I’ve read all the posts that everyone has written since the Arizona game and wanted to weigh in with a few thoughts about the state of our football program. First, let me say that I have not given up on Rick yet. I like what he is doing on the recruiting trail. But, like the rest of you, I am confused and frustrated with the progress our football team has made this year. I’ve been a loyal fan since the mid 60’s and a season ticket holder for 20 years and I can’t remember a decade of such futile football as I’ve seen the last 10 years.
The biggest problem I have with the current situation regards out inept offense. I know there are other issues, but the offense stands out to me. I’m not one who harbors unrealistically high expectations, given the lack of experience of most of our offensive players, particularly the QB position, which is certainly the key in having a successful offense.
The thing I am having a hard time understanding is that we are currently almost dead last in touchdowns of all the division one schools. That statistic absolutely staggers me. As I said previously, I accept and acknowledge that our offense is very inexperienced, but given our talent level (plenty of three and four star players there, as inexperienced as they might be) and the legendary OC that we have, should we really be almost dead last in touchdowns among all division one schools?
I t just doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t expect us to be among the elite offenses in the country, but to be dead last is hard to understand. Certainly our talent level alone, regardless of the experience, should not allow us to fall that low. UCLA is a big time division one school. Our offensive line is comprised of 3 and 4 star players. Our receivers are 3 and 4 star players. Our QB’s are 3 and 4 star players. Our RB’s are three and 4 star players. Regardless of the experience these players have, does anyone believe that should translate to dead last among division one schools in TD’s? I sure don’t. Have we whiffed on evaluating the talent level of all these players? I doubt it. Go look at the star level of the players that schools like Boise State and Oregon State are getting. A lot of 2 star players. They make it work and quite well.
If I compare our situation to Arizona it really makes me wonder. Their QB was making his 4th start this week against us. The previous week in his 3rd start he was 40 of 51 for over 400 yards. He was a 3 star recruit. Same as Kevin Prince, who was also making his 4th start this past weekend. I went ahead and looked at the star level of the rest of the Arizona offensive players and I saw a lot of 2 and 3 star players. A lot of it was inexperienced just like ours are. But their offense has been rolling up big numbers nearly every week. While our offense flounders.
Are they more talented than our offensive players? I say NO! Perhaps a bit more experienced (although not much), but not more talented. I thought perhaps the explanation might lie in the experience level of Arizona’s offensive line, so I went to the Arizona football website and discovered that coming into this season only ONE offensive lineman had double digit starts. Doesn’t sound like an experienced bunch to me. Some of them were juniors and seniors, which means they have been in the program for a while and that could be considered experience I guess, but their starting experience was limited. Of the skill position players, only Grigsby and Turner had double digit starts coming into this season and Arizona was missing their All World TE Gronkowski. One could make the argument that Arizona was similarly experienced on the offensive side of the ball to UCLA.
I didn’t necessarily mean to dwell just on Arizona as a comparison, but they were freshest in my mind and I thought a good comparison. We all know that there are other inexperienced QB’s who are leading their teams this year and they don’t rank dead last in division one football in TD’s.
I’m not smart enough to know the answers but it sure appears that something doesn’t add up. If the problem is the offensive scheme shouldn’t we be doing something to design plays that our players can execute? Is it really that simple? Of course not. Norm Chow suggested today in a quote I read here on BN that he usually only has juniors and seniors run his offense. Sounds to me like the offense isn’t designed to be run by underclassmen, particularly freshmen.
But, coming into this year he knew that all he had was underclassmen at the QB position (not counting Kevin Craft who they obviously would rather not play). Shouldn’t some adjustments have been made to the offense to make it more “freshman friendly”? Would that have even been possible? I honestly don’t know. I’m hardly an expert. It just occurs to me that if you know going into spring ball that in your vast years of experience freshmen are not capable of running your offense successfully, why would you insist on running it? Aren’t you setting the players (and yourself!) up to fail?
I understand the importance of establishing a “system” in a program and sticking with it so I’m not trying to suggest that the offense just be scrapped but it just seems like something could have been done to devise an offensive plan which would give a freshman QB a better chance of being successful. We do have an “offensive guru” as OC after all. I’m not necessarily trying to lay the offensive troubles all at the feet of CNC. I know it’s not that simple. I’m just trying to understand what is going on with our offense and this is what I see when I analyze it. When I factor in the reality that we seem to be regressing each week instead of improving, it really disturbs me. Have the coaches “lost” the offensive players? Seven games in I would expect to see at least a modicum of offensive improvement, but we seem to be regressing instead.
I really hope we can turn things around over our last five games. Failure to do so might impact our recruiting and I hate to see that happen. I know Rick and Norm are working their butts off to turn things around and I really hope they will be successful. I’m not giving up, but we need to see some signs of improvement over these next 5 weeks.