I went to Rice, and graduated a few years back. I also grew up in LA and was a huge UCLA fan as a kid – and even now. Yesterday was a rough game for me in a lot of ways. I didn’t really want either team to lose, but I think that this was probably the most desirable outcome from a purely objective view – Rice acquitted themselves very well, and the Bruins played well enough to win big but left room for improvement.
What is worth noting is that this is one of the most well-played games I have seen out of Rice in the last few years. Aggressive playcalling, solid skill position play, and ok line play for at least half of the game. That is the Taylor McHargue I have been hoping to see the last three years – mobile, elusive, and an ok arm. That is also the way I have been hoping we use McGuffie, as he can be a dynamic weapon when he is in space. The coaching staff just never used to get him there.
I can also say that, in terms of Rice apathy, especially from the students, it is a ridiculously apathetic atmosphere. There are a few big time reasons for that. As has been discussed, there is the student difference – grad students are in the lab, and undergrads are simply limited. Marketing there isn’t bad, it is simply non-existent. There are some good people, but they don’t get a ton of resources from the athletic department in general. They also have to run gameday operations for every sport, and with a three person staff plus interns, what they are left with is a lack of time and money to promote the Rice brand.
Most notably, when the SWC dissolved, Rice was shown the door to the cesspool of lower-level conferences like the massive iteration of the WAC and the current iteration of C-USA. We remained decent under Hatfield for a few years, then the wheels fell off somewhere. Bailiff is the type of human being I am happy to see coaching my Owls. He is hugely involved on campus and appears to be a genuinely good person. What is he not, however, is a good football coach. He is too devoted to under-performing coaches (and players) and has never been a good schematic coach.
More after the jump.
1) UCLA will never drop quite to that level. We have more students,more athletic department resources (yes, I know what that statement means, but it is absolutely true), and we will always be in some version of the Pac-8/10/12. That alone should keep us from the 25k/game mark, so long as we don’t go 6-6 for the next 20 years running.
2) This win will look a lot better at the end of the year. Rice should be around 7/8 wins, which is a good season in my book. It may not have always been pretty, and it may still be Rice, but we won’t be terrible this year. Mostly because we won’t be playing many (if any) teams with the size and athleticism of UCLA.
3) Purely from a UCLA perspective, I love Mazzone’s scheme, I loved JetSki doing his thing, and I totally loved the halftime adjustments. 49 points is a good start in my book, and I would rather see us being aggressive on D than passive. If we have to tune it back, so be it, but that, in my mind, is the better direction to travel.
I am hoping and praying this becomes a building block for both teams. This is easily the kind of game that can be used as a springboard. But it just as easily can become an early-season peak. Hopefully, both Coaches Mora and Bailiff can keep these teams on an upwards trajectory, and we revisit them in December sitting above 8 wins, waiting for a nice bowl payout.