Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
I had a unique perspective of the game:
Palcic coaching them up
My seats were on the 35 yard line, about 10 rows up behind our bench. The bad news, I was one of only a handful of Bruin fans behind them on the sidelines. The good news was when the crowd was quiet I could take advantage and yell out "Go Blue" and "Go Bruins." I am sure some of the team heard me. At least I hope they did. They played their guts out and were, amazingly, in this game well into the 4th quarter despite the problems we are all much too familiar with by now.
I have a gallery of some pictures I took before, during and after the game if you're curious, here.
If you're interested in my observations, please read on.
From where I sat I had an excellent view of our bench and the players on the field. The whole group seemed extremely focused on the sidelines, especially the offensive line which normally sat together as a unit.
The secondary played a great game with all of their interceptions and even a score on a lateral. There were other great plays where they almost jumped routes and almost caused even more damage. In the beginning, though, it seemed they were confused on their assignments judged by the looks on their faces just before the snap. I think the problem centered on who had what responsibility on Arizona's first half end arounds, but I really have no way of knowing. We also seemed to get players, especially linebackers, in very late on plays throughout the game.
Both Palcic and Neuheisel coached up the offensive line during the game. Palcic used the whiteboard to try and explain who should do what on the Arizona blitzes. The players paid attention, especially the center Maieva(?), but obviously we had some problems there all game. I blame much of the problem on the play-calling, however. The disconcerting thing, of course, is that one would hope the coaches would have known Arizona's blitz packages before the game and coached on this the week of practice before. Of course, adjustments always have to be made in a game, but it was curious.
The team never gave up. That was very important to me. Our team has lost four in a row. Very tough to take, but the players are not mailing it in. They are busting their butts on every play. It might not seem that way on TV because of the distance and perspective and the bad results, but I'm telling you these kids care and are leaving it all on the field. They deserve our support.
Before I go on to talk about the coaching, I want to make clear that I support them. It is way too early to throw any of them under the bus IMO. I believe our program is moving forward under their helm. For what it's worth, I think the most animated coach, the one most into the game, was the DC, Coach Bullough, who many are rightfully questioning. But as I've said before, because I respect them, I hold them responsible and accountable, too. I believe they are holding themselves responsible, too, and that they are disappointed with themselves, too.
It is an axiom, of course, that the most "brilliant" coaches are always the ones with the most talented players. For whatever reason, talent, youth or experience, our players are not successful right now. We have failings on both sides of the ball. The question becomes, are the coaches getting the most possible out of the talent level we have right now? I have to say no.
Why do I say that? Because we have lost four in a row? Well, obviously that is a factor. But more importantly, our units on both sides of the ball have regressed IMO since the Tennessee game. Tennessee, paradoxically, while still having a poor overall record has improved significantly since their loss to us. They have pushed very good teams to the limit while we have been pushed around by the better teams.
I know we beat Tennessee largely because of Crompton's interceptions. But I was at that game. Our lines dominated both sides of the ball most of the game. And in this Arizona game we had more interceptions and a fumble and still lost badly, and were dominated on the lines. That's what bothers me the most. Our failure to improve, indeed, our poorer execution as the season wears on.
That's the major factor that leads me to the conclusion the coaches are more the problem than the players.
Are our coaches lousy? Of course not. They are outstanding coaches, period. They are resurrecting a deeply troubled program that I think was on life support until they arrived. I think, however, they have been overprotective which has led to unintended consequences.
I think the common denominator on both sides of the coaching ball is two fold. I think we are too passive and conservative on both sides of the ball. I think this is a natural inclination of coaches who are trying to protect young players. Keep it simple. Don't take risks. But it has the opposite effect as our foes wind up dictating to our team with its plain vanilla offensive and defensive strategies.
On defense Arizona blitzed us early and often. We rarely did. On offense Arizona ran wide and ran reverses early and often. We rarely did.
So on defense we actually stopped Arizona on many plays. But on way too many others they ran circles around our vanilla defense for big plays. And on offense we ran a little and passed a little but most of the time we ran predictably between the tackles or tried dink and dunk passes to our tight ends and occasional running back.
Admittedly, on offense, we had major execution problems. Prince, unfortunately, fumbled I think for the fourth game he's played in and kept short arming passes all day. I don't blame him completely. I would be terrified every time I was told to pass into the flat, too. Craft played crafty and with heart, but when Coleman was wide open on the key 4th down play he overshot him badly. Brehaut came in as the sacrificial lamb. And our receivers played as though they had lead weights on their hands. I don't know why. It's unfathomable, but I really think they are trying too hard, putting too much pressure on themselves.
Also, the passing game depends so much on rhythm. And so far, for whatever reason, neither Prince or Craft have found a rhythm IMO. I don't know why. I just know they don't have it yet. Prince, of course, is still recovering from a broken jaw and missed a few games and a lot of practice. Craft hardly even practices with the first team and then he's asked to save the game. Brehaut barely has his feet wet.
So who's got rhythm? I don't know. My suggestions are simple.
Blitz more. Force the other team to run or pass, but force something.
Play Brehaut and see what he can do; I think a lot.
Run the ball in four down territory. And run wide at least as much as you run up the middle.
And throw to a wide receiver when he's one on one, even if he's covered, please.
And maybe coach the kids who are busting their butts to relax and have fun and let the game come to them.
I'll be at OSU, my final road game, unfortunately. I love watching these kids play and develop. I believe they have big things coming in the future. I just hope it comes sooner than later.