Looking back at the much discussed June post re “dose of reality” for this current season, the “optimistic” projection for our first three games was a record of 1-2 while 0-3 was the “conservative” one. While that post is a fun reference point, I think it is becoming clear to everyone at this point that the appropriate measuring stick to judge whether this season is a successful one is not going to be based on W-L record. From Kevin Pearson at PE.com:
By no means is Walker giving up on winning. Instead, he was simply saying that in order to win, everyone must improve. Several coaches this week have indicated they are starting to understand that this is a long-term project to get UCLA to win consistently and to do so, they must first get better day-by-day.
"To me, getting better is more important than wins and loses right now," defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said. "We have to get better as a football team. The wins and losses will take care of themselves. If we are constantly improving, that's all we can ask from these guys."
Wins and losses? Fuhgetaboutit. At the moment, fretting too much about winning and losing is frivolous. You don't worry about the sound of your muffler when the car you're in is speeding toward the edge of a cliff.
Defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker perhaps said it best when he surveyed the postgame damage and said: "To me, getting better is more important than wins and losses right now."
In other words, what matters is whether or not UCLA's revamped coaching staff can make this team better, snap by snap, series by series. Players showing heart, guts and concentration on the field. Learning to hit open receivers, covering punts, running the ball with consistency and that most essential of football skills, tackling.
Asking more wouldn't be fair, largely because UCLA just doesn't have the talent right now. The Bruins hung in last year after injuries forced them to play second stringers and their fourth-best quarterback in big games. Now, despite the adrenaline-fueled opening win over Tennessee, it clearly isn't just the cupboard that's bare. It's the kitchen, the basement pantry, the dining room, the house, the backyard, the neighborhood. They are thin where they should be thick, slow where they should be fast, weak where they need strength. More, they are inexperienced.
So yes, progress -- small, in-game victories -- is what we should look for.
Does this mean the coaches are waving the white flag and giving up on this season? Hardly. Here is Norm Chow in Dilbeck’s column in the DN:
"We've all been through tough times," Chow said in the postgame locker room.
"There's not one of us standing here who hasn't been through a tough time.
"You just have to rebound. What are we going to do? We're not going to stand back and cower and sit in a corner. We're going to fight."
And we will be right there with Chow, Walker, Neuheisel and all of our players.