Obviously it has been noted here before, and any fan will currently admit, that this year's struggles seem much graver than years past. The simple explanations I have heard is that we seem to be we are getting worse not better, or we are too inconsistent, or we are not playing to our potential. These are all true, but I think this season's issues go deeper. What concerns me is that the team chemistry and identity is falling apart.
"It hurts. I'm just lost right now. I'm confused." -Brian Price
"Three losses in a row is something that you're definitely not expecting with the talent that you have on this team." -Alterraun Verner
(OC Register and LA Times)
Quotes like these, in combination with things like the Randall Carroll twitter fiasco, have me wondering if our team still thinks that they are one team. Last year, we heard a lot of "there is no offense or defense, there is just team." Not so much this year. I for one do not know what is going on. I don't know if it's a rift between the young guns and the upperclassmen, or between the offense and defense, or between the coaches and the players. Frankly, the thought of any of those scares the crap out of me, because these are problems that no UCLA team in recent memory has had to face. All I know that if team unity is coming unraveled, that would certainly explain the lack of progress, lack of identity, and questionable coaching calls.
As an example, I will use Sheldon Price. I sort of ignored all of the criticism towards him up until now. Not that I thought he should be playing, but I always trusted that the coaches were making the right football decision. However, after watching today's game and seeing Sheldon get driven into the ground over and over again on runs to his side, I can't help but think that the decision to play him was more that an Xs and Os move. There is just no way that Courtney Viney or a converted Tony Dye get taken out of every play the way Price does. Maybe the coaches are using him to send a message or punish some (ie Viney). Again, I don't know, but playing Sheldon because he is our best option doesn't seem true.
I know that all of this may seem like a conspiracy theory, but it could also be entirely possible and I think it is worth debating. If you ask me, everything began falling apart with the suspensions after Tennessee. I'd like to hear everyone else's take on this, because it could have some serious consequences for the program's direction.