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Setting the Right Tone

First of all I want to thank everyone here for their level headed takes leading to respectful discussions in these difficult threads. The spirited yet civil back and forth in those diary posts are just latest example the kind of community we are building here on BN. Thanks again. Back to fun and games involving our Bruins.

Well all right I shouldn't throw around the word "fun" when it comes to talking and writing about Dorrell football. Only two games left in this lost football season. While rest of the nation will be soaking up Michigan-Ohio State (and most in the West will be watching Cal-Southern Cal), we are going to be following the "growing" and "developing" going on in Karl Dorrell's football program.

After a big performance against Matt Moore's Beavers, UCLA beat writers are going ga ga again over DeWayne Walker's defense:

The Bruins also are back on pace to record the biggest turnarounds in school history from one season to the next in rushing defense and in scoring defense.

UCLA last season allowed 2,793 yards on the ground and through 10 games are on pace to allow 1,091, a difference of an incredible 1,702 yards. The Bruins' biggest previous change from one season to the next came in 1991, when they allowed 1,229 rushing yards one season after allowing 2,174.

Also, UCLA last season allowed an average of 34.2 points but have allowed just 19.6 this season, a difference of more than two touchdowns (14.6 points) per game. The Bruins' previous best improvement also came in that 1991 season, when they allowed 15.8 points per game a season after allowing 30.2.

Given the challenges defending Arizona State and USC in the regular-season finale at the Rose Bowl, Walker said the Bruins no longer will back off. The Sun Devils are No.4 and the Trojans No.3 in the Pac-10 in scoring offense, averaging 28.4 and 32 points, respectively.

"We are who we are, and I think we've made great strides and (the players) have said to me, 'Shoot, coach, this is what you've built us up to be,'" Walker said. "I think they feel real good about this past week, going out there and letting them play.

"I think that's got to be the approach from here on out. We are who we are, and they feel comfortable being that way, so, let them go."

That could be the key to their season.
I think the coaches and players should be careful about being a little carried away with their defensive performance against a jacked up, hyped, erratic quarterback like Matt Moore. Kuwada is gushing about the defense. But he forgot to include the number heading into Oregon State game, the Bruins have given up 450.7 yards per game in their previous three Pac-10 games. They got fairly manhandled on defense by Oregon, California, and Washington States, teams led by good Pac-10 QBs such as Dixon, Longshore, and Brink. So forgive us if we are not jumping on the bandwagon quiet yet.

This defense is definitely improved from last year. But then again we have to keep in mind the context. Last year's defense was an ABSOLUTE and TOTAL DISGRACE. And it really shouldn't be a cause for celebration that a UCLA defense which is now somewhat above average is not the total disaster it was last season. There are still two games to go. And this D will be taking on good Pac-10 QBs in Carpenter and Booty.  If they can go 2-0 in those two games, then we can talk about at least some hints of discernible progress in Dorrell's fourth season in Westwood.

Speaking of the ASU game, Dump Dorrell has some interesting notes:
*ASU hasn't protected their young QB Carpenter well, because they lost two starting senior lineman to injury, and have allowed 3 sacks a game the last 6 games.  That is great for Hickman and Davis who are #2 and #4 in the nation in sacks.  But ASU says they will score against blitzes. We'll see.
*ASU QB Carpenter is the #37 ranked QB in the country (QB efficiency) and has 18 TDs, but has given up 12 picks at the same time.  By comparison, Pat Cowen is #80, with 7 TDs and 7 picks.
*ASU's #40 offense gets 370 ypg but has sputtered against bad defenses, including getting only 21 points in a big loss to Cal (#93 in defense), only 10 points against Oregon State (#31), and only 13 points against Oregon (#26).  ASU has 33 TDs in 10 games.
*Our offense (#67 334 ypg) has only 20 TDs in 10 games!  And Medlock sits alone atop the rankings for kickers in the nation with more FGs made than anyone else.
*ASU's passing defense (#45) allows under 190 yards per game, and has 12 picks in 10 games.  They have allowed 30 TDs however.  UCLA's pass defense (#79) allows 210 ypg, and has 10 picks, but has only allowed 23 TDs in 10 games.
*Last time these two teams met in Tempe in 2004 it was a shootout, with ASU winning 48-42.  This year, with average offenses at best, and with better defenses than two years ago, the game is expected to be low scoring, in the 20s.
More on our inefficient red zone offense from the LA Times (emphasis mine):
UCLA's red-zone offense has ranked among the top teams in the Pac-10 all year but that does not mean the Bruins have been efficient when they've reached opponents' 20-yard line.

UCLA's 15 touchdowns in 36 red-zone opportunities ranks among the worst ratio in the league. It's made senior Justin Medlock the national leader in field goals a game at 2.3.

Medlock has made four field goals in a game three times this season and is second on UCLA's all-time scoring list with 335 points. John Lee has the record at 390.
I have a hunch I am not the only one getting tired of this shot after another inefficient Bruin outing in the red zone:

The Ultimate Dorrell Weapon, Photo: Daily Bruin

Anyways the kickoff for tomorrow is around 7:15 PST, which is nice because by then we will have taken in some great college football action around the country. BTW I will come out and say it. I am going to be rooting for Southern Cal. I want our Bruins to have the opportunity to knock off an (over-rated and vulnerable) 10-1 Southern Cal team on its way to the BCS.

We have our reservations about Karl Dorrell, this place will be united behind our players when they take on those SCums from cross-town in just about two weeks. But before that Dorrell's team will need to get it done against a mediocre team tomorrow night to set the right tone for next two weeks.