UCLA-Tennessee: First quarter reflections

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

PASADENA, Calif. -- From the Rose Bowl press box:

Tennessee is 14-2 in season-openers under coach Philip Fulmer, but one of those losses was here against UCLA in 1994, 25-23.

The last time the teams played, in 1997, Tennessee won, 30-24. After that defeat, the Bruins would win 20 in a row.

Things couldn't have started better for UCLA, including a crowd that looked larger than expected.

First, UCLA forced a three-and-out from Tennessee. Then QB Kevin Craft completed consecutive passes for 17, 18 and 12 yards, and the Bruins had a first down on the Vols 25.

What we meant to say: UCLA's dominant passing attack!

Er, then Craft was intercepted on third and 9 by DeAngelo Willingham on a pass that wasn't terribly close to a Bruin, so it probably was a miscommunication.

Craft's next interception -- on the second play of the next possession -- was a floater that Vols free safety Demetrice Morely just drifted over to the near sideline to grab.

Still, the Bruins defense held with another three-and-out.

There is no way this pace favors UCLA. Already it's losing the field position battle, and Craft's confidence level can't be high with the two picks.

Tennessee QB Jonathan Crompton isn't ripping things up. He's 5-for-12 for 50 yards, but he has not gifted the Bruins anything and he even recovered his own fumble snap.

So, good defenses and struggling offenses are a push.

But what about special teams?

Advantage: UCLA.

First, Tennessee missed a 51-yard field goal. The Vols also had a holding penalty on a nice kickoff return.

But the big play: UCLA blocked a Vols punt and returned it for a TD, the only points of the quarter. The punt was blocked by Akeem Ayers and returned 17 yards by Sean Westgate for the score.

Tennessee was breaking in a new punter, Chad Cunningham, because its All-SEC starter, Britton Colquitt, was suspended.