Dose of Reality III: More Thoughts

I wanted to follow up on Nestor’s posts re Dose of Reality.

Let me start with the obvious point. We have a huge ? at quarterback.

Now, I know that a great o-line could compensate for a ? at qb and aid a young or average qb by opening holes and providing time. But we don't have a great o-line.

The last quarter century of PAC 10 play has demonstrated that experienced, talented quarterbacks are the key to success. Whether it is Jason Gesser or Carson Palmer or Cade McNown or Ryan Leaf or whoever, it really helps to have that qb.

We just don't.

Cowan is injured.
Olson is injured, has been inconsistent when healthy and is now working with the fourth OC of his career.
Forcier is inexperienced.
Craft is inexperienced and a JC transfer who was a San Diego State level recruit.
Rashaan has a tiny bit of experience, but lacks something or he wouldn't have been fifth string before the injuries.
Crissman is a true freshman.

That's my theme for the off-season. No qb. That's not a knock on the guys we have, btw. All but Olson are just young -- any of those guys could become our qb of the future -- but probably won't just yet.

The intriguing player to me is Craft. Craft went to SDSU because his dad coached there. Maybe he is better than a WAC qb. Also, the son of a coach often has an advanced mentality.

And he has another year.

Our line isn't great enough to power a great running game that would make the qb less necessary. And we won't control the ball most likely, so our defense will be on the field a lot.

A long time ago, a [message board poster] wrote that the hiring of Dorrell would cost UCLA ten years of its football program I think he was figuring seven years of Dorrell and three years for the new coach to get his own guys in.

Guerrero shortened that span by only keeping Dorrell five years. Then the post-Dorrell recovery is likely shortened because (1) Neu kept Walker and Walker was a better coach than Dorrell so the defense doesn't need a total overhaul (2) Chow and (3) Neu is a recruiting mofo who will accelerate the talent rebuild. But this year is still part of the Dorrell hangover -- meaning that Dorrell cost us at least six years.

Unlike Howland, who suffered through one year then used freshman to bounce back in year two (along with some good Lavin leftovers like Dijon and Ryan Hollins and Bozeman), Neu can't rebound on the back of freshman because in football freshman won't contribute as easily.

Think about this:

Dorrell's last class had talent, but there were only 10 players in that class. Some of those guys will contribute this year as true sophs/redshirt freshman. The next most talented group are Neu's first recruiting class -- all true freshman, so who knows? Our senior/junior classes are very average, with some gems shining through. In football, where physicality is so important, this makes it very tough for us.

And our oline is very uncertain.

Did I mention we have no qb?

A point we also have to keep in mind is what Nestor wrote in his second post today.

Is the upcoming season really the first year of the Neuheisel regime or the last year of the Dorrell regime. I mean. Howland's losing record his first year is entirely on Lavin, right? They were all Lavin's players, weren't they?

I think the answer to that is that it is going to be a little of both. On one hand, we all expect to see progress, particularly on offense. On defense, we hope to see more of what we had under Walker the past two seasons, with hopefully even more great things as he enters his third season coaching the defense.

But no amount of improved coaching is going to be able to compensate for some legitimate holes on the roster. This is always touchy, because commenting on the roster and being open and honest sometimes means criticizing players and no one, I mean, no one, likes to do that.

I mean, I didn't really mean that we had no quarterback. I mean, we're inexperienced and beat up and we lack the obvious, stud junior or senior who represents the entire package. And history has shown us that quality junior and senior quarterbacks win in the Pac 10.

Yeah, I'm sure someone can come up with the name of a freshman or sophomore who has done well, but I'm trying to comment on the overwhelming trend, not the statistical outlier.

I think what I'm trying to say, is that there might only be so much Neuheisel and his coaching staff can do with the roster they have and the schedule they face. There are some very good players on the roster, but many of them are still young, freshman even. There are some holes, on the line, at linebacker and at quarterback, where we really have no idea who is going to play or how he is going to play.

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