My take on the game and the cause of our poor record is somewhat different than what most people on Bruins Nation are saying. Of course I fully understand and share in the frustration we are all feeling. I was at the game, and it was a particularly bad experience for me. Having to deal with the game was bad enough, but on top of that I had to stomach two mindless teenage girls sitting right behind me shrieking for USC the whole game. I am a season ticket holder and don't know how they got into what I thought was a UCLA section, but it made a bad game even worse. All in all I'd say it was overall the most miserable experience I have ever had at a football game. And I had high expectations going into the game.
I don't agree with what has been a frequent theme on this website which is that the reason we lost is because the coaches were too conservative in their play calling as if all we have to do is be more aggressive in our play calling and everything would be fine. In addition I also don't agree that the problem is that the team played uninspired or were unmotivated. That just doesn't make sense to me. These are college players in their biggest game of the year against their hated rival, and I'm sure that they wanted to win at least as much as we did and were giving it their all. Why would they be listless and uninspired in a game like this? So I don't think the problem is one of motivation or attitude.
What then is my take on this loss? The biggest factor I saw was that USC's defensive line was stronger than our offensive line. We still don't have an offensive line that can effectively pass block. That plus lack of consistency and experience at quarterback is I think what has been our downfall. The idea that we should just open up the offense would make sense if our quarterback had adequate time to throw, but that isn't the case which means a much higher chance of a sack or interception. If there's one consistent thing over the last three years it's that our quarterback looks rushed and often has to scramble and throw on the run. Of course inconsistent play by our receivers has added to this problem.
We need a major improvement in our offensive line, and I think that means better and/or more experienced personnel than we have had the last three years. Hopefully we will have that next year. Without a good offensive line you're simply not going to have consistency on offense. I think we are definitely worst in the Pac 10 at pass blocking which explains a lot of why we are the worst passing team in the conference. Even Washington State's offensive line gives their quarterback much more time to throw than does ours. Our offensive line problems are why we went with the pistol in the first place, but the problem while improved this year is still there. CRN and CNC always were good offensive coaches, so how did they become so bad? In the past they always had offensive lines that could pass block. For example when Norm Chow was at BYU and at USC they had great pass blocking. Is it the coaches fault that the offensive line play is subpar and the players have not been developed enough through good coaching? That's certainly a real possibility, but I tend to think it's more the personnel they have had to work with. If there is significant improvement in the offensive line next year then I think there will be great improvement in our offense.
Another key factor in the game was that Barkley had lots of time to throw which gave them a real passing threat and good balance in their offense. Rather than attributing this to our defensive schemes I rather think the main explanation is that they have a superior offensive line that is good in pass blocking. This was not true just against us. I've watched some of USC's games, and the pass protection has always been there. The only problem they have in the passing game is that Barkley throws too many interceptions, but he usually has enough time to throw. Of course two other important factors in the game were the costly turnovers and penalties. But overall I think the biggest factor was losing the battle at the line of scrimmage particularly on offense.
While there is universal dissatisfaction with the team's performance there is a lot of disagreement over what the fate of CRN and CNC should be. However most people here think CB has got to go. Yet some of you have just posted that for the most part you thought the defense played great this game especially considering that they had to be on the field so much of the time because of the inept offense. The defense gave up 21 pt. (since the offense gave up the other 7 pt. on the fumble), and the last touchdown was at the very end of the game. USC averaged over 30 pt. a game in conference play and scored 35 and 32 pt. on the two best defenses in the conference Stanford and Oregon not to mention 48 on Cal. Actually our defense has played well enough that we would have won most of our games if we had a proficient offense. Our low scoring offense makes our defense look bad. When teams win games say 38-35 there usually is not much complaining about how bad the defense was to give up 35 points. On the other hand last week at Arizona St. the defense was truly bad, so it's not like they've been consistently good either.
It's a given that CRN will be the head coach next year. Is it a given that CB is out as defensive coordinator? I don't see that as such an easy call and to some extent it seems a little like scapegoating the defense for the ineptness of the offense. But I'm not really sure about whether CB should go or stay, and I'd like to hear more of your opinions on that.