I am a fan. I don't claim to know the intricacies of football, and appreciate the vast wealth of information that many of the members of Bruin Nation bring all year long. It has helped me enjoy the games even more, and also question the "reporting" from the media that I have spent my entire life (as a fan) relying upon for information, reference my favorite team. I hate losing more than most anyone I know (though over the years I have become more graceful at it), and have been willing to look for a scapegoat to vent my frustration upon. I have targeted Chuck Bullough on occasion.
A look at the points allowed thus far by Pac 10 defenses, however starts to illuminate a slightly different story.
Arizona State 122
Oregon State 123
Washington State 214
Of these teams, 4 have only played 4 games to date: Arizona, Cal, Oregon State, and Washington. I doubt, however, after this weekend, the five game totals will cause a change in the current position of the Pac 10 defenses. I then compared this defensive points allowed to the article that Patroclus has up on the front page. Based upon strength of schedule, a reasonable argument could be presented that only Stanford has played a more difficult schedule to date. The Bruins defense has allowed 23.8 PPG.
UCLA is replacing the entire defensive line from last year (due to injuries and graduation/NFL). , Per Bellerophon in July, "Datone Jones is the only returning starter in this group, but Chandler and Carter should get the job done." Jones is of course out with a broken foot. Nate Chandler and David Carter have been switched around on the line a bit. Also in July, Nestor wrote "No doubt there will be discouraging moments due to the collective lack of experience but there is enough talent in this unit to help the program move forward with more methodical progress this upcoming season." The loss of Datone Jones is huge.
UCLA now has the seventy-sixth ranked rush defense in the country. They have the sixty-fifth ranked pass defense. Total defense is 68, and points allowed is 64. All of these rankings place UCLA approximately in the middle of the Pac 10 when compared nationally.
Now none of this is acceptable. I believe that the Bruin defense should be performing better. UCLA gives up too many big plays, too many third down conversions. They allow for the opposition quarterbacks to sit in the pocket all day, generally on third and long, and either spot the open man or take off for the first down marker. Don't get me started on personal fouls. And I agree with Nestor, defensive backs would be a lot better suited playing with their mouth shut. I paraphrase Lou Holtz: when you make a defensive play, act like you've done it before.
More to the point of this fan post. Chuck Bullough's defense isn't scaring anyone. But I don't believe it's dreadful, either. Frustrating, yes, but dreadful, no. There is no starting experience on the line from last year, only one linebacker with significant starting experience from last year, and one corner who missed virtually all of last season with an injury, while the other was forced to start in his place (and considered a tackling liability last year). This in large measure is why I believe Bullough plays vanilla flavored defense much of the time. There are players playing new positions, little game experience at key positions, and just flat out problems of execution. I hate the 3 - 4, especially on third and long, but to further complicate the scheme could render a fairly average (and inexperienced) defense more likely to get beat deep. I loath bend but don't break defense, but this is a middle of the Pac(k) defense. I actually think that the defense is playing above some expectations, considering UCLA has been projected as a 5 win team, and picked as a Pac 10 eighth place finisher. There are two All Americans, and a lot of new faces around them. Sort of like last season against Oregon State for the Offense, I believe the defense will gel around mid season (which I hope starts Saturday).
Bullough is at times very unimaginative. And I don't see another program from around the country calling to see if he can fill the open vacancy at HC any time soon. But even last year, CRN said on The Dan Patrick that he should (CRN) should be past his grace period after this season. Chuck Bullough deserves the same. His defense is inconsistent, sometimes gives up big plays, and makes stupid mistakes. Kind of like the offense the last few seasons, and no reasonable person is calling for CNC's head. I am not comparing CCB and CNC, but the guy deserves enough time to get his system in place, too.