After UCLA’s Bruins were pasted for the third consecutive year – and the sixth straight time in Berkeley – by the California Golden Bears in their annual match up of the University of California system’s two flagship schools, 35-7, I was wondering whether I should see it as Cal being that much better, or UCLA just not coming to play.
I think I’m going to go both ways on this.
Incidentally, here’s a telling stat: The Bruins have been outscored by the two Bay Area schools, Stanford as well as Cal, by a combined score of 70-7, which is quite embarrassing to say the least.
The best thing I can say about this disastrous fiasco is that with the Bears having a 28-0 lead at half time, it was over pretty quick; otherwise, where should I start?
It’s getting more and more painfully obvious by the week that if the UCLA football program is going to be a consistently relevant factor in the Pac-10 Conference, Kevin Prince is the wrong man to lead them.
While he was virtually running for his life all day as the offensive line largely failed him, Prince simply does not have the arm strength necessary at quarterback to keep defenses honest. He threw for fewer than 100 yards once again (99 on 13-of-31 passing), and though his receivers continued to drop passes, he also continued to misfire on his throws before being pulled in the 4th quarter.
This may seem as if I’m laying the blame for this loss and UCLA’s woes solely on Prince’s shoulders, which I’m not. The fact is that all good football teams have one thing in common – good quarterbacks. Kevin Prince is a mediocre signal caller, plain and simple, and I’m not sure if the Bruins can win on a consistent basis with him.
Much as I regret saying this, perhaps it’s time to give Richard Brehaut, who did well and certainly threw the ball better against Washington State, another shot.
Meanwhile, I was afraid that Cal was going to put its defensive front seven up close to focus on UCLA’s running attack, and I was proven right; the Bruins rushed for a pathetic 26 net yards. I knew they were going to try and force Prince to beat them with his arm, and the strategy worked to near-perfection.
The Bruin defense was likewise pathetic in giving up 304 yards on the ground. Shane Vereen ran for 151 of those yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns to boot. Kevin Riley, while his numbers were nothing to write home about, gave Prince a clinic on leading a team all the same; it looked at times like a varsity quarterback schooling his JV counterpart.
More than anything else, what disappointed me was not only that the Bruins seemingly laid down for the Bears and didn’t put up that much of a fight (at least in the first half) but that it will likely get much worse as after a bye week, they must travel to Autzen Stadium in Eugene, OR – the toughest place to play in the Pac-10 – to face the Oregon Ducks, who are merely the second-ranked team in the country.
The way Oregon has been playing this season, combined with their blazing team speed, may lead to the Ducks scoring at least 50 points on UCLA, if not more.
And if the way Rick Neuheisel’s team performed against Cal is any indication, the best thing that the folks in Bruin Nation can hope for is that their football team can return from Eugene in one piece.