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Affirming Our Expectations

All right lets get back to talking about our football program. The Daily News rolled out its kickoff special section today with lots of UCLA related features. Dohn obviously as one of the anchor pieces writing how Dorrell needs to end this season on a "winning note":

"The important thing this year," Guerrero said, "is that we don't beat ourselves, that we play with consistency, that we're an excellent second half team and that we improve as the year progresses."

During last season's 7-6 stumble, UCLA committed six less turnovers and two fewer penalties than its opponents, and was inconsistent in losing games to Washington State, Notre Dame and Oregon but defeating Oregon State, Arizona State and USC.

The Bruins also scored 13 fewer points in the second half than first half, and allowed 19 more points in the second half than the first.

"(Dorrell) has the perfect team this year," Bruins senior left guard Shannon Tevaga said. "Some people love the pressure. It makes you want it more."
Dohn tries his best to give a balanced take on the debate around Dorrell in rest of the article (including some boiler plate, generic pre-season "confidence providing" quotes from DG). But even in doing when giving the blindo side of arguments, Dohn missed the glaring holes in some of those flawed takes. For example Dohn on Dorrells’ WCO:
Only once since Dorrell arrived, when the Bruins were 10-2 in 2005, has the offense excelled.
That totally ignores the point that it wasn’t really Dorrell’s offense that won the Bruins one desperate comeback win after another that won use those games in 2005. It was precisely chucking the predictable Dorrellian playbook and going to desperation fourt quarter mode with 2LIVEDrew that won us games against Cal, Washington State, Washington, and yes a desperation win against a pathetic and hopeless Stanford team in Palo Alto. Those wins had nothing to do with the greatness of Dorrell offense, but had more to do with the heroics or Drew Olson and MJD.

Anyways, I am not going to bother slicing and dicing up rest of the pro Dorrell takes in that article because we have done it so many times here on BN. But it is good to note that despite all the boilerplate quotes from DG, he did point out that Bruins must remain consistent this season, and not beat themselves this coming season.

Anyways, no worries, players are doing the best to affirm all the expectations we set here during this long hot offseason. From Steve Dilbeck:
"Our goal is definitely the national title," said All-American defensive end Bruce Davis. "And I think that is definitely reachable for us."

Davis said it will be disappointing to him if the Bruins finish the regular season 11-1.

"It's a big jump from 7-6, but we have a senior-laden team," he said. "We've been here for five years and really haven't done much. So we have a lot to prove this year."

There are 25 seniors on the team, and they are understandably tired of this so-so routine, weary of being L.A.'s other team, worn out by being viewed as fine but unremarkable.

They cast an unfiltered eye at their past, looking objectively as possible, and demand more.

"We've had mediocre seasons for the past four or five years, and I really feel it's time for us to step up," Markey said.
And from Jim Thomas:
First and foremost, the victory lends credence to UCLA's belief that it is ready to challenge USC and anyone else for supremacy in the Pac-10. If the Bruins can beat the Trojans, the thinking goes, why can't they beat anyone else this season?

Indeed, why can't the Bruins be gunning for a Pac-10 title as well as bragging rights in Los Angeles when they face the Trojans on Dec. 1 in the Coliseum? Why can't this be that rare season when both schools have something huge at stake when they face each other?

"Hey, that game is for rights to the city. We've been down for so long," Van said. "Now we're not."

The Bruins have 10 starters back from a defense that went from one of the worst in the nation to giving up just 314.5 yards a game under new coordinator DeWayne Walker. The defense peaked against the Trojans, giving up just 55 yards rushing.

"That victory gets us headed in the right direction," star defensive end Bruce Davis said. "That was great for the program. We're nationally recognized now. We're focused each day on that fact. This is a national situation for us now."
And a "national situation" doesn’t culminate in some random bowl games in San Diego or El Paso before New Year’s Day.

Same theme comes across in Kevin Pearson’s UCLA preview posted in the Press Enterprise this past Saturday:
With a nasty defense and an improving offense that has the ability to be both explosive and efficient, this is Dorrell's best shot at taking a team to the next level. The Bruins not only have a defense full of NFL talent and a serviceable offense but also finally have the depth they have lacked recently. And throughout that depth chart, players believe that the only thing that could prevent a breakthrough season would be their own doing.

"People who won't drink the Kool-Aid and buy into the program and what our goals are, they will hold us back," offensive guard Shannon Tevaga said. "But the sky is the limit for us. We can do this."

And they have to. For five years, these players have taken their baby steps. And with each step forward -- measured in victories over Cal, Oklahoma and USC -- they have also fallen. But each time, they learned to walk again, like that child who is now ready to run.

If ever there were a season in which UCLA could finally say it is ready to do so, this is it. With so much experience -- both physical and mental -- and a schedule that brings Cal, Oregon and Notre Dame into the Rose Bowl, these Bruins are finally hoping to prove that when they said, "Just wait," that they knew this was what they were waiting for.

"It all kind of lines up," quarterback Ben Olson said. "This is the time here at UCLA now where we have to do it. There is not next year or the year after that. It's now, and we understand that."
May be the SPJ has been reading BN. It’s good to hear him and his team-mates affirming what we have been saying all summer: if not now, when?