Bumped. Thanks to uclahy for taking the time to write up his road trips all this season. GO BRUINS. -N
Went to my last road game of the year at OSU. Just can't make it up to Washington State. So all that's left is SUC on the "road" for me.
We suffered through the first three quarters, then were screaming with delight during the miraculous comeback. All the action was heading right for us. Rosario's catch and run was monstrous. All the scores by the Bruins were in our end zone.
We leapt out of our seats as Canfield threw the pick to Verner. The entire stadium groaned knowing AV was going to walk 15 yards into the house. Then he dropped it before he had it, the Rodgers brothers tore our defense up and Prince and company just barely ran out of clock before the last feeble pass fell to the ground with time running out.
The good news? For about 10 minutes we played offensive FOOTBALL. We moved like the Bruins in the days of, dare I say it, Cade McNown. Having finally thrown the ball to our wide receivers DOWNFIELD, the whole playing field was stretched and everything, I mean, everything clicked. Ten more seconds on the clock, I think we score and tie the game and in overtime, who knows?
The bad news? Why did we wait until then? Here's my thoughts.
The Bruins did open up the playbook to start the game. They actually ran around the ends. They had a good mix of plays in general. But, as usual, they did not run the ball in four down territory, for example, kicking a field goal down 16 instead of going for it on short yardage and they did not throw downfield to our wideouts despite their huge physical advantage over the OSU corners who were covering them one on one, especially Rosario.
They did throw to the wideouts a couple of times, but they were not downfield. They were short passes designed to get the first down, not stretch. A few times Rosario did go long and was wide open, but he was not the target. Usually, the primary intended receiver was a tight end over the short middle or the flat. Prince actually did a good job finding them, but he was let down by some people whose name I need not mention who dropped the ball. We and they know who they are.
The most disappointing thing to me was Coach Neuheisel's beyond belief conservatism, once again going for the field goal on 4th and short near their goal line, even after he wasted a time out which we sure could have used later. I understand there is a rational defense for what he did. We were down 16. The sure 3 puts us only two scores down. But did he really think OSU was not going to score anymore? Or not get at least one more touchdown?
I'm not saying to be reckless, but let's show the passion in the passion bucket on the field when we play in the red zone. Let's develop an attitude in the red zone. We're going to run the ball down your throat or throw it into the end zone. In other words, we're going to pressure you all the way to score a TD once we're in the red zone. At least whenever we only have to get 1 or 2 yards. Come on. I think our fourth quarter play shows we have the horses and the talent to get those measly yards, and I don't mean just by running it up the gut or off tackle.
I have to say something about the defense. In many ways they played well, despite giving up lots of yardage. But on OSU's first touchdown they were totally confused before the ball was hiked. They should have called a time out. Instead, it looks like a safety ran to cover an uncovered wide receiver and someone forgot to cover the tight end. Worse, why did our players look like they were unprepared for that play?
Then, in crunch time, after we tied it up and AV missed the interception, we let them go some 85 yards in about 90 seconds. The key play was a screen play we never seemed to be able to adjust for, but worse, it seemed the coaches were playing more bend but don't break instead of forcing the issue with aggressive play. [Gee, some guy named Allioto just killed USC with aggressive defense this weekend, but I seem to remember he got run out of here as a scapegoat for Bob Toledo years ago. Or is my memory wrong?]
THEN THE MIRACLE HAPPENED. And what was that miracle? Prince looked FIRST to Rosario and Embree when they were one on one DOWNFIELD. Amazing. And they caught the ball equally amazingly. After the fourth quarter performance of Prince and Rosario and Embree, you cannot say we do not have talent. We have talent on offense. Yes we do.
What triggered it? Did the coaches finally let it all loose? Or did Prince finally learn to make his reads? I don't know. I just know I have been screaming at every game I've gone to to just throw the D**N ball to the wideout being covered one on one and we just haven't done it, until the fourth quarter at OSU. And for that 10 minutes, until the final gun, our offense was IN RHYTHM AND UNSTOPPABLE.
Equally wonderful is this fact. OUR TEAM NEVER GAVE UP. IT PLAYED TO WIN. AND IT CAME WITHIN A WHISPER OF ONE OF THE GREATEST COMEBACK WINS IN UCLA HISTORY. And no, it is not a moral victory. We lost, but if AV does what he normally does, we win this game when we were left for dead.
When the game was over the OSU fans were shaking in their boots. They knew they had dodged a bullet, that they should have lost, but for ...
That's why I think the OSU game yesterday is the beginning of our turnaround. I really do. I think they proved to CRN et al. that they are ready to stretch the field and dictate to the other side. I think their performance should have filled CRN's passion bucket with the confidence in his players to let it all hang out for four quarters and not just the last one. And if they do, with our defense being off the field more, or at least with much less pressure to be perfect, that side of the ball should be better, too.
I really believe we should win our next three games and that for our last REGULAR SEASON game, we have the talent to score on them just like Oregon. And whatever bowl game they go to, I will be there. Hope you are, too.
Yes, 7-5 people or bust! Your heard it here first.
Let the players play, baby, and we will be fine.