So BlueReign and silverlakebruin have already put up two excellent posts re. big pictures thoughts on the current state of our program and the need for culture change beyond the field. Let me try to add some more micro/macro perspectives after the last game of the season.
In a game that will be remembered for the return of the crosstown colors Saturday, USC scored most of the points, but UCLA applied all the welts.
The Trojans outplayed, outclassed and outscored, by a count of 28-7.
The Bruins, however, outfought.
"Man, from start to finish, we did fight them," said Bruins linebacker Reggie Carter, still sweating in a T-shirt and uniform pants nearly an hour after the game.
The Bruins outworked.
"We were huge underdogs, but that didn't matter to us, we never stopped playing," said cornerback Michael Norris, his eyes still wide.
The Bruins out-and-out burned, from the marching band's knee-pumping opening act to Rick Neuheisel's resilient final speech.
"We're going back to work!" he shouted through the distant jeers. "We'll see you in September. We'll make you proud."
I believe him.
Watching the Bruins hustle where they once walked, watching them care where they once didn't, watching a team win two fewer games but experience a complete turnaround, I believe him.
Watching them run out to midfield to challenge the Trojans at halftime Saturday, I became convinced.
USC was dancing and shouting as the third-quarter kickoff approached, the entire team moving toward the center of the field, bouncing together like a giant red trampoline.
It was similar to the way both teams bounced here two years ago, during a late television timeout, a dance that brought the teams helmet to helmet in a memorable moment in UCLA's upset win.
"We thought USC was doing it because the last time it happened, they lost, so they were making up for it," Carter said. "We thought they were disrespecting us."
So these Bruins immediately charged the Trojans and began bouncing in their faces before the officials broke it up.
USC players said later that they were just dancing to a tune on the loudspeaker. UCLA guys weren't buying it.
"Our team felt like we weren't going to be shown up here at the Rose Bowl, and our team matched that," Neuheisel said.
They matched it everywhere Saturday, from the Trojans' backfield to the receivers, hit after hit, little guy peppering big guy. […]
But they kept peppering, with Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez knocked down so much, he actually had to leave the game for a play.
"We could all see how slow he got up," Norris said. "Slower every time."
They peppered the receivers so much that in the second half, they caught only four passes, with Sanchez completing only 10 of 24 after the first quarter, with USC held scoreless after the first three minutes of the third quarter.
"They weren't going to back down for nothing," said the Trojans' Patrick Turner, who caught a touchdown pass.
This will probably be the last time, I excerpt so heavily from a Plaschke piece but there is more to it which you can read rest of it by going here.
I have to say watching the second half was pretty amusing for the following reasons:
Carroll/Sanchez whine: It was amusing to see Sanchez and Carroll cry like little babies every time Sanchez was getting lit up by our defense. Compared to that there was no whining and crying from Craft or Neuheisel or the Bruin sidelines when Mauluaga was laying his customary illegal head to head shots we have become so accustomed to in this game. It was even more hilarious to hear the ESPN announcers and the joke of a sideline reporter serve up the Carroll and Sanchez whine as if they were facts. Really shameless stuff and made that Trojan bunch look pretty insecure given what they have accomplished over the years. I mean can you imagine Howland and our hoops team whining about getting fouled hard? lol
- Wobbly Trojies: I don’t know about you but it was satisfying to see the Trojans walking sloooowly get up after every hit hobbling towards the sidelines. Usually over last few years it has been our guys getting up slowly or lying on the field. Not yesterday. Every time the action stopped when a player was down, it was the team in red. Nothing malicious or career threatening. I am sure those guys will be fine but they were getting lit up all afternoon long. It was fun to watch them wobbling towards their sidelines.
SPTRs: Speaking of amusing what else can you say about SPTRs? Anyone wondering what I am talking about probably should fire up that DVR and keep a close eye on what was happening in the trenches. Perhaps the SPTRs need some basic lessons on what constitutes holding calls? lol I mean when it came down to it, the noncalls and the blatant bs ones (the head to head call on Ayers/Sanchez was just ridiculous as admitted by the homerific WWL announcers) wouldn’t have made a difference. They would have still won the game. But the whole thing became comedy after the aforementioned whining from Sanchez/Carroll via the clueless sideline reporter.
- ABC/WWL broadcast: Others have already noted this all over the place. But might as well note on the main page I have never heard a crew so unprepared and so gaffee prone. The announcers were missing basic facts on who each teams had played the game before. To say the broadcast was uneven would be an understatement. The game announcer and sideline reporters showed as much care about balancing out their Trojan worshipping as Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly. Even the Reggie Bush commericial (from the NCAA I think) was freaking hilarious. NCAA was just rubbing it all on.
- World famous Trojan class: Others have already mentioned re. the world famous Trojan class/sportsmanship. They were living it up dancing on our midfield before the game, planting their little sword. Plus the Humanitarian decided to show his "respect" for "tradition" by going for it 4th and 13th (when the game was already decided) just like he was calling for pass plays during those blowouts few years ago. Like I mentioned above for a program that has supposedly accomplished, a really secure and classy bunch they have over at South Central.
Whatever. Thought we jot down them now so we can lol at all of the above few years from now.
If there was anything I was disappointed by was the play of our special teams. They let us down a bit. I know CRN had brought in Frank Gansz Jr. as a prized special teams coach. However, the mistakes we made while roughing the passer (although the Trojie punter just like Sanchez was putting on a show just like the Argentina’s national soccer team) and during our punt blocks cost us dearly. We have done pretty well throughout this season in cutting down our number of penalties. Yet, our special teams have got to improve for us to become a better team next year. This is a point I am sure CRN will be all over this off season.
Speaking of CRN, I have been thinking about the decision to not go for on 4th and 1 in the last quarter. My heart tells me that CRN should have gone for it. But then I am looking at the box score and seeing how we converted only 2 3rd downs (2 of 13) all day. We were getting stuffed on 3rd and short all day long. We also didn’t have someone like Drew Olson playing QB or with the caliber of MJD in the backfield. So in terms of game management, it seems like CRN made the right decision. But I am still 50-50 on it. Would love to hear what others thought about the call.
BTW speaking of our offense I thought it was notable that our OL (which featured the same starters I think for the first time in a while) didn’t give up a single sack the entire game. I think they gave Craft enough time to make plays all day. In some of them Craft misfired, while in others our guys were not running the right routes. Yet if you take a close look (and read Blue Reign’s post again if you haven’t already), you will note all of our promising talent at skill levels are either underclassmen. It is really about infusing more talent at OL, developing continuity in the trenches and getting our QB situation straightened out with or without Craft.
Lastly, I will end this with a MASSIVE HT to all those students, alums, and fans show showed up at the Rose bowl. Big ups to our Bruin brothers and sisters who represented the blue and gold proud, defiant, and sticking with the program through the toughest time. They are going to enjoy the long term comeback of this program just like those basketball fans who were showing up during all those demoralizing losses in Howland’s first two seasons. They deserve the highest respect and admiration in the Bruin Nation. They make all of us proud.