Sunday, June 12, 2011

UCLA Bruins 2010 Review

UCLA Bruins
2010 Record: 4-8 (2-7), 9th Pac-10
Bowl Game: None

     Those of you that have gotten to know me well have probably been waiting for this review, and yeah, I could go on for about a month or so on how the Bruins have pissed me off for the last 20 or so years. Unfortunately, I don't have that kind of time, so I am going to have to give you the rant lite version of how pissed I am about the lack of fire, devotion, and sanity in this program as I watch it circling the toilet bowl on its way to Northwestern Wildcats credibility circa the 1980s.
     I remember so many great UCLA QBs over the years (remember that I have been watching this program devoutly for 30 years). We had Tom Ramsey, Steve Bono, Troy Aikman, Cade McNown, and even the 4 foot tall Matt Stevens had some really exciting moments. Not all of these guys had stunning NFL careers, but Tom Ramsey kicking Michigan's ass twice in 1982 (sorry, Matt Chandik) was one of my favorite memories. Now, the Bruins can't buy a QB to save their fucking lives. As a matter of fact, the Bruins have had exactly one credible QB (Drew Olson) since Cade McNown departed after the 1998 season. The excuses have run out, and Rick Neuheisel, a former QB for the Bruins himself, could not even take advantage of the services of Norm Chow to make anything work at the position since his arrival. Now, don't blame Neuheisel for this entirely, as Chow is a ghost of himself, and has been going through the motion for years now. Sorry Utah fans, but it's true.
     The latest in a long line of debacles of QB ineptitude took the form of Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince last season. The Bruins got the rather genius idea( sarcasm...drop...drip) last season to switch to the Pistol offense. It never eesembled the pistol, and in fact, it more resembled a cheap 4th of July sparkler. Calling it the pop gun would be giving pop guns a bad name. Prince, who runs with all of the grace of an out of shape dump truck, started the season, but his china doll physique shattered on him, and he wound up with a myriad of injuries that ended his season after 6 games. Prince passed for 384 yards in 6 games, and tossed 5 picks to go against his crappy 3 TDs, or one every other game. Brehaut started the rest of the season, but was hardly an inspiration. He passed for 1296 yards but his ratio was inverted as well at 6/7. Neither of them even offered a run threat in the pistol, which is what the pistol is all about.
     One interesting find last fall, was the ability of Jonathon Franklin at RB. Franklin rushed for 1127 yards on the season, and he scored 8 times on the season. The problem with Franklin is that he sometimes forgets that this is not rugby, and putting the ball on the ground rarely works out. FUMBLE!!!! Derrick Coleman, who is legally deaf, was a solid pwer threat, as he rushed for 487 yards and 5 scores. If Neuheisel would ever get his head out of his ass, he would realize that he has a great young option in Malcolm Jones, who was widely considered to be the second best RB in the nation behind Marcus Lattimore at South Carolina. Jones needs some serious carries, but with Franklin and Coleman coming back, they may be hard to find.
     The Bruins, due to their lack of having a decent QB, were lacking in the receving game. Taylor Embree would be a 1000 yard guy in just about any other program, but has been underutilized and undervalued since his arrival in Westwood. Embree was the default leader last season, as he posted 32-409-0, Not getting the ball to Embree in scoring position is an ultimate failure. Nelson Rosario is a maddening talent. He has the skills and the ability, but he has a nast habit of trying to run beforre he gets the ball. He has no discipline, and his career has been mired by mistakes and poor play. Rosario posted 29-309-1, and for someone with his raw ability, those numbers are an atrocity. Freshman Ricky Marvray was the only receiver that played with a consistent fire last fall, and showed that he really wanted it at times. He posted 20-188-2, but with more looks, could be the emotional leader of this offense. I really like this kid.
     The offense was so bad, that the defense got sucked down into the herculian void right along with it. Playing defense for UCLA is like being stranded in the Gobi for days on end with no water, and the knowledge that nobody is coming to help you out. It just sucks.
     The Bruins do have some very good young players on this side of the ball, and there was some hope early on that there would be some ability for the next few seasons, if Neuheisel doesn't find a way to abandon them and fuck them up, which if he stays, he probably will. UCLA had 5 defenders average 5 tackles or more per game, led by Tony Dye with 96 tackles on the season. LB Sean Westgate, a former special teams genius (no sarcasm) finished second with 90. I was very happy to see Westgate get the opportunity, as he has always played with tremendous passion, which is something that this program is severely lacking. Rahim Moore (77), and Akeem Ayers (68). Ayers and Moore were severe letdowns, and Ayers never tapped into his freakish athletiscm, but was more apt to practice his questionable at best mental aptitude.
     Westgate and Ayers both finished in double figures for TFLs last fall,but the Bruins were severely crushed in that category, having collected 67 as a team, while giving up 86 on offense. Hard to score when you are running backwards, and the Bruins certainly mastered that last season. Westgate finished with 11 TFLs, while Ayers finished with 10. Westgate and Ayers also both led the team in sacks, but only had 4 each. When all was said and done, the Bruins gave up 214.6 yards passing and 205.5 yards rushing per game. At least they were balanced (sarcasm back on)
      One area that the Bruins won the stat war was in passes defended, as the Bruins collected 53 while giving up 49. Tony Dye led the team with 9, as Sheldon Price and Westgate each added 7. Aaron Hester led the team with 3 picks, but the problem is that UCLA only intercepted 7 passes all season. Embarrassing, when you consider that Rahim Moore had 10 all by himself the year before. What did he do for a repeat? He picked off 1 pass, and jumped to the NFL based on that. Good luck with that, kid.
      Even PK Kai Forbath seemed to sleepwalk his way through last season, a year after winning the Groza Award, and receiving platitudes from all around. Forbath stumbled through a season in which he only nailed 13 of his 18 FGs, but it wasn't because he was overworked, as he only attempted 27 PATs (made all of them). Jeff Locke, the punter, seemed to be one of the few Bruins that didn't fail to live up to his billing last fall. Locke had a rocket for a leg, and averaged 45.84 yards per punt. Locke returns as a junior next fall, so hey, there's something to look forward to afterall. Josh Smith always seemed to be just a step away from breaking a kick return last season, as he piled up 678 yards, or 21.87 yards per return. More will be expected of him as he returns as a senior next fall. The punt return game is a joke.
Final Notes
     Being a Bruin fan is like being in an abusive relationship that just never ends. You keep on hoping that they will get better, but they never really do. The administration just keeps on making bad hires since Terry Donahue departed in the mid 90s, as UCLA went from Bob Toledo, to Karl Dorrell, to Neuheisel now. Neuheisel's fate will likely be known after September, and if there is no sign of life after the Bruins take on Oregon State on 9/24, then we will know that he is likely all done, only to move onto the next mess. I predict another losing season, and more, unending pain.

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