Why this was a great win.
First off, let me start off with the obvious positives of this great win, which it was! This was an obvious trap game that we have lost time and again, until today. We were playing with our second string QB in his first start with almost no game experience in the all of last year and the first four games this year. We overcame ridiculous referee calls and voluminous self-inflicted penalties to maintain drive after drive. Our defense put up a ferocious, possibly game-saving goal line stand. And we overcame a team that has been a nightmare for us over the years, and which clearly played it's best game of the year, with a quarterback who also played exceptionally well and had a beautiful touch on his long passes all day. And we came from 8 points behind well into the third quarter. And our passing game was largely in rhythm and very sharp. And we ran the ball for over 400 hundred yards absolutely destroying the third defense we have obliterated in a row.
Why this was a great day.
And Oregon beat Stanford and SUC choked, so we are right in the middle of the PAC 10 race and there is no question in my mind we are going to destroy the Kittens, I mean Kiffens, I mean Trogans on December 4th!
(Four more after the jump.)
Why we have the Filthiest Five.
Has anyone ever seen a Bruin team that crushes other teams running the ball like this one? Not even under Pepper Rodgers' wishbone, I think. This is the most exciting, dominating UCLA offense I have seen since the days of Cade, and it is certainly the most crushing UCLA running team I have ever seen. So many times our linemen were blocking 10-15 yards up the field while our wide receivers were knocking down defenders all over the field. This Pistol offense is amazing with the best blocking angles I have ever seen. It's not the Filthy Five, it's the Filthiest Five!
Why our problems are fixable.
So what was the problem? Why was it so close until we closed it out in the fourth quarter 14-0 (again, the sign of a dominating running team). The bad news? Coaching decisions. The good news? Coaching decisions. Bad, because the coaches should know better. Good, because when the coaches get it right we have the talent to dominate.
So what were those mistakes that almost all the fans were muttering about during the hot afternoon as we baked there in the beautiful Arroyo Seco?
In the first half, NC's play calling on two series near the goal line and on 4th and 1 just across midfield were mystifying. We were crushing WSU on the line, yet he chose weak passes and finesse plays that shot ourselves in the foot, cost us critical touchdowns and kept WSU in the game. To his credit, he woke up in the second half, calling an almost perfect game, but the early errors nearly cost us the game. From now on I trust he will give the ball to our running backs in short yardage and red zone situations. In the Pac 10 with all these high flying offenses, you must get touchdowns in the red zone or you will lose no matter how well you move the ball between the twenties. For example, WSU scored a touchdown every time it was in the red zone, except for our goal line stand. That's how they stayed in the game even though we nearly doubled their yardage in the first half.
Our defense was at it's most dangerous to itself on third and long all day, shades of the Stanford game. At Stanford it was the pure inability to contain the running of Andrew Luck on critical third downs and long. With WSU it seemed we had the worst prevent, soft zone and three man rush in college football. WSU scored its longest and most dangerous gains in that situation all day, over and over again over the middle and deep, until the 4th quarter. Thankfully, when we went up in the fourth quarter we started blitzing early and often. I'm not sure CB has learned his lesson yet; the three man rush, 8 man zone is a prescription for disaster. For whatever reason, our zone coverage is horrible. I don't know why. It just is. What we have are exceptional athletes who can pressure the opponent's quarterback if they are let loose. Loose them, please!
Why we should be happy with two good quarterbacks.
My two cents on Brehaut. With the exception of one bad pass our first series of the third quarter, I thought he played exceptionally well. He is not the runner that Prince is, but as the game wore on he got better and better with his handling of the offense, capped off by his goal line read that led to him strolling in for a touchdown. To say the running game clicked under his leadership today is an understatement. He runs the option well enough for the Pistol to fire on all cylinders.
When it comes to passing, it was by far our best performance of the year under a pressure situation. He was cool, calm, looked off his receivers, threw crisply and accurately and the receivers seemed very comfortable with him. There was hardly a dropped catchable ball. I don't think a healthy KP would have done better and there is a real question if he would have done as well given his passing performances since the SUC game last year and the first four games this year.
I don't care who starts, KP or RB. What is important is that whoever starts, if he is doing poorly, we have a legitimate replacement who should come in and be given the chance to see if he can do better. That is a good thing, and it is not a "quarterback controversy." We simply have two players who bring different dimensions to the offense, but both of whom can be effective depending on the situation. This, I think, is a serendipitous advantage of the Pistol. The quarterback is secondary to the running game since he doesn't have to throw for 300 yards to win a game. He just has to be efficient, so if one is not, it makes sense to give the other one a try.
Why we can still have an awesome season.
IMO, we have the potential of winning the Pac 10 and going to the Rose Bowl if NC runs the offense like he did after the middle of the third quarter and if CB puts pressure on the other QB the whole game instead of the 4th quarter. I am not hallucinating. The way our offense is running the ball, and passed the ball today, we can beat ANYBODY. Again, I have not felt this confident about our offense since the glory days of Cade, and never have I seen such a Bruin rushing game.
We can beat Oregon at Oregon, and so on. Stanford would have beat them tonight if they had our running game, but they didn't, especially in crunch time, so they got run off the field. With this Pistol offense, which we did not really implement in this manner the first two games, we will never be run off the field, but we can and will run the other team off the field and smother their time of possession making it far more difficult and unlikely for them to score.
If the coaches make the right decisions from the start, we win this game going away. But winning it as we did, under tough circumstances, largely self-inflicted, showed a lot of character and no doubt made our team a better one for future, tough battles. It was a real confidence builder for Brehaut and the whole team. They can overcome adversity.
We are getting better and better every week, a refreshing development after and maybe because of our implosion in the Stanford game, if you ask me, compared to too many prior years of running out of steam in the end. If the coaches emphasize running the ball and playing pressure defense the rest of the season we may all be surprised just how far this team can go THIS year.