It's a little weird to have a "game day" on a week day. It is going to be odd to go through the day knowing Bruins are going to be play later in the day. I know we are all used to this during hoops season, but it still feels odd. The feeling is even more discomforting knowing full well the Bruins are going to get annihilated on national TV, which is further going to send everyone into a deeper funk and bitter about college football (even though we are going to try our very best to keep an eye on the big picture with two big home games on the horizon).
Given that the Bruins have NO SHOT to win this game - none, zero, zilch, nada, NOTHING - thought I share with you guys a little flashback of a game I have been thinking of this week. So we have been hearing this week that Bruins have lost their last 6 games against the number 1 ranked team in the nation. None of them have been close. Can't blame those reminders because the info. came from our official site. That info. is missing a tiny detail though. It doesn't have info. about this little game Bruins played in the Pacific Northwest back in 1990:
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEST/SOUTHWEST; Washington Upset By U.C.L.A., 25-22
AP, Published: November 11, 1990
SEATTLE, Nov. 10 - Brad Daluiso kicked a 43-yard field goal with 10 seconds left to give U.C.L.A. a 25-22 victory over Rose Bowl-bound Washington today and put a damper on the Huskies' national title hopes.
Washington was No. 1 in The New York Times's computer ranking and No. 2 in the news-agency polls.
U.C.L.A. (5-5, 3-4) virtually eliminated the Huskies (8-2, 6-1) from a shot at their first national championship since no team has ever captured the title with two losses.
The Huskies, who won the Pacific-10 Conference title and clinched their first Rose Bowl trip in nine seasons last week, made too many mistakes in the wind and the rain. A fumble by the quarterback, Mark Brunell, and an interception of a Brunell pass set up two Daluiso field goals in the fourth quarter.
Yeah, I remember watching that game pretty vividly on ABC. That day before that game I had mailed in my typed up application to my future alma mater.
Now of course there is no comparison between that UCLA team and our current version from this year. There is nothing in Richard Brehaut (or any of the other QBs on our current roster) that will make us remember Tommy Maddox. Perhaps Akeem Ayers or Rahim Moore can remind us of Bruin legend, the immortal Eric Turner. We will see. However, that game was not on national TV (it was ABC regional broadcast w Keith Jackson IIRC) and I doubt the Ducks are going to be as lethargic as the Huskies were in Seattle that afternoon.
I just wanted to throw that memory up here and get it out of my mind because I have been thinking of it all week. Yeah, my brain keeps telling me over and over and over again that forget being delusional about a Bruin upset, we are going to get ripped into shreds on national TV tonight. Still that game stirs up some warm memories picturing the incredible emotional celebration at Bruin sideline when Daluiso connected on that FG. If you want to hold on to that flicker of good thoughts, you should stop right here and don't jump over the flip.
As for tonight's game, it is shaping up to be a massive love fest and coronation for Oregon and Chip Kelly. I will start with Ted Miller of ESPN who writes how for Kelly it is all about "winning the day." In his piece though Miller slips in a little nugget from Ducks senior WR Jeff Maehl:
Maehl said he thinks a fast start, which the Ducks haven't produced often this year, is a key. Stepping on the gas early might leave the Bruins hopelessly lost in the fumes.
"One of the biggest things is when they get down they start to lose focus a little bit," he said. "I think if we can jump on them pretty quick, it's going to be an advantage for us."
I think we are going to know right away how ugly the game is going to get. We knew it as soon as Jeff Tedford sliced up Chuck Bullough in his first drive in our last game. We knew as soon as we saw Kevin Prince and our WRs look impotent (harsh word I know, but seems pretty appropriate to describe our joke of a passing offense and pathetic receiving performance) and out of sync in our first drives against Kansas and Stanford. FWIW Jon Gold writes that our coaches have been working closely with Richard Brehaut on his mechanics and also on our pass protection scheme:
"Coach Chow and coach Neuheisel have put a lot of emphasis, especially in the bye week, working on that exact footwork," Brehaut said. "That exact three-step and hitch, three and release. We put a really big emphasis on it, just because it's everything in the passing game."
Well, not everything. UCLA receivers have dropped several passes, particularly in crucial situations, and the pass protection was porous against the Bears, the Bruins allowing five sacks.
"We addressed it just by getting extra work on our pass sets," UCLA senior left guard Darius Savage said. "We're focused on being more technically sound, knowing the protection and which linebacker we're going to, what happens if they roll a safety. (We are) just trying to be more technically sound."
Well, we will see if it makes any difference today. As mentioned tomorrow, we have to keep our expectations wrt Brehaut realistic, and I sure hope coaches give him a fair shot to start next game, notwithstanding how he performs in an impossible situation tonight.
UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said this week that he believes someone will, "eventually solve" Oregon's offense. Given enough time, and some opportunity, Neuheisel said he believes that the Chip Kelly offense that has elevated the Ducks to a No. 1 ranking in the AP poll can be neutralized, and that he hopes it happens Thursday night at Autzen. (Oregon-UCLA preview.)
And for saying so, I think Neuheisel ends up as either a raving genius, or the biggest lunatic fool in the stadium tonight.
Know that Kelly was mildly irked at the Neuheisel assertion. Kelly said of the offense he's honed since 1998, "It's not a gimmick." Kelly also pointed out that his offense has led the conference in points and yardage in each of the seasons it's been employed. Also, Kelly said, "They must be pretty slow in solving it because I've been running it for four years here."
So what we have here is some brilliant old-fashioned gamesmanship. Or a case of a woefully ignorant Neuheisel batting a hornets nest with a Wiffle ball bat. And I suspect we'll know which by sometime late in the first half.
Nah, what we have here is a tradmed sports columnist getting all hot and bothered over harmless and honest observations from two coaches and making a mountain out of molehill of it. It's a fact that Chip Kelly's offense is a proven beast and frankly unstoppable at this snap shot of time. He has every right to be proud and defensive of it (especially if the media tries to needle him about it by taking other coach's comment out of context).
On the other hand, the idea that sooner or later opposing Ds will find a way to scheme against it is not unreasonable. I doubt that is going to happen from Chuck Bullough though but there is nothing wrong with suggesting that sooner or later defenses will figure out a way to scheme against it, which will prompt counter innovations from Kelly and other smart coaches always figuring out ways to be at the cutting edge of this game. However, I doubt there is any kind of "gamesmanship" that is going on between these two coaches.
Anyway, speaking of tradmed, at the national level Bruce Feldman from tWWL chimes on tonight's matchup. Feldman says there is no such thing as moral victory but if the Bruins can stay "competitive" it's something we can build off for rest of the season:
Per Feldman keeping it competitive is just about as much UCLA can hope for. Thanks Bruce. That makes us feel so much better. Not really.
ESPNU experts also discussed this game:
The guys basically called out UCLA's pathetic WRs (I hope somewhere Reggie Moore is feeling embarrassed and a sense or urgency). Those guys (which include former Bruin TE Charles Arbuckle) poignantly observe Bruins don't have any playmakers among their receivers crew (doesn't help when the coaches keep going with Taylor Embree over and over again).
As for the local tradmed, Chris Foster as usual has a superficial game preview. Chris Dufresne (the Bruin hating hack who attacked Coach Wooden less than 3 days after he passed away) wrote up a massive gushing profile on Chip Kelly (he blasts Lion King tunes during practices! OMG he is so cool!). If you didn't get enough of Kelly love, there is more from Jill Painter. Hilariously, Scott Reid's write up talks about how Kelly dealt with all the off-field issues from this summer (which we always gave Kelly a lot of credit for). In Reid's case, the dude completely misses the irony that it was his clueless media buddies who completely blew up the off-field issues out of proportion, just like he did when he was working overtime to hit Rick Neuehisel and UCLA with pre-emptive misinformation, only to turn around and take cheap shots against the Bruin family. I can already picture how these vultures are going to hover over Neuheisel following tonight's loss. Good times.
Anyway, I guess kickoff is at 6 pm PST. The game thread as usual will go up around 5:30. Although, I am wondering if we should just forget about the game thread tonight and go straight to post game thread when the coronation starts on ESPN. I mean it's unanimous. We don't have a shot. A pathetic moral victory is the best we can hope for. Why even bother going through the motions this game day.