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Pregame Guesses: Arizona

May be the Halos will bring some good karma to BN this weekend? They are not done yet.

As for our boys, three up, three down. The funny thing about a three game winning streak against inferior opponents is that it masks your flaws. Beating bad teams, winning ugly -- these things don't matter when you're 3-0. We fans start looking at the rest of the schedule and deciding things like "Hey, we should beat Stanford and the Oregon and Cal games are at home and didn't Oregon lose to Boise State and our defense looks good so we should be able to contain Jahvid Best ... "

Well, we didn't beat Stanford and we looked bad against Oregon and even worse against Cal.

But the funny thing about a three game losing streak is that it magnifies your flaws. Losing to some pretty good teams force fans to not only acknowledge reality, but it leads them into finger pointing and over-analysis.

My hope here is to do neither. My hope is to point up some hard truths. I actually tried to do the same thing with the "Bye Week Guesses / Asterisk" post, thought I'm not sure how successful I was.

Real Fact #1: We are starting a freshman quarterback.

Yes, USC is rolling along with a true freshman at quarterback. And I'm sure someone could find another true or redshirt freshman quarterback who is doing well. But they are exceptions, not the rule. The reality is, experienced quarterbacks have historically been more successful in the Pac 10.

And we don't have an experienced quarterback.

And Kevin Prince is not Matt Barkley.

Kevin Prince is a kid who due to a knee injury barely played his senior season of high school football and who didn't play a down last year while Kevin Craft tried to perfect his tackling technique. Prince won a fall quarterback battle against a true freshman, Richard Brehaut who was so ready to play that the coaches used Craft when Prince was injured. Speaking of that injury, I am of the belief that Prince's broken jaw derailed the progress he may have been making and seriously set him back.

Real Fact #2: The offensive line is still a work in progress.

I'm disinterested in rehashing the Karl Dorrell era and I think I'm loathe to lay the blame for the current situation entirely at his feet. He's gone and it is Rick Neuheisel's job to win with what he's got to work with. But, there is no doubt at all that Dorrell's failure to recruit quality offensive linemen is having a devastating affect on the current team.

What's that?

You want me to stop?

"Achilles," you're saying, "The offense isn't the problem, it's the defense. It was the defense that crashed and burned against Cal."

This is true.

The defense hasn't been good.

But I'm not sure what the "real facts" are as they apply to the defense.

Subjectively, some of the players we hoped would have great seasons, aren't having great seasons. It's not enjoyable to name names when it comes to the players, but Alterraun Verner is not having a great season. Reggie Carter has not been good the past few games, he looks like he's over-pursuing everything. Sheldon Price has not been great either, but he's a true freshman and I (and this is lame) like his effort.

When it comes to explaining the failure of the defense against Cal, I'm at a loss.

Back to reality:

The overall reality is that this team is a work in progress. This program is a work in progress. We weren't nearly as good as the "we should be ranked" dreams some experienced after sweeping the non-conference schedule and we're not as bad as some feel we are now. This has always been a 5-7 / 7-5 at best season and that's still on track.

Before tossing out the guesses, I want to note one other thing:

Among the fans who don't read this blog so much, there is sometimes the impression that this site was all over Karl Dorrell from Day One and that the editors of this site and other blogs had it in for him from the moment he was hired. This is false, though it might be true that there was some healthy skepticism from the start. But the "we need a new coach" stuff from the original editors of this site did not start until the last three games of his second season.

Conversely, there are some Bruin message boards where fans actually think of themselves as the voices of reason. And in the last couple of weeks, the vitriol and rhetoric (not based on broad data points) being spewed by some of their contributors is far, far worse six games into Rick Neuheisel's sedond season than anything the founders of this community had to say at a similar point in Karl Dorrell's time in Westwood.

My only point, really, is that I plan on demonstrating patience with the program for the time being. We weren't that good a month ago, we're not that bad right now. Let's see how it plays out.

Here are the Pregame Guesses for Arizona:

  1. Within 20 yards, how many passing yards will Kevin Prince amass?
  2. Which team -- Arizona or UCLA -- will rush for more yards?
  3. Within 3 yards, what will be the distance of Kai Forbath's longest field goal? If you don't think he'll have a field goal (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) just say none.