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October 29, 2006
Good stuff in the Rose Bowl. The Cougs got themselves a big televised win over the Bruins which should help in any number of ways. For example, it gets the Cougs bowl eligible, it should be a recruiting boost, and it should be a confidence booster for the team considering how deep into depth the Cougs had to dig to have enough players on the D-line.
In the first half and especially the first quarter, it looked like there was reason to worry. UCLA looked able to move the ball up the field against the WSU 3-4 defense, the pass rush was getting to Alex Brink, and the Cougar running game was stuffed. The Cougs got the passing game going in the second quarter, the defense stiffened up except for the Bruins' sole TD pass and in the second half the Cougs flat out took control.
The Good (there's lots)
1) Alex Brink: Brink lit it up against what had been a statistically stiff Bruin defense. Brink ended up 28 of 38 for 405 yards and three TDs. Brink also had two picks on underthrown balls, but only one cost the Cougs as the other came right back to WSU by way of a fumble caused and recovered by Brandon Gibson.
2) Recievers: Jason Hill and Brandon Gibson both had big days and brought in some impressive circus catches. Hill finished with 5 catches for 115 yards and an incredible touchdown snatched off the shoulder pad of the Bruin defender while falling away. Gibson had two TDs on 8 catches for 92 yards and broke the scoring ice for WSU with the Cougs' first touchdown.
3) Tight ends: Jed Collins and Cody Boyd both were productive and it seemed as if every catch they made was clutch to sustain scoring drives. Combined, they had 8 catches for 154 yards.
4) Michael Bumpus: What didn't Bumpus do? With Darryl Blunt abruptly out ill right before the start of the game, Bumpus punted, returned punts, and brought in 3 catches for 19 yards.
5) Defensive front: So paper thin that they suited up and traveled true freshman D-tackle Toby Turpin, the Cougs ended up playing stiff. UCLA managed only 74 net yards rushing as the linemen and linebackers did a standout job. Effective linebacker blitzes in the fourth quarter helped cause an interception to shut down a threatened UCLA drive inside the Cougar red zone.
6) Defensive secondary: UCLA finished 17 of 37 for 252 yards passing, but those numbers are deceivingly good. For most of the game, UCLA was below 50% on their completions and a bunch of those yards came late in the fourth quarter with the game already decided. Eric Frampton brought in a tip-drill pick in the first quarter and Tyron Brackenridge came up with a red zone pick in the fourth quarter to shut down a threatened UCLA comeback.
7) Offensive line: The Cougar O-line struggled a bit in the first quarter, but then stiffened for the rest of the game. Brink had overall great protection and all day to throw for the last three quarters. In the second half, the line also got the running game untracked which led to two rushing scores and the ability to control the clock and the game for the Cougs.
8) Coaching adjustments: UCLA took a one point lead into the half and it looked like the game was going to be a white knuckle nail biter. Instead, the coaches made the right adjustments and WSU truly dominated in all aspects of the game in the third and fourth quarters.
The Bad (there's not much)
1) Kicking: Fans may have seen the last of the Loren Langley era. Langley started off bad and got worse. His first kickoff went out of bounds, spotting UCLA out to their 35 to start the game. Langley missed a 37 yard attempt in the first quarter, then badly missed an attempt with seconds to go in the second quarter that would've given WSU the half time lead. In the second half, Langley was replaced by Romeen Abdollmohammadi, who promptly nailed a key field goal and put his kickoffs deep.
CougZone Player of the Game - Alex Brink: Brink had the two picks, sure, but in the first half and for much of the third quarter it was all on his shoulders as UCLA had stuffed the Cougar rushing game. Brink had yet another extremely accurate day, and you can't disregard 405 yards and the three touchdowns, all of which came when they were badly needed.