clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Karl Dorrell: Combination of Lavin & Donahue?

I sure hope not, but that's the impression I get reading Chiccoa's column this morning over at BRO. Here is CC on Bruin's bipolar defense getting up for the big games, but having let downs time after time for the non-marquee ones:

Have you noticed how the Bruin D tends to surprise vs. the better teams, and disappoints vs. lesser teams? Even with Reggie Bush running wild last year, the Bruins held Leinart and Norm Chow to something like 1 for 14 on third down conversions. And the Cal game this year... all those tackles for loss, forcing Joe Ayoob into passing situations on third and long. I hate the term "letdown," but there is something to the notion that a team tends to play at a higher level when the opponent is more highly rated: anticipation... that extra added adrenaline rush, the sharper focus that fear and great opportunity presents in the form of a big game. Only a John Wooden or a Vince Lombardi has seemed able to keep a team consistently running at its optimum level. But shouldn't knowing the dangers of "letdown" be enough to guard against something as awful as the first half of that Washington State game.
Sounds like those talented Lavin teams ... doesn't it? Getting up for huge games beating up on Stanford at Maples, beating no. 1 teams like Kansas at home, and then laying ridiculous stink bombs like CSUN, Colorado State (I don't want to start).  Of course it is ridiculous to assert only a Wooden or Lombardi can keep teams consistently running at optimum level.  You don't need a HOF legends to have your boys come out and play sound, fundamental defense, showing that they know how to tackle.  We can only hope Larry "you are killing me" Kerr gets it right soon ... showing that our defense can tackle in the first half, not having to need another tongue lashing from the OC and offensive super star.  Otherwise, there will inevitably a rift in this team splitting it apart, just like it happened to those good guys from the 98 team.  Cade McNown and Kris Faris had character too, but they got exhausted making up for defense's lack of showing up, time after time.

Anyways, I wonder if CC is also trying to take comfort in the fact that Dorrell is a disciple of Donahue football:
You could make a case for the Bruins being the most conservative program in the Pac-10. Perhaps a better word is methodical. Karl Dorrell, Tom Cable and Larry Kerr are preeminently system guys. Not for them such stuff as Pete Carroll's shrugs and grins, his profiling for the TV cameras, sideline fakes (?) for spiking the ball. Or how about the quarterback turning to the tailback, on the road, in South Bend, before 80,000 screaming Irish fans, in the biggest game of the year... and asking, "Should I go for it?" Not gonna happen in KD's world.

To the extent that he's more administrator and overseer, as opposed to a hands-on coordinator, KD is a child of the Terry Donahue school. And why shouldn't he be, since he played under Donahue during Terry's best years. We've seen how Kerr favors a more balanced, less radical defensive approach. And Cable, even though he's turned loose the passing game this year, still hasn't shown much in the way of counters, or any kind of deception, particularly in the design of the running game. The holy word in Westwood (as it is in so many other football programs) is "execution." These guys would seem to believe that if you can just "execute" the system you don't need much deception or improvisation. These guys run a tight, buttoned-down ship. They keep at things... relentlessly. They "grind" away. They think things out methodically. They take their time... hence their use of timeouts, their habit of "just getting off the field" before the half, then re-order things in the calm of the dressing room rather than the confusion of the sidelines.
Methodical? Donahue was methodical all right.  He was methodically MEDIOCRE ... whose approach made sure that Bruins never lived up to their incredible talents assembled in Westwood during the 80s and 90s. I will try to keep an open mind and think that perhaps Dorrell will turn out to be different from Donahue and fielding a program that plays to win, not to lose which his mentor perfected during his underachieving days in Westwood. He can start showing that delivering on his money season this year in Westwood. Yes, not losing any one of next 4 games would be a welcome sign that things are different and its not the same old shit we all experience under Donahue.