Guess the storyline of this week is going to whether UCLA offense is going to be able to get its passing game going to complement its rushing attack during the Pac-10 conference season. As bluebland pointed out in his fanpost, the Bruins need to put together a "dynamic offense," they will have to come up with additional 150-200 yards per game to compete against other explosive Pac-10 offenses rest of this season. Coach Rick Neuheisel agrees with that point:
"[ I] believe we're going to have to throw the ball. I know how competitive this conference is. I know we're going to have to throw it with some measure of success and we've got to start showing we can do it."
That said I am not sure our coaches should feel forced and compelled to chuck the ball around to bump up the team's passing stats. It all comes down to game planning for individual opponents and how the game itself is dictating the tempo of the game.
I like the fact that the coaches are being a little more deliberate in operating this offense for few reasons. First, it appeared to me from the first two games that Kevin Prince was having issues with his pre-snap reads and making the right call to either run or throw the ball. Second, the no huddle strategy in our first two games wasn't helping us on eating up the clock and conversely leaving our D out on the field for too long. I have enjoyed the commitment to run the ball using revolver as the base formation. I think we should stick to that commitment to run as the foundation of our version of the revolver offense and build our passing attack leveraging that strength.
At this point instead of worrying about dramatically increase our passing stats (not saying anyone here feels that way, it's more the sense we will probably get from the tradmed types, always looking for cheap storylines), what the coaches need to do is to build on the foundation they have set in last two games to loosen up the opposing secondary.
Here is what Neuheisel said about his offensive strategy (emphasis added throughout):
"My instincts say yes, we need to force ourselves to throw the ball a little more but there's lots of weapons in football," Neuheisel said.
"One of them is ball control, another one of them is field position. By the ability to control the clock and control the field position you can cause the other team to become a little bit more impatient and I just don't want to force the issue of throwing the football because of my background and because I love to throw the football. ... I want to make sure we're doing what it takes to win football games and each game presents a different set of circumstances as to what the strategy should be. And the strategy changes over the course of the game.
Yeah, I get that some guys are not all that enamored with the idea of ball control and field positioning as "weapons" but that's too bad. I always have appreciated that strategy because after all when it came down to it legendary Bill Walsh's WCO offense was all about "ball control" based on a rhythmic balanced offensive attacked built on passing. If Norm Chow and Rick Neuheisel, who have been believer of that type of offense all their lives, are working to build a mirror opposite offense which is all a rhythmic balanced attacked built on running, I have no problem with that.
"We now need to figure out how to keep some balance to the operation," Neuheisel said. "...But you have to ask yourself at what point am I taking away from what has been kind of our calling card in these last two victories which is smash mouth, hardnosed, physical football where the other team knows it's a bare knuckled fight every down. You don't want to get so fancy that you're losing that aspect because as the games wore on in each of those contests there was a point where you had taken control."
Right. After two games, UCLA seems to be emerging with an identity we were all clamoring for following the Stanford debacle. I don't think the coaches need to deviate dramatically from it just for the need to jump start its passing attack.
I think UCLA should continue to work on perfecting it's zone blocking schemes and unleashing it's three running backs supplemented with on the ground production from the F-Back spot and QB himself. If Bruins continue to commit to that mindset, I think our offense will find down field opportunities with our receivers, who might have an easier time getting separation as DBs will worry more and more about containing our running game. BTW coaches please no play action calls on obvious passing downs. HT rb bruin for that reminder which I had in my rough game notes (while watching the game on Sat).
For his past Kevin Prince doesn't seem all that perturbed about his passing stats and seems confident about getting the passing game "back on track":
Prince talked about continuing to work on our revolver offense and adding "new wrinkles" in the coming weeks. I think as Prince gets more in sync with the team through practices and game experience in this formation, the offense will start clicking in all phases.
While comparisons to Nevada makes sense as a reference point, we have to keep in mind after all Chris Ault actually invented this offense so his players were working from slightly different vantage point. I will be more interested in seeing how our offense operates in our last 4 games and then compared it teams like Nevada who have been running it for years. This will require patience from all of us.
I also really liked Prince's comments about the team not "freaking out" after their big wins in last two games, just the same way they didn't "freak out" following the 0-2 start.
BTW notice all the questions about his moment with the trainer. Guess that was coming from Jill Painter, who "reported" that UCLA trainer Jimmy Smuda "is catching heat from fans for wanting to further examine Prince." Uhm, I am not sure where Painter got that impression because I certainly didn't get that sense from reading comments here and also on BRO. It'd be helpful if she actually provided links and references when making references to "fans." Otherwise, it comes across as another fantasy of hers when she wrote Pete Carroll "is everything that's right about college football". Yes, she did.
Anyway, we will end with a note on what CRN has been doing to get the guys focused this week:
Washington State ranks near the bottom of major college football in nearly every statistical category, offense and defense. Neuheisel, though, is preaching the apocalypse to his players, even reading them disparaging e-mails he received from fans after the Bruins' 35-0 loss to Stanford two weeks ago.
Hey, if CRN is looking for more bits from fans to fire up his players, we'd be happy to send links to comments from our threads. Better yet he can share the "cleansing thread" we will probably put up later this week.