Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Taking a Close Look at UCLA

In four years at UCLA, coach Karl Dorrell has posted a 29- 21 record and a 1- 4 bowl mark. The Bruins' offense scored only 23.0 PPG in 2006. That resulted in the hiring of a Jay Norvell as the new offensive coordinator.

Norvell worked at Nebraska last season. He's the fourth offensive coordinator in five years. Look for UCLA to utilize the shotgun, use more complex schemes with various options and push for a more up-tempo game. Ten starters return to the offense. QB Ben Olsen (63.7% COMP, 822 YDs, 5 TDs, 5 INTs) started the season but was out with a knee injury. Patrick Cowan (52.5% COMP, 1,782 YDs, 11 TDs, 9 INTs) came in and proved to be adequate but not as mobile, strong or statistically sound.

Olsen is back and after a good spring camp will start again. TB Chris Markey's (35 REC, 261 YDs, 7.5 AVG, 0 TDs; 227 CAR, 1,107 YDs, 4.9 AVG, 2 TDs) primary job is carrying the ball, but he can also catch it. Senior SE Marcus Everett (31 REC, 450 YDs, 14.5 YDs, 5 TDs) heads a deep receiving unit. The line looks solid and aggressive.

On defense, a group that allowed only 19.9 PPG, the Bruins offer perhaps the best secondary in the conference. The linebackers are small but fast and able to make plays. The front line returns four solid seniors.

Last season the Bruins got off to a solid 5- 1 start and then lost four in a row. UCLA started off with wins against Stanford, and BYU, but trouble hit Dorrell and company early after getting absolutely pasted last week by decided underdog Utah 44-6 on the road. Utah by the way was killed in Corvallis only a couple weeks ago by a very one dimensional Oregon State squad. Utah took advantage of UCLA's mistakes, scoring 30 straight points to defeat the Bruins for the first time ever. UCLA didn't do much to help itself. The Bruins finished with 10 penalties, and they also turned the ball over five times.

How exactly does that happen?

For one thing the Bruin's aren't executing well at all on offense, and they just lost their two top lineman on each side of the ball to injury as they move into conference play. The Bruins say they were caught looking ahead to the conference schedule, and didn't take the Ute's seriously, but the margin of victory to a middling opponent points to serious problems that have nothing to do with looking ahead. UCLA's coaching staff has had way too much turnover during Dorrell's tenure, and as we have seen at UW turnover in coaches doesn't help develop players as they have to enter each Spring learning a new system rather than honing what they already know.

UCLA has been hit by some crippling early season injuries. Three of starters (Davis, Tevaga, and Everett) were hurt in the closing five minutes of the Utah game when the team is already behind by over 30 points. Doesn't sound like good coaching to me. DE Brigham Harwell will miss the game after being injured the previous week. LB Aaron Whittington looks to be out also after suffering a concussion. QB Patrick Cowan who has been out since camp with a bad ankle may be back this week.

Ben Olsen shoulders a lot of responsibility for the Utah loss even though there were Ute's in the backfield all day. Olsen should be getting better at this point, but it seems he is regressing because he doesn't see the whole field at this point in his career. What bout the offensive line made up of blue chip recruits, why can't they protect the quarterback against a middle of the road Mountain West team?

One thing that is interesting to point out is UCLA is basically done recruiting for 2008, and they are bringing in a full class. It makes me think that even though it is heavy on 4-5 star players that maybe the staff is missing something by not evaluating these players a little during their senior seasons. Dorrell seems a little like his old room mate Rick Neuheisel when it comes to evaluation.

Last week was a huge letdown for the men in powder blue, and you have to pin it on a fragmented coaching staff for not getting them to prepare better. We have been watching talented UCLA teams tank it in explicit fashion for years, and this one seems to have decided to head to the beaches of Santa Monica in September rather than October.

UCLA needs to bounce back this week or it is going to be a long final season for Coach Dorrell in Los Angeles.

What does this mean for Washington?

It means that we should have played them last week for one thing. UCLA is not as bad as it played, and they will regroup for the first conference game of the season. I have been saying for over a year now that Willingham, and Lappano own Dorrell and his staff, and they do, look at the past two years and you will see out manned Washington teams outplaying the Bruins each time.

LA games are big for the Husky program since a large amount of Husky players are from that area. Washington is going to have no problem getting up for this one at all. The Huskies knocked off the Bruins in convincing fashion last year in Seattle, and they almost knocked off the Trojans in the Coliseum. I think Washington is going to give these guys a game, and come out on top simply because they are a better coached team than UCLA.

Washington needs to get into the defensive backfield better this week to put pressure on Olsen. They also have to minimize the mistakes on offense that have hampered them the last six quarters. UW hasn't been the same on offense since the second half of the Boise game started, and they need to play a lot cleaner. If UW minimizes the mistakes they can head into the USC game with a 3-1 record.

UCLA leads the all-time series 35-29-2 and has dominated of late, winning eight of the past 10 games. The Bruins have not lost at home since 1995, but the Huskies came close the last time they visited the Rose Bowl. In 2005, the Huskies held a 17-7 fourth-quarter lead before UCLA scored 14 points for the win. Maurice Drew scored a 1-yard touchdown with just over a minute to play to clinch the win. Washington turned the tables at Husky Stadium in 2006. Trailing 16-0, the Huskies mounted a comeback, inspired the crowd and won 20-19.

When Huskies coach Tyrone Willingham came to Washington and played UCLA for the first time in 2005, it marked the first time two black head coaches squared off in a Pac-10 game. At the time, there was just one other black coach heading a major NCAA football program. The series between the two coaches is even at 1-1.

Everything you ever wanted to know about UCLA

The University of California, Los Angeles (generally known as UCLA) is a public university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. Established as a branch of the state university in 1919, it is the second-oldest general-purpose campus in the University of California system and has the largest enrollment of any university in the state.

UCLA's athletic teams, the Bruins, have won 121 national championships, including 100 NCAA team championships as of 2007—more than any other university in the country.

The school's sports teams are called the Bruins, with colors "true blue" (an official shade of blue) and gold. The Bruins participate in NCAA Division I-A as part of the Pacific Ten Conference. Two notable sports facilities serve as home venues for UCLA sports. The Bruin men's football team plays home games at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California; the team won a national title in 1954. The men's and women's basketball and men's and women's volleyball teams, and the gymnastics team (women's) play at Pauley Pavilion on campus. The school also sponsors men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, women's rowing, men's and women's golf, men's and women's tennis, and men's and women's water polo.

When Henry "Red" Sanders came to UCLA to coach football in 1949, the uniforms were redesigned. Sanders added a gold loop on the shoulders—the UCLA Stripe. The navy blue was changed to a lighter shade of blue. Sanders figured that the baby blue would look better on the field and in film. He dubbed the baby blue uniform "Powder Keg Blue".

UCLA shares a traditional sports rivalry with the nearby University of Southern California. USC is generally perceived as the dominant football team, while UCLA tends to succeed in basketball. In football, USC has 11 Division I national champion teams, and 35 Pacific Coast Conference titles. UCLA has one national champion team, and 16 conference titles. Under John Wooden, UCLA became a dominating power in men's basketball, winning 11 NCAA championships, against USC's none.

The origin is unclear, but the rivalry most likely started when football Hall of Fame coach Red Sanders led UCLA to dominance in the 1950s. USC, long before established as the reigning power, diverted its attention from then-rival University of Notre Dame, and the rivalry began. Games between the two schools have no official name, but the week preceding it is known as "Blue and Gold Week" (formerly "Beat 'SC Week"). During this week, students participate in traditions known throughout the UCLA student body, with activities such as a blood drive aptly titled "Get the Red Out", a beat USC car smash, and a parade ending with a bonfire at the bottom of Janss Steps.


prrbrr said...

HIE, LOL on your everything you wanted to know about UCLA.Thanks for confirming that Los Angeles is still in the United States, although there are amny here who think it is still part of Mexico. We must beat these guys, I am still waiting since 1995.

Health Insurance Expert said...

I love the location of UCLA, but that may be part of the problem why their football team fades each year. Too many warm weather distractions.

Prrbrr, we are playing a talented team in serious trouble this week. They may regroup, circle the wagons, and destroy us.

Consensus thought though is the coaching staff has lost control of the team, and they don't have a lot of leadership. Too many position coaching changes, and a way to easy to read offense.

Washington hasn't had a problem with that offense by the way despite having a lot less talent and depth over the past few years.

prrbrr said...

HIE, I agree with you we will win this game. My nagging doubts are caused by years of heartbreak. I have seen us win at the RB vs UCLA only twice since 1985. Several times we were playing a decided underdog, remember when UCLA was playing their 4th string Center and 3rd string QB.I saw the JJ Stokes, DeShawn Foster, Cade McNown torchings. I saw the botched blocked punt which we illegally touched and sucked the life out of the team, not to mention the loss with TUI in OT. I am tired of UCLA players having record setting days vs my Dawgs. We never beat Matt Moore as a QB, at UCLA and Ore St. Nor Drew Olson.OTOH, Ben Olsen has never beaten us. I hope you are right that KD has lost this team. My hopes lie in their 3rd OC in 3 years will do them in. For some reason tho, these guys always seem to play well against us at the RB. Maybe it has something to do with so many kids from here playing in front of their extended families and friends. We must win. It to me is part of the reason why our recruiting here is not as strong as it used to be.

Health Insurance Expert said...

The Rose Bowl has been a house of horrors for us, but this team really shouldn't be affected by it since they do play well on the road, and they have had success against UCLA the last two years. I still maintain that our coaching staff owns their coaching staff, and that will be the difference in the game.

I do however think UCLA will rebound from last week and not fold like they did in Salt Lake.