I was down in Los Angeles for the weekend, you totally could feel that, amirite? It was strange. Everything was in its right place.
I was at breakfast eating a lot of ham and eggs and mainlining some coffee than was infinitely worse than it is in Portland (sorry, Southland, they got that part right up there) and I was swiveling my head around to watch the UCLA game. I couldn’t take my eyes of the screen.
A cool alum-bro was sitting there in his Trojan shirt staring at me like I was a UCLA fan and giving me the smug look I’ve given a thousand Bruin fans who publicly admit they root for UCLA. I had to throw him a victory V before he realized I was just enjoying watching the vaunted #7 Bruins play some awful, awful football.
It was easy to pick on Hundley with all of his Heisman hype, but the truth is, he had very little to do with how awful the much over-hyped Bruin squad looked. I mean, one could critique him for not checking down enough, for being one-dimensional the moment his first option was gone, but that’d be unfair. One of the two Achilles’ heels of this team was glaring.
Their O-Line is awful.
They were getting worked by a Virginia Cavaliers (yes, Virginia Cavaliers) D-Line that is slower, smaller and weaker than probably any set in the Pac-12. They had Hundley contained save one long scramble. They didn’t fly off the edges, they just leaked through the holes in the porous UCLA line. They didn’t have to do much. They were in the backfield keeping Hundley largely in one spot, unable to scramble or check-down. They were sitting on Bruin running backs heads.
Which brings me to the second Achilles’ heel. UCLA’s skill positions are slow. I don’t mean that as a hater. I mean that as someone who just recognized that the #7 team in America could not get their wideouts open against a defense that’s not exactly sending ten dudes to the NFL.
Their RBs were getting stuffed in the backfield. They couldn’t get to the edge. It was crazy.
In the end, I saw two factions of Bruin fans after the game. Those that understand that maybe they O-Line can be coached up, but as they say, you can’t teach speed and their skill positions looked flat. And slow.
The other fans said “good teams find ways to win” and “the defense scored three times” and both are true, but let’s be real. Their first QB got benched because he was throwing TO the Bruin defense. In a game the Cavs came into thinking no chance they compete, they benched their QB. Worse, the backup brought them back into the game. So the pick-6s were good, but it wasn’t exactly making an athletic play to snag one from Mariota from the hands of a guy wiht 4.3 speed. This was “oh, there’s the ball and oh, the Cavs are so weak there’s no one to stop me, oh thank god.”
Mazzone looks like a bad hire. Their recruiting classes look devoid of speed. When USC would get in close games with really, really mediocre teams. I knew we were heading for some losses. I’m sure they feel that way. Don’t really care.
We looked awesome. We looked like I think I look when I am drunk standing in the mirror in a tailored suit. We can say it was against Fresno State, and it was, but Fresno State would be favored against more than the Virginia Cavs. They’d be favored against Colorado. Maybe Utah. They weren’t a garbage team. They were just not a great team.
But when you play a not great team (or a garbage team like the Cavs), you want to run the most plays in the history of the Pac-12 (which is totally mind boggling with Oregon and the amount of spread O played out west). You want to drop a billion points. You want your freshman to exhibit burning, elite speed and the ability to catch the ball in traffic (against a probable first round draft pick at CB). You want your freshman tight end to smoke a safety and leap a wall after scoring.
You want to score the most points your program has since 2005 when your team was the worst team in the NFC West basically.
It’s EASY and sometimes dangerous to make too many assumptions on the first game. UCLA won’t be THAT bad all year (although my 5 loss projection feels pretty good right now based on their tough schedule, slow skill positions and Swiss cheesy O-Line). We won’t be hanging points like that on elite defenses either.
Any time you do “the most of something” since “when you were good” it’s a good thing. Any time you show you have updated your offense and you out-Oregon, Oregon. That’s good.
Over 700 yards. Something like 37 first downs. Name it, we had it. And, wow. The freshmen. To every Washington fan that came here talking about their talent, etc. Sark + USC = people like Adoree Jackson and Juju Smith. Toa and Mama. Beasts of the SoCal Wild.
It’s scary in a way. Oregon runs less plays, they score faster. What I dug about our performance and our offense is that Sark explained it well. It’s just uptempo pro set with slight mods. It’s not the gimmicky get to the edge game Oregon plays until they meet a team big enough to dominate the clock (Stanford) or fast enough to take away the edges (SEC).
We just got the ball to a million people in a million places from the flats to the middle to deep on the edges. There was no area we didn’t drop the ball. Kessler had shades of Leinart, lobbing balls where our guys could get them, playing conductor to a symphony of speedy options.
It didn’t suck to watch.
I said earlier in the day all I wanted was some vibes that we’re going to get back to having fun, get back to scoring and enjoying it. Even with our penalties, we looked disciplined. It looked good.
Stanford might be a tough one, but I am excited to see it roll out. This is why Arrogant Nation was there during sanctions. In a week of adversity, the media doing anything they could to blow things out of proportion, a RB who couldn’t crack the starting lineup making awful accusations, we just came out and dropped points.
UCLA got it’s ass kissed and that apparently distracted them enough to be the ugliest win of the “big boys” on Saturday.
It would seem that this clown college might be good at eliciting smiles this season.
See you in the endzone.
*dictated but not proofread. ever.