1. UCLA Football has one of the best coaching staffs in the entire country.
When Jim Mora was hired, he quickly put together what was thought to be a very good recruiting staff. Some questions remained about how great of coaches they were, however. Adrian Klemm and Demetrice Martin were the star recruiters, but hadn’t proved much actually coaching. Three weeks in, the OL and DB’s look great. Props to them! Noel Mazzone’s offense has been effective throughout his career, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be this good, this soon. Along with Mazzone, the real star on staff has been Defensive Coordinator Lou Spanos. The former Steelers and Chargers coach made great halftime adjustments in the first two games and put together a stifling defensive gameplan against Houston last Saturday. Teams are averaging only 4 points per game against UCLA in the 2nd half.
2. Houston sucks.
Although a win is always the ultimate goal, UCLA played poorly for big portions of the Houston game and still came away with an easy 37-6 win. Houston, however, is a team in total disarray. After a school best 13-1 season in 2011, this season looks like a disaster. After starting 0-3, things are not looking up for the Cougars.
3. Sheldon Price has improved.
Sheldon Price will never be a corner that is good in run support. Although not particularly big, Bruin fans will remember former great Alterraun Verner being a beast against the run, as well as the pass. Price just isn’t that guy. He is skinny, doesn’t get off blocks, and tackles too high for a guy with nothing in his back pocket. In coverage, however, he has always been solid. He is usually in good position, but in his first three years, has shown he had poor ball skills. Through the two games he has played this year, he has shown major improvement. He is locating the ball and making plays while it is in the air. His 4 interceptions is currently tied for the most in the country.
4. Damien Thigpen will be primary ball carrier in 2013.
With Jonathan Franklin set to graduate after this season, Damien Thigpen has stepped up into the lead as the most likely to replace him next year. Everyone knows Thigpen is fast. He reportedly ran a 4.24 40 yard dash as a senior in high school. What many fans didn’t know was that he runs well between the tackles. At only 5-8 178 lbs, Thigpen hides behind his big offensive line and finds the gaps in the defense. Despite being small, he finishes runs well and plays with great leverage. Unless someone comes in and blows everyone away, Thigpen will be the primary ball carrier in 2013.
5. Steven Manfro is the wild card.
Steven Manfro has no true position in this offense. He plays slot receiver, he plays running back, he returns punts, and will occasionally return kickoffs. He has shown thus far, that he is good at all, but hasn’t been spectacular at any. He makes plays, however. When he touches the ball, you expect something good to happen. Despite a disappointing Week 1 performance against Rice, he has come back strong the last two games. As the season progresses, Manfro may see even more carries out of the backfield. Despite having impressive moments himself, Jordan James may lose some touches to Manfro the rest of the way.