Good morning, all.
It's concerning that we are now essentially flying blind as a football team. With blowout losses to Cal, Oregon and Stanford, we're cabable of the absolute worst football I've seen in my years as a Bruin fan. Then again, the Houston and Texas games would have me think we're capable of some very solid, defensively sound football. Jekyll and Hyde posts are a dime a dozen about this football team, but here is how I see events unfolding. I'll get to next season after the jump.
Simply put, we're in a bind. We're without our starting quarterback, starting middle linebacker, best reciever (imo), best defensive end, and Sheldon Price. Here is where our depth will be tested. I've always got the feeling that this football team has a significant mental hangup. They simply don't BELIEVE they're very good. We lack a winning, tough-as-nails, take on the world kind of mentality that has envenomed the greatest football teams. For example: Boise State has it against every single team they play. They don't care that they play in nowheresville, Idaho. They don't care that they're a tiny school and without five-star playmakers at every position. They have pride in their school, confidence in their coaches (and coaching), and they come out and FIRE off the ball. They hit people in the mouth, and they win football games. I have seen that sort of fire from us this season against Houston and Texas. No fear, confidence in the scheme, playing to win, firing off the ball, positive football cliche after positive football cliche. Where is our killer instinct now? Our players did not think they could win against Stanford, or Oregon. They certainly figured that down 21-0 at Cal. Why? Why can Boise claim this impregnable aura of fearlessness? Why can't we?
Personnel - To be fair, we've taken our licks, and ugh all the suspensions drive me insane. That being said, we have some effective personnel. I believe Brehaut plays solidly, if not spectacularly, the rest of the year. He's got a nice arm, and some zip on his passes, but he is extremely turnover prone and you can bet Defensive Coordinators are alreadly preparing to turn their DE's loose on us. He's a solid kid, but I TRULY hope that we have an honest-to-God quarterback competition next year.
Staff - So here's to realizing that we need to scheme better. Whether or not it will happen remains to be seen. Hopefully Norm saw how effective those medium range passes were and decides to get some more of those going. Hopefully we have a bubble screen or two. Hopefully we utilize the edges of the field in the run game, instead of just tackle to tackle, which will get us killed from here on out. Teams know that's all we do and are now scheming for it. Lord help us if they scheme as well as Cal.
Luck - Finally, I think we need some good old fashioned breaks to end this season on a high note. We had the game-killing Jetski fumble against Cal, and I think we lost out on just about every possible opportunity against Oregon. Frankly, we need some luck. Some turnovers, some blocked punks/field goals, some knocking of key players out of the game (not advocating it, but it happens in football). This team is at their limit ability/coaching wise. I wish that weren't the case. Luck, please be a lady for the rest of the 2010 season. I'll never drink again.
As for 2011. Simply put, we have everything in place here (on paper) to have a great season. Some of our linemen will be back. We'll have a D-Line with some experience, albiet questionable depth, some playmakers at DE, MLB, and some experienced DB's, with a few young playmakers like Riley and Hilliard for good measure.
Personnel - Quarterback. Competition. No more Norm-picks-the-quarterback-because-he's-a-legend garbage. We need a gamer. And frankly, I think that gamer needs to be Brett Hundley. He has an arm. He will be here in the spring to learn the playbook. He can run, and thus fits the pistol better than Prince or Brehaut. He is a playmaker. We need to put full confidence in the kid, if he can handle it. Yes he comes with Freshman mistakes, but he will also prove a) we play freshman if they deserve it (a huge recruiting boost) and b) it will light a fire under our offense's collective butt. If he can get the playbook, he should play.
Offensively, we have quite a few of our lineman back, including Jeff Baca, Stan Hasiak, maybe Abele, Kai Maiava, etc., which should prove to be a big boost in talent at the position. If they can mesh as well as our starters this year, they should be a force, which will be a first. We have excellent, experienced running backs, not to mention loads of talent at the F-Back spot. TE's are skilled and I think some work in the offseason will do some good. WR's should be much improved with the help of our NEW WIDE RECIEVERS COACH TO BE NAMED LATER.
Defensively, we have Datone Jones returning, which will be huge, and Tepa should be healed from injury. That is a two-deep at DE that is excellent. I anticipate Nate Chandler and Cassius Marsh starting next year, which will be an athletic duo. DLine will remain one of our spots of concern, as our depth is still unproven. Larimore will be healthy and back for another year, as an experienced, hard hitting MLB. Please, please, please let Akeem come back. If so we will have a talented, excellent group at LB. In place of Westgate I believe we should put Anthony Barr. He has too much talent to just be out blocking. He gets a few throws and a run every game. Awful use of this talent, and he could be a star at WLB. Akeem will be a huge blow if he leaves. Similarly, please Rahim, please stay. Imagine a lineup of Rahim and Senior Tony Dye, with Dalton Hilliard and Dietrich Riley in the wings. Deep, fast, hard hitting, and experienced. As for Corner, we will likely have an open competition, as it should be. I say we start Anthony Jefferson, a real playmaker, alongside whoever wins out between Sheldon, Hester, Viney, and the rest. Competition will be good. Less woofing would be appreciated.
Staff - Fire Bullough and Fire Reggie Moore. Bring in some new blood with a scheme that will excite and entice recruits, and hopefully put serious pressure on offenses by utilizing our STRENGTHS. Hopefully a new coach at DB as well. We lack a scheme for this talent and it is painfully obvious. Norm, on the other hand, needs to stop trying to play his game, and call plays that utilize OUR talent. Morrell Pressley, Damien Thigpen, Nelson Rosario, Malcolm Jones all need to be highlighted. And hopefully, so will Brett Hundley :)
All told, we have a favorable schedule (subject to change with this whole Pac-12 thing), some serious playmakers, and depth. Precious, precious depth. Here's to being a force, for once, in the PAC.