Randall Goforth was oh-so-close to a highlight play in Saturday’s game against Nebraska.
The UCLA freshman safety made his first college start and nearly picked off a pass on the Cornhuskers’ third play. Goforth also nearly had a pick later in the game, with the ball bouncing out of his hands.
Those were about the only things he did wrong. “That was uncharacteristic of him,” Coach Jim Mora said.
Everything else followed form.
Goforth started at safety because Andrew Abbott was moved to cornerback because Sheldon Price was injured. The 5-foot-10, 173-pound Goforth didn’t waste the opportunity, finishing with a team-high nine tackles.
“The guy plays with the absence of fear,” safety Tevin McDonald said. “He’s not the biggest guy. He’s built like a cornerback, not even a big cornerback. But he’s not afraid to run into guys.”
The Bruins used two freshmen extensively against the Cornhuskers, with Ishmael Adams getting time at cornerback and nickel back. Goforth, though, dangled alone at times and came up with plays.
“I saw exactly what I expected to see,” Mora said. “The kid played consistently, confidently. He overcame mistakes and came back to make big plays.”
Price, who missed practice last week after becoming lightheaded Tuesday, is expected to return to the lineup when he is healthy.
Feet don’t fail me
UCLA defensive backs can expect a workout this week.
Houston quarterback David Piland completed 53 of 77 passes for 580 yards and four touchdowns against Louisiana Tech on Saturday. True, the Cougars (0-2) lost, 56-49, but they certainly won’t back away from playing some long toss.
“The challenge is to get off the field,” McDonald said. “They had 120 plays in that one game. That’s more than we’ve faced all year.”
Mora was unconcerned. “Our guys are in good shape and have trained well,” he said.
The coach also noted that the chore is not the secondary’s alone.
“Good pass defenses function on all levels, not just our defensive backs,” Mora said. “We need to get pressure on the quarterback.”
UCLA’s offense is in rarefied air nationally.
The Bruins rank second in rushing offense at 343 yards per game, third in total offense at 649.5 yards per game and 18th in scoring offense at 42.5 points per game.
Johnathan Franklin leads the nation in rushing, averaging 215.5 yards per game, and quarterback Brett Hundley is 18th in passing efficiency at 167.85 and 37th in yards passing at 253.5 per game.