Random Thoughts on the Cal Game

Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N

Playing the Cards We've Been Dealt.

I grew up to "question authority". I don't automatically trust many people.

But, I trust this coaching staff -- the entire staff (yes, including DW) -- to be playing the cards they have been dealt as well as they can be played. I trust them because from what I'm seeing, they are earning that trust.

No one can question the intensity with which this staff, and their players, want to win. 

There has been a quantum shift since last year. The desire is clearly there. The effort is there. And, some times, the execution is there.

I would rather have CRN in Craft's ear than a deer-in-the-headlights coach who simply walks away when things blow up. There are rumblings of criticism about CRN's treatment of KC -- that he's destroying the kid's confidence. That's BS. How do I know? Because I listen to KC describe his relationship with his coach. And, I watch him play his heart out in every game. 

As to KC -- I made a comment in the game thread that I'll repeat here: KC is playing because CRN and NC have decided that he should be playing. They know best who is best able to lead this team. Unless you see all the cards they are holding, it's unfair to speculate or criticize.

And, I made the comment that we have a 3rd string, transfer quarterback who has had to become the starter -- playing with more experienced and acclimated players. Does anyone really believe that KC is playing below the level of those around him? I don't and I don't think it is fair to call him out. He is doing his very best. I think the whole team is. 

We just aren't holding very strong cards, now.

What I like most is that the coaches are constantly trying to put us in a position to win. Not to stay close. Not to lose by just a little. But, to win.

The criticized on-side kick was a good call. So was the fake punt. When you have weak cards, some times you have to steal a pot by taking a risk. As I wrote a few weeks ago, one does not create a culture of winning without trying to win.

The day will come when these things work for us.

And, then the day will come when we don't have to try them because we will be able to win games without taking the risks that trick plays present. Trick plays are an attempt to level the playing field. We will own that field, soon, and trick plays will only be needed for their entertainment value.

We all have concerns and here are some of mine from yesterday's game:

1. It's hard for a team like ours to overcome stupid penalties -- like the unsportsmanlike conduct call that really hurt us. Some penalties show a clear lack of discipline -- and we seem to be slipping a bit here. But, as others pointed out in the thread, some are the inappropriate manifestation of extreme frustration -- an inappropriate way of showing how aggressively we want to win. Penalties are like showing your weak cards to your opponents. We shouldn't be making their game that much easier for them.

2. For the last couple of years we've not had a kick off kicker who can put the ball deep in the end zone or deep in enemy territory. With each kick off we give up field position. Mike Leach held an open try out for a kicker and found one. Maybe, we should do the same.

3. I think our tackling was somewhat better, yesterday, but we still had our bad moments. One improvement -- it seemed that the first people to the ball were going for the stop, not the strip. Anyone else think that to be the case?

4. We cannot continue to play in the shot gun, which with KC is desirable, if we cannot get him the snap in the air. He should be able to take for granted that the snap will be on target. When he has to divert attention to finding it and retrieving it, he loses valuable time and focus. We criticize him for not going through his "rotation", for only looking at one receiver, but he loses a second or two trying to pick up the snap. I've noticed that our long snaps on field goals and punts are usually on the money. How about trying the long snapper here?

Notice, I don't jump on the "O line is terrible" bandwagon. Palcic is playing the cards he is holding as well as he can. He has tried all kinds of combinations to cover for his original talent level and the injuries our guys have sustained. How can you criticize his or the players efforts?

As to playing KB instead of DC -- once you understand that you are going to have to pass, not run, you put in the back who blocks for KC best, and that's KB. My heart goes out to KB -- he deserved a huge break out year. But, on this team, he's been relegated to a blocking back position; I love his attitude and commitment.

Finally, I'm not even slightly surprised about what we are going through. If you were to tell the champion of the World Poker Tour that he would have to play a full season in which his best hands would be low pairs, he'd play and he'd be as creative as possible, but he'd find it hard to win the championship. He'd win some hands he should, and probably one or two he shouldn't -- but by and large the cards will control the game.

At the beginning of the year we hoped to win the games that "on paper" we should and maybe one or two that we'd be predicted to lose. And, then we made some assumptions about what games those would be.

We thought we were better than predicted when we beat Tenn. The season is showing us that they were worse than predicted.

Looking at the teams we've played, I actually think we are about where we should be -- and maybe a little better considering that we  were in a position to beat both FSU and Oregon, and despite the final score, were also in a position to beat Cal. (BTW -- Arizona is proving to be a better team than predicted and that loss should be in the "expected" column, too.")

I think we will win 3 of our last 4 -- and I'm not conceding a loss to sc but, rather figuring that we will be inconsistent in one of those games

We have 2 weeks to get ready for OSU -- and with the exception of their win over sc, they've played at a level at which we can compete. Washington is down this year. ASU is not better than the teams we've hung with. sc is beatable -- especially because it is the last game of the season and I think our coaches will have the players ready and believing that they can win the game. 

I hate losing. But, I'm not suffering this season. Whereas, in the past, I used to look forward to the end of the season -- to the end of my misery -- now, I look forward to every game. Strangely enough, I've not even begun to think about basketball.

Maybe, in the last few weeks, the cards will start to turn our way. If they do, I know these coaches will know how to play them.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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