Bumped. Fun read. - BN Eds.
This post is somewhat of an experiment. As I posted earlier in the week, and was my mildly chided by some frontpagers for doing so, I was at a concert last night. It started at 8 p.m. E.S.T. I left the house at 7:30 E.S.T., the same time as the UCLA kickoff.
Before the game, I decided to record the game and watch after the fact. Thus, I left my smartphone at home so that I could simply enjoy the concert and then (hopefully) enjoy the game. No way to check for updates on the game. No way to check BruinsNation. This probably couldn't happen if I lived in SoCal but it wasn't a problem in Central Florida. I got home and began watching at 1 a.m. E.S.T. (before the time change), finished watching the game by 3:00 a.m. E.S.T. (hooray for fastforwarding through commercials, timetime, and challenge delays), and went to bed. I took about 6 pages of handwritten notes during the game (thoughts I otherwise would have posted on BN).
I just woke up and I had my wife log me on to to Bruins Nation and set up this fanshot page. As such, I have not seen ANY comments about the game from BNers, the media, or otherwise. As a matter of fact, as I type this I don't know who won the LSU Alabama game. The last ticker on the UCLA game said it was 6-6 with about 5 minutes to play. Maybe I should have turned down the sound from the game to even further purify my game experience, but I can't bring myself to do that. I love the sounds of the game.
Circumstances dictated this experiment but I took the opportunity to do it to see if my own personal thoughts stood out markedly from those in this community or if I was simply following along with the general undercurrent of the commnity. I originally thought about simply listing my handwritten comments in chronological order but decided instead to summarize my thoughts in a more general fashion.
Follow me after the jump for my thoughts on UCLA /ASU . . .
1. The Broadcast. As Nestor has pointed out, Versus (soon to be NBCSports Network) has improved the quality of its broadcast. But it still has a long way to go. The broadcoast missed the start of plays on two occasions. Frankly, this would never happen on Monday Night Football or other more seasoned networks. Otherwise, I thought Versus did a solid job. On two occasions, the main play-by-play guy pointed out that "UCLA doesn't run back punts much." LOL. We fair caught every punt in the game.
2. KP. I thought that KP might have played his best game as a Bruin. He made good decisions on several read options, especially in the first half. He would have had even more yards rushing had several of his gains not been negated by penalties. The pump fake to the flat on Rosario's TD made that play. When was the last time you saw a UCLA receiver THAT WIDE OPEN?? There wasn't an ASU defender even in the picture. KP threw some very nice back shoulder balls last night. Also, when he was a dead duck, he tucked the ball, took his medicine, and lived to fight another day (except for, arguably, the incomplete pass that was reviewed where it appeared he might have been trying to tuck the ball)
3. Rosario. He had by far his best game as a Bruin. Forget about the 70 plus yard TD. He caught every catchable ball thrown to him, had YAC for first downs on two ocassions, one of which was the critical conversion on the winning drive. For all grief we give him, we need to give him his props tonight.
4. DC. Love the guy. One of my all time favorite Bruins. Nuff said.
5. The Offense. This game really highlighted for me how much of different type of game must be called if Prince is QB rather than Brehaut. As had been discussed ad nauseum, Prince is better at the "mesh" in the read option. Brehaut is more of a thrower. The playcalling reflects that. BTW, why are we the ONLY team in CFB that cannot run a successful jet sweep?!?!? Everybody else seems to get 8-10 yards. James and Smith get us about 3. OL played another good game. This unit is steady right now. I am glad the Bruins have remained relatively healthy this season.
6. The Defense. Did just enough, barely. With a few exceptions, we get picked apart when we rush 3 and get picked apart when we blitz (an unsuccessful blitz produced the first ASU TD on a wide open crossing route). I recall one nice blitz early in the 4th Q that led to a bad throw by Osweiller. UCLA was gashed in the running game throughout the game. McDonald had a nice game but gambled on a pass break up that led to major YAC after an ASU catch. McKay didn't wrap up on a play in the 3rd that led to YAC. These are young guys so they will be mercurical like that. Glad to see Nate Chandler get a sack. Chandler has moved positions so much and always done what the coaches asked of him, even if it wasn't in his personal best interest. We knocked down a pass at the LOS. When was the last time THAT happened.
7. Penalties & SPTRs. UCLA benefitted from some ASU personal fouls. The one on Burfict was b.s. and was simply because he had the name, "Burfict," on the back of this jersey, but I'll take what I can get. ASU appeared to hold on every passing play. Of course, it was (finally) only called on ASU's two point conversion play. So, they took points off the board and kicked the XP. That one point was the margin of victory in the game. SPTRs totally effed up the "throwing the ball out of bounds" play on ASU's last drive. First, since the call on the field was "no knee down," the evidence to overturn had to be indisputable. It was anything but. Then, they gave Erickson his T.O. back! WTF? Using the T.O. allowed the SPTR in the booth the time to look more closely at the play. It was like the SPTRs were trying to give the game to ASU. Hats off to Erickson for pushing it with the spinless refs, though. The review process on every score and on lots of other plays, and the ridiculously detailed explanations that sound more like the rulings of a Judge from the bench than a penalty call are affecting the enjoyability of watching football (both in college and the pros). I thought both the PR calls on Hester and Fauria were questionable.
8. The Rose Bowl. It was blue. I may be seeing things, but the blimp shots display a much more blue Rose Bowl than I have ever seen. Because of the nature of the color, it will never look like Tennesee at Neyland or Nebraska in Lincoln, but I think UCLA fans are consciouslty doing a better job or wearing true/powder/light/royal blue at games.
9. Another botched 2 minute drill to end the first half. I know, I know, once it was 1st and 20, UCLA needed to pack it in and go in with a halftime lead. But WHY OH WHY are we running the ball on 1st and 10 with approx. 1:30 left. Don't say it is because ASU is expecting the pass. ASU is likely defending against a deep ball. UCLA could kill them with crossing routes or screen passes (Jordan James anyone?!?!) in that situation.
10. Fumbles. UCLA was lucky to win the game. Period. If ASU had a good kicker, they would have won because of UCLA's miscues. But they could not capitalize on either the Josh Smith fumble or the Jetski fumble. Smith's fumble cancelled out the positives from his big KO return earlier in the game. Thank heavens DC recovered his own fumble. I am OK with winning the game because another team cannot make its FGs, especially this season when our issues with kicking have cost us games (see, Houston).
11. Coaching. I thought the offensive playcalling in the first half was very good. Setting aside Prince's pump fake, TD to Rosario, UCLA did not score in the 2nd half until the all important final drive. Fumbles ended some of those opportunities, but I think UCLA got too conservative in the 2nd half on offense. I don't know what the remedy on D is. When we blitz, it seems to get picked up (corner blitz anyone?). When we don't, good QBs pick us apart. Osweiller was not at his best.
12. Overall. Even though we were lucky to win, he hung with a solid opponent and, IMHO, passed the eye test. I believe it was RN's first win against a ranked, winning team (although Texas was ranked when we beat then last season, they ended up under .500; I doubt ASU will be below .500 at season's end). It was certainly his best home win of his coaching stint at UCLA (I still put Tennessee on the road and Texas on the road higher on the overall list, even though those teams were not as good as ASU is this season). That having been said, ASU also lost to fading Illinois on the road, so one cannot get too excited about this win. If this was the first time I saw UCLA this season, I would pinpoint it as an above-average team that was headed for a mid-range to lower tier bowl game (Sun, Vegas). It looks like we will go bowling (barring a nuclear meltdown agaisnt Colorado) but the Bruins need to give effort like this @ Utah and @ U$C*. Still hoping for at least an 8-5 season with a bowl victory (notwithstanding the consequences of that from a coaching perspective).
I was VERY pleased to see UCLA squeak this one out. I am very interested to see how UCLA fares at altitude next week at a place where it was completely dismantled the last time it played there.