I woke up today more than a little disappointed by some posts on BN. One thing bothered me above all, besides, of course, the frustration of yesterday's game. People are throwing our players under the bus by calling them out on their ability [no talented playmakers] or questioning their effort [no heart, et cetera.]
I don't think either criticism is true. I"m not going to name names, but our team is filled with talent on both sides of the ball, some of it truly exceptional. And I refuse to believe that any of my Bruins dogged it out there in that 90 degree heat or didn't make their best efforts. I just don't see that, really.
Above all, I support this team and its coaches. I am disappointed, of course, terribly. I live and die Bruin football, and it's been a lot of dying in recent years, with few exceptions, since the glory days of Cade McNown and all that. But I'm going to Arizona next week, and Oregon State after that, and in my own little way I am going to let these players and coaches know that I have their back even after losing three in a row.
I still hope for good things from this team, and I don't mean 6 and 6, but whatever happens I applaud their effort, their talent. I appreciate they are laying it out on the field every time they put on that fabulous UCLA blue and gold uniform.
I do have some observations about our offense and defense and strategy. If you want to hear it, read on. But whatever you do, please stop throwing these players under the bus.
You have to be blind IMO to not notice the difference between the momentum of the offense and the defense. Our offense is much improved and getting better every week. The defense, on the other hand, is getting worse, much worse, beginning with Stanford.
The level of competition has changed, of course, though I think Tennessee was better than most think. I was at that game. We actually dominated their lines most of that game, not the entire game, but most of it. Are our last three opponents that much better? Certainly offensively. I don't know defensively.
At Stanford our offense played pretty well with Craft. For Oregon it plunged with a bad outing by Prince. For Cal, the offense bounced back very well, though a fumble and interception by Prince proved very costly. Overall it seems the offense is continuing to improve, has real flashes of excellence and once it finds its rhythm, I believe it will be very good in general. We did not lose the Cal game because of our offense.
The defense could not stop Gebhardt at Stanford, nor did it make any significant adjustments until late in the game. It gave up two very big plays that were critical. For Oregon I thought the defense played very well over all, again with the exception of one huge running play that was a game changer. The Cal game was mystifying to me, partly because I could not make it to the game [my first one this season], and by the time the TV showed it we were already behind 14-0. Unfortunately, I saw plenty of big yardage plays by Cal after that in the first half.
The worst was Best's 95 yard TD run. No doubt he is a great back when he has an opening, but OMG. We had the play defensed almost perfectly, or so it seemed. Then he cut back against the grain and I think 6 of our guys flat out missed him. I don't know if he's that amazing or if our guys just had bad angles on him, but once he hit our secondary it was over. Maybe someone could explain it to me, but shouldn't coaching include positioning players to watch out for the cutback by a back whose stymied on one side? That's the angle question I have. It seemed to me our players on the cutback were too "shallow" so he wasn't forced back up into the middle, but what do I know?
The point is the defense seems to be regressing, not improving, unlike the offense. Again, these opposing offenses in our three losses were superior quality, but I don't think that explains it sufficiently.
I have my usual criticisms for the coaches. I loved throwing to our wideouts who were 1 on 1. Big improvement. We actually threw into the end zone a couple of times. Big improvement. We still don't IMO run the ball enough in four down territory to keep the first down markers moving and put more pressure on the defense, and kick fewer field goals. I would like to see much more Brehaut. But these are minor. I see the offense improving, and with better timing and rhythm, I think we will be fine.
I think there's something wrong with our defensive scheme, but I'm not smart enough to figure it out. It just seems we are out of position early in the game and make adjustments way too late. I don't know. Suggestion: why don't we just try and stop something, either the run or the pass, and just do it. Shut one phase of the offense down. Force them to do something, I don't know. Maybe we are and I just can't see it.
There is a silver lining on defense. I know it sounds Pollyanish. But except for these few big plays, our defense seems fine. I don't see us getting overmatched, really.
That's my two cents. I believe in this team and these coaches. Even when we lose, I see real hope for improvement, not next year, but this year. I see a better team than last year, much better.
Remember, if a couple of our recevers catch balls they normally would, or even if Prince throws the ball six inches higher to a wide open Logan Paulsen, we're in this game to the end and maybe even win it. Our time will come. The sooner the better.