UCLA vs. Arizona State: FINAL 45-43

Big statement game by UCLA, finishing off a back-and-forth shootout with a methodical, game-winning drive capped by Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 33-yard field goal.

What was far from a perfect beginning — a coin-toss mishap that gave ASU possession to start both halves, a muffed punt return by Steven Manfro — turned into a signature moment for Brett Hundley at the end of the game. Continue reading

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UCLA vs. Arizona State: Halftime update

Story of two games so far. First an odd coin toss screw-up by Jeff Locke that gave ASU the ball to start both halves; he said he wanted to kickoff rather than defer, giving the Sun Devils the option after halftime. Arizona State took advantage of a muffed punt by Steven Manfro after the UCLA defense forced a three-and-out. The Sun Devils scored two plays later on a 7-yard pass to Kevin Ozier, then gashed the Bruins on a methodical run game to go up 14-0 early.

UCLA responded with an impressive drive of its own, built mostly on the efforts of tailback Johnathan Franklin. Brett Hundley connected with Devin Fuller in the end zone for the receiver’s first catch. UCLA then took advantage with a brilliant punt, heavy pass pressure, and a bad pass by Taylor Kelly. Snatched it for a TD return to go up 21-17. Continue reading

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UCLA vs. Arizona State Scouting Report

UCLA vs. Arizona State
12 p.m. today, Sun Devil Stadium. TV: FX

UCLA wins if …
Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin exploit Will Sutton’s likely absence. … The Bruins defense can consistently pressure Taylor Kelly. … The Sun Devils’ kicking woes finally cost them a game.
ASU wins if …
Taylor Kelly finds his form again and abuses a spotty secondary. … Running back committee churns out yards early to dismiss any signs of a blowout hangover. … Will Sutton heals miraculously and punishes a young offensive line.  Continue reading

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Blog transition

The Inside UCLA blog has moved to WordPress, but not without hiccups. All the posts from mid-September to yesterday were lost somewhere in between. Rest assured, they will be restored, as should the comments. The recovery process may take a week, so bear with us. New posts shouldn’t be a problem.

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Dalton Hilliard: The football player or the bouncer?

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Dalton Hilliard is sticking with his father Larry’s story. He was named after the former New Orleans Saints star running back, and that’s that.

Hilliard’s mother Amalia, however, recalls another story.

“I was very pregnant and I was down to two names,” Amalia said. “I remember I was watching the movie `Road House.’ Patrick Swayze played this tough, no-nonsense guy who kicks butt.”

The character Swayze played is James Dalton, a smooth yet intimidating bouncer who wreaks of charm and swag.

“I chose Dalton because of that,” Amalia said.

It turns out Hilliard is a perfect blend of both versions.

He’s a Swiss Army knife. A five-tool player with the kind of versatility on which UCLA coach Jim Mora is capitalizing. Hilliard, a senior, came to UCLA as a running back, switched to safety, and now plays inside linebacker.

He’s more than embraced the move, he’s thrived playing important downs on defense whether the Bruins are in their nickel, dime or base package.

Hilliard can play virtually anywhere. He can blitz. He can drop into coverage, and he’s become a solid run defender.

Yes, he’s kicking butt.

“I know this term gets thrown around a lot, but he’s a football player,” UCLA linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich said. “For a guy who has played his entire life in the secondary and offensively in the backfield, he’s done an amazing job picking it up.”

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