Monday, September 22, 2008

No Joy in Mudsville

Another week... another collapse. At least this time we didn't get completely embarrased. We only embarrased ourselves a little. Is that progress? I suppose. It is kind of scarry to see this team get absolultely dominated by opponents. There are so many mistakes, poor tackles, bad blocks, and mental errors that its hard to know where to begin when discussing this game. I knew it was going to be a tough, long season but this is really bad.

UCLA hasn't had this bad of a start to a season in 15 years. You have to go all the way back to 1983 to find a Bruin squad that got off to a worse start than 1-2. That 1983 team (coincidently quarterbacked by Rick Neuhiesel) wobbled out the gate with a 0-2-1 start. What's really worisome is that our 1-2 start is one of the worst in terms of point differential.

Point Differential of recent UCLA teams that started off the season with two or more losses:
2008 : 37 - 104 = -67
1983: 44 - 89 = -45
2003 : 44 - 78 = -34
1996: 73 - 73 = 0
1997: 124 - 70 = 54

At least we got something going in the run game. Moline and Coleman finally dragged us from the cellar as the worst rushing offense in college football (thank you SDSU and SMU for running less than us). Sadly, our total offense ranks an abysmal 117th in the nation. Total defense is right up there in the high 90's as well. Of course, if our defense could actually get off the field for more than 3 downs, that would be helpful as well.

What was particularly depressing about this lose was the terrible special teams play in the second half. Arizona had four drives in the fourth quarter. Three of them started off in UCLA territory. Our punt coverage was not good and kick-offs were not much better. I'm not sure what Ganz needs to work on with these guys but something is way off. Either Perez is out punting his coverage, our guys aren't following their lanes, the tackling is bad... or all of the above. In any case, we were giving up huge amounts of field position each time we kicked the football. Punting definately wasn't winning this last week.

Penalties are on the rise as well. The first game against Tenneesee saw only two penalties. The second week, at BYU, we raised that number to four. Against the Widcats, we had six. The total yards on those penalties isn't huge (around 30 yards / game) but its not good to see that number going up each week. You kind expect that with so many young guys in games, so hopefully that decreases as they gain experience.

Losing stinks... plain and simple. What stinks more is when you get trashed about during the game. The BYU debacle was about as bad as it gets. Against Arizona, things were better for three quarters, but got out of control at the end. This team needs a lot of work to improve and that applies to almost every squad. I'm not expecting miracles, but I would love to see some improvement from week to week. It's not there yet. Not by a long shot.

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