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Not since the 1984 Rose Bowl has a Neuheisel led UCLA to such a profound win.
In an ending right out of central casting, Jerry Neuheisel, the son of the team’s head coach who was fired at the end of the 2011 season, helped preserve all of the Bruins’ goals for 2014. This is Brett Hundley’s team. And without Hundley on the field, UCLA is a shell of its usual self.
So when the junior was lost early on to a left elbow injury, it looked like the gift-wrapped opening Texas needed to give Charlie Strong his first signature win in Austin. But Neuheisel wasn’t the least bit unnerved by the first significant action of his career. What else would you expect from a coach’s kid?
Neuheisel isn’t Hundley by any stretch of the imagination, but he wasn’t a Bruin in the headlights either. He managed the offense, and then when Jordan Payton got behind the Longhorn secondary late in the game, he dropped a soft pass into the receiver’s hands for the game-winner.
Overcoming adversity. Finding a way to win. It’s what good teams know how to do. It’s what UCLA has had to do often in just the first three weeks of the season.
UCLA remains an unpolished gem, and a team that was overrated in the preseason. But the perfect record is intact, even on a night when the front man spent most of the night sans helmet. The Bruins learned a ton about themselves in Arlington. They now know that they can win important games in hostile territory with Neuheisel on the field.
By Phil Harrison
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Consider this a huge bullet dodged by UCLA. Down but not out with quarterback Brett Hundley injured early in the game, the Bruins played tough and relentless and were able to remain unbeaten on the clutch arm of replacement Jerry Neuheisel. It didn’t go without anxiety, but remaining unblemished despite the circumstances with plenty of other huge tests down the road will be just fine on this day.
One has to wonder when or if this Texas program will ever get back to the heights that it was during the Mack Brown heyday. It has now been five long years since Texas had a shot at all the marbles, and there’s no sign of getting it back. The Longhorns have begun to play second fiddle to Texas A&M, and once the “it” factor goes away for recruits, it’s hard to turn things around.
The good news is that there’s plenty of talent to go around in the big state of Texas, but it’s always been about the quarterback position at Texas. Now that David Ash appears to be on the shelf indefinitely with concussion issues, sophomore Tyrone Swoopes is left to try and make people forget about Vince Young and Colt McCoy.
Apparently everything is bigger in Texas, including expectations that need to start being met.
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