Last night, hours after our game was over, I watched a DVR'd version of the game. I had followed the game, live, by reading the game day thread on my iPhone. (Thanks to all for keeping me in the game.)
Knowing that we won the game gave me a very different perspective as I watched it unfold -- and it put the angst/frustration, hope and relentless optimism of the game day thread in perspective.
Here's what I take away from the game:
1. When you watch the game knowing that KC will ultimately lead an incredible drive to victory -- you can overlook some of the frustrating things he did along the way. When you look at his numbers at the end of the game, you realize that he had a good game -- something that only comes strongly into focus when you know the outcome before you watch the disappointing plays. Yes, he made some bad moves, but when the pressure was on, he made the right moves.
Watching without fear that we will lose, you see a young to the program, inexperienced but very game quarterback. One with faults -- not looking downfield and not looking off receivers -- but also one with a lot of heart.
I have to continually remind myself that at the start of the year, not many of us thought KC would see any action -- and now he is starting.
He clearly has the confidence of his players -- ala Pat Cowan.
And, he has the confidence of the most important person in the equation, Norm Chow.
2. CRN impresses me every day in every way. (Except one. Did I see his play sheet tucked in the back of his pants, yesterday? If so, it proves the point that in every way he is the exact opposite of KD).
One of the things I most like about CRN is that he has his ego under control. For all the bad publicity he has gotten -- publicity that makes it seem as though he is egocentric -- what we see is the exact opposite. He gives credit to everyone but himself and takes the blame to shield others.
When he talks of his frustration with KC -- his tone is measured and indirect. I loved the "We should only do things on the field that we do in practice" half-time comment. He could easily have said "KC is out of control and playing out of the system". Or, as KD said more than once last year "We had the right play called, the players just didn't execute it."
I find very impressive that CRN -- who apparently wanted to pull KC -- let NC make the final choice. And, had it not worked out, I know CRN would not have called out NC for the decision.
3. NC is amazing. If you can see CRN's frustration with KC, think about NC's; he's calling the plays that apparently KC isn't executing.
Yet, NC works with his inexperienced QB, keeps calling the plays, nurtures him and brings him to the point where he can win the game, and does.
For all the weakness in our O, NC is finding ways to move the ball, stay on the field, and score. And, finally, win.
4. All of the coaches deserve very high marks for bringing along our first time starters, particularly the true freshmen. How many staffs can get such great contributions, on all sides of the ball, from first time players? Give the coaches credit -- they have worked hard to get these guys to a point where they can put them in the game because they think they will improve our chances of winning as opposed to putting them into the game to give them experience.
5. The Culture Shift is evident. We are becoming a team that understands the importance of effort, passion and commitment. And, we are becoming a team that takes losses hard and wins with an eye toward what we did wrong as well as what we did right. That is a very far cry from the culture of the last several years.
6. CRN and the Press: He is a great interview and represents us extremely well. it's not just that he is articulate -- which he is, perhaps one of the most articulate coaches in the game. It's that he has real things to say. How different from "We are a work in progress" or "we are turning the corner". CRN tells what we've done right and what we have to do better. Without throwing anyone under the bus, he lets us know what he's thinking about his players -- both the good and the bad.
I'm also struck by how he has silenced most of his critics. It's hard to say those terrible things about him when the viewers and readers can get to know him, first hand, through his media appearances.
This is the first time I've watched a game on replay knowing the outcome. Usually, if I know I'm going to watch it "delayed", I make every effort to go into the TV room uninformed of the score. I'm glad I followed the game day thread and knew what was going to happen and when. It really gave me a perspective I've not had before.
I liked what I saw. We are on the path to greatness. It is always great to be a Bruin. It's just a little greater, this morning.