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The Blame Game

While you all take in the ramification of the Bush bombshell implying cheating at Southern Cal, let's get back to our Bruins who are getting ready to faceoff against the Huskies. No worries I will tie all this together at the end of this post. You will see.

So about the Washington game. While we are trying to put the Rice game behind us, it's the coaches who keep bringing it up. Lots of blame game still going on over at Spalding Field.

LA Times has a report on how Ben Olson is still going through his learning process, and I thought this quote from Dorrell was a little telling:

Against Rice, which blitzed secondary players on nearly every play, UCLA was often caught without enough blockers to protect Olson. He was sacked four times and missed several opportunities for big plays because of the Owls' rush.

After the game, Dorrell took part of the blame because he didn't have Olson do much work against game-type blitzes in training camp. That was not the case this week in practice with the Bruins emphasizing ball protection daily.

"That was really the first game where he had to break out of the pocket and run and do things like that," said Dorrell, whose team does not have a game until Sept. 23 at Washington.
I find it interesting that KD didn't have Olson work against blitzes in training camp, considering that is exactly what one would expect defenses would bring against a QB starting for the first time in college football. It's a given that defenses will bring pressure and blitzes against a first year starting QB, and yet Dorrell is admitting that he didn't have Olson work against blitzes during training camp. Am I the only one here, who thinks that is kind of ... uhm .. weird?

Dorrell is not the only one blaming himself for the offenses production against Rice. Svoboda blames himself for the predictability of last Saturday. From the Daily News:
The Bruins were too predictable on offense, namely running too often when using a two-tight end, two-running back formation, Svoboda said. The goal is to change that tendency when UCLA plays Sept. 23 at Washington.

Svoboda, in his first year as UCLA's play-caller and offensive coordinator, said part of the problem against Rice was how well the Bruins ran the ball.

UCLA rushed for 277 yards, so it was easy to go with the two-tight end, two-back formations. But the Bruins rarely passed out of that formation, making it easy for Rice to recognize the upcoming play.

"Going in that game, we didn't have a lot of passing game from that (two-tight end, two-running back) look (for other teams to scout)," Svoboda said. "I didn't really envision being in it that much. What happens is, ok, now it's a passing down, you move another personnel group in there, and it seems obvious what you're doing. You're going to throw the ball.

"You always make sure out of all your personnel groups you have balance. You want to be unpredictable within each group."

Instead, UCLA was predictable. After tight ends Ryan Moya and Logan Paulsen combined for six catches in the opener against Utah, neither caught a pass against Rice. Furthermore, Moya and Paulsen each had just one ball thrown their way in the game.

Rice waited for UCLA's personnel to enter the game, then adjusted its defense accordingly. UCLA converted 6 of 13 third downs, but the Bruins were able to convert only two of eight third downs of five yards or more because the Owls adjusted their defense after seeing the Bruins' on-field personnel.

"I blame myself," Svoboda said. "There were definitely some things we could have done better passing the ball. That (two tight end) look is good if you can stay in those third and shorts. &Looking back on it, we probably should have had some more (in the) passing game out of those looks."
Again this is somewhat confusing statement from Svoboda. I am not sure if the Bruins needed to be all the "unpredictable" against Rice. We were dominating in the trenches. Our run game was clicking. Markey was ripping of 10 yards a carry whenever he was touching the ball. Not sure if there was a need to pass from the 2 TE formation. If the Rice defense was not stopping Markey and Bell out of the TE formation, why even bother attempting to throw passes out of it?  Bruins had 277 yards on the ground last Saturday. But based on what the Rice defense was giving them, they probably could have rushed for 400. The coaches just didn't make the right play calls to optimize the run game, and alleviate all the extra pressure Rice defense was putting on Ben by bringing in their CBs. Just my thoughts.

Anyways moving on to the Washington game, the coaches this time are apparently working on in-game situations, part of which is preparing players for the noise at the Husky stadium. From the OC Register:
UCLA had near-perfect game conditions Thursday for its Sept. 23 Pac-10 opener at Washington.

The sky was overcast, the air was cool and artificial crowd noise was pumped through the speakers at Spaulding Field. The environment, at least audibly, was hostile.

"I couldn't tell if it was an amusement park or what that was," Coach Karl Dorrell jokingly said after practice.

"But we wanted to break the seal and introduced noise today. We plan on using (noise) 2-3 times next week. We're expecting a great crowd up there since it's the conference opener."
Whatever works. I just don't want to hear any excuses from coaches after the Washington game that they didn't work on this or that in game situations during the two weeks they had to prepare for one of the worst teams in the Pac-10. The Bruins have a 5 game winning streak going against the Dawgs (including road wins in 02 and 04). And it would not be a good sign if that streak ends next Saturday. I don't think the Bruins Nation will be in the mood to hear any more of this blame game.

And speaking of the blame game lets finish up this Friday roundup tying up our upcoming opponent Washington and Reggie Bush fiasco at Southern Cal. We have been dominating Washington since the mid to late 90s. And it all started with how that program unraveled from all the transgressions that took place under former Washington head coach Don James. What happened during DJ?s watch? Well here is the Daily Bruin from 1997 leading up to the Washington game at the Rose Bowl (emphasis mine):
Lambright took over a program in shambles two weeks prior to the start of the 1993 season, when legendary head coach Don James quit in protest of punishments to the program as a result of a Pac-10 investigation into violations.

The violations ranged from star quarterback Billy Joe Hobert receiving improper loans from a family friend and players getting paid for summer jobs that they didn't really do, to players getting complimentary fruit baskets at a hotel during a road trip.

What resulted was a two-year probation ? no bowl games in the 1993 or '94 seasons, limited TV appearances, and perhaps, most important, the loss of 10 scholarships each year.
So Don James eventually had to quit from a scandal stemming from his players receiving fruit baskets:

Husky HCing legend quit over shocking scandals like ...
... receiving 'complimentary' fruit baskets

So again the question is if the NCAA suspended a former Bruin All American LB for receiving a bag of groceries, and if the Pac-10 imposed severe sanctions on Washington for its players receiving benefits such as "complimentary fruit baskets," what will these institutions do to Pom Pom whose superstars were receiving thousands of dollars of illegal benefits in limo rides, plane rides, free rent from shady agents and player parents?

Will the Pac-10 be consistent in handling this blame game the way they handled the Huskies transgressions (looks like petty change compared to all the Bush/Jarrett benefits) back in the 90s? We are gonna be watching.

Oh by the way Cade and the Bruins won that game in 97 demolishing the Huskies at the Rose Bowl. I told you I'd tie up all the storylines in this post.

As always if I am missing something please share them in the comment thread or write it up in the diary section. It's always a fun Friday when Troy is burning.