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Sleepwalking ...

I realize many of you want to find some positive from last night's embarrassment at the Rose Bowl. Well there isn't much. It is easy and convenient to point to Troy State and Air Force. But that is really a loser/excuse mentality we saw from the Lavinistas during those dark seven years of UCLA basketball, when those clowns would try to rationalize every disgraceful performance by saying something like: hey looks Coach Ks of the world lose a Sweet-16 game here and there too.  We will have none of that. Pointing to others underachieving/pathetic performances to somehow justify ours with a "shit happens" mentality - we will have none of that.

Our defense looked great yesterday. That was not because we were playing balls out. It was because we were playing against one of the worst team in the D-1 playing with its backup QBs.

Our running game got cranking. That was because Rice doesn't have much of a running defense and was playing in a 3-3-5 set which was focused on stopping the pass.

The truly appalling part of last night's performance was how pathetic the coaches and players look after all the hot air coming out of Westwood about their new "attitude" and "focus" this season.  Dohn is blunt in exposing Dorrell (emphasis mine throughout):

UCLA coach Karl Dorrell and several players spoke during the week about the growth of the program, namely the ability and understanding by everyone to no longer overlook inferior opponents.

All of which means one of two things:

Either the Bruins aren't close to being as good as they believe they are, or Dorrell and his players still don't have a read on how to beatup on a lesser team after again lapsing into overlook mode.

Against four-touchdown underdog and vastly inferior Rice, it wasn't until the final moments that UCLA could relax, as it sleepwalked through a 26-16 victory Saturday in front of 46,023 at the Rose Bowl.

"We took them kind of lightly, so I guess this is what it came out to," UCLA receiver Brandon Breazell said. "The offense, we didn't have the drive we needed to have. When we didn't score (a touchdown on) the first drive, we knew it was going to be hard."
Same old sh!t. Isn't it? Breazell's comments reminds of statements of Toledo and Lavin players after their usual underachieving performances. The same old nonsense of taking other team "kind of lightly." After four years of Dorrell this team is still playing ugly, unfocused football at the Rose Bowl, getting caught flat footed against another undermanned, underwhelming football program.

More from Kuwada in the OC Register on Dorrell's hot air:
UCLA was supposed to be past taking lesser opponents lightly. They were supposed to have a respect for the game, playing hard and fast and with much verve. That is what Karl Dorrell said during the week, when asked about whether his team would be prepared for Rice, which had not won a road game since the 2003 season.

"This team's a lot more mature. They definitely have a better appreciation about this game, they respect the game," Dorrell said Wednesday. "Once upon a time, the program didn't feel that way. I think they felt that the game owed them, instead of them understanding the respect about the game"

That again is open to debate.
And you wonder why we have been reluctant to drink the Karl's Kool Aid.

In terms of the game I don't think there is any positive to take from it. Yeah the running game got warmed. But given the defensive set (3-3-5) Rice was showing, Markey should have rushed for 300yards and UCLA should have had 500 yards on the ground. The offensive line wasn't really all that great. From Kuwada's article:
The offensive line struggled with pass protection much of the game and was called for some costly penalties, even though it was playing against a much smaller front than they had seen one week ago against Utah. Olson, in his second start, lost two fumbles and threw an interception.

"It's all on us," strongside guard Shannon Tevaga said. "We should have blown them out. I don't think we looked past them, but we just made too many mistakes. You can't even be happy with the win. There were that many mistakes. It shows we cannot play well and still pull out a win, but they're not that good of a team."

The Bruins could not shake the Owls until late in the third quarter, when Chris Markey started breaking off some sizable gains on the ground with a degree of consistency. The junior back finished with a career-high 208 rushing yards, and the Bruins put the game away with 8:19 remaining when Olson hit Brandon Breazell in the left corner of the end zone.
So considering Markey was having a career day, you'd think the coaches would be riding him like a work horse and let him dominate the Owls. Right? Well guess what happens. Here is Dohn again:
There was also the decision not to play Chris Markey for much of the third quarter, even though he had 116 yards on 13 carries at the half. He didn't play for the first 13minutes of the quarter, then gained 36 yards on his first carry in the third.

He finished with a career-high 208 yards on 23 carries. Kahlil Bell added 102 yards on 19carries, but success in the running game didn't mean points.

On five trips inside the Owls' 20-yard line, UCLA managed two touchdowns.

"It felt like we were beating them by a lot," UCLA offensive lineman Shannon Tevaga said. "It felt like that. We were running the ball like crazy, but we only had 13 points on the board at the half. I'm confused. I feel good about the running game, but I don't feel good about the win."
This is really on Dorrell and his coaching staff. They got out schemed, out maneuvered, and simply out coached by D-1AA caliber coaching staff. Simply a pathetic and disgraceful performance which brought up the echoes of Wyoming and Fresno State. Tevaga was not the only one feeling bad about last night's "win" (OC Register):
Olson hit 7 of 11 passes in the first half for only 45 yards, and the running game again was spotty. Markey rattled off some nice runs, gaining 43 yards, 20 yards and 14 yards. But the Bruins also were held to two yards or fewer on five plays in the first quarter, seven in the half.

The sophomore quarterback ended up 13 of 19 for 124 yards and could get the Bruins into the end zone only twice against the Owls.

"I've never been this unhappy after a victory before," he said.
Olson played like a first year starting QB last night. But really the blame here should be placed on the shoulder of Dorrell, Svoboda, and the entire offensive coaching staff. WTF were they doing having Ben throw the ball when the Rice defense was pretty much begging UCLA O to run and to jam the ball down their throats? It is really Svoboda's D-1AA caliber play calling which was putting Olson and the UCLA offense in precarious 3rd and long situations.

Last night also showed how UCLA doesn't have a game breaker in offense. While the OL was opening up some holes, it's too bad neither Markey nor Bell were able to break one of their big runs all the way and take it to the house. That's a problem you won't see from the SC or Cal running games because they have better talent on the rosters than we do now. Again so much for that closing the talent gap in recruiting.

If you want to read more on last night's game here is Lonnie White's LA Times game report.

We have some serious issues right now. We almost got exposed last night. And if we don't figure it all out, we could get exposed against a mediocre Huskies team in Seattle in two weekends.

It's too bad. Pac-10 is right now in a definite downturn with a collection of some awful, pathetic teams in its lower tier. There should be absolutely no excuse for this UCLA football team not to win 9 games (and beat SC at home) this season given the horrific, embarrassing performances we have seen put up by shitty Pac-10 teams from coast to coast over last two weekends.

Yet after last night's sleep walking at the Rose Bowl, Dorrell and his crew gave us more reasons to have doubt about their abilities to get the job done this season. We could be in store for yet another underachieving, uninspiring, boring, unfulfilling typical UCLA football season of last decade.

How Dorrellian.