of UCLA on the scoreboard for much of the first half, but the Bruins managed to get to the halftime break holding the lead. Using linebacker Myles Jack and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA fooled Arizona State’s defense for the go-ahead score, a short pass from Brett Hundley to a wide-open Nate Iese. Just as it looked as though Arizona State ws going to at least tie things up in the final 20 seconds, UCLA’s defense came up with a pick-six to take all of the momentum to the break. Ishmael Adams picked off a pass as Arizona State’s lack of timeouts may have had an impact. He returned the interception 95 yards for a touchdown. UCLA scored three straight touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 27-17 lead to the locker room.

Hundley was listed as the starter for UCLA after Jim Mora kept silent on his availability for Thursday night’s game. Hundley injured his shoulder against Texas the last time UCLA played, and he has been playing well in this key Pac-12 South contest. At the half, Hundley has completed 15 of 20 pass attempts for 219 yards and two touchdowns. He has taken some hits from the Arizona State defense, but he has not been rattled in the process.

Arizona State is playing without Taylor Kelly at quarterback. His replacement, Mike Bercovici has more than held his own so far against the Bruins defense. At the break, Bercovici has completed 16 of 28 passes for 215 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he has been intercepted twice. The second was a killer, coming after Arizona State put together a late first-half drive to at least settle for a field goal to tie the game at the half. A lack of timeouts though meant Arizona State had no extra time to set up and talk about a play inside the red zone, and it hurt them.

This should be a fantastic second half for those staying up to watch it. I’m going to go grab a coffee during the halftime so I can be sure to catch it.

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 6 UCLA

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2013 record: 10-3 overall, 6-3 in Pac-12 Conference (2nd in South division)
2013 postseason: Sun Bowl vs. Virginia Tech (42-12 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 16/No. 16
Head coach: Jim Mora (19-8 overall; 19-8 in three years at UCLA)
Offensive coordinator: Noel Mazzone (3rd year at UCLA)
2013 offensive rankings: 35th rushing offense (196.6 ypg); 43rd passing offense (251.8 ypg); 38th total offense (448.5 ypg); 2oth scoring offense (36.9 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: nine
Defensive coordinator: Jeff Ulbrich (3rd year at UCLA)
2013 defensive rankings: 71st rushing defense (169.5 ypg); 40th passing defense (217.6 ypg);  54th total defense (387.1 ypg); 35th scoring defense (23.2 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: eight
Location: Los Angeles
Stadium: Rose Bowl (92,542; grass)
Last conference title: 1998

THE GOOD
The talent on UCLA’s roster makes the Bruins contenders in the Pac-12 Conference. The play of quarterback Brett Hundley can place the team in national title contention. Hundley is among the Top 3 quarterbacks in college football along with Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston. Like Mariota, Hundley would have a first-round pick in May’s NFL draft if he decided to declare early. But he decided to stay in Westwood. The Bruins will gladly continue to build around their talented quarterback. Hundley is an impressive athlete at 6-3 and 226 pounds. Last season. Hundley threw for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also led the team with 748 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. One of the reasons Hundley returned to UCLA for his redshirt junior campaign is to become a better overall quarterback. Hundley did improve his decision making through the final six games of last season. He only threw one of his nine interceptions after Oct. 26. As Hundley continues to develop his overall game, the Bruins will be the biggest beneficiary. And top-notch quarterback play is a key ingredient for any program ready to make the jump from being good to great.

THE BAD
UCLA head coach Jim Mora is a defensive coach by nature. It had to drive him crazy to see the Bruins play as poorly on defense as they did last seson. The Bruins actually finished fifth overall in the Pac-12 in total defense, but that is more an indictment of the overall defensive play around the league. The country’s 71st overall rushing defense simply isn’t good enough. UCLA wants to be able to compete with any team in the country. And it has to be better on defense. The team relied heavily on two talented freshmen, Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenny Clark, along the defensive line last season. Both should naturally improve during their sophomore campaigns. While the team’s starting front is talented, the depth is questionable beyond Ellis McCarthy. Players such as junior Kevin McReynolds, need to provide quality reps as part of the team’s defensive line rotation for them to improve significantly against the run. Isaako Savaiinaea will also be inserted into the starting lineup to replace Jordan Zumwalt at inside linebacker. UCLA knows what to expect of senior linebacker Eric Kendricks, but Savaiinaea’s play could prove to be the difference in the Bruins’ defense as a whole. The Bruins’ progression on the defensive side of the football should be the primary indicator how far the team can go this season.

THE UNKNOWN
UCLA’s offense line was in constant flux in 2013. The team used four different offensive line combinations throughout the season. The team actually changed its starting lineup in six of its last seven games. A lack of continuity up front will have a drastic effect throughout the rest of the offense. While this shouldn’t be a concern which lingers between seasons, the Bruins have already started off on the wrong foot with at least one significant injury along this year’s offensive line. Left tackle Simon Goines will miss at least the first two games of the season after he had bone spurs removed in his ankle Aug. 9. Malcolm Bunche, a Miami transfer, has 13 career starts at left tackle, and he is expected to slide into the spot vacated by Goines. Once Goines returns, the coaching staff will have shuffle the starting lineup. How many times will they have to do so this season? Will Bunche slide inside to guard once Goines is healthy or he remain on the blindside? The fact of the matter is UCLA won’t have their top offensive line on the field until week three of the season with very little practice time as an entire unit. Goines is expected to return just in time for one of the Bruins’ biggest games of the season against Texas. However, he won’t have much time to build a rapport with the rest of the unit. The only ones who will suffer if the offensive can’t gel quickly are Hundley and the rest of UCLA’s skill positions.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Stanford
It’s been six years since UCLA defeated Stanford. To put that time frame into context, the 2008 season was Rick Neuheisel’s first at UCLA. It was Jim Harbaugh‘s second with the Cardinal. Stanford has gone on to become one of the most successful and intimidating teams in the Pac-12 Conference. The Bruins, meanwhile, have searched for an identity and found one under Mora. This game will be Mora’s opportunity to truly put his stamp on the program. It’s the last game of the regular season. Both UCLA and Stanford are expected to be battling for an appearance in the Pac-12 championship game. Since the game falls on a Friday, both teams will have short practice weeks. The Bruins want to prove they’re among the Pac-12’s elite and a potential national championship contender. Stanford is as tough a team as the Bruins will face all season.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: linebacker/running back Myles Jack
Hundley is the obvious choice here. There is, however, a natural curiosity that will draw college football fans and Heisman voters to Jack. On one hand, Jack is one of the best young linebackers in college football. On the other, he is a dynamic runner when the Bruins decide to hand him the football. Last season, Jack was third on the Bruins’ defense with 49 tackles. He also added seven tackles for loss and 13 deflected passes while dropping in coverage. On offense, Jack led the team with an average of 7.0 yards per carry. He only ran the ball 38 times, yet he was second on the team with seven rushing touchdowns. And Jack accomplished these numbers as a true freshman. The “runningbacker” simply brings a completely different dynamic to both sides of the football. He’ll be expected to make the big play on defense in crucial parts of the game. And the team clearly favors him when they’re around the goal line on offense. The novelty of Jack playing both ways will draw interest from fans around the country. It’s his talent and ability to play at a high level on both sides of the football that will make him a legitimate Heisman contender.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Jameis Winston headlines 2013 FWAA Freshman All-American team, Gus Malzahn also honored

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Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is celebrating his birthday as a Freshman All-American, although this comes as far from a shock as possibly considering the season he has had for the Seminoles. This season’s Heisman Trophy winner was named to the Freshman All-American team by the Football Writers Association of America.

Florida State also had defensive back Jalen Ramsey named to the Freshman All-American team. Florida State’s BCS Championship Game opponent, Auburn, is also represented with offensive lineman Alex Kozan being named to the team as well. In addition, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was named to the freshman team as the nation’s top first-year head coach at Auburn, although this is actually Malzahn’s second year as a head coach.

Here is the 2013 FWAA Freshman All-American team

OFFENSE (12)

Pos. Player, School Ht. Wt. Hometown

QB Jameis Winston, Florida State 6-4 228 Bessemer, Ala.

RB • Alex Collins, Arkansas 5-11 206 Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

RB • Elijah McGuire, Louisiana 5-11 185 Houma, La.

WR • Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh 6-2 185 Clairton, Pa.

WR • Corey Davis, Western Michigan 6-2 205 Wheaton, Ill.

WR • Nate Phillips, Arizona 5-7 177 Chandler, Ariz.

TE • Hunter Henry, Arkansas 6-6 250 Little Rock, Ark.

OL Jack Conklin, Michigan State 6-6 236 Plainwell, Mich.

OL Andrew Jelks, Vanderbilt 6-6 290 Paris, Tenn.

OL Alex Kozan, Auburn 6-4 297 Castle Rock, Colo.

OL Ben Lauer, Minnesota 6-6 302 Plymouth, Minn,

OL • Alex Redmond, UCLA 6-5 305 Cerritos, Calif.

DEFENSE (12)

DL • Tarell Basham, Ohio 6-4 250 Rocky Mount, Va.

DL • Joey Bosa, Ohio State 6-6 275 Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

DL • Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA 6-4 305 Auburn, Calif,

LB • Dominque Alexander, Oklahoma 6-2 216 Tulsa, Okla.

LB • Dakota Cox, New Mexico 6-0 235 Draper, Utah

LB • Addison Gillam, Colorado 6-3 225 Palo Cedro, Calif.

LB • Myles Jack, UCLA 6-1 225 Bellevue, Wash.

DB • Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech 5-11 193 Baltimore, Md.

DB Jacoby Glenn, UCF 6-0 176 Prichard, Ala.

DB • Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida 5-11 192 Tampa, Fla.

DB • Jalen Ramsey, Florida State 6-1 195 Smyrna, Tenn.

DB Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma 5-11 176 Keller, Texas

SPECIALISTS (4)

P • Austin Rehkow, Idaho 6-3 202 Veradale, Wash.

K • Michael Geiger, Michigan State 5-8 186 Toledo, Ohio

PR • Ryan Switzer, North Carolina 5-10 175 Charleston, W. Va.

KR • Stacey Coley, Miami 6-1 180 Pompano Beach, Fla.

HEAD COACH

Gus Malzahn, Auburn

• Denotes true freshman