We are where many of us thought we'd be. I do not like losing. There are no moral victories. But, I am not surprised by where we are today, 3-4 and at the bottom of the Pac 10. And, for that reason, I'll not make ultimatums or decide, today, that our season was a failure.
1. It's normal to make pre-season predictions and talk about expectations BUT they are but educated guesses (and to some extent wishes) as to how things will play out. We are pretty much on schedule except -- we beat a Tennessee team that many thought would beat us and we lost to an Arizona team some picked us to beat. I think Arizona is better than many pre-season people thought it would be and Tennessee might be a bit weaker (but, had they been able to win, yesterday, our victory would look bigger. We are in a strong conference. (Even UW looked good, in early games -- and probably because of Locker (we are learning that you cannot win the games you must win without great QB play). If you picked us to go 8-4 or 7-5, even 6-6, you picked us to beat some teams that are better than we are.)
Calling for 6 victories and a bowl game, before one snap, is built upon assumptions about how talented other teams are, how even the conference is AND which of our players will be injured.
I think the critical injuries -- that destroyed pre-season predictions and expectations -- were those to Hester and Prince. Prince is not the QB who played the Tenn. game. There is something different and noticeable. I think the injury took a lot out of him, emotionally, physically, and in "sharpness"; I question whether, under the pressure of "must win" games, he will get it back.
My point: I can't be disappointed in the players or the coaches for being what most of us thought they'd be -- a less talented, young team.
2. James Washington is right -- we are too young and lack the talent to do much more than we are doing now. (This is a negative way of interpreting his comments. He's much more positive about UCLA and every criticism has a tag line indicating that things are and will be better. I am amazed about his attitude, especially after he was passed over for a coaching position. He has every reason to be bitter or snide -- but he isn't. He is a Bruin.)
Washington continually pointed out that we are playing 33 freshmen and sophomores. And, channeling some of the comments here, on BN, he pointed out that we are not just talking about experience -- we are talking about body strength and size. Give these guys a couple of years in the weight room and watch out. (Where have we seen this before? On the hardwoods where we've seen some great transitions between the freshmen and sophomore years. Can we all say RW together?)
3. Washington was also on point on our QB position. We have inexperience surrounded by people who just aren't making the plays the QB's need them to make.
Let's not forget how inexperienced Prince is. He didn't even play his senior year in high school.
Kevin Craft is what Kevin Craft is. He gives us all he has but it's not enough. We should thank him for being the best he can be. A lot of his team mates haven't reached that point, yet.
Brehaut, in the best of all worlds, would have been redshirted. We couldn't do that because we are so weak at QB. It's no surprise to me, in his clean up minutes, he does not shine.
However, I'm sliding to the camp that would like to see him start a game.
How good are our seniors? We all seem to agree with the commentator who does not see an early round draft choice -- other than Price (a junior) -- on either side of the ball. Once more, Washington is channeling BN when he points the finger at CTS.
What few seniors are playing, with the exception of ATV and a courageous, playing hurt Carter, we are not getting a lot of leadership from our seniors. Logan Paulson has just never come into his own. Now, he's dropping passes and picking up stupid penalties.
As maddening as the young guy mistakes are, I really can't blame them too much. They should not be playing. They should be learning. Rosario will be an incredible receiver when he "grows up".
3. Randall Carroll's Tweet: I'm really torn about this. I resent it and there is a part of me that wants him sanctioned. Then, I realize that he is young and immature and that young and immature kids say stupid things. (Some of us Geezers do to.). I wish he had not done it, but I trust CRN and CNC to deal with it.
I really don't like Divos (male Divas). If this guy has a bad attitude, I trust they will get rid of him. He's already been sanctioned once.
But, I'm hoping he is just a young, disappointed kid with a big mouth, a kid who if taught correctly can channel that energy appropriately and help the team,
4. Finally, we are not "just like last year" or "worse than last year." There is one difference between this team, all of CTS's teams and last year. We are not rolling over and accepting defeat. We have been in all of these games and have never stopped playing hard.
That, to me, is the sign of growth.
I've said this before and it may be my mantra for the season: We are disappointed because we are losing games that we could be winning. Games that in the preseason we did not think we'd win. So we get close and lose and the disappointment is all the greater because -- with a few plays here or there, a few less penalties -- we'd win.
And, therein, I think, lies most of our frustration. I, for one, take this as a positive sign.
I am not surprised or disappointed about where we are now. We are where I expected us to be. And, in a few years, we will be where I expect us to be, back on top where all UCLA teams belong.