Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
After the debacle at Cal my fear is that this year will be similar to last year when we started out with 3 wins including an impressive and unexpected road win at Tennessee only to lose 5 straight conference games to teams with far superior offenses to ours. And this year riding a 3 game winning streak and an impressive and unexpected road win at Texas we lose badly to Cal which when combined with the loss to Stanford gives us a scoring deficit of 70-7 against the two good conference teams we have played. And the road ahead looks perilous with a road game against the #2 team in the country and then home games against a very capable Arizona team and a hot Oregon St. team. As for today's game my worst fear came true which is that the Cal offense that put up over 50 points on Colorado and the Cal defense that limited Arizona to 10 pts. on the road (3 pts until the final minute) would show up and prove far superior to any team we have faced this year other than Stanford. Even so we should have performed much better.
First we have to acknowledge that our conference is truly outstanding this year. It may be the deepest and best that the conference has ever been. This year going from out of conference to in conference is a big step up (yes, including Texas). However the one thing the other conference teams all have that we lack is a good passing game, and this makes it very hard for us to compete unless we significantly improve our passing game.
Just look around the league. First year starter Ryan Katz throws for 393 yards today while Nick Foles throws for 440 yards. Steven Threet for Arizona St. throws for 288 yards at Washington including over 200 yards in the first half in the rain. Matt Barkley throws for 390 yards while Andrew Luck throws for 285 yards. Oregon has a very capable quarterback and an excellent backup in Nick Costa who was 13 for 15 passing today, and Kevin Riley is a very capable quarterback, while Jake Locker is outstanding. Even Washington St. has an excellent quarterback in Jeff Tuel who threw for 245 yards today against Oregon and shredded our secondary for 311 yards last week. We are the only team in the conference without a credible passing game where we consistently fall short of 100 yards a game. Why? I don't have the answer, but I think it puts us at a big disadvantage.
In a way it doesn't really make sense. CRN's specialty is coaching quarterbacks and the same for CNC who has produced several Heisman quarterbacks. When this coaching staff was hired the first thing I thought was a given is that we would have an exciting and effective passing offense. It just doesn't make sense. Another thing that is hard to make sense of is Kevin Prince. The consensus appears to be growing that he just isn't a good passer, yet I remember seeing him last year at the Washington game where he passed for over 200 yards in the first half and looked great before being injured and coming out of the game. It sure looked like the talent was there.
One possible big factor is the offensive line. Although they have been good at run blocking, that is until today, they seem weaker at pass blocking. Today's game reminded me of when Kevin Kraft was quarterback and rarely had enough time to throw, because the offensive line was consistently getting beaten. This can really affect a quarterback's timing even on those plays where there is enough time, and I kind of get the sense that Prince feels hurried when he goes back to pass. Other factors might be his injuries and his resultant missing of practice time. And of course the receivers have been far less than stellar.
To me the biggest disappointment of this game is that it seemed that this year our offense had finally come around after being woefully inadequate the last two years. My biggest hope is that this game is not going to be representative of the rest of the season. What gives me some hope is that we have looked much better on offense in our previous games and that an offensively potent Arizona team had about as much trouble scoring on Cal's defense as we did also managing only one touchdown drive the whole game. But there needs to be a substantial improvement in our passing offense for us to be competitive against the high powered offensive teams that we will now face. This doesn't mean that we can't still emphasize the run, but we will need to have more balance in our offense.