VIDEO: Brett Hundley reviews UCLA’s offensive performance

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After losing roommate and UCLA’s all-time leading rusher Johnathan Franklin, quarterback Brett Hundley couldn’t have asked for a better start with his new tailbacks. Led by Jordon James’ 155 yards, the Bruins racked up 345 on the ground — their highest single-game total since Oct. 2, 2010.

“It was huge,” Hundley said. “JJ did an amazing job. Paul Perkins, (Steve) Manfro — all three of our backs, you just put them in and they’ll work. They’ll do what they need to do.”

The second-year starter also admitted to some first-game jitters. Those dissipated quickly, though: “After you get smacked around a couple of times, I was pretty relaxed.”

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Jordon James leads UCLA’s surprising ground attack

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PASADENA — So much for those backfield worries.

For weeks, the UCLA staff had insisted it would use as many as five backs in the rotation. Even after a depth chart was released, running backs coach Steve Broussard insisted starter Jordon James was only “penciled in” — and still may be in a two-way timeshare.

In front of 60,562 at the Rose Bowl, the 5-foot-9, 194-pound back set the tone Saturday night by rushing for a career-best 155 yards in a 58-20 romp over Nevada.

He’s no Johnathan Franklin, an All-American who set career and single-season rushing records at UCLA last season. But in his debut as a No. 1 back Saturday, James looked better than he ever has in blue and gold. Continue reading

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FINAL: UCLA 58, Nevada 20

After a slow start against Nevada, UCLA ran away with an impressive 58-20 win to open the season. Most notable was Jordon James’ debut as a starting tailback. The 5-foot-9 tailback had entered the season averaging 3.3 yards per carry; after three quarters, he already had 155 yards on 21 touches.

Stat of the game? UCLA’s 345 total rushing yards. The Bruins’ best mark in 2012 was 344, in a 36-30 win over Nebraska.

Some questions still exist with a defense that bent early, but the ground game looked like a strong complement for Brett Hundley’s superlative quarterback play.

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At a glance: No. 21 UCLA vs. Nevada

No. 21 UCLA (0-0) vs. Nevada (0-0)
Location: Rose Bowl, 7 p.m. PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Kevin Calabro, Yogi Roth, Jill Savage)
Radio: 570 AM (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Last meeting: This is the first-ever meeting between UCLA and Nevada.
2012 records: Bruins (9-5, 6-3 Pac-12); Wolf Pack (7-6, 4-4 MWC)

Key storylines: Nevada enters life post-Chris Ault, the legendary coach who pioneered the pistol offense. Returning starters and staff members — including offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich — will help maintain continuity, but new head coach Brian Polian must prove that he’s capable of being more than just an assistant. Continue reading

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John Savage’s path to UCLA paved by work and chance

On June 6, 1983, John Savage graduated from Reno High and became the New York Yankees’ sixth-round draft pick. On June 6, 1986, after a collegiate career at Santa Clara, he was plucked out of the 16th round by the Cincinnati Reds. On June 6, 1992, he was married at Our Lady of the Snows, a red-bricked Reno church that hosted a crowd of about 400 — an unintended coincidence, he insists with a laugh.

But it wasn’t until six years later that Savage, now nearing a decade as UCLA’s head baseball coach, noticed the odd chronology. Then in his second season as USC’s pitching coach, he found himself in Omaha celebrating a national championship. June 6, 1998.

“That’s when it became apparent that day was special to me,” he says.

As June 6 rolls by again, another national championship is perhaps the only hole left on his stellar resume — the bulk of which he’s built in Westwood. Continue reading

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