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Expectations for 2007-08: Karl Dorrell's "Show Me" Season

Before heading into Dorrell’s 4th season last spring we laid down our marker last year on what we expected from the Bruin head football coach: 9 wins and a victory over Southern Cal. Dorrell came short on getting his 9 wins and eeked out an expected home win (from the pov of BN) over a Trojan squad with vanilla offense.

It's time for us to lay down our marker again. As we head into Dorrell’s 5th season, I think there is a general consensus on what we expect from the head coach who has year after year fallen short of the expectations he set for himself when he was hired in Westwood. Again here was KD on the day he was introduced as the head coach for UCLA football program:

''My expectation for next year is to win the Pac-10 championship,'' Dorrell said. ''Winning the Pac-10 and beating our crosstown rival are the biggest things on my mind.''
After four years Dorrell still hasn't been able to put together that season in which UCLA wins the Pac-10 and beats Southern Cal. However, I do believe he is boxed into such a corner at this point that this season decidedly will emerge as the "show me" season for Karl Dorrell, that will decide his ultimate fate in Westwood.

Morgan Center has already sent out clear cut signals laying down the expectations that they are expecting a football season in which UCLA will win the Pac-10 and beat Southern Cal (by 20 points) in that last game of the season. And this comment from DG (after winning number 100) is consistent with that signal sent out earlier this spring:
Guerrero says when one of his coaches wins a title, it motivates the others. "There's always a buzz in this department," he says. "And the expectations here are very, very high. We expect to win national championships."
Obviously we expect DG to hold KD to same standards he holds our other magnificent athletic programs.

Given KD’s pathetic track record as an abysmal, detached (07 Southern Cal game stands out as an aberration), passive leader of course many think he will ultimately stumble this season (just like he has in previous four). But that is not going to prevent us from laying down our expectations. 2007-08 will be KD's "Show Me" season:

Photo Credit:Ken via Wiz

We expect (again we are not predicting, expecting) UCLA to win 11 games, beat Southern Cal, and win the Pac-10 this upcoming season based on the facts that Dorrell has had five years to build his program, he has enough talent at his disposal to make a run, and he has a favorable home schedule which puts UCLA in perfect position to capture its first Pac-10 football championship since 1998.

Here is how we expect (not predict) the storylines to play out this coming season, which is going to be Dorrell’s "show me" season:
at Stanford (w): Last time Karl Dorrel's team went up to Palo Alto, it needed a miracle performance from 2LIVEDrew to pull put a lucky OT win. Stanford of course is a pathetic program. The best player from it's 1-11 team - QB Trent Edwards - is gone. While Jim Harbaugh is an intriguing head coach and may improve the play of fifth year QB T.C. Ostrander, even a close game against this bunch of losers will spell trouble for Dorrell's program. Make no mistake about it. If Dorrell wants to make an emphatic statement that this is going to be his years, Bruins should pull out a methodical win by a comfortable margin (we are looking a win by at least 2 TDs).

BYU (w): BYU has a nice football program. But it has no business winning against UCLA at the Rose Bowl. Considering UCLA footballs teams tossed around BYU football teams even during their halcyon days with Ty Detmer, this game should serve as nice little season opener for Karl Dorrell’s football program which is talking openly about winning a Pac-10 championship and demanding respect. BYU’s head Bronco Mendenhal has a done a nice job in Provo resurrecting some pride in a program which used routinely dominate its non BCS conference, but they should face a huge uphill battle at the Rose Bowl as they will be working with a brand new QB (Max Hall, a transfer from ASU) to replace John Beck. Again this shouldn’t be a much of a game. I am sure Dorrell and his apologists will be talking about what a challenge Cougars are going to be, but anything less than an impressive win should be a troubling sign for a program which is coming into this season with the expectation of winning a Pac-10 championship.

at Utah (w): This should be a really interesting game to watch. Utah has one of those interesting college offenses which DeWayne Walker’s much hyped defense had a lot of problem defending last season. Utes are going to be hungry for revenge and I am sure will be playing with a lot of gusto. But again if Walker’s defense wants to make a statement demonstrating their worthy of all the incredible hype they have been getting this off season, this is a game they should dominate, by shutting down a non BCS opponent which had to scrape and claw to win 8 games last season.

Washington (w): Last year’s game against the Huskies one of those classic exhibits of Dorrell’s mediocre and lackluster head coaching. Bruins looked weak, tentative, and clueless down the stretch as they coughed up a lead with that classic playing not to lose Dorrelian mentality against a pathetic Husky team. Well this time the Huskies will be at the Rose Bowl with a brand new quarterback. And this time if Bruins find a way to choke like they did in Seattle, DeWayne Walker and his colleagues in the coaching staff will not be able to get away by playing a pathetic blame game. We will expect another Bruin win running their record to 4-0.

at Oregon State (w): This game right now is set up a classic trap game with the week before you know who. Bruins have an unfortunate tradition of choking in games like this one. Of course I am talking about Washington State (88), Arizona State (94), and then there was Miami on December 5, 1998. Mike Riley is a less inspiring leader than Karl Dorrell. He couldn’t beat Karl last year with Matt Moore. I don’t see how Karl’s team can choke in this game with the opportunity to go 5-0 heading into the rematch against the Irish. We expect the Bruins to go 5-0.

Notre Dame (w): If not for Dorrell’s worthless playing-not-to lose mentality (do you sense a theme here?) Bruins would have closed out a program making win last year in South Bend. This time there will be no Quinn to Shark connection. Sure there will probably be some 30,000 Irish fans at the Rose Bowl but we expect nothing less than a TOTAL DOMINATION by a UCLA football program, which again is heading into 2007 with 20 returning starters, experienced pair of QBs (who by this time should well versed in Dorrell’s playbook, whatever that is), and some 70,000 UCLA fans who will be charged up. This is a game Dorrell will have to win. If he doesn’t it could turn out to be one of the final death nails in his waiting coffin. Again we expect nothing short of a DOMINATING Bruin win running their record to 6-0.

Cal (w): Yes Tedford is a very good football coach who has put together a nice program up in Bay Area good enough to build a tradition around Holiday Bowl runs. But he has no business winning this game. He in fact has never won at the Rose Bowl (0-2 against a coach like Dorrell) and we expect that trend to continue without Marshawn Lynch. Of course this will be one of those "show me" games Walker in which he will have to prove he can scheme up defenses that can stop college teams not playing predictable pro-set offenses. We will expect the Bruins to run up their record to 7-0.

at Wazzu (l): Okay we are practical enough to know a Dorrell team is not capable of going undefeated. Surely it will have to choke somewhere as the pressure of going undefeated will catch up to them as their head coach will shrivel up start busting out his dynamic run, run, pass offense. This is the game which we expect Bruins will stumble … and stumble badly. Pullman has never been kind to Bruins. Last time they were up there they pulled out a miracle win on the backs of 2LIVEDrew. This time they are going to fall short dashing their hopes of BCS, falling to 7-1.

at Arizona (w): As the Bruins stumbled into Tucson everyone is going to be talking about what happened last time Dorrell’s team marched in with a gaudy record. If Dorrell has truly learned from his previous stumbles as a head coach, we expect him to have his team mentally ready and pull out a tough win. Again this is why he was brought into Westwood. He was brought in to build a program that is mentally tough and capable of winning Pac-10 championships. If he is truly worth the money (almost a million bucks a year) UCLA is spending on him, Bruins will bounce back from the week and improve their record to 8-1.

ASU (w): Dennis Erickson is kind of a shady college football coach (notorious for putting together programs of questionable character) and he will probably fit in nicely in a school which will probably do anything to win. But ASU given the talent it has on its roster will have no business competing against the Bruins expected to be in the final stretch to get to Rose Bowl for the first time since 1999. Bruins go to 9-1.

Oregon (w): This is going to be another show-me game for DeWayne Walker. Last year Walker admitted how he was outschemed by Bellotti’s spread offense. If the Bruins play up to expectations the whole season this is going to be the final hurdle before they head into South Central in a battle for the Rose Bowl. We expect Bruin defense to come out like bunch of gangbusters and hound Dennis Dixon all day. Bruin offense should not have problem putting up points against a defense which got embarrassed by teams such as Arizona, Oregon State and BYU. Bruins go to 10-1.

Southern Cal (w): Obviously I don’t need to write much to weave the storyline/expectations for this game. We are not going to worry too much about a program which choked against a Dorrell coached football team with a BCS game on the line. This is a team that is riding high after a Rose Bowl against an underachieving Michigan program which is led by a rich man’s Terry Donahue. Trojans have all those All Americans and nice defense. But their offense isn’t much when it comes to featuring a dynamic scheme that strikes fear in the hearts and minds of college defensive coordinators. All they do is line up their 5 stars backs and receivers and come straight at you. Obviously even an above average coach like Walker had no problem figuring them out. With a Rose Bowl on the line and probably his job on the line, we will expect Dorrell to win this game, run his record to 11-1 and bring UCLA’s first Pac-10 championship since 1999.
Now obviously the scenarios above represent our expectations based on the talent we have returning to our program. UCLA has enough talent on its squad to be one of the two or three most talented teams in the Pac-10. Now given that we are going into Dorrell’s fifth year this will be his "show me" year in which we and rest of the Bruins Nation will expect him to deliver on the hype he (himself) generated during his hiring when he promised that he would put together a program that would win Pac-10 championships and defeat Southern Cal.

It’s now or never for Karl Dorrell. If it becomes clear during the middle of the season Karl Dorrell will once again fail to deliver on these expectations, it will be time for him to go. And this time a season ending win over Southern Cal should not be enough to save his job should at the bare minimum one of the end zones of Rose Bowl do not have UCLA letterings on January 1, 2008.

2007-08 will be Dorrell's "show me" season. He is not going to find any place to hide should he fail to deliver again in his fifth year in Westood.