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Residual Concerns

So some Dorrell fans are not happy about the criticisms directed towards the team's underachieving performance from Saturday. Some folks will always have that - you are either with us or against us - juvenile, childish mentality. That is fine with me. If you don't like what you are reading here then don't. No one is forcing you to read what bunch of die hard Bruin alums are writing up day after day following a football program, which currently is - no matter much you want to be in denial about it - sort of an after thought not just in the country, but in its own city. And do yourself a favor. If you are going to whine about the posts here, dont embarrass yourself in the process by mentioning Dorrell in the same breath with Coach Ben Howland. One guy has vanquished his chief conference rival (Arizona, not USC), has won the conference regular season, conference tourney, took the team to a brink of its 12th championship, and now pretty much "selecting" not recruitng elite Southern California athletes (after taking over a team posting its worst record in 4 decades), while the other still hasn't sniffed the second spot of the Pac-10. You lose your credibility as a serious college sports fan by making that kind of asinine comparison.

Anyways, we will pivot this week and start focusing on Washington. But there are lot of residual concerns from Saturday's game, which as the poll indicates, majority of the Bruins Nation is not willing to put it in backburner as just another "win."

Dohn gets right to the heart of Bruin concerns, pointing to two serious issues emerging after the first two games:

There was a litany of issues UCLA must correct in the wake of Saturday's uninspiring 26-16 victory against national doormat Rice, but two alarming trends moved to the forefront.

First, UCLA must stop the revolving punt-returner fiasco and find someone who can catch the ball.

Second, the Bruins coaching staff must do a better job of putting the offense, particularly the line, in position to be successful. Based on comments made by players and coaches following each of UCLA's first two wins, being out-schemed by the defense was a problem.
I don't think we need to expand on what a fiasco the special teams situation has become after the first two games. We can only hope the coaches will be able to address this situation before our first road again against Washington, where situation will not get any easy for punt returners at a loud/raucous Husky Stadium.

So let's look more at the issue of getting out-schemed on offense. This was especially glaring in the Red Zone. Bruins were not very good in taking advantage in the Red Zone. From the OC Register:
UCLA went 5 for 5 on its trips inside the Rice 20-yard line in its 26-16 victory over the Owls on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

But the Bruins were not particularly happy with their production in the red zone after having to settle for field goals all three times.

Whether a missed block, a breakdown in protection, the Bruins simply struggled.
Svoboda tried to explain the problem to Lonnie White of LA Times:
"We were running the ball pretty well, but once we got down to the red zone, we had a couple of protection breakdowns," UCLA offensive coordinator Jim Svoboda said. "All you needed against a defense like that is one breakdown and you get stuck in third-and-long situations."
And why we were having such "breakdowns"? Svoboda points the finger to his first year quarterback (emphasis mine):
"We got down into the red zone, and we had a couple of protection breakdowns and ended up getting some negative yards there, which you never want to do," offensive coordinator Jim Svoboda said. "It was a combination of things. We missed a couple of things in terms of our targeting with our protections, Ben missed a couple of things, and that's all it takes with that defense.
The question I have is really simple. Chris Markey rushed for 208 yards in 23 carries (an astounding 9.04 avg), and Bell rushed for 102 yards in 19 carries (5.37 avg) [From]. So when your starting TB is averaging almost 10 yards per carry against a defense which was putting all its energy behind stopping and confusing the first year quarterback, WTF Svoboda was doing having his QB attempt passes in the red zone? Instead there is Svoboda publicly calling out his first QB. Whatever.

BO of course made a number of mistakes showing his inexperience. We can only hope the coaches are working on him to point out how he can manage the game better in certain situations, such as learning to throw the ball away (instead of trying to make plays and lose yardage), and also sliding. Those are habits that coaches should totally be able to correct and point out to a young QB. Ben will need to make better decisions as we head into conference play.

The Rice game gave lot of Bruin fans a dose of reality. From
Yes, it is time.  KD and everyone at Morgan Center and Spaulding Field need to take this dose of reality seriously.  The Rice game put our Utah win under the microscope and calls into question its credibility. Utah came in wanting to stop the rush, since our OL is formidable and our "rookie" QB was untested.  That plan backfired when BO lit up the Utah secondary and the Utah coaching staff failed to adjust.

With a week's preparation and game film in hand, the Rice coaching staff did the opposite. They planned to stop the pass and have our rushers beat them.  Even as we racked up nearly 300 yards on the ground, the Rice game plan nearly won out.  And KD looked outcoached, again.  The obvious question is: what will other, and better, coaches and teams do with now two weeks or more of game film?   KD and Co should be worried.  Hopefully, they've stopped drinking the cool-aid, stopped with the Happy Thoughts game planning, and stopped with the fly-by-night play calling.

KD has a lot of work to do just to take a step forward again.
And before you get all up in arms dismissing DD's observations as takes from bunch of haters, here are highlights from Dohn's Rice report card:
Special teams
Yes, PK Justin Medlock matched a career-high with four field goals, but that is overshadowed by UCLA?s inability to catch a punt with regularity. The problem surfaced again when Marcus Everett muffed a punt and Rice recovered two yards from the end zone. Two games, two muffed punts, and countless head shakes. This will crush the Bruins against a good team
Grade: C-

Let?s be honest; overall it was a very lackluster, uninspired effort. Give credit to defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker for keeping pressure on Rice. But the offense?s job is to score, and in five trips into the red-zone, the Bruins scored two TDs. There was also curiously play calls. And why did Chris Markey (208 rushing yards), sit most of the third quarter?
Grade: D
The full report card is just as ugly. Why is Dohn such a hater?!

Next up is Washington. Huskies are going to be charged trying to end their own losing streak against the Bruins. We will focus on the Huskies who are getting ready this week to take on Fresno State.

BTW we also played Washington after a bye week last season. And we all know what happened. Let's hope Dorrell doesn't embarrass the program again.