Quarterback David Piland completed 53 of 77 passes for 580 yards in Houston's… (Bob Levey / Getty Images )
What UCLA faces this week is an aerial circus with a ringmaster the Bruins put in the spotlight two years ago.
David Piland got off the Cougars’ bench because quarterbacks Case Keenum and Cotton Turner were injured against UCLA on Sept. 18, 2010. Two weeks later, Piland, then a freshman, made his college debut against Mississippi State and completed 30 of 57 passes for 301 yards.
After sitting out as a redshirt last season, Piland is back chucking the ball around. He completed 53 of 77 passes for 580 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-49 loss to Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
The good news for the Bruins? Piland is fairly stationary and isn’t named “Taylor.” UCLA had difficulties with mobile quarterbacks Taylor McHargue (Rice) and Taylor Martinez (Nebraska).
UCLA allowed 24 points in the first half in both games.
"I’m not certain that you call it a slow start" for the defense, UCLA Coach Jim Mora said. “Teams score points in college football.”
Nebraska, he said, "obviously is capable of scoring a lot of points, so I think sometimes it’s important to give credit where credit is due."
UCLA held Nebraska to six points in the second half.
“We kept our eyes on Martinez and didn’t give him escape lanes,” Mora said.
The Bruins are not expected to have trouble with 0-2 Houston. Still, Piland offers a different challenge. He threw for 2,641 yards and 24 touchdowns as a freshman.
After struggling in an embarrassing 30-13 loss to Texas State in the 2012 opener, Piland carved up Louisiana Tech, which is picked to win the Western Athletic Conference.