The situation was strikingly familiar for Adam Weber.
One team takes a huge halftime lead, appears on the way to a rout, only to see the opponent rally for an historic — and demoralizing — victory.
That happened Sunday night, when Texas A&M led UCLA 44-10 with 4:08 left in the third quarter before the Bruins scored the final 35 points for a stunning 45-44 victory at the Rose Bowl. The comeback was the second largest in NCAA history, one point shy of Michigan State’s 35-point rally over Northwestern in 2006.
“It was absolutely unbelievable — a tale of two halves,” said Weber, the Gophers’ career passing leader who now serves as an offensive analyst on the staff of UCLA coach Jim Mora. “I’ve never really been a part of something like that.”
Thing is, Weber has been in a similar situation, albeit on the other side. As a freshman out of Mounds View High School who was redshirting for the Gophers in 2006, Weber was on the sideline in the Insight Bowl when Minnesota took a 31-point lead in the third quarter before Texas Tech rallied to tie it 38-38 on the last play of regulation and win 44-41 in overtime.
“I would highly recommend being on the other end,” Weber said. “It’s a lot better.”
Weber, who worked as a graduate assistant for the Gophers the past two years before being let go when coach Tracy Claeys was fired, said UCLA’s rally was a matter of believing.
“Everyone was a little shocked [trailing 44-10], but I give credit to the entire coaching staff for keeping their cool, and especially the team,” he said. “Coach Mora even said over the headsets, ‘Hey guys, I want you to focus on getting better. Don’t worry about the score, just worry about getting better.’ … We all remained calm, and things started going our way.”
Did they ever. Josh Rosen passed for 491 yards, including 292 and all four of his TDs in the fourth quarter.
“It’s not anything we want to live by,” Weber said, “but it’s nice to know given that situation our guys will answer the bell.”
Weber admitted the thoughts of the Gophers’ collapse in the Insight Bowl crossed his mind during UCLA’s comeback. “It’s so cliché, but it’s so true, especially from that game in ’06 and this game on Sunday: It’s such a game of momentum,” he said. “… You never take your foot off the pedal.”
In a roundabout way, Weber’s presence at UCLA can be tied back to that 2006 game. Minnesota fired coach Glen Mason after that loss and hired Tim Brewster to replace him. In 2009, Brewster hired Jedd Fisch as his offensive coordinator, Weber was the team’s QB and the two became friends. Now, Fisch is UCLA’s O.C., and he hired Weber. “My job is to help make Jedd’s life easier and all the other position coaches’ lives easier,” said Weber, who aspires to become a head coach. “… I’m just soaking up as much knowledge and coaching knowledge as I can.”
And on Sunday, a little bit of history, too.