Slouching Toward Berkeley

In his weekly Wednedsay column, <b>Charles Chiccoa</b> gives us his post-mortem on the Arizona game, and how the Bruins look to stack up against the big, bad Bears this Saturday...

The final score was nice. I mean, 37-17 sounds pretty impressive considering that no one, even the now "legendary" Urban Meyer, has beaten "Iggy" Stoops' Wildcats by that great a margin. Of course when you recollect the game in detail and watch the tape you can only conclude this was hardly your typical 20 point blowout.

Arizona, in common with most losing teams, made numerous huge mistakes: (1) After apparently converting a fourth down at the UCLA 20, it was nullified by a delay of game penalty, forcing a field goal try; (2) After stopping the Bruins on third and 14, a defensive holding penalty gave UCLA another shot which they immediately cashed in on Drew Olson's first touchdown pass to Marcedes Lewis; (3) Kris Heavener slightly overthrew a wide open receiver on a flea-flicker for what should have been an easy touchdown; (4) On a short out route, Ben Emanuel missed yet another tackle resulting in a twenty yard gain, but the play was nullified by some dumb O-lineman making a stupid clip way off the ball. Then on third and 23, Larry Kerr opens up the field for a 19 yard draw play on which Jarrad Page has to bail out his coach with a nice open field tackle; (5) An Arizona receiver dropped a perfect 40-yard pass on the Bruins' 30-yard line. All these plays simply repeated Arizona's habit of self-destruction, which had little or nothing to do with the Bruins' play.

However… UCLA is 4-1, they've beaten the teams they ought to have beaten, two of which were on the road, and they've temporarily quieted those radical Cranks who were predicting absurd 2-9, 3-8 scenarios. So they've made it to their midterm with minimal damage, though with no great expectations, at least on the fan's part. The Bruins opened 14-point underdogs to Cal after the Bears seemingly dominated play (except during crunch time) in their loss at the Coliseum. And the following week they could be another double digit dog at Sun Devil Stadium (this was not the year to draw these two programs on the road). UCLA figured to be the conference dark horse, and they're certainly living up to that image. Of course the team will be going into Berkeley with a hell of a lot more confidence than the rest of us. I mean after having so much trouble with Arizona's off-key offense, who amongst us BROs can imagine the Bruin D slowing down Jeff Tedford's precision-tuned unit? Aaron Rodgers looks like the best quarterback in college football, he gets good protection, and he's got a couple of great running backs to take pressure off the passing game. The Bear's defense also seems to have come a long way since getting worked by Kansas State in last year's BCA Classic, then closing the season giving up 49 points in that notorious shootout victory vs. Virginia Tech.

One hopes defensive coordinator Larry Kerr will finally get a little creative and bring some consistent heat, which has apparently never been his way, but has been effective the few times he's dialed it up, even this season. Justin London should be good to go, which can't hurt. Perhaps we'll see more of Brigham Harwell and Bruce Davis (and less of Kyle Morgan, who hasn't shown much thus far). Perhaps we'll even see more of Chris Horton and less of you-know-who (I really can't help bagging on Ben Emanuel. Think of all the abuse, over the years, we've heaped on guys like Zenon Andrusyshyn, Teddy Lawrence, Wayne Cook, Joe Hunter, Cory Paus and the immortal Brian Poli-Dixon. Tell me the Bruins' Wiffenpoof free safety isn't at least as deserving).

Watching the tape, I find that Drew Olson played better than I'd originally thought. It's clear that the offensive coaches have been concentrating on getting him a quicker release, and he seems to be getting the hang of it. He's now obviously throwing to spots, which might explain his lack of a finer accuracy; fortunately, his receivers are adjusting to the ball nicely. Nothing more need be said about Marcedes Lewis' fabulous performance; he is as good as advertised, but it was nice, all the same, to see irrefutable evidence. Brandon Breazell almost made a spectacular catch of a bomb for the second straight week, only to be foiled once again by a good play on the ball from the DB. Though the pass was under-thrown (also the following one to Junior Taylor), I don't believe Olson's arm strength is a serious problem. On one of the three touchdowns to Marc, he burned the ball right between the 1 and the 9. Even without their best receiver, the other guys, especially Marcus Everett, are coming along very well. And isn't it time for Tab Perry to become a factor? If Craig Bragg can make it back this week, perhaps the offense can make it interesting. It is college football, so who knows?

It was good to see Chris Markey get all those carries in the second half. After the Bruins smothered that desperation fake punt play, the last little TD drive was almost completely all Markey. None of us, even Tracy, had much of an idea what this guy would show. He had those impressive numbers, he was "Mr. Football" in Louisiana, but he wasn't real big, didn't have a reputation as a burner, and why the hell didn't he wind up at LSU? It's early times, but if he was overlooked in the SEC, they might be kicking themselves in a year or two. Except for some fumbling in the early practices, he's been nothing but impressive ever since he stepped on Spaulding Field. To my eyes, he looks like a bigger, more compact Tyler Ebell: same natural instincts, same great vision (another prospective three-star "sleeper" who looks to be paying off in an additional star). When it looked as if Maurice Drew might not be a factor in this game, the coaching staff took the opportunity to give Manuel White more work, then get Markey on the field before the big games kick in. Mo didn't break anything other than the one screen pass, and considering he apparently had a slight injury… why not? Maybe it'll take a little pressure off him.

If the Bruin defense doesn't begin to come together, I'm not sure even 42 points will be enough this week. I'm also not sure if I'm man enough not to cover my eyes the first time Cal's offense takes the field. I feel a little like the condemned man who hopes for the offer of a blindfold, and I can only admire the courage of those of you who are optimistically making the trip north. Good luck.

Though the Arizona game was, in Sgt. Hartman's words, "uglier than a modern art masterpiece," Petros Papadakis, along with the Stoops Cam, at least made for an entertaining telecast. Petros never shuts up, his feel (or to use the current buzzword, his "passion") for the game comes across as genuine, and though he's famous for talking Trojan smack, he's miles better than the cliché-ridden, coach-speaking Tom Ramsey and that crowd. Despite his unfortunate lineage, Petros is hard not to like, and, if he was one of ours, we'd probably love him.


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