You Don’t Know Jack (but you will)

I hate it when any team from LA beats an Arizona team, particularly my alma mater.  Despite the Wildcat loss, those of you who did not see the U of A game against UCLA on Saturday night missed out on something special.  Arizona outplayed the nationally ranked Bruins, but mishaps in the red zone cost them.  Yet no matter who you rooted for, all viewers were treated to a great individual performance.

That performance was expected to come from Brett Hundley, Jr., a standout quarterback from Chandler High School and son of Brett Hundley, Sr., a U of A running back from the 1980s. But while Hundley seemed unstoppable in the first half, the real star of the show for UCLA was a freshman linebacker named Myles Jack.  He made his presence known on the defensive side of the ball.  He recorded eight tacles, two for losses.  He deflected two passes, one of which was on the Cats’ final possession with the game on line.  He recovered a fumble.  Impressive, yes?  But this only tells half the story.

Just a couple of days before arriving in Tucson, UCLA inserted a new offensive package into their playbook.  Referred to as the “Young Package,” the Bruins brought three defensive freshmen into the backfield to accompany Hundley.   Myles Jack lined up at half back with two defensive linemen flanked on each side of Hundley as fullbacks.  Six times, Hundley got the ball to Jack and six times, Jack responded.  The Cats didn’t know what hit them.  Jack finished with six carries for 120 yards, including an eventual game-winning 66 yard touchdown on third down in the final quarter.  I must say that Jack’s performance was something to behold.

UCLA Coach Jim Mora commented after the game that they had been thinking about expanding the offensive playbook to include Jack but did not want to put too much pressure on their freshman too soon.  Mora went on to say “we’re just gonna keep tryin to utilize our talent the best we can.”  it is clear that when he used the word “talent,” he was referring to Myles Jack.  Well, the pressure is now on Mora.  He must decide whether Jack’s value is greater on the offensive or defensive side of the ball.  Or Mora can go real old school, and allow Jack to go both ways.  Whatever he decides, it’s going to be fun to watch, even for a guy who can’t stomach any team that has LA in its name.