Well, as anyone can see and I've professed in the past, I'm a newbie to the site. What you may not be able to see is that I, for one, am hooked on BN. I've been back in the area for about a year and got word of BN, along with a couple of other sites, midway through the basketball season.
After lurking for a while and admittedly intimidated to even post a comment, I couldn't resist the urge and finally did that. Now, not much later, I can't resist the urge to stick my neck out into the lions (or Bruins) den, and make this post.
Why? Because, perhaps something similar to how CRN inspired our team to pick themselves up off that Rosebowl floor 2 weeks ago, continue to believe in themselves as not many did, and pull out the last 2 games like they did, I feel moved to do so. I actually took a 2-3 day hiatus from this site (one of the first in a while) and just spent waaayy too much time catching up. Reading the posts, I found myself getting chills a couple of times and thought... gee, I think the last time I felt this was... when I was reading Ryan's posts on baseball (which led me to go to my first 2 UCLA baseball games vs CSUF at Jackie Robinson) and when our softball team won #106. Thus, I was moved by the chills from the excitement revved up from BN to write this... In regards to the headline, they are of another kind when compared to the chills I got after attending my first UCLA home game in forever, which was the Stanford game.
So... a HUGE thanks to BN, Nestor and the frontpagers, as well as all the contributors, for all you have done to help rekindle and inspire new Bruin-ness into this alum.
That said, after catching up on the threads, I did want to attempt to add my thoughts on our most recent game and also add to the fervor that is BN!
As mentioned above, partly because I was busy with other things over the weekend, and partly as an experiment, I took a 2-3 day hiatus of sorts from BN (from before the game till today). Since I couldn't watch the game live or on tv live, I dvr'd it and watched it when I got home, especially avoiding looking at any texts that may ruin the game for me before I viewed it. I proceeded to do something I have also never done in the past, which was try to take notes while watching the game so that I could try to have something intelligent to add to the mix.
Ok, enough babbling. I'll start with random notes from the game (which likely were mentioned in the bajillion number of in-game comments, but since I find it challenging enough to keep up with the rest of the great BN posts, I elect to not read these) and try to end with more coherent thoughts...
1. Ayers sack was a thing of beauty, but I don't think I'll ever forget the picture etched on my mind of big Cassius March rumbling for 26 huge yards early in the game!
2. Rosario to Prince? I don't know what to say about that play, but it sure was interesting. I tend to hate trick plays in general because I think it cheapens your offense and I feel like we used to use/depend on them way too much. However, used sporadically, I could see it being worthwhile and at least it a) shows that CNC has a bag o' tricks and b) helps keep defensive coordinators on their toes.
3. Jetski fumble - IIRC, first one of the year, right? But more importantly, I was impressed with 2 things. One, CRN/CNC put him back in right away. Two, running-mate DC was helping test his grip right after that fumble (with the support that DC gave at the Houston game after Jetski made his TDs as shown by uclafan11 in the 3rd video here, I love their relationship as teammates). Third, Jetski went right back in and protected the ball much better afterwards, producing his 2nd 100+ yard game.
4. KP's spirit to lead - Many people have already mentioned how he pulled rank on the trainers to get back in the game after he got injured. He sold me on his dedication and how much he wants it in that moment.
5. Malcolm Jones - Although he only was in during semi-garbage time for 5 plays and 12 yards for 2.5 yrd/rush, I was happy that he held onto the ball. So, that's improvement in itself and will also help his confidence.
6. O-line thoughts - Yes, I love that they have blocked the hell out of our opponents and given room to run for our Lightning and Thunder combo. And I love that they are called the "Filthy Five." I was meandering around in interspace wondering if this newfound name had originally been a reference to something (and its probably been talked about in some part of BN already), but all I found was this movie from 1968, in which the 'tagline' is oversexed and underdressed, which I found humorous. Anyways, I definitely appreciated N's recent post and also Ryan's post, which explained how not only the Filthy Five, but also the F-backs and TE are helping with the blocking schemes and the wonder of our running game. However, I'm struggling to find out why our O-line is able to do that so well, but sometimes seems to collapse its pocket in the passing game.
7. Running backs - I kinda feel like this is my coming out post, so maybe its a way for me to try to identify with our team more, but I feel like this was Derrick Coleman's coming out party too. 94 yards in 16 carries!!! I was previously living in the Midwest, and one thing I did strangely miss coming back out here, was sitting on my porch/balcony and watching and listening to the thunderstorms rumble through. I think I've found a replacement! In DC's first 2 games, he had 23 yards in 6 carries and 29 yards in 5 carries. Last year, he had 244 yards altogether (in 54 carries). So, welcome to the party DC. Its great to have you! Jetski, has become the lightning we have quickly come to expect. MJ is yet to come, but as mentioned above, in my mind is making progress... hmm, what will his nickname be if he adds to the thunderstorm combo!?!
8. Pass game - As some have pointed out as well, I have mixed feelings about this. I, too, bought into the line of thinking that if we don't have a pass game, opponent's D's will eventually make us pay. However, with the recent success of our run game (both in moving the ball as well as keeping possession and at least at first glance, it seems like we have have less TOs - ok, I felt guilty and looked it up and we have had 5 interceptions on 73 pass plays (14.6 plays/int) vs either 12 total fumbles on 177 plays (14.75 plays/fumble) or 7 fumbles lost on 177 plays (25.3 plays/fumble lost)) and the fact that we were able to do that vs the former #1 run defense in the country (yes, they may have played vs spread teams only, but they still have to be pretty decent to be #1), I don't know. I do watch some of the recaps on tWWL and wonder in how accurate the passes are by other QBs. KP did have a nice one on the money to Rosario late. Also, I am still befuddled at how the receivers have been unable to either break free from the Dbacks or, as has been mentioned many times, go after the ball rather than have the ball come to them. Where was Embree anyhow? And still at least one 'easy' dropped pass that luckily didn't hurt us in the end.
9. Special teams - I have to say I was hoping for a thread like last week asking for the player(s) of the game. Not saying that I would have had an easy time picking one, but I'd definitely put Special teams up there. Locke is a machine and was a workhorse as he seems to always be. Kai, again was human, but also great as usual. But the real gems were 1) the punt in the 2nd Qtr when we were down 0-3 and had the previously mentioned dropped pass fresh in my mind. then, Westgate forces the fumble and Hilliard recovered on the 4 yard line. Seconds later, Marvray TD makes it 7-3. 2) Josh Smith had his 44 yard return and had his coming out party that we've all been waiting for as well. 3) Thigpen also had his heads-up play (1 per game isn't bad, but he's next on my list for a break-out game) where he recovered the mishandled kickoff at the game's end.
10. The D - As N mentioned and I agreed with in the comments earlier in the evening, even though I am ecstatic with the way the D stepped up in the last 2 games, I am cautiously optimistic. To summarize, many aspects shined, especially the two 4th downs where we put the hammer on them. Everyone seems to be tackling better for the most part. But I think at least some of their drives were saved by our playmakers. Ayers, had the sack/FF and perfect read interception. Even though his numbers weren't as high as others, he was the force they had to account for on every play. As N said in a previous post, we should just "sit back and enjoy him for next 8-9 games." Tony Dye had a stop which turned the ball over on downs as well as a tipped pass which not only saved a pass-interference call, but may have saved a TD. Keenan Graham had a monster sack and at least once put on some heat for GG which led to a TX punt.
11. Lastly, but not least, the 12th man - Many people have mentioned it, I know, but I for one have always been in the mindset that the majority of Bruins are not as rabid, for lack of a better word, than I would like. Of course, that's where BN comes in so nicely! Anyways, I am always disappointed when I go to games and see that the Rosebowl is half empty. Same for Pauley. So, I'll be the first to admit a couple things... as I mentioned up at the beginning, although I consider myself a Bruin who bleeds blue and gold through and through, I haven't been to a home football game in forever (until Stanford). I just went to my first 2 baseball games this year and have yet to make it to many other UCLA sporting events (which I hope to do in the near future). But to get back to my point, I too made note of how loud the UC-LA chants were in the middle of the game on tv! That made me proud! And I heard the chants of those at the Houston game as well which also impressed me! I know I was eagerly waiting for a moment during the Stanford game to burst out and was also impressed that the fans that were there were game to cheer for almost all of the Houston 3rd downs, even late into the game. So, except for a few of the comments I read about UCLA fans chanting overrated, which I'm not sure was ever verified, I am darn proud of our 12th man!
On the same token, though, I hope that not only will we be able to fill Pauley (which should be easy) and the Rosebowl at every game like I hear Duke and UNC do in basketball and TX, Ohio State and many others do for football, but I hope to contribute in that effort now that I'm back in the Southland. After all, we lead the nation in freaking NCAA championships, we used to dominate LA football, and, in basketball (and as Bruins in general), we have Coach! So, why can't we fill up our venues for every game!?! Oh, and I hope to eventually meet some of the peeps on BN that I read, have learned from, and have contributed to my new 'addiction.'
Ok, so sorry for the long rambling post, but like I said, I'm a newbie! Now, open the floodgates of comments about all the misinformed newbie statements I made! I expect it. I'm learning and its part of the process...
Oh, one last comment I was thinking about today... all the hubbub about the Pistol/Revolver. I have to admit although I tried to absorb all the great info in jtthirtyfour's great post, I found it difficult to learn it that quickly. However, I do think, from looking at the Cal-Nevada game and all the pass plays they do, and our games... maybe we do have our own form of the Pistol called the Revolver. It just seems completely different since we implement the run waaay more than Nevada, but still confuses the defense because the zone-read (?) is so confusing to them. This is probably one of the most uninformed comment (out of many I'm sure) that I've made, but... what the heck! Ok, now I'm done... for now. I can't help it... I'm addicted!!