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I think it is hilarious to see a number of folks coming down so hard on Ben Olson. I know I have seen some comments here. But, I have also seen comments elsewhere, many of them coming from Dorrell supporters, who are already looking for a scapegoat in case this season doesn't work out like it has been hyped for the last four years. Pretty interesting that the same clowns who are willing to give a mediocre coach with no experience whatsoever 5+ years to prove himself, are coming down hard on a college quarterback who has only played 7 games and is on his 3rd offensive coordinator in his 4th year of a badly run football program.

So, what's the deal with Olson's so so performance last Saturday? CPB at Bruin Roar takes a crack at that question:

So what's the problem? Is Ben not getting enough time from his offensive line to make his reads? Are the receivers not getting enough separation? Is Ben just not finding the right receiver or is he just getting the ball to them too late? The answer might be a combination of the items above but the consensus seems to be that Olson just doesn't deliver the ball fast enough. He waits too long on quick, short passes (which are a staple of the west coast offense) and his passes arrive too long after the receiver has made his break. He needs to deliver the ball before the receiver breaks and that requires making good reads and an almost immediate decision on where the ball should go.

So are these problems fixable? Some of the pressure will fall on Jay Norvell to try and find plays where the Bruins can maximize Ben's strengths. I also think that Norvell can take some of the pressure off of Ben by utilizing the running game some more. Kalil Bell has the hot hand right now and he is running with power, strength, and a lot of anger. He's been a bull in the backfield and his consistent success carrying the ball will help develop some more play-action passing. Norvell also needs to call in some more deep passes. He only utilized a few last week and got more conservative as the game progressed. Stretch the field and put that big arm to work! The receiving corps also needs to step up as 5 dropped passes isn't going to get it done.

Ben may have some issues and he may never be able to regain that magic from his high school days, but he is the only man for the job at UCLA. Even if Pat Cowan were available (which he isn't) or if Mac Thompson were more experienced (which he isn't), Ben would still be the most gifted of the three. Nobody can deny that he can throw a nice ball and if he can work out his timing issues he could be special. Pat brings a scrambling element to the game that Ben doesn't posses, but his accuracy when throwing is really no better. Thompson might be able to step up in a pinch, but would you really put the offense in the hands of a red-shirt freshman walk-on? Hopefully, it doesn't come down to that and this offense irons out its problems. Otherwise, it could be a very long season.
I mostly agree with CPB, except for the part about pressure being on Norvell. The buck ultimately stops with Dorrell on this issue. Dorrell has banked on Olson for the last few years. It is his responsibility that we have a freshman walk-on backing him up, while the other option, were he to be healthy, is not exactly a BCS level QB.

I give Cowan a lot of credit for showing moxie at certain moments. However, I am just not sure if he is the answer based on what I saw last season. As CPB pointed out above, his accuracy is not all that much better and he simply doesn't have Olson's ability to throw the ball.

And, people who are making the absurd comparison between Paus and Olson should take a look at these clips again:



Can someone point to any game in which Paus showed that kind of touch and accuracy in his throws.

Moreover, I don't want to read gossips about Olson not being a team player and that his team-mates don't respect him based on info from practice groupies. If you have read this blog for a while, you know I don't care much about the information coming from practice groupies. That info is mostly worthless. I have been lurking on various UCLA message boards long enough to remember reading practice report posts from 2000, when people were saying Cory Paus was showing "Cade"-like leadership qualities at Spalding Field. So please don't bring that bullsh!t here.

And, also, about the assertion that Olson is afraid to take a hit, again we must have been watching different games last season. IIRC, there were moments when Olson showed no fear in getting out of the pocket and taking hits from the defense.

So put away the concern about Olson. If you are going to hyperventilate about his game without focusing on the sh!tty playcalling and pine for some dude who played huge roles in blowing games at Notre Dame and Florida State, please take that whine somewhere else. You are going to sound just like those clueless, blowhard losers during the Lavin era, who took their frustrations out on a wonderful kid like Cedric Bozeman, instead of focusing on the obvious culprit posing as a head coach on the UCLA sidelines. Ced turned out to be an amazing (legendary in my book) Bruin.

I believe Ben can have Ced's ending, if he is coached up, inspired just like Ced was under Ben Howland. And if he doesn't get that kind of coaching, it would be a travesty if UCLA continues to let a "head coach" like Karl Dorrell waste talents like him next year in Westwood.

GO BRUINS.