10 Down, 2 to Go: The Frustration Continues...

<b>EDITORIAL</B>: Charles Chiccoa ponders the season and it's not pretty. But he also reminds us that, despite it all, UCLA gets to play against Nick Aliotti's defense this week and still has the best uniforms around...

I don't believe in football gurus or TV "color-men," and I always allow for the unknown, but that game in Pullman was almost beyond description. This stuff is getting old; it's gone on, practically uninterrupted, for going on five years. Today, you almost have to laugh to keep from crying. The bottom has fallen out, expectations are rock bottom, cranks are in full cry or have gone fishing... at least until next season's opening act. Something has got to change before we all become screaming idiots. Myself, I've been hitting golf balls and playing lots of tennis. Very therapeutic. Twenty years ago this might have driven me to drink or downers. Thank god I've got a life.

Nothing's gone right since the opener, save the second half vs. Washington. In retrospect, it's something like a shanked punt that's bounced backwards for minus yardage. Most of our worst fears have been realized, and there's still two games left to play. The travesty in Pullman was like something out of "Noises Off" or "A Night at the Opera." Washington St. tried so hard to return the favor for 1988, but the Bruins simply wouldn't take it. Down 28-6 and looking hopeless, UCLA, incredibly, had more than one opportunity to get back into the game and either steal it at the end or force overtime. I don't have to tell you. We all saw it. How does a team get seven turnovers and lose 31-13? Answer: give them seven back. And when was the last time you saw holding on a touchback? I almost got whiplash watching the punt return fumble that set this monstrosity in motion. And how ‘bout them zebras? I've seen some funny old farts in stripe shirts make spectacles of themselves before, but that crew needs to be sent back to pee-wee football. What's the point of beating a dead dog? Imagine poor BROther Waters rerunning the tape of this game and having to take notes. The horror...

Shortly after Karl Dorrell came off the field, the Times writer apparently got in his face and asked him the starting quarterback question. KD answered Matt Moore, then shot back with "there is no controversy." After looking at the tape on Sunday, he naturally announced on Monday that Drew Olson was his new starter. KD's mistake, in this instance, was giving the guy a direct answer immediately after the game. He's been more than a little guileless in his media relations, and he needs to work on this right after he's solved the problem of this offense.

No matter how the Bruins line up, no matter the formation, or the motion, or down and distance, no matter the alignment of the planets or whatever name you want to pin on this meshuggenah offense, the defense obviously knows what's coming. Here's the drill: The opposition looks at film, charts tendencies, reads their keys, and the result is almost always the same - third and long, followed immediately by a punt. "Execution," in the form of better quarterbacking, improved offensive line play, more consistent pass catching, better blitz pickups, no fumbles... all of this will help. But KD and Steve Axman have to begin installing some kind of counters, some sense of misdirection to keep defenses honest, give Mo Drew and Tyler Ebell some daylight to work with and Drew Olson something more than slants, hitch passes, eight yard outs and futile bombs thrown into the inevitable double coverages. They need to make some concessions to the plan or face the possibility of more nightmares like Washington St.

I wonder if Bruin fans, some of us anyway, ought to start being a little more straightforward with ourselves. Some of us, I suspect, have used KD as the blank slate he so obviously was. He was the anti-Toledo, and some of us may even have gone so far as imagining him the star of some corny old Stanley Kramer style flick: "Guess Who's Coming to Coach." Nothing terribly wrong in that. We deserved a nice warm bath after seven years of BT. And, hey, it couldn't hurt recruiting. A couple of radical cranks, not much into corny old movies, warned us we were indulging in a dangerous game with long odds for success. We were operating on hope and rumors of a stunning interview. Visions of Broncos and Bucs danced in our heads. Flash forward, we're an ugly 6-4, saddled with the worst Bruin offense within memory... and nobody is happy.

I've always liked the word realpolitik. I take it to mean (because my wretched dictionary hasn't any table of foreign usage) something like what's possible, the way things might really work out. I remember Jim Saia coming to some Bruin Bash in Santa Monica and telling us that if the Lavin staff didn't "get it done" they'd be out of there. He was right of course; it just took too long due to an unfortunate combination of circumstances. Tracy's idea of "three strikes" seems reasonable in the sense of real world possibilities. KD will have next year, and if that's not a disaster, likely the year after that to regain a national profile for the program. That was the deal, as I understood it, when Dan Guerrero hired him. If the Bruins are still floundering, as they are now, KD will probably be gone, and you can bet the next guy will likely be experienced with a vengeance: Joe Pa, call your office!

In the meantime, I'm going to the Oregon game and I‘ll certainly be watching the SC game. Even though these are hard times for Bruin football, every season has its narrative line, a dramatic curve. I'm always curious, there's always something to look for. Say what you will, UCLA isn't Northwestern yet. There are talented players on this team who are fun to watch and who need some help from the coaching staff. I want to see how Olson plays. He seems like such a good kid and it would be nice to see him play well (sounds like another corny movie). Mo Drew is a great young back; Ebell hasn't lost those moves; Craig Bragg is among the best Bruin receivers ever; Dave Ball is the most under-rated, under-appreciated football player in America; Rodney Leisle could be back (though C.J. Niusulu was impressive in reserve); Matt Ware should be back to something like full speed; and Spencer Havner, Brandon Chillar and Justin London are always fun to watch. It's apparently going to be a fine fall day, a modest crowd in attendance, lots of leg room, and the promise of a Nick Aliotti defense. Besides, deny it if you will, isn't there always something about those uniforms?


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