So, was it just me, or were those Pac-10 refs last night doing their best Wyatt Earp impressions? They’re going to single-handedly, in one game, clean up the game of college football! All these fouls that nobody ever calls, THEY’RE going to call every two seconds! Thus dragging the game down to a fucking CRAWL; but it’ll all be worth it, generations from now, when we look back on THESE REFS who were so bold, so brave, as to throw the flag on EVERY, FUCKING, PLAY.
Anyway, Jesus, other than that, it was a pretty good game last night, no?
Boy was it tight. Started out with a UCLA 3 & Out where the guy flat out dropped the ball on the third down conversion attempt, then we went 3 & Out, then they drove 90+ yards for a touchdown, most of that on the ground. Just churning out the yards! I had the sick feeling that this was our season right here. Once again, we were going to be run off the road by a speeding truck.
And then, the unimaginable happened. Our defense tightened up! Our defense responded! Our defense made adjustments! Our DEFENSE got a turnover in the first half!
As much as it pained my ass to see us flail about on so many 3rd & short’s, the best thing Sark ever did for us last night (and probably the best thing he’s done all season) was play conservative. Resist that nagging, stinging urge to go for it on 4th down when you just proved to everyone in the free world that you can’t convert 3rd & 1. Punt that shit. Play the field position game. Trust your defense. Trust that their offense sucks dick.
Of course, conservative game play doesn’t just stop with punting at the 50 yard line on 4th & 1. It also incorporates running the football. And boy did the Dawgs expose the Bruins for the frauds that they are on defense! 41 carries for the team, 253 yards! Including 26 for 138 for Polk and 10 for 107 (that’d be a 10.7 yards per carry average) for Callier. With that kind of mass destruction on the ground, we didn’t NEED to throw the ball!
And, that’s a good thing, because Locker wasn’t exactly precise on his throws (10 for 21 for 68 yards; and I’m not blaming the dropsies either, some of those throws were God-awful).
This is something I’ve been begging for all year. Run the ball! Run the ball some more! Just because you’re down by 10 points in the 3rd quarter doesn’t mean you’re finished with the run! God Dammit, it’s the single best thing you do on this team! That doesn’t even mean I’m calling for a return to Jake the 1,000-yard running back. I’m just saying, feed Chris Polk. I’m saying more fly-sweeps to Jesse Callier. Keep doing it until he breaks it!
With this defense that we employ, there’s no excuse for trying to up the tempo of the offense. We need to grind, grind, grind! Mash that clock into a bloody mess on the floor. This isn’t even about giving the defense “a rest”. It’s exactly about keeping our biggest liability OFF the field!
Of course, having said that, yesterday’s Time of Possession game was almost even; which is a testament to us being 1 for 12 on 3rd down. And, of course, having said that, our defense actually came up pretty big. We held their 3-pronged passing “attack” to 55 yards on 6 for 25 with 3 interceptions. And, we held their running game – which was among the top quarter in the nation – to a mere 108 yards (and to almost nothing after that touchdown drive back in the first quarter).
In short, yes, our defense is our biggest liability, but yesterday they played like they were our biggest strength. Mason Foster is a god on the gridiron, plain and simple. I can’t wait to watch him at the next level just destroying people. Our secondary – often a source of frustration – played their best game of the year, hands down. A pick six, a lot of jarring hits, some excellent zone-type coverage (in part thanks to UCLA’s terrible quarterbacks). All in all, it was a defense to be proud of. We haven’t been able to say that since the last two games of last season.
Here’s to hoping the last two games of this season are exactly alike.