Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pac Ten Alley

We head into the UCLA game with a 2-1 record, and a little bitterness because of some lost opportunities last weekend. UCLA on the other hand is absolutely reeling after being blown out on the road by a decided underdog. I wouldn't have predicted a Utah victory after watching the Ute's get run into the ground by Oregon State earlier this year. UCLA for all intents, and purposes came in flat, and tanked the game.

When you look at this UCLA team on paper you have to like what you see, but I was unimpressed with them in their two victories over Stanford, and BYU. They let Stanford stay in the game way too long, and they had to hold off BYU at the end to come up with a win. you factor in what happened in Salt Lake City and you come to the conclusion that this is a poorly motivated team with lots of talent that hasn't been coached very well.

The UCLA offense is purely West Coast, but I like to call it West Coast Conservative because they fail to stretch the field. That conservatism has held them back since Dorrell has been head coach. Jay Norvell was brought in to open it up a bit this year, but Utah exposed them, and with a little pressure forced them into a multitude of mistakes. The Bruins had ten penalties in the game, and that is a sign of an undisciplined team.

When you lose 44-6 it has to have a demoralizing effect on your team. Can UCLA bounce back after such a thrashing? It is going to be interesting to see how the Bruins react on Saturday. If past history is any indicator this team isn't going to come back well. To me it looks like Dorrell has lost control of the team, and when the attitude plunges in Los Angeles, and the beaches and coeds beckon, you are a program in trouble.

Injuries are another trouble spot for this Bruin team. They could have 5-6 key players out, or limited this week. They are even considering playing a true frosh on the defensive line who was just cleared to play after review by the NCAA clearinghouse. Not a pretty picture is it?

It got a little worse on Tuesday evening when word leaked out of Los Angeles that QB Ben Olson could possibly miss the game on Saturday with a concussion. Pat Cowan hasn't practiced much with a hamstring injury but was taking reps with the #1's on Tuesday. If Olson is not practicing by Thursday, Dorrell said he would not play.

How do you recruit so well, and play so terrible? Well like I said yesterday, maybe the Bruins are paying more attention to star rating than film. UCLA has a huge recruiting advantage being in Southern California, and maybe they aren't evaluating well. I mean when you sign your entire 2008 class before the opening whistle of the 2007 season you might be missing on a few things.

Another area of concern is simply development. For the amount of talent the Bruins have they don't improve as much as they should. This is a senior, and experience dominated team that was recruited, and developed almost entirely by Dorrell. Why aren't they getting better? There is no reason to get blown out on the road against a MWC opponent that has an injury list longer than yours.

A widely reported statistic after the game: Dorrell's teams have lost 11 games when they were favored.

Conference Notes

Here is a little snide LA snippet directed at UW.

Washington was an annoying 5-7 team in 2006 -- ask the Bruins, who blew a 16-0 lead in a 29-19 loss. There is no reason to believe the Huskies are any different this season. The Buckeyes rolled up 481 total yards, and Washington quarterback Jake Locker had three passes intercepted.

This is a very sad story concerning husky great Dave Pear.

Dave Pear's speech is halting and he stumbles through his thoughts even though he has a spiral-bound binder of notes in his hands to prompt him. He repeats himself at times and gets frazzled with a brain that simply won't cooperate after too many concussions from his days on the football field.

Nathan Ware of the PI Original Dawgblawg chimes in with an offensive strategy session.

Washington knows what they want to be when they grow up: a big play offense with good balance between running and passing. Unfortunately, with such a young quarterback, it's hard to expect that right now. After all, Locker has only played three games and he's been relied upon to create the entire offensive flow.

The return of USC's rushing game isn't good news for Pac Ten opponents.

USC's performance was not as convincing as LSU's 48-7 victory over Virginia Tech on Sept. 8, but it was still impressive considering the environment -- a Memorial Stadium crowd of 84,959 awash in red -- and the magnitude of the matchup in Nebraska, a state yearning for a football renaissance.

ASU doesn't impress me either...yet.

The Sun Devils have taken care of business by beating three inferior clubs, the latest mismatch a 34-13 victory over San Diego State Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium. ASU’s 3-0 start, even against a soft schedule, shouldn’t be taken for granted. Considering the rash of upsets that have hit college football — UCLA was humbled by Utah on Saturday — any win is a good win.

Oregon was impressive as the Register Guard points out.

A rivalry game that hadn't been decided by more than a touchdown in recent years was instead decided in little more than a quarter this time. And with Oregon now 3-0, with a scoring margin of 139-55, it's time to wonder how good these Ducks can be.

The are writing about Stanford again in the Bay Area.

Stanford's first win under new coach Jim Harbaugh, its first victory in its not-so-new stadium and its first shutout in 11 years were overshadowed by a potentially more significant development Saturday night: Toby Gerhart became the first Stanford rusher to hit the 100-yard mark in three years.

Pac Ten Alley

Well it is that time again to take a walk down the coast and see what the neighbors are up to.

We start off with this weeks opponent UCLA, and I bet you can guess what the topic is.... Nestor, by the way, you got a little play in the Seattle Times this week from Bob Condotta.

Considering how absolutely awful we looked against Utah, it wouldn't seem likely that we could still win eight or nine games. But we are simply not as bad as we looked--almost no team is as bad or as good as their last game. Obviously, I overrated our team, and particularly our quarterback. And even I underrated just how bad our head coach is. (You'll be happy to know that I finally decided against betting the "over" on season wins, and decided to play it game by game. With the Utah odds so high--7 to 1!--a wager was prohibitive, so I am literally minus $1 on UCLA so far, and consider myself very lucky). But there is still talent on hand--it didn't just go away. And perhaps Pat Cowan will be back in a week or two, and he'll change the dynamic, and we'll be at least as good as last year, with an easier schedule. Maybe I'm just girding myself for the possibility of having to see Dorrell around for another year, but would it be that surprising if we beat Washington at home, Oregon State at Corvallis, and then Notre Dame here? If we did that, we would be 5-1, with all the "Blues" solidly back on the bandwagon, and the team full of confidence once again Now, I don't know if any of that would be enough against Cal or Oregon. It certainly wouldn't seem to be against Southern Cal. I would figure that 9-3 is the best we could hope for, and it could get much worse than that, depending on possible internal friction. And it may well be that a loss as devastating as Saturday's cannot be recovered from. But we've seen Donahue's teams get humiliated, and good old Terry bounce back for one of his patented 7-3-1 campaigns. We saw Lavin get massacred at Maples, and destroyed at Durham, and at the end of the year he was still standing. This may well be different, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Ohio State's Todd Boeckman relives the play that broke Washington's back. Once again, hats off to Ohio State.

"Toughness is a big part of being a quarterback," Boeckman said. "You've just got to stand there and make those plays happen, and make the guys believe in you." He did just that Saturday on a first-half pass to Brian Hartline at Washington. The television audience and the 74,000 people in Husky Stadium could see that Boeckman was a sitting duck for a linebacker hellbent on delivering a hit. Boeckman could see it, too, but he didn't wince. He stood until he saw the whites of the linebacker's eyes, then he fired a strike to Hartline. "The 'backer came right up the middle, nobody touched him, and I took a shot," Boeckman said. "It is always kind of nice to know you can take that hit and still deliver the ball."

Wyoming is complaining that Boise State piped in some crowd noise. That is similar to saying there are wind currents in the Carrier Dome.

One of the more strange things to come out of the Boise State-Wyoming game was Cowboys coach Joe Glenn’s complaints about noise being piped in at Bronco Stadium. Glenn said the noise was audible in the first half, but not the second. He said: “That’s not right.You don’t do that stuff. That’s against the law, against the rules.” One of the team’s main complaints was about the stampede/horse noises that play sometimes before opponents have a third down. The noise can be played until a team breaks its huddle. Since the Cowboys mostly go out of a no-huddle offense, most of the problem stemmed from that. Chris Petersen addressed it Monday, saying: “I think that our crowd is so awesome, and so loud that that’s the problem. The problem for them was the crowd.”

USC had no problem putting away Nebraska. the Trojans got the style points they needed to stay #1.

USC scored only 28 points on Nebraska last year, and Nebraska's defensive group is better than a year ago. That bodes well for the Huskers, he reckoned, agreeing with many Nebraska fans' thinking that if USC lost to Oregon State a year ago, and the Huskers are better than Oregon State, well . . . .

ASU has it's first true test of the year against Oregon State this week. We will find out exactly how good both of these teams are after this one. I have serious doubts about ASU, I am not buying that they are back after a easy pre conference schedule.

Erickson wants Arizona State (3-0), a 12-point favorite, to realize that the Beavers (2-1) are closer to the team that routed the Sun Devils 44-10 last year, even with a new quarterback. Oregon State is second nationally in rushing defense and 13th in total defense. ASU is 13th in rushing defense and sixth in total defense.

Oregon was impressive in it's win over Fresno State. The most impressive aspect may have been the rush defense.

While Dixon threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, Jonathan Stewart ran for 165 yards. Stewart scored two touchdowns, including a flashy 88-yard dash (pictured) to the end zone, and the Ducks (3-0) outrushed the Bulldogs 307-60. Stewart's 88 yard scoring run was the longest ever at Autzen Stadium, and it was the longest for a Ducks player for a TD since Bob Smith ran 92 yards for a score against Idaho in 1938. "The sky's the limit right now. This offense is really clicking," Dixon said.

Arizona has surprised most pundits by under performing this season. I'm not surprised, whenever you retool an offense, expect problems.

Arizona’s football program had high expectations heading into the season, and the players still do. But few on the Wildcat roster expected Arizona to be 1-2 heading into the Pac-10 opener at California. “We are very shocked,” UA receiver Delashaun Dean said. “I think everybody expected us to be 3-0 coming into Pac-10 play. As a team we know things happen and the ball is not going to roll in your court and you have to stay positive and stay focused.”

Stanford got a big monkey off it's back beating SJSU. Tomey isn't amused at all because this was the opportunity to stick a fork in the Stanford revival. ASU's victory over SJSU doesn't seem like that big of a deal anymore.

Don’t know if you’ve seen or heard about San Jose State Coach Dick Tomey’s postgame handshake with Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh. If you could even call it a handshake. It was more like a no-look stiff-arm. If Tomey’s players had shown that kind of fire, SJSU might not have lost 37-0.

Oregon State gets ready to face old head coach Dennis Erickson and ASU.

Next Monday will mark the one year anniversary of the first meeting between Mike Riley and Dennis Erickson as opposing collegiate head coaches. Riley won the first match up 38-0, but Dennis was with the Idaho Vandals. This year, Erikson had a talented group at Arizona State, and hopes to get payback for last year.

Cal can score on anyone, but if they want to beat USC this year they better get a lot better on defense. Injuries on defense are not helping them.

Although Cal's football team suddenly has serious concerns about its defensive depth, the Bears will head into Pac-10 play this week with a No.6 national ranking. Cal (3-0) climbed two spots to No.6 in The Associated Press poll on Sunday after a 42-12 home victory over Louisiana Tech. Former No.6 Texas (3-0) fell to No.7 after a 35-32 win over Central Florida, and former No.7 Wisconsin (3-0) fell to No.9 after a 45-31 win over The Citadel. Cal remained No.8 in the USA Today coaches poll. It's the Bears' highest ranking since they were No.4 in 2004, but the team has no time to bask in the glory after suffering three significant injuries on defense Saturday. Starting defensive linemen Matt Malele and Rulon Davis were on crutches with foot injuries at Cal's conditioning practice Sunday night, and although the players weren't expected to undergo an MRI until today, defensive coordinator Bob Gregory isn't counting on having either back anytime soon.

Brinkhater is unimpressed by another ho hum WSU victory because "reality" is coming this weekend riding a big white horse, a maroon skirt, and a golden helmet.

Hope you are all still basking in the glow of the 45-28 who-cares-fest that was Saturday night...Don't know about you all, but watching that game was like putting various body parts in a vice and just tightening, tightening, and tightening......So, as we head into the conference slate and this weekend's game against CONQUEST, here are a few takes (and please add yours) regarding the upcoming game and conference tilt.

Hawaii is playing someone called Charleston Southern this week, not exactly the way to prepare if you want to go to a BCS Bowl at the end of the year.

"I thought the overall scheme was settled and got going. I could see an attitude start to happen now. Hopefully we are going to start taking the ball away a little bit more. The only thing that we have fallen short, we have had a lot of chances and hands on the ball and we have not been coming down with them. The second we start coming down with then it will snowball. Greg has gotten to do what he wants them to do. We are playing hard, I thought Ryan Mouton did some good things, he will get on the field more, the linebackers were flying around too."


dcdawg said...

have you read the interview with Tim Meamber over at Dawgman? Great interview, and although I suppose Tim could be wrong about what he saw during the game, assuming he's right, it doesn't give me much confidence in Tormey/Baer's coaching. Should we be worried about this? Is Lambo too old to come back and wear the coaching pants again? He wasn't a great head coach, but man, he's the best special teams/D-coordinator I've ever seen.

Health Insurance Expert said...

He makes a very good point about reading the guards when you are playing a predominate running team. All the action starts with those guys as they start pulling them. You would also think one of the coaches up in the box would be reading that, and making adjustments accordingly since they all know the Ohio State offense.

Tim played over twenty years ago, and things have changed to a certain degree because most teams simply don't line them up, and run over you anymore.

When he played the "I" formation was king, not the West Coast, or Spread offenses. Tim also had extremely strong support behind him which this team does not have. The Huskies are playing gap to protect the DB's behind them. You all saw what happened to Vonzell on a play when he was left unprotected didn't you?

What Tim say's though has plenty of merit, and should be considered by the coaches, especially Tormey who just happened to have benn one of Tim's coaches. Keeping an eye on the guards and mixing that with your other reads is very doable. Trapping by the way is a very good way to take on young linebackers. When it is working it is a thing of beauty.

Tim had his chance at a coaching career, Lambright brought him back as a GA, but it didn't work out because of extreme personal problems.

Meamber by the way while on the field has to go down as one of the best LB's we have ever had. He played with a lot of emotion.

Is Lambo too old, no, Jim could still help out as an advisor or coach if they wanted him to, but he is happy doing what he is doing. Jim was a great DC, and a fantastic guy. you have to remember that Jim has been out of the game for quite some time.

Should we be worried about this?

No, times have changed, offenses have changed, and while Tim brings up some good food for thought he is looking at things from a 1984 perspective, not a 2007 one.

I will give him this, he was correct about it on Saturday against OSU, but we won't play another OSU type team again this year.

prrbrr said...

So with Utah's blowout of UCLA, are we in the same position as Ore was when they played Mich? That is, win and so what, we beat a team that got hammered by Utah (App St). Lose and we lost to a team that was hammered by a lower level Mtn West (D1aa) team.
The UCLA injuries also don't hold much water, nor the fact that Ben Olson may not start. Too many times we have played a banged up UCLA without their starting QB, and we know the results in the RB.
That said, if UCLA oes play the true freshman at DT, with only 5 collegiate practices, I say run plays with misdirection and right at him and see what happens. Practice reports are that he is pretty good, but we owe it to ourselves to find out how good.
Wnen I saw Meamber at practice, you could tell it
hurt him to walk, all that banging around as a young guy eventually catches up.

Health Insurance Expert said...

I don't think UCLA is as bad as they played last week, but I also think they are a team with a lot of problems that we can take advantage of. They remind me of 2002 Washington.

Ty's teams actually play better on the road than they do at home, so I don't think the Rose Bowl jinx will hurt us this time.

dcdawg said...

Thanks for that, very informative. I was kidding (mostly) about bringing Lambright back. Who are the greatest UW inside linebackers ever? Meamber, Hoffman, Michael Jackson? Probably other contenders before my time, and maybe I'm forgetting someone more recent, but it seems like that's one of the few positions where UW has had very few elite players over the years.

Health Insurance Expert said...

Hey DC, me at, have a little more information that I can't post here.