I don't want to dwell on last night's loss too much. Predictably there is a lot meltdown going on over at message boards where posters still can't deal with the dose of reality of a team playing with a third string quarterback behind a decimated and patchwork offensive line. The 4-7 record at this point of the season is not a surprise to lot of us. We fully expected this at the beginning of this season. As I said in the comment threads despite these gloomy rebuilding times, I expect this team to have a modest turn around year next season (hopefully getting 8 wins), setting it up for a good year(s) CRN's third and fourth seasons. This will require a lot of patience and relentless optimism, and I will do my part to keep supplying it here on BN.
I am not going to get into Kevin Craft's problems. At this point I am not even shocked any more. I am not going to dump on this kid any more because the whole (Bruin) world can see what has been going on the entire season. Hopefully though after last night we will never have to hear from Tom Craft again.
I am not frustrated with Chow or Neuheisel because I will defer to their track record on QB development and judgement on who they think is the best option for our team this season. My main question for Chow and Neuheisel is about our running back situation. It's bugging me a bit re. why Bell continues to get more carries than Derrick Coleman. The numbers were pretty obvious even last night. Coleman rushed for 43 yards in 3 carries, Bell had 24 in 12. For the season, Coleman has 285 yards in 52 carries (5.5 average) while Bell has 358 in 126 carries (averaging 2.8). I get that Bell might be in for protection purposes and blocking schemes, but at this point how much is he really helping? I am not getting it and its probably the main question I have for CRN and his offensive staff.
As for post game comments, CRN stepped up and took responsibility:
"I don't know why the turnover bug keeps biting us, but the entire offense takes responsibility," UCLA coach Rich Neuheisel said. "That's coaches first, players second."
As for the players, Kahlil Bell was disgusted with the offense's performance:
"We can't ask our defense to play any better," UCLA running back Kahlil Bell said. "Offensively, as a unit, I don't know what we need to do, but we need to stop talking about it and stop all the rah-rah and stuff. If we don't step it up and figure out a way to make that happen, it's going to be an embarrassing Saturday next week."
"It was a great defensive game," linebacker Reggie Carter said. "They didn't score a touchdown on me. I really can't pout about it. We could have got more turnovers and taken them to the house, but we can't be mad about it."
They have no reason to pout considering the kind of performance they put together on national TV last night:
The scoring barrage by ASU's defense overshadowed another splendid game by UCLA's defensive unit, which allowed just 122 yards -- the lowest since giving up 42 to Arkansas in the 1989 Cotton Bowl. UCLA gave up just 21 rushing yards.
To say that they were impressive would be an understatement. Absolutely fantastic job by DeWayne Walker, whose stock is going up after two great performances in this tail end of the season, signaling the clear and discernible development of a young/exciting defense.
I wanted to single out couple of players for having great nights after going through a lot of adversity during their UCLA careers:
- Michael Norris: We talked about Norris a lot during the game thread last night. It's not a stretch to say the kid has been a weak link in our secondary this year. There is a reason the opposing QBs kept throwing at his direction all year this year. Yet he has hung in there. Norris had the best night of his Bruin career. He finished the night with a team leading 5 solo tackles and 1 interception. He got beat once in a while during coverage, but he was recovering well and staying with his man and flashed a little speed when he picked off a bad Carpenter pass after getting beat early. You have to feel great for this kid who has been maligned a lot this year.
- Marcus Everett: The Bruin senior finished the night with team leading 8 catches for 75 yards. You have to like Marcus trying to finish his UCLA career strong and giving everything he has after the unfortunate injury issues have wiped away his two attemps at having a good senior season.
Both Norris and Everett are examples of great kids not giving up through adversity.They have been fighting, scratching, and clawing, leaving everyting on the field. We will need that attitue to prevail through the entire team for them to make us proud next Saturday.