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UCLA-Texas: Five Things We Learned

Trending up: kicker Jeff Locke. Trending down: everything else.

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You know how you were thinking UCLA has a bad football team and would probably lose a bunch of games this year and get Rick Neuheisel fired? You should keep doing that. On Saturday at the Rose Bowl, Texas snapped the Bruins in two, in the process reinforcing every concern we held about the direction of the UCLA program and introducing a couple new ones for good measure. Here are five things you would've easily figured out if you were watching, which unless you're a Texas fan or Dan Guerrero I hope you weren't.

1. The Kevin Prince spell has been broken. The world may never understand why Neuheisel spent two-plus years clinging to the idea that Prince could be his starting quarterback. Rumors persist that it's a personal issue between the coach and Richard Brehaut, perhaps bubbling out of Brehaut's decision to play baseball in the offseason. Whatever. Prince put the issue to rest Saturday by tossing three picks in just seven pass attempts. He seems like a good kid and he's taken more than his share of beatings behind bad offensive lines, but this is Brehaut's team now. No one will miss the weekly game of QB roulette.

2. Joe Tresey is doing it wrong. UCLA keeps getting rid of defensive coordinators it doesn't like, only to hire someone it likes even less. DeWayne Walker (2006-08) was OK but had his detractors. Few Bruin fans minded when he left for New Mexico State. He was followed by Chuck Bullough (2009-10), whom UCLA fired in December after finishing 85th in scoring defense. Under his successor Joe Tresey, plucked from the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League, things are amazingly getting worse. Blessed with eight returning starters and a two-deep amply stocked with four-star recruits, Tresey has fielded a unit that can't tackle, cover or pressure the quarterback. It's almost like the United Football League isn't where you should look when hiring a defensive coordinator.

3. It's time to stop hyping Datone Jones. Inside Jones, scouts insistently tell us, is a pass-rushing fiend just waiting to break out. For two years running Phil Steele has ranked him as a top-50 defensive end. Steele, College Football News and CBS Sports, among others, named him to their 2011 preseason all-conference teams. They might want to go back and watch some more tape. Jones has been dreadful this season, "racking up" six tackles and zero sacks. Against Texas he had one tackle and one offsides penalty. Often I had to rewind my DVR and watch a play twice just to figure out whether he was on the field.

4. The Rose Bowl's becoming a lonely place. Fewer than 43,000 attended the Bruins' win over San Jose State on September 10. That was their second-smallest home crowd since they moved to the Rose Bowl in 1982. The count for the Texas game was about 55,000, and judging from the generous swathes of burnt orange in the stands, I'm willing to bet that Longhorn fans were responsible for the entire increase. UCLA's next two games are on the road, first at Oregon State and then at (gulp) Stanford. Barring an inconceivable upset in Palo Alto, the souls who show up to see Washington State on October 1 might number in the teens.

5. Jeff Locke is an awesome kicker. Let's end with some good news! Freshman Kip Smith had a horrid first game against Houston, missing a field goal and an extra point in a contest the Bruins inconveniently lost by four. That and an ouchy hip flexor forced Neuheisel to dig up an alternative, and wouldn't you know, the solution was hiding in plain sight. The outstanding punter Jeff Locke was pressed into placekicking duty and blasted field goals from 49 and 51 yards. So you can scratch the UCLA kicking game, at least, off your list of worries. Yay?

Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.