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Setting up the table for next 3 games

We need to think about what we should expect from rest of this season, and how we should define the parameters of a successful season, which will legitimatize Dorrell's tenure as the head coach of this football program.  If you have your thoughts, of course please chime in the comment thread or post your own diaries, and let's have a reasoned, thought-out, and civil discussion on the status of this program.

Right now there seems to be a consensus that Dorrell has earned at least one more season.  Well may be so but I am not so sure.  He is 8-1.  He is 5-1 in the Pac-10 guaranteeing that UCLA will finish with a winning conference record for the first time since 1998.  But I am not sure that the case for Dorrell earning a one year extension at UCLA is all that clear after these 9 games.  I think we are going to learn a lot more about whether Dorrell is the long term answer or perhaps should be even back next season, after the our last three games of this season.  I don't think anything is settled yet as lot of Dorrell minions would want you err force you to believe on various message boards.  Dorrell hasn't proven anything yet.

Sure under him the program is cleaner.  It is certainly not morally or ethically challenged unlike Peter Carroll's community college from cross town.  It is not getting into the news for all the wrong reasons like it was doing under Bob Toledo. For that Dorrell and UCLA administration deserve a lot of credit, but I am not sure he has still established the foundation of an elite program.  It is not evident to me even at this point of this third season with a record of 8-1 that UCLA football has a bright future under Karl Dorrell.

Before the season started my expectation was Karl Dorrell would win at least 9 games this season, including ending the 6 game unbearable Trojan streak on December 3rd. We are 1 win away from that 9 win mark, which is good.  But seriously who exactly have we beaten that is worthy of taking note?  Really no one.  Sure there 4 scintillating come back wins that made us dream and caused lot of us to lose perspective on how much the program has really improved.  But in reality without the late game heroics of 2LiveDrew this team is really looking at a mediocre 5-4/4-5 record. Our marquee wins include a win over a mediocre Sooners team, a win over rebuilding Tedford Cal program which is a shell of its 2004 team, and a win on the road against Washington State, which is not exactly one of the elite teams in the Pac-10.

Our offense has become ineffective, predictable as the season has worn along and the defense has become a national joke (again).  Sure we have suffered a rash of injuries. Losing McCloskey at C has taken a toll on the offensive line, the DL has been hurt by the season ending injuries to Brown, Dragovic, and the nagging injuries of Harwell and London.  But pointing to injuries as an excuse is pathetic. Every elite program has those injuries. And it really leads to the disturbing question about WTF Larry "You Are Killing Me" Kerr has been doing on the recruiting trail to get in healthy defensive lineman who has the basic skills of ... er ... tackling on the field.  What is becoming painfully clear that something is not right with our roster. It is not deep after three years under Karl Dorrell, who was billed by his supporters (when he came into UCLA) as a dynamic recruiter.  BruinsNation should shudder at the thought of having a defense next year which will be without Havner, London, and Page, with only marquee players like Harwell and Brown, who haven't be picture of health this season. What will the Bruin defense do when any one of the go down next season? I guess look to players like Davis, Keyes, Moline and Hale for leadership?  These are kids who are playing their heart out right now, but sometimes look outmanned in a BCS conference playing against some of the best offenses in the country.  This is not Mountain West.

If 9/10 wins was the standard next season what should be the standard for success next season when UCLA plays road games at Notre Dame, Oregon, ASU, California and Washington.  We could quiet possibly go 1-4 on the road next season because all of those teams will have better squads than the Arizona one we took on Saturday. How are we going to possibly come up with 8-9 wins without any blue chippers and serious leaders on that defense.  Getting rid of Larry Kerr will not be the answer just like getting rid of Alliotti didn't turn out to be the answer for Bob Toledo.  One hope is that we bring in an incredible recruiting class based on the success of this season that will fill up the gaping holes in current roster.  And based on some of the late game heroics of this season we were on our way to putting together a good recruiting class, but it could all crumble down if we melt down the stretch again.  So how we finish this season is absolutely critical to our recruiting efforts, because it will shape the perception of UCLA football under the leadership of Karl Dorrell.

We have three games (including the bowl) left and these are the possible scenarios:

a. 3-0
b. 2-1 (ASU w, SC l, Bowl team, w)
c. 2-1 (ASU w, SC w, Bowl team, l)
d. 2-1 (ASU l, SC w, Bowl team, w)
e. 1-2 (ASU l, SC w, Bowl team, l)
f. 1-2 (ASU l, SC l, Bowl team, w)
g. 1-2 (ASU w, SC, l, Bowl team l)
h. 0-3

Of course scenarios a and h will give us IMO give us clear cut impressions on Dorrell's coaching ability. The parameters of discussion will be easy to set up if one of those two scenarios play out for better or worse.  Scenario b will be allright with me.  I am not going to complain about a 10-2 record even if that includes a loss against SC.  A 10 win season should be a huge boon to our recruiting, which should help this coach bring in some talented bluechippers who will help to close the gap against USC.

Scenarios c, d, and e are fine with me. Again I don't care how we end the season, if we are 10-2 or 9-3 and that includes a win over USC, I will be lobbying for Dorrell to get not  just an year extension but a multi-year one stretching at least till Ben Olson's senior season.

However, scenarios f and g are not going to be acceptable to me.  I will not consider a  9 win season that doesn't include a win over USC, as a successful one.  Not considering the pathetic schedule we played this season, and not considering it would mean we'd be losing 3 out of our last 4 games. BTW Underbruin has an analysis of the possible scenarios in the diaries as well.

I have been reading that somehow if we come out and play well this Saturday and beat ASU everything will be forgiven. Uhm no. Given the scenarios above, to me right now the only that matters is beating SC on December 3rd.   Beating up ASU is not going to wash away the taste of last Saturday.  That taste will linger over this program just like Fresno State game of 03 is still lingering.  That will linger just like Arizona State, Washington State, and Wyoming games of last year. I am reading that win was a "program making" win for Mike Stoops.  Well it was a "program defining" disaster for Karl Dorrell, just like Maples Massacre was a cruel foreshadowing of what we are going to experience under Steve Douchebag Lavin.  Beating ASU is not going to make everything a OK.  Right now only way Dorrell can erase the memories of Saturday night is if he can makes these kids believe and lead them to a win on December 3rd

When we expected this team to win 9-10 we expected that this team would improve over the season and end on a good note, unlike Dorrell teams of past two seasons, who imploded down the stretch.  Now after last Saturday there is a good chance that this team will undergo through another epic meltdown. ASU just won on Saturday and they are going to be out for blood against the demoralized, pathetic Kerr defense. And, then we have three weeks to think about December 3rd.   Let's make it clear - if we go into that game with a 2 game losing streak, winning will be the option to salvage this season.  A true moral victory will not do this year.  Actually a true moral victory wasn't good enough last year for us either.  It was only celebrated by some of the more pathetic UCLA football fans, who have no sense of Bruin pride or respect for the tradition of UCLA football. Going back to the SC game even if we go into that game 9-1, losing that game will leave a bitter taste in all of our mouth, ending a promising season losing 2 out of last three games. Only way a 9 win season will taste good and look good on Dorrell's resume if it includes a win on December 3rd.  If he wants to end this year's recruiting on a strong note, if he wants to "close" he has come up with either scenarios a through e. Scenarios f, g or h will not be good for recruiting and the long term future of this program.

Dorrell after last Saturday in my book has left himself with no option but to win on December 3rd, if he wants to establish himself as the legitimate, long term head coach of UCLA football program.  If he ends up losing to SC on December 3rd, he'd better go 10-2. So, Dorrell in my book has earned anything yet in his third season, what is supposed to be his money season at UCLA. 2LiveDrew through all their heroics gave Dorrell a golden opportunity to seal the deal on his future at UCLA.  But he blew it just like Lavin did over and over again after all the stirring wins lead to Steve-16s. The only thing that is certain is if Dorrell doesn't beat SC on December 3rd or fail to register a double digit winning season, it will ensure the continued mediocrity of UCLA football, which started in Miami on December 5, 1998. After three years without Toledo, everything will still remain the same. And, that would be a huge shame for the Bruins Nation.