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The Morning After, Part Three: Texas

UCLA Bruin fans have every right to be thrilled with last night's win. They also have every right to still be plenty concerned about this football program.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Ignorance is bliss.

-  a quote from every happy Trojan

A funny thing happened last night on the way to the National Championship.

Ok, maybe I'm getting ahead of things, and I'm on the East Coast right now, so I was up writing this even later than I typically am, but either way, it's becoming clearer and clearer that I don't know what's going on with this team. But one thing I do know is that the early part of the U.C.L.A. football season continues to be full of surprises.

Surprises like our place kicker nailing what turned out to be a hugely important FG from beyond 40 yards. Surprises like our much-maligned offensive line running the ball down the Longhorns' throats in the second half last night. Surprises like the Bruins committing 4 penalties all night. Surprises like the Bruins winning a game with our Heisman candidate QB wearing headsets and signaling in plays. And surprises like a different Jerry owning Jerry's World last night with a thrilling last minute comeback win, featuring an heroic and clutch effort that ranks with the deeds of John Barnes, Pat Cowan, and well, Rick Neuheisel.

It was awesome. And considering how Virginia looked yesterday and how Boston College looked last night, things feel pretty great with our football team right now.

And that's where ignorance tries to steal its way into our minds.

I'm sorry to be the buzz kill, but there is the little thing called reality we still need to deal with.

I don't think we know what sort of team we have yet. And that lack of knowledge is anything but blissful to me.

I thought Achilles' pregame guesses this week was right on the nose. For a die-hard Bruin fan, knowing this team and this program is part of life. It's like breathing and eating and sleeping.

Before the season, I was pretty sure I knew what this team was: a team coming off a 10-3 season and final #16 ranking with a Heisman contender at QB and key players returning a year smarter with upgrades at many positions and seemingly only minor drop-offs where we had some pretty special players. We had a very good team with the pieces and opportunity to be an elite team with a legit look at a truly memorable season. It was a comforting place.

Then the games against Virginia and Memphis happened and made me question all those beliefs, and the abrupt resultant uncertainty was pretty unsettling. And as exciting as last night's game was, it really didn't do much to answer the big picture questions about this program, and only some of that can be attributed to the unexpected change in the quarterback. Well, I guess I do know that last night's game notwithstanding, we do not have a quarterback controversy, and we should be getting ours back shortly while ASU may be missing theirs for a while. So there's that.

But as for today, let's face it; the Horns aren't very sharp right now. They already lost their QB and center and have a host of players suspended. They got beat down by 34 points a week ago. They won the coin toss and chose to kick when they meant to defer, which gave us the ball to start the second half, in effect, an extra possession. They mismanaged the clock with a lead late in the game, which gave us the luxury of sufficient time to either run or pass on the comeback drive and saved us from becoming one-dimensional. Texas hospitality was very good to us last night. So while winning is a good thing, it does not necessarily mean that the game was a good win.

I know we have a good team and that we have good coaches. The problem is that we want, or we should all want, to have a great team and great coaches. And for me, the jury is still out on whether we have that. Seeing how our backup quarterback played behind the OL in the second half gives me some hope that both will be just fine. The fact that we were in that position in the first place worries me a lot.  The truth is that we just don't know what team we have right now. That ignorance is not bliss. It's stressful.

We have over a week and a half before we have to go to Tempe and face reality again, but with a game like last night, at least the opposite is true: bliss can be very happily ignorant, if only for an evening.

And for much of a morning afterward, too.