Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
Another frustrating loss has got me thinking about what really makes good teams. And the truth is, it isn't necessarily the product of talent, good play-calling, and/or a star quarterback. No, generally a good team creates a family atmosphere where everyone takes their role seriously and professionally, even if the role is a small one. Players respect each other, fight for each other, and no matter how much playing time each gets, they treat each other as equals. A good team has everyone on the same page.
I don't know if UCLA has any top-flight talent on offense. I really don't. It is shocking how bare the cupboard seems. Nevertheless, the lack of talent doesn't mean that the offense can't play pretty good, game in and game out. Even without great talent, smart offenses can still put teams in position to win games. UCLA's offense needs to play smart, stay within themselves, and do what they can do well. They need to start thinking of themselves like a huge under-dog everyday, and realize they'll have to play smarter than better defenses to score points. Even without good talent, I refuse to believe they can't play well. They just need to play together.
The absence of a "team" feeling seems especially apparent on defense. On defense I think we do have some very good players. We have some stars actually. But for all the talent I think we have, I wouldn't put $10 on our ability to stop a decent-to-good team on a consistent basis. It's as if the players can't get past the hype that surrounds them. And unfortunately, this has been going on for years. Walker's defenses were always "the strongest unit" on the team, yet we couldn't expect them to win games for us. And great defenses can win games for teams, even with bad offenses. Sometimes it seems our guys think the UCLA logo on the helmet means they are the real deal. Turns out, its just a logo, and means squat on the field.
I'm not sure what to make of the Bruins this year. It's only year two under the new coaches, and certainly they'll need more time to mold this squad. But I think the team needs to band together, throw expectations out the window, assume an underdog role, put their faith in the coaches, and just play together. I read a lot about silver-linings and signs of life, but what I'd really like to see is the team just play like they are in a fox-hole with their lives dependent on each other.
Success does not require top talent; sometimes it is the result of some kind of "it" factor. I'm worried that we haven't seen the "it" factor in the UCLA football program for a long time.