So many of us have no idea what to expect out of this season (and those who claim to know are lying). While many of us may be cautiously optimistic, or choose to take the “let’s just sit back and watch and see how it plays out” approach, some of us seem to be a bit pessimistic, with the whole “the sky is falling” narrative. No matter how you slice it, entering the 4th year of CRNs tenure, we are all thoroughly confused and have no idea what to expect. What is it that we will be looking for that will tell us how the season will break for us? Simply put, the play of the O-line and QB will tell the entire story of our season. More specifically, with our schedule being what it is, if our O-line is at least serviceable at pass blocking and our QB can make decent reads (he doesn’t need to be a world-beater) which will keep offensive mistakes down, we will have a successful season. If they don’t, we won’t. It’s as simple as that really.
So what happens if neither improves? Our QB continues to throw into coverage, the play calling continues to be conservative, with little to no shots taken down the field? Let’s take a look into the future, shall we? With the use of a Delorean, I was able to grab this season recap from a late November 2011 posting on BN.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… Blah, blah, blah
The Worst of Times
“…Dan Guerrero’s news conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday morning. We all expect that he will announce the firing of CRN, but we could only hope that Guerrero takes himself out of the equation as well. This would heal all of Bruins Nation more than the removal of any coach. Honestly though, after looking back at CRN’s tenure, specifically this season, he had to go. Let’s dissect the season that was, beginning with the QB position. We came into the summer camp with a quarterback controversy, and the play during camp settled nothing. Neither QB stepped up. Prince didn’t seem to be as mobile as he once was, no doubt hampered by his knee injury. There seemed to be little growth out of Brehaut. We all see now that summer baseball was a failed experiment. And let’s not even mention the total mismanagement of Brett Hundley. Neuheisel really should have redshirted the kid instead of bringing him in for 4 or 5 plays a game to get killed behind that suspect O-line. He looked like a deer in headlights out there all season, reminiscent of Chris Forcier when he got in against ASU in ’08.
Despite Prince’s lack of mobility, he was named the starter at the beginning of the season. And what an ugly start it was. We opened up the season at Houston, but it looked as if we left the playbook back in Westwood. We stayed pretty vanilla during the 1st half, running Franklin, Coleman, & Co. up the middle several times for little to no gain each time. I think they set a record for the number of 3 and outs in one half. Our defense was able to hold off Keenum in the 1st half, but whatever adjustments Sumlin made at the half definitely worked as UCLA was blown out in the 2nd half to lose the season opener 31-6.
The Bruins followed that up with a win at home vs. San Jose St., but Prince’s knee gave him some problems, so Brehaut played the 2nd half. The running game was what got us through, but there was less room for Jet Ski to operate because opponents were putting 8 in the box constantly, daring us to pass over the top…and we didn’t. The few times that we tried, the ball was either thrown into coverage, or the passes sailed far overhead.
It got ugly after San Jose St. The Bruins went on to lose three straight vs Texas, Oregon St., and Stanford. UCLA stayed in the game early against Texas, but again, let down in the 2nd half (Fans in the half-empty Rose Bowl were seen throwing up into their “Passion Buckets”). The second half against Texas was what ruined their confidence heading into that Oregon State debacle. Washington St. was next on the schedule, and although the Tuel to Wilson combination accounted for 3 Tds, the Bruins were able to pull it out in overtime. They took this energy into Arizona, who was operating without a couple key players to win in the desert on national TV. This was followed up by a win over Cal at home. On a side note, Tedford might bump into CRN in line down at the unemployment office this week. The momentum of their 3-game winning streak was not enough to take down ASU, as Osweiler torched the Bruins for the second year in a row, once again displaying the talent that shows why everyone has him on their short list for Heisman next year (2012).
It was perhaps the last 3 games of the season though that sealed CRNs fate, losing badly to Utah, with Chow’s offense looking rather surgical (both in the game and in the season as a whole), squeaking by Colorado, and getting embarrassed by $C. The $C players kept talking in the media about this being their bowl game, and they definitely took to the field with that mentality. There is absolutely no reason to be shut out in a rivalry game, and Rick & co. ought to be ashamed…”
The Best of Times
There are far less specifics in this narrative. We all know how a bad season will play out, but a good season could take so many different avenues. But here is a vague glimpse at our successful season...
A hard fought battle in August gives birth to a clear-cut starter (Brehaut or Prince, it doesn’t matter). Said starter stays relatively injury free and leads us to a victory in our season opener at Houston. While some of the rust of it being a first game is apparent, it is clear that this isn’t the same team that we saw last year. The playcalling is balanced, keeping defenders from keying in on any specific tendencies. The O-line continues to get a good push up front clearing the way for Jet Ski & Co. The most exciting part though was the amount of time the QB had to throw! And when he did, he made it count. No interceptions were thrown by the Bruin QB in the opener, Rosario aggressively went after balls in the air, Harkey didn’t drop a pass, and Carroll’s route running has drastically improved. He just seemed to be open all of the time.
This season opening victory was followed up by a victory vs. San Jose St. Those 1st two victories served as not only a confidence booster that led to the success of the rest of the season, but served as a live game opportunity where the kinks could be worked out heading into conference. Starting off 2-0, we win 2 out of our next three games ( vs. Texas, at Oregon St., at Stanford), surprising the nation and the talking heads @ BSPN by taking down __________________ (Fill in the blank yourself) when no one thought we had a chance. This was followed up by a win vs. Washington St. in which our defense dominated and our offense could do no wrong. The Bruins then go on to win at least 2 of the next 4 games (at Arizona, vs. Cal, vs. Arizona St., at Utah). This is followed up by a victory over Colorado where Neuheisel takes his old team to the woodshed in front of 90,000 at the Rose Bowl, leading into Beat$C week. The atmosphere on campus was at a level that we hadn’t seen in recent years. The Bonfire was electric, with students and alumni giddy with excitement about the game. And what a game it was…