STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -When UCLA had success a year ago, it was usually because of its stingy defense. That's why it was so important that the offense was so productive in the season opener - even if it was only against lowly Stanford.
The 14th-ranked Bruins put up 624 yards, getting five touchdowns passes from Ben Olson in his return to the lineup, to beat the Cardinal 45-17 on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
``That's one of the things we tried to stress this whole offseason,'' Olson said. ``You can't be a one-dimensional team and have the kind of success we're hoping to have. We really stressed on offense that we need to carry our load this year and not just rely on the defense.''
They did just that with Olson throwing as many TD passes in the opener as he did in his five starts last season. He finished 16-for-29 for 286 yards, completing passes to nine receivers.
Tailback Kahlil Bell ran for a career-high 195 yards and the Bruins gained 338 in all on the ground in a performance that even impressed those on the other side of the ball.
``I think everybody expected us to win, but I don't think they expected us to put that many points on the board,'' star defensive end Bruce Davis said. ``They came out here against these guys and just lit it up.''
After scoring just 14 points in a first half that coach Karl Dorrell called conservative, the Bruins opened it up with 31 points in the second half.
New coordinator Jay Norvell called for a flea-flicker, wide receiver screens and other plays that overmatched Stanford couldn't withstand.
``I like what the beginnings are for our offense right now,'' Dorrell said. ``It was a good first game, highly productive. We still have a lot that we can get better at. It was a good statement for the first game of the year for us to show the qualities that we have and what we can improve on.''
The start was especially important for Olson and Bell, who could only watch at the end of last season.
Olson started the first five games last season before being sidelined with a left knee injury against Arizona. He returned to practice a month later but remained the backup to Patrick Cowan for the final four games. Olson won the starting job in training camp and showed he has no intentions of giving it up soon.
``He needed this,'' said receiver Brandon Breazell, who had six catches for 111 yards and a score. ``After sitting out a whole year then waiting a whole summer to face someone else, finally day one comes and we get to release all our anger. It was nice to get to play and relax.''
Bell missed the final six games of last season - four with an ankle injury and two for a suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. That forced him to watch UCLA's regular-season ending 13-9 upset of Southern California on television and miss the Emerald Bowl.
But Bell worked his way back and was even one of the captains for the season opener and showed that the Bruins have another talented tailback to team with Chris Markey.
``I've been through a lot,'' Bell said. ``I've tried to just make myself a better person, a better teammate and a better player. It's paying off.''
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