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A Light Goes On

Finally, someone in the traditional media steps up and calls it exactly as he sees in the UCLA football program. Adande from the LA Times eviscerates the listless and mediocre Bruin head coach today, writing a piece which, to date, is probably the most reality-based article ever written on KD's uninspiring football program:

There was no cloak of depression blanketing the UCLA campus Monday, no angry outburst from the football coach. And that's the problem.

Two days after the Bruins let a potential season-making victory at Notre Dame escape from their grasp, students passed out fliers on Bruin Walk, tossed a Frisbee on the lawn and discussed upcoming tests, while Karl Dorrell told a roomful of reporters that things are getting better.

"We know that we're close," Dorrell said.

Not really. Saturday's 20-17 loss to Notre Dame showed just how far away UCLA is from being thought of as an elite team.

First the stakes. Remember last year, when USC appeared to be doomed in South Bend? It felt as if a three-year run was about to be toppled and the world as we knew it was about to end. Then the Trojans found a way to win.

For UCLA, beating Notre Dame in and of itself would not have been enough to make this a great season. A BCS bowl game and a Pacific 10 Conference championship were already Cubs-win-World-Series improbable after losses to Washington and Oregon. Then the Bruins found a way to lose to the Irish, despite holding a four-point lead and the ball in the final two minutes.

For a team with great aspirations, this would have been a breaking point. Dorrell would have snapped.

He gave a hint of heading that way Monday when he said, "Everything was about what we thought it was" -- shades of Arizona Cardinals Coach Dennis Green's "The Bears were who we thought they were" meltdown last week. But Dorrell kept his composure and even said, "I'm not going to throw the microphone."

No, it wouldn't be in character. But something needs to change.
Adande didn't stop there.  He also points to facts of KD's overall body of work which, as we have been suggesting all along, paints a grim reality of Bruin football not heading anywhere special under the leadership of Karl Dorrell:
People suggested a victory over 10th-ranked Notre Dame would have been a defining moment for Dorrell's program. In reality, the defeat is even more indicative of where it's been and where it stands.

Under Dorrell the Bruins are 3-10 against top-25 opponents, 1-6 vs. opponents in the top 10. And you have to wonder whether the coaching staff will enable the team to take the next step.
Personally, I started wondering about same question ever since the debacle against Fresno State at the end of his first year. In any event, it is good to see finally a writer from LA's traditional media community writing the obvious about Dorrell and not falling for his cliché ridden, empty explanations/excuses during Monday afternoon game week press conferences following yet another Bruin loss:
"I wish I would have called plays that worked," Dorrell said. "We had opportunities to make it work, and we didn't execute it right. That's coaches and players. We didn't put our guys and coaches in the best position."

There were valid arguments for running: avoiding turnovers, avoiding clock-stopping incomplete passes and forcing Notre Dame to use its timeouts.

But this statement by Dorrell made no sense: "Also in our thought process was we wanted to go right at 'em. We wanted to go out and test what we had at that given time."

Going right at 'em hadn't worked all day; the Bruins had already failed that test. Not including that three-and-out drive, UCLA averaged one yard per rush in the game. By contrast, the Bruins averaged 6.8 yards per pass attempt, and 13.6 yards per completion. Nine of UCLA's 12 first downs came on passing plays. It was pretty clear: if they wanted a first down that would almost assure a victory, they had to pass.
Welcome to our world J.D. And we have news for you. What we saw in ND with sloppy game/clock management, and questionable calls is not something new. This is just a continuation of a trend full of mind-boggling coaching decisions (or lack thereof) we have seen in games against Oregon (06), Washington (06), Rice (06), Southern California (05), Arizona (05), Wyoming (04), Southern Cal (04), Arizona State (04) ... going all the way back to his first game - Colorado (03) when he failed to use Manuel White in the game because he simply forgot White was on his roster.

It is hilarious to see Dorrell continuing to talk about growing and grinding week in and week out when he himself has not shown any discernible evidence of actually developing as a head coach. He continues to make the same mistakes, err, I mean questionable coaching decisions going more than half way into his fourth season in Westwood.

And you have to laugh out loud that when people argue that our team will actually get better from last weekend's moral victory against Notre Dame.  Is there any evidence of a Dorrell coached UCLA team following up a good performance with another one in the following week?  Well, let's go the record shall we?
  • Dorrell's first "signature" moment was a loss. Yeah that's right.  Dorrell minions trumpeted his close loss against Southern Cal two years ago as some sort of true moral victory (overlooking the fact that, again, it was Dorrell's poor clock management that cost us a stirring victory) signaling how the program had turned a corner. Dorrell promptly followed up that "true moral victory" with a disgraceful, embarrassing loss against Wyoming, a game before which his players showed up drunk during team meetings.

  • Dorrell's second "signature" moment came with a win against a hobbled and rebuilding Oklahoma team at the Rose Bowl last season, when the Sooners came in with an injured Peterson and a true freshmen QB. After that big win, in which Dorrell screamed out "believe in this team," his team promptly went on to put forth an embarrassing, sleep walking performance against a horrible Washington team, almost losing to those guys in the Rose Bowl.
  • Dorrell's third "signature" moment came with a win against a Cal football program last year which came into the Rose Bowl with a backup QB Joe Ayoub, who quite possibly was a worse QB than the Bruin's Rob Walker from few years back.  And, even then, Cal had the game won, until Tedford had a brain cramp and decided to punt directly to MJD in the fourth quarter.  Anyways, after that miracle come back win against Cal, Dorrell's team came out flat again in the following week against Washington State giving up IIRC 3 lightning quick TDs in the first quarter (ultimately Drew Olson and MJD saved the day again that day).

  • And Dorrell's last "signature" moment (before the moral victory against ND) came in the opening game of this year against an overhyped Utah squad at the Rose Bowl. And, of course, after putting together an impressive offensive display in that first game, the team went on to sleepwalk through another mediocre performance Rice (almost losing that game) the following weekend.
So, what's the point I am making here? There has been absolutely no sign of consistency or growing or learning by Karl Dorrell during his four year stint at Westwood.  And we have all become jaded and tired of the same excuses we keep hearing week after week coming out of these press conferences.

So, it is nice to see FINALLY someone else besides us, especially in the traditional media, pointing to reality concerning Karl Dorrell. We can only hope that Adande's colleagues will take note of his piece and the light will go on everywhere else in the local and national traditional media. As JD said, "something needs to change."