USC emerged with a 33-23 road win against Washington State. So we are still on a collision course for the conference title ...
3. Minnesota - got a lot of credit for 38-13 win against Wisconsin. No complaints about them jumping us
4. Michigan - still miffed about two loss team in front of us
8. Washington State
10. North Carolina - next up is #11 Miami
Others of Note:
We are listed as nine point favorites visiting 4-5 Oregon State. It looks like it could be a bad weather game :(
SR WR Jerald Bright has started every game of his four year career and racked up 3,627 yards and 22 TDs. The offensive line is also quality.
JR DT Darren Hayes is a hard man to block. He has 7 sacks this year. FR Billy Chamerlain is going to keep that DT tradition alive - his numbers aren't big yet but his potential is. ILB Eric Johnson has 79 tackles, which is pretty substantial for this point in the year. There are a pair of senior CBs who have talent - Johnson and Inkrott.
This is the 2nd straight year I expected this team to win a little more.
J.R. Jackson picks up a fumble and runs it back 26 yards to get the scoring started. 7-0, 13:47 left in the quarter.
3 and out for OSU - punt.
How many years of eligibility does Tremayne Frisch, the OSU punter, have?
Morris runs for 10 on each of his first two carries.
Rattay is sacked on a screen play on 3rd down. Not very good execution - punt from the 40.
We stick OSU at the 3.
20 yard pass to Bright gets the Beavers moving.
An offensive pass interference call pushes them back. Followed shortly by a punt.
4th and 2 at their 40 - we punt.
And OSU is starting at the 3.
22 yard gain on a screen to RB Maslowski.
DT Chuck Wayne gets a sack on 3rd and 9. Huh - who is he?
We start at the OSU 34 after the punt and an unnecessary roughness call.
Rattay completes his first pass on 3rd and 9 - 21 yards to Olsen.
OG Luis Jones is out with an injury - which means Perryman is back in the lineup.
Morris runs it in from the 6. 14-0, 1:46 left in the quarter.
Sack for DE Ronald Smith.
56 yard pass play to Bright - I won't miss him at all. Down at the 27.
But QB John Reese is not able to move the ball further. And the Beavers miss a 43 yard field goal attempt.
Rattay is intercepted when he forces a ball into coverage. OSU takes over at the 44.
41 yard pass play, down to our 11. Reese has not been accurate, but he is hitting some deep balls.
4th and 5 at the 6 - and they miss a 24 yard field goal. Wow.
Morris is getting the lions share of touches today - 13 carries for 70 yards so far.
Rattay is just off today - he misses Martin when he was wide open. 2-7 for 28 yards and an interception.
Morris runs for 20, up to the 34.
A screen pass on 3rd and 3 is incomplete. 45 yard field goal is good. 17-0, 5:33 left in the half.
OSU is moving again, in smaller chunks this time. Back to back 10 yard plays.
Offensive holding pushes them back to other side of the 50.
DT Jack Farmer records a 3rd down sack. Punt.
We are left at our 6 yard line.
Rattay is now 2-10 - what is wrong here?
Gain of 9 on screen on 3rd and 9.
Morris gains 22 - now has 15 carries for 112 yards.
Defensive holding moves the ball to midfield.
We punt - Rattay is 3-14 for 37 yards. Just yuck.
Time expires for the half.
We are one-dimensional on offense, but not in the way we are used to - our QB just sucks today but Morris is a machine.
The defense isn't breaking, but the OSU kicker is.
I think we need one more score to feel good about this lead, especially after watching the meltdown last week.
Jackson takes the kick back to the 49.
We are whistled for holding.
3rd and 24, we run. Very creative playcalling. Punt.
3 and out for OSU.
Oregon State is defending the run better so far this half.
Our drive dies on the OSU 35. Or the 50, after a 15 yard unnecessary roughness call.
OSU isn't able to get going and has to punt after just one first down.
Another incompletion for Rattay: 4-19 for 62 yards now. Has he ever seen rain before?
4th and 1 at the 42 for OSU - they punt.
Rattay rolls up two straight completions! First down!
But he is picked on the next play. OSU ball at our 48. Unreal.
The Beavers are whistled for holding.
3 and out for their offense. They punt from our 43.
Our ground game is just stuck in the 2nd half. This is the worst our offense has looked in my tenure.
Gain of 9 to Martin on 3rd and 7.
We punt after getting one first down.
23 yard reception for Bright, who is now over 100 yards.
DE Phil Patten leaves with an injury.
OSU is into field goal range.
But we get an interception - Peerless Flutie hauls it in.
21 yard run for Morris - I believe that is longest gain of 2nd half.
We punt from around the 50.
CB Rulon Bowens leaves the game with a patella injury - darn it.
18 yard pass to Bright, who looks like a shining star amid a bunch of horrible offense today.
DE Randy Gajan gets a sack on 3rd down. OSU punts from our 44.
5:39 left - can we run down some clock?
Run, run, incomplete, punt. A little over 4 minutes left still.
4th and 4 from their 44, OSU punts with 3:22 left.
WR Woodley Martin leaves the game - he was injured while blocking.
We punt again. Rattay isn't going to get 100 yards passing or a TD pass.
Oregon State is whistled for holding on offense.
4th and 4 from their 42, under a minute to play.
Ugliest .... win .... ever.
Very nice job by the defense pitching the shutout. I'm hoping that this game was as brutal as it was because of field/weather conditions - wish there was more to read in the play-by-play to indicate something like that.
Only 26 first downs between the two teams. OSU actually outgained us by 100 yards; our 233 is the lowest number I've seen for one of my Pac 10 offenses.
We held Oregon State to 5-19 on 3rd downs. Nice to see us addressing a problem area from earlier in the season.
We also have done a better job this year of not being whistled. OSU had 8-77 yards while we only had 5-40. I'm not sure how I've addressed this through recruiting; perhaps having older cornerbacks and offensive linemen helps, as those seem to be the groups that collected the majority of our calls in the past.
John Rattay will attempt to forget that this game ever happened. 8-26 for 91 yards and 2 interceptions.
Nicholas Morris didn't finish very well after a strong start, but without his 32 carries for 137 yards we lose this game.
Hank Swilling had 4 solos, 4 assists, and 3 hurries on the day.
We get Kato Thelwell back to bolster our WR corps.
But Scott Wilson is suspended once again and Elijah McAllister has run away and hidden with the award for "Most Time Missed Due to Stupidity" - it is just embarrassing.
Kai Olsen's grades are in trouble now as well. But I've already run through my study hall hours for the year trying to keep guys eligible for the middle stretch. Just have to study on your own, kid.
On the injury front, our top two centers are both in bad shape, so we will have a truly awful player snapping the ball this week. We also have three DEs that are banged up, but the only one who will miss the game is Mark Dickerson (wrist subluxation). We also remain thin at free safety with two guys missing in action at a position where we didn't have too much depth to start with. Thanks again to both freshmen for transferring ...
I think this is the first year in awhile that I've had some injury problems. Which is fine; this area has been much improved from the earlier versions of the game where I would have been grateful to only have these injuries at this point in the season.
Cal is up next on the schedule. WR Cleo Barlow is the best player on their roster. The JR is probably a little better than Bright from OSU. 3 year starter, has put up 900+ yards in each of his first two seasons. 2,779 yards and 16 TDs so far. Cleo, I think I hear your agent callling ...
LG Donnie Horn may get All-American recognition. He is just rolling up pancakes - 25 so far this year, his 3rd straight 20+ pancake season. 0 sacks allowed and 12 key run blocks. The guy is very tough.
SO CB Howards Steussie was the #2 overall recruit in his class and has played like it this season. He has 5 interceptions and 18 passes defended. We should probably not test him too much.
MLB Fred Royal is a three year starter who has improved his tackle numbers every year. He has 94 so far this year with 3 sacks and 13 stuffs.
Cal is 4-6 on the year. They played USC pretty tough earlier, but have also played down to weaker competition. We are 21 point favorites on the road, which may be a little too big a number for us to cover.
Cal takes a short kick back to the 47 to start the game.
2 straight incompletions for QB Luis Witherspoon. He is then forced out of the pocket and tries to scramble for 10 on 3rd down. OLB Hank Swilling pops him and ILB Bryant Bruschi dives on the loose ball. We take over at the 45.
The Cal defense is not accomodating. 3 and out. Punt.
Witherspoon finally completes a pass on his 5th attempt.
Cleo Barlow makes a great catch on a 26 yard reception.
Another 3rd down completion to Barlow. Cal is 3-3 so far this game.
Make it 4-4 as Witherspoon is heating up and getting manageable 3rd downs.
4th and 3 at the 4. We block the 22 yard field goal attempt!
The offense goes out with a whimper - Rattay appears to be having a hangover effect from last game.
Terrible punt - 33 yards, returned 18 + 15 for spearing. They are at our 28.
The Cal offense bogs down inside the 10. So, 29 yard field goal attempt - and it is good. 3-0, 2:40 left in the 1st quarter.
J.R. Jackson returns the kick out to the 49.
OT Lonie Smith leaves the game with a groin injury - he is showing some glass-like qualities of late.
WR Kai Olsen fumbles after picking up a 3rd down and Cal recovers.
26 yard pass to Dennis Johnson. The freckled one gets a foot in bounds to finish the play.
We stuff Cal inside the 20. 30 yard field goal is good. 6-0, 11:56 left in the half.
And we have our initial first down of the game on a 71 yard TD pass to Mike Voight. He eluded a tackler early and ran down the sideline. 7-6, 11:01 left in the half.
Cal punts on 4th and 1 from their 24.
Holding on OT Yale Givens.
We aren't able to pick up 20 yards and punt.
DE Phil Patten gets injured while being blown off the ball by the offensive line. He is out for the game.
Cal is running the ball effectively this drive. But it ends at our 40 when they miss Barlow on an out pattern.
Rattay gets our 2nd 1st down of the game on a 13 yard pass to Martin on 3rd and 10.
Morris runs for 19 yards on just his 3rd carry of the afternoon.
Gain of 20 to Martin, who is starting to work over the Cal secondary.
10 more to Martin, down to the 11 yard line.
2 yard TD pass to Kai Olsen. 14-6, 1:01 left in the half.
Very, very slow start for the offense. Good job by the defense in the red zone.
Only 6 carries for Morris in the first half; we need to get him some touches.
We settled for a ton of short passes early in the game and Cal made the tackles until the Voight TD.
We converted our last 3 3rd down attempts to get to 3-8 for the half.
Cal controlled time of possession, 19.5 to 10.5.
Rattay is sacked on 3rd down. 3 and out.
The defense was ornery - three and out after some big hitting.
Morris is getting the ball this drive. 3 straight carries for 2 first downs, including a 17 yard run.
Pickup of 15 to Olsen on 3rd and 12, into field goal range.
16 more to Olsen on 3rd and 8. Nice to see him clicking with the QB.
And Rattay finds Martin on a 12 yard post pattern for the touchdown. 21-6, 7:37 left in the 3rd.
A screen on 3rd down nets 11. Up to midfield.
DT Chuck Wayne leaves the game with an ankle injury. Our D-Line is a MASH unit.
And the QB Luis Witherspoon burns us on a 27 yard run, tackled inside the 10.
FS Barron Starr leaves the game with a back injury. We could not afford this injury either :(
We stop Cal from getting 6. The 25 yard field goal attempt is good. 21-9, 3:05 left in the 3rd.
J.R. Jackson returns the kickoff 90 yards for a scoer. 28-9, 2:50 left in the quarter.
He has now scored on punt, kickoff, and defensive return - big play guy.
Dennis Johnson makes a tough catch over a linebacker for a 19 yard pickup on 3rd and 10.
16 yard run for the fullback - into scoring territory.
19 yard TD pass to Barlow on the 1st play of 4th quarter. 28-16, 14:36 left in teh game.
And Rattay is overdue for his pick - he gives it to Cal near midfield.
But we take it right back. Simms forces a fumble and Jackson recovers it.
OT Yale Givens is whistled again - illegal crackback block.
Ineligible receiver - now 1st and 30.
False start - 2nd and 35.
Rattay buys time before unfurling a deep pass to Voight for 39 yards.
Gannon Dawson is getting carries this afternoon - six so far. Hope that Nic isn't hurt ...
22 yards to Voight on 3rd and 3.
Nope, Nic picks up 5 on 3rd and 4 from the 7.
2 yard TD pass from Rattay to Martin - 2nd of the day for him. 35-16, 8:07 left to play.
32 yard pass to Johnson, who now has 7 catches for 136 yards.
Witherspoons numbers are right with Rattay for completion % and yards, but he doesn't have the TDs to match.
CB Curry Thompson does give him the INT to match, however.
Another catch for Voight, who has 8 for 148 yards on the day.
Morris gets his 100 yards on his 20th carry of the day.
We are up to 9-15 on 3rd down conversions after an 0-5 start.
Dawson runs it in from 9 yards out. 42-16, 0:47 left.
DT Wayne Martin (who?) hurts his nose on the final play of the game.
Hope that the injuries have time to heal before the USC game. I feel like this has been our best season yet but I know they have a very strong team as well.
Yards were about even in this game - weird for a 26 point margin. 448 for Cal, 440 for us.
Rattay shook off a slow start to have a nice game. 22-32 for 282 yards, 4 TDs and 1 INT.
Nicolas Morris keeps stacking up 100 yard games. 21 carries for 114 yards. And it looks like Dawson will finally start getting carries now that he is healthy. He had 11 runs for 44 yards and a TD.
The defense could not cover Mike Voight. 8 catches (on only 9 attempts) for 148 yards and a TD. His 71 yard TD helped us to take control of the game after sluggish early play.
Martin had 7 catches for 73 yards and 2 TDs.
I would have liked to see us get Kato Thelwell back in the mix. He had zero catches and we only threw to him once.
Yale Givens had 4 pancakes, but also 3 penalties.
Taz Simms had 8 solos, 1 assist, and forced a fumble.
J.R. Jackson had the kick return and a fumble recovery.
QB: Tony Jones (MINN), John Rattay (UCLA), Eric Williams (WSU)
RB: Jerry King (USC), Bob Lee (ASU)
WR: James Huard (MINN), Joey Odom (WSU)
TE: Dale Harrison (WSU), Charlie Hill (USC)
OLine: Marcus Baxter (OSU), Norm Hester (ORE), Donnie Horn (CAL)
DLine: Darren Hayes (OSU), Ronald Smith (UCLA)
LB: Dick Herring (WASH)
CB: Howard Steussie (CAL)
K: Michael Anderson (USC), Greg Duckett (ORE), George Gesser (MINN), Boomer Redmond (WSU)
P: Dino Hayes (MINN), Josh Porter (WASH)
Return: Charles Davenport (USC), J.R. Jackson (UCLA), Larry King (ASU)
OPOY: Bob Lee (ASU), Tony Jones (MINN)
DPOY: Dick Herring (WASH), Howard Steussie (CAL)
COY: Hason Friedman (MINN), Steve Gilmore (WSU), Chris Prewitt (UCLA), Monte Simmonds (USC)
I'm happy for John Rattay and Ronald Smith for scoring honors. And I'm back in the top coach mix. But it appears that USC did in fact retain their coach last year. That they wanted me to interview for the job, but they did not end up pulling the trigger on Simmonds after I declined to interview. Well, he had a big year so he is probably safe again.
We had a week off to get rested for the USC game. Here are the polls heading into that confrontation:
1. Oklahoma (9-1)
2. Texas (9-1) - beat OU but lost to Baylor. Baylor ?????
3. Minnesota (11-1)
4. USC (9-1) - showdown with us to determine who wins conference title
5. UCLA (9-1)
6. Michigan (8-2) - glad we finally passed them in rankings
7. Miami (FL) (10-1) - ended UNC undefeated run
8. Washington State (8-2) - only two losses to Top 5 teams
9. North Carolina (10-1) - nice season for the Tar Heels
10. LSU (8-3)
Others of Note:
23. Fresno State (11-0) - so there is another undefeated team out there ...
Injury Report: we have a bunch of injuries along both lines but our key guys are ready to play.
OT Lonie Smith - doubtful, torn groin (ouch)
OG Luis Jones - questionable, bruised tail bone
C Greg Knight - questionable, elbow ligament tear
C Nick Moore - probable, tennis elbow (we need him for this game)
DE Mark Dickerson - probable, wrist sublux (good to have him back)
DT Jared Burford - probable, torn foot tendon (ditto)
DT Chuck Wayne - ankle, nerve injury (if Jared is healthy I could care less about him)
CB Rulon Bowens - probable, cracked patella
FS Barron Starr - probable, strained oblique
FS Keith Thomas - questionable, tennis elbow
FS Jerry Brock - doubtful, fractured eye orbital
Argh, lost a long writeup on USC. Here is a slightly shorter one:
QB - They have a 1/2 punch of guys who were top-rated QBs in their HS class. SO John McAdoo has started the last two seasons and has completed 67% of his passes for 2,312 yards so far this year. 21-5 TD/INT ratio and a 171.4 rating. The backup is Heath Phillips, who we elected not to recruit due to bad grades. Well, he has been eligible all year long ...
HB - Solomon VanWagner is averaging 7 yards a carry this year. His backup, Jerry King, has 2,649 yards and 31 TDs in three seasons with only one start in that time. King ran for 6 TDs in a game earlier this season. Just a monster combo.
WR - Jay Lucas is a 3 year starter, but the rest of the group isn't scary.
OLine - Young but talented.
DLine - Scary deep, pretty young, lots of talent
LB - Young, very talented. A new face is OLB Dwayne Stone, who has a starting job as a freshman.
Secondary - very young right now due to some injuries. We have to attack them here.
Both the offense and defense are ranked #1 in the land. And while I think Rattay has to win the game for us, USC is #5 overall against the pass. So nothing will come easy today.
We are four point underdogs at home. Which makes sense, as we have the #39 offense and #64 defense. And USC has some pretty insane talent. Kudos to those guys for loading back up ...
The game is a sellout - I would hope so, late season meeting of Top 5 programs. The conference title is on the line, although both teams will be in the playoffs. UCLA has never won the conference so this is big for us.
The Trojans come out running. Three plays for 2 first downs. Then Phillips comes in to complete a 21 yard pass.
A draw on 3rd and 6 from the 36 gets 5.
4th and 1, pass to TE Hill for 9.
DT Burford forces a fumble on King, but the RB recovers it.
We are whistled for roughing the passer on 2nd and goal from the 10.
TD - McAdoo to Lucas. 12 play, 79 yard drive where they showed off all of their weapons. 7-0, 9:49 left in the quarter.
The kick is knocked out of bounds. Ball at the 40.
Good pressure, but Rattay completes the pass to Martin for 13.
Morris is running well early. He has 16 on 3rd and 2, down to the 12.
Morris runs it in from one yard out to tie the game. 7-7, 5:54 left in the quarter.
We ran on 8 of the 10 plays that drive.
DT Jack Farmer forces a fumble, but again USC retains possession.
DE Phil Patten leaves the game with a pelvis injury.
3 and out for USC.
We start at their 47, but the drive ends quickly as Rattay is picked.
4th and 1 at the 44. USC punts.
McAdoo is 7-7 to start the game.
They stick us on our 2 yard line.
One first down Morris escapes the end zone for a one yard pickup. Whew.
2nd down, Voight somehow is wide open behind the secondary. And Rattay finds him. No one is going to catch him - 97 yard TD pass!!!!! 14-7, 1:25 left in the quarter.
McAdoo's streak ends at 7, thanks to a drop.
3 and out, USC punts again.
We take over at the 50.
15 yard pass to Nicolas on 3rd and 9.
The drive stops at the 28, in comes Ellis - wide right. So not clutch ...
11 yard pass to TE Hill on 3rd and 10.
Phillips appears to be getting the short-yardage snaps. He completes a 16 yard pass to Lucas on 3rd and 1.
The Trojans are inside the 20 now.
Lucas is knocked out of the game with a knee injury after a 3 yard pickup.
McAdoo finds HB VanWagner open in the end zone, 14 yard TD pass. Nice playcalling that drive. 14-14, 9:20 left in the half.
J.R. Jackson returns the kick 92 yards for a TD! 21-14, 9:00 left in the half.
Jackson stuffs a run on 3rd and 7. They punt from their 40.
3 and out, Rattay continues to be a little erratic.
Gain of 20 to WR Dave Smith, who appears to be the go-to guy with Lucas out.
King picks up 9 on a draw, into field goal range.
We stop them at the 24, and their kicker nails a 43 yarder. 21-17, 1:42 left in the half.
So far 8 different guys have receptions for USC.
Rattay connects with Martin on a deep hook pattern - 27 yards on 3rd and 10.
Another 19 to Martin.
Sack, loss of 7, that knocks us out of FG range.
A screen for 8 sets up a 49 yard field goal attempt, but it is blocked.
USC has outplayed us, but we have two big plays to give us the lead.
Time of possession - 19 to 11, Trojans.
We have not yet forced any turnovers. We'll probably need to do that against this good offense to win because our offense has really struggled to find its groove.
Rattay just can not complete the comeback route.
But he gets 13 on 3rd and 10 to Voight.
We go to Martin on 3 straight plays and pick up a pair of first downs.
Holding on Yale Givens, 2nd and 20.
We have to punt from the USC 47.
Good one, it is downed at the 3.
16 yard run for VanWagner.
25 yard pass to WR Tony Brewer. Too easy.
Defensive holding is called on 3rd and 11. Another first down. Damn it.
USC has to punt from our 44.
Bad punt and Bowens returns it back to the 38.
18 yard run for Morris on a draw play.
Nice pass from Rattay to Olsen, 33 yards down to the 4. Great catch up high on a serious fastball.
Morris runs it in from 4 yards out. 28-17, 6:27 left in the 3rd quarter.
USC returns the ball out to the 45.
One play drive - 55 yards to the TE Hill, who isn't going to be caught from behind. The two point conversion is stopped. 28-23, 5:51 left in the 3rd.
Rattay is sacked on 2nd down. 3 and out.
We force a 3 and out as well.
Another 3 and out. Rattay is now 15-30 for 270 yards.
The defense forces a 3 and out. 3 straight runs go nowhere.
We finally get a first down on a 9 yard pass to Olsen.
11 to Martin, across midfield.
But Rattay is picked by Davenport - think he has both interceptions.
VonWagner goes for 17, just across midfield.
23 yard run for Phillips - Ben Arthur saved a TD with his tackle at the 17.
Pass to Hill, down at the 1. He has 7 catches for 94 yards.
Phillips runs it in on a busted play. Two point converion is good. 31-28, 10:01 to play.
25 yard pass to Voight on 3rd and 10.
Rattay is now over 300 yards.
11 yards to Olsen on 3rd and 10. We aren't getting the job done on 1st or 2nd down.
33 yard pass to Olsen, down to the 11!
But Rattay is picked for the 3rd time, and this was a very costly one.
USC is now running the ball to take time off the clock. But a failed pitchout forces a punt. We start at our 25 with just under 4 to play.
Olsen drops a pass on first down.
Incomplete, Rattay was forced to through on the run.
Sack - bad 3 and out.
King picks up 3rd and 2 with a nice cutback.
King gets 15 more, and we are going to have to start burning timeouts.
VanWagner for 19.
We don't use our timeouts??? Game over with 3 timeouts left? Wow, that is just crap. If we forced a field goal at least we get a chance at a runback ...
Disappointing loss, but a strong regular season and we are headed to the playoffs. Our only two losses were by a field goal to a pair of Top 5 teams.
We lost the turnover battle 3-0 today. We got away with it against Washington State, but not against USC. I would really love to see the defense be a little more effective in this area. That has been one area of significant dropoff with the new guy.
John Rattay is the goat today: 20-43 for 359 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs. That last one was just a killer.
Nicolas Morris saw his string of 100 yard games end today. Only 17 carries for 81 yards, as we were throwing way more than passing. I don't disagree with that strategy, just the execution. And Morris was running pretty well ...
Martin was our best receiver with 7 catches for 101 yards.
We threw to Olsen 19 times (big number, especially for the #3 receiver) and he caught 7 for 100 yards.
Ellis was 0-2 on field goal attempts. That guy always comes up small in big games. I have only had one kicker I've liked at UCLA and I had him for just a couple of games after benching the starter.
Another big special teams performance from J.R. Jackson. I'm a big fan of his play.
SS Taz Simms was working extremely hard today. 8 solos, 3 assists, 4 stuffs, and 1 pass defended.
Utah finished 4-7 in their first season under Ben Liddiard.
We made the playoffs as the #8 seed and will face Fresno State.
In other news, J.R. Jackson won the Gamebreaker Award for best return man in the land. We are extremely happy for him and think he is a deserving candidate. Awards to follow ...
5. Miami (FL)
8. LSU - not sure why a 3 loss team is ahead of us, particularly with a weaker SOS (40 vs 13)
Others of Note:
12. Washington State
15. Fresno State - still undefeated, we get them next
CB Howard Steussie (CAL)
QB Tony Jones (MINN) - had no idea when we played him
TE Charlie Hill (USC)
OG Norm Hester (ORE)
OG Donnie Horn (CAL)
LB Dick Herring (WASH)
DE Darren Hayes (OSU)
WR Mike Voight - 50 catches, 966 yards, 9 TDs
DE Ronald Smith - 47 tackles, 7 sacks, 7 stuffs
DT Jared Burford - 19 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 stuffs
FOY Nicolas Morris - 1,254 yards, 4.61 ypc, 15 TDs
OT Yale Givens - 2 key run blocks, 27 pancakes, 1 sack allowed
C Nick Moore - 11 key run blocks, 9 pancakes, 0 sackss allowed
CB J.R. Jackson - 48 tackles, 11 passes defended, 3 INT
P Al Bingaman - 40.4, 35.4 net, 58 longest 10 in 20
QB John Rattay - 3,239 yards, 26-14 TD/INT, 152.3 rating
RB Nicolas Morris - 1,254 yards, 4.61 ypc, 15 TDs
DE Mark Dickerson - 15 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 stuff
LB Hank Swilling - 65 tackles, 1 sack, 4 stuffs, 1 INT
We are listed as 21 point favorites against the undefeated Fresno State squad. Not a whole lot of respect ...
They have some serious playmakers, just not at QB and HB in terms of ratings. But there is a 3 WR set that looks solid - SO Floyd Summerall (#19 in nation out of HS), SO Travis Nomellini, and SO Kirk Kilmer. Summerall has 2,148 yards and 14 TDs already in his career.
Their left tackle, Dameyune James, is a beast. Four year starter, 29 key run blocks and 25 pancakes this year with 0 sacks allowed. He is a 1st Team All-American and is widely considered the best in the game.
On defense, the line has very little resemblence to the USC group we just played. But they do have a 2nd Team All-American in SO CB Lawrence James (great class for them two years ago). In two seasons he has 11 interceptions, 8 forced fumbles, 4 recoveries, and 25 passes defended.
The key matchup is Nicolas Morris against their #5 run defense. We think we can and should win this game if we keep their wide receivers in check.
We are going to have to deal with some elements today - it is 32 degrees for our home game. Yuck.
17 yard run for HB Bryant Barnett.
23 yard run for Jim Boso.
DT Jared Burford leaves the game with a shoulder injury - as if our run D wasn't bad enough to start the game.
And the QB finds Summerall in the end zone - 28 yard TD pass. 7-0, 11:44 left in the quarter.
We are whistled for offensive pass interference on a successful screen on 3rd and 1.
Rattay goes to work, finding Voight, who shakes his man. 39 yard gain.
But our drive is halted at the Fresno 48. Punt.
19 yard run for Boso - what the hell is going on here? We go against elite runners every week, but these guys are killing us!
13 yard pickup through the air to Boso on 3rd and 12.
22 yards to Kilmer, down to our 16.
Drive stops at the 15, Moe Saxton comes in to convert a 33 yard field goal. 10-0, 3:28 left in the quarter.
Another first down off the books, illegal motion on Fortunato.
We punt - frustrating 3 and out there.
21 more yards for Boso on 3rd and 1. This is unreal. He has 79 yards on 7 carries.
31 yard TD pass to Kilmer as he hurdles a safety. These guys are making us look like a JV team. 17-0, 14:14 left in the half.
J.R. Jackson takes the kick back to the 40.
11 yard run to Morris moves us into Fresno territory.
Another 3rd down is called back. Ugh!
And Olsen drops the pass on 3rd and 9 from the 41. Punt.
Fresno will start at the 6. Not that it matters with Superman in the backfield ...
29 yard pass to Nomellini - Chip Johnson is abusing us as well.
We knock Johnson out of the game with an eye injury.
They punt from their 47.
29 yard gain out to Voight, who is the only receiver doing anything today.
Martin responds to the criticism, gaining 27 thanks in a large part to a good stiffarm.
And Morris runs it in from the 24. 4 plays, 80 yards. 17-7, 6:49 left in the half.
Welcome to the party, guys.
SS Taz Simms sacks the QB and the ball is loose! We recover, start at their 24.
Morris runs for 10.
11 yard TD pass to Olsen. 17-14, 3:46 left in the half.
We force a 3 and out. We'll have about two minutes to work with on offense.
11 yard run for Morris, who is up to 77 yards now.
Back to back passes to Martin result in 19 more yards. Timeout!
22 yard gain to Olsen. Timeout!
Holding on Perryman - I hate that guy so much :(
12 yards to Martin, last timeout.
18 yard TD pass to Thelwell! 21-17, 0:29 left in the half.
We drill Boso for -2 to end the half.
We were so bad at the start of the game, but responded well.
The injury to the QB seems like a pretty big aid for us, as the starter was lighting us up.
We just need to avoid turnovers and slow down their running game a little bit and this game is ours.
11 yard gain for Morris.
15 yard pass to Martin - offense appears to have picked up where it left off.
But Rattay can't hit Thelwell on the comeback (why do we call this play?). Punt.
Sack by DE Phil Patten.
Another sack be DE Ronald Smith. Punt.
Rattay is sacked. We have to punt again. Fresno appears to have caught their 2nd wind defensively.
14 yard run for Bryant Barnett.
10 yards to Kirk Kilmer, who is emerging as the #1 threat at wideout.
4th and 1 at our 33. And they pick up one on the ground.
Another 16 yards for Barnett on the next carry.
QB Reggie Breaux throws a 15 yard TD pass to Kilmer, Fresno is back on top. 24-21, 4:57 left in the 3rd.
Wow, short kick taken by DT Jack Farmer. And he returns it 23 yards to the 45, but some comes back on a penalty.
20 yard pass by Rattay to Fortunato.
42 yard TD pass to Voight - he does seem to get his share of long TDs. 28-24, 3:39 left in the quarter.
I'm waiting for the patented Rattay blowup - so far he is 16-21 for 274 yards and 3 TDs with 0 INTs.
We are whistled for our 6th penalty of the day on a facemask. Fresno has zero.
44 yard streak to TE Walter Hood! Down to our 19.
Boso is over 100 yards as he gains 9, down to the 9.
And Barnett is in the end zone. 31-28, 0:40 left in the quarter.
The defense has got to get some stops - they are putting a lot of pressure on the offense.
WR Thelwell gets 10 yards on a reverse on 3rd and 5.
OG Perryman is again whistled for holding - this guy is a disaster.
Morris hits 100 yards on his 20th carry.
We only get 9 on 3rd and 14 - thanks Perryman. Punt.
DE Phil Patten leaves with a finger injury.
We give them another shot on 3rd down after being whistled for offsides.
But Hank Swilling intercepts a pass! Offense will start at the 30.
We have to kick - 4th and 6 on the 15. Ellis makes a clutch 33 yard field goal to tie the game. 31 all, 9:15 to play.
11 more yards for Boso. I hate this guy, but I hate our defense more right now.
Sack for Smith.
15 yard completion to Nomellini on 3rd and 11. Great work to hold on after a big hit.
Fresno punts from the 50.
19 yards to Olsen, who avoids a big hit.
4th and 1 at our 46, 4:47 to play.
We stuff Boso on 3rd and 3 to force a punt after 3 plays.
Our ball at our 17, less than 3 to play.
Morris gets 20 on a run from 3rd and 10.
Then we go deep to Voight for 48 yards! Down at the 15.
Morris on a draw, into the secondary - down at the 2.
Morris dives in from the 2. 38-31, 0:47 to play.
Kickoff and coverage are great, Fresno starts at their 10.
And FS Keith Thomas intercepts a pass to seal the win.
That was a tough one. The defense didn't play very well, but John Rattay and company kept putting up points over the last 40 minutes. Survive and advance.
USC served notice in their playoff opener: 70-7 over UTEP (Jeeber, you reading this?) behind 463 yards and 6 TDs for McAdoo.
And, in a monumental upset, Troy takes down #6 Texas 31-28!
We were dominated in 3rd down conversions today:
Fresno State: 9-16
John Rattay was the difference. 21-27, 365 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INT. He didn't have the luxury of throwing a dumb pick and he never did.
Mike Voight had a monster game. 5 receptions for 165 yards and a TD. The late catch to set up the game-winning score was also huge.
Nicolas Morris had a successful day on the ground. 28 carries for 143 yards and 2 TDs. His 20 yard run on 3rd and 10 was a game-changer.
I'll play a fullback at OG before I let Perryman have another chance next week.
Taz Simms had 11 solo tackles, 1 assist, 1 sack, 2 stuffs, a forced fumble, and a pass defended.
Travis Wilcox also had a strong game. 8 tackles, 2 assists, and 3 stuffs.
J.R. Jackson didn't make plays in the return game today, but he was involed with 7 tackles and had 3 passes defended.
Terrible news: Woodley Martin is out with a slipped disc. He won't be back for the rest of the playoffs. We hope he has a full recovery for next season.
DE Mark Dickerson needed a root canal this week and will be playing in a lot of pain if he suits up.
We get the giant-killers from Troy next.
GO TROJANS GO!! :)
Mizzou, perhaps you have not read the title of the thread?
Scores from the first round:
Oklahoma 44, San Diego State 17
USC 70, UTEP 7
Minnesota 26, Ohio 23 - tough game there
Michigan State 17, Michigan 13
LSU 35, North Carolina 28
Troy 31, Texas 28
Pittsburgh 40, Miami (FL) 33
Pittsburgh is just a tough out in the playoffs. There are a pair of Big 10 and Pac 10 teams left as well.
Hey, just the USC trojans, not all trojans. ;)
You are the one who didn't specify which Trojans you were rooting for ;)
The computer has Troy as the #95 team in the land, but they obviously deserve a lot more respect than that after upending Texas. But looking at the roster I think that win is a bigger upset than Jets over Colts ... bigger than Douglas over Tyson.
Their QB Kilroy has more INTs than TDs and a 117 rating. There are no 1,000 yard rushers on the team - Terrell had 945.
The offense ranks #57 but the defense is #92.
Looking at the box score from the Texas game, Brian Terrell had 3 TDs - 2 on the ground and a 3rd on a 21 yard pass. He finished with 101 yard and another RB, Jacob Brown, had 112. Troy was 11-18 on 3rd downs and finished with 526 yards - were they possessed? Troy controlled the ball for 35 minutes. So we are going to look to stop the run and dare Kilroy to beat us. Even in the Texas win he didn't complete 50% of his passes (15-32) although he had just about 300 yards.
Sure enough, scouts say that the key for us this game is to slow down Terrell with our #44 rush defense.
I would love to have a win like that.
3 and out on the opening drive - we had a false start and a bad drop on 3rd down. Punt.
Terrell gets off to a good start - gains of 5 and 11 on his first two touches.
Troy is intent on pounding it on the ground. 7 to the fullback Brenner and another 8.
But then they make the mistake of trying to get the passing game going. 3 straight incompletions and a punt.
We are also looking to run, as Nicolas Morris is getting decent blocking early.
Rattay connects with Thelwell for 11, then with Voight for 38 after he splits a pair of defenders. Almost another long one for him ...
Morris takes it in on a screen from the 2 for the first score of the game. 7-0, 6:45 left in the quarter.
A holding call wipes away a completed pass for the Trojans.
Bad series for Troy, as they have to punt from their 5.
Great punt, but we still take over at the 47.
C Nick Moore is whistled for holding.
On 3rd and 18 Rattay fires downfield to his TE Gene Fortunato. He is tackled immediately, but we have a first down on a 22 yard reception.
Another TD pass to Morris, this one for 10 yards after he lined up outside on 3rd and 2. 14-0, 2:13 left in the quarter.
Troy completes their first pass with 1:30 left in the quarter.
But they have to punt after only one first down.
One play drive - 83 yard TD run for Morris.
He now has 9 carries for 127 yards. 21-0, 14:23 left in the half.
Troy answers with a good kick return, up to the 46.
Sack for DT Jared Burford.
3 and out - ugly, ugly set for Troy. Punt.
We can't get it going at all next drive. Punt after 3 plays.
Good punt, Troy will have to start from their 7.
Troy is still sticking with the run - good strategy since Kilroy is 1-9.
Burford gets another sack on 3rd and 2. Punt.
Troy sacks Rattay on first down.
But those yards don't matter much when Rattay connects with Voight for 32 yards on 2nd down.
WR Dan Campbell is back in the mix with the Martin injury. He gets a reception for 8 yards.
Morris runs for 13, down to the 5.
The Trojans stand tall from there, forcing a field goal attempt from 27.
Ellis, who made a big field goal last game, misses from 27 this time.
3 and out. Kilroy is now 1-12.
We start at the Troy 34 after a piling on penalty at the end of the return.
Troy again stops us, forcing a field goal attempt. Ellis is good from 36. 24-0, 1:34 left in the half.
Kilroy to WR Brad Dillard for 23. He holds on despite a big hit.
31 yards on a bomb from Kilroy!
Troy attempts a long field goal, but it is blocked!
But a BBCF screw-up gives them our return yardage and the ball at our 2.
A 20 yard field goal is good at the end of the half. 24-3, 0:07 left to play in 1st half.
Is it wrong that I'm bitter that they scored?
We have outgained them almost 3:1. No turnovers for either side.
Basically this game has gone as I would like to see - just need to avoid anything exceptionally strange in the 2nd half and we advance to the Final 4.
DT Burford breaks free for a sack. And forces a fumble, which is recovered by Troy.
26 yards to Dillard on 3rd and 1, Troy is into our territory.
Dillard again for 18 yards, he is really making our secondary look bad after the catch.
Defensive holding - 10 more yards, into the red zone.
Terrell runs for 9, first and goal at the 6.
Kilroy to Dillard for a 2 yard TD pass. 24-10, 10:53 left in the 3rd quarter.
Kilroy is starting to move the offense. We need to respond ...
The kick is out of bounds. We start at the 40.
A holding call is declined, leaving us with 4th and 1 at the 49. We punt.
DT Burford is just unblockable. He gets a sack on 3rd down. The ball is loose and we dive on it. Offense takes over at the 16.
Rattay is sacked on 3rd down - Ellis kicks a 35 yard field goal. 27-10, 6:43 left in the 3rd.
Ellis pushes the kick out of bounds. Troy ball at the 40.
Another fumble, but Troy recovers.
The defense is very aggressive while forcing a 3 and out.
20 yard run for Morris, who is up to 164 yards on 17 carries.
Rattay scrambles for 6 - I think that is his longest run of the year.
Another catch for Voight. He now has 6 for 100 yards on the day.
Rattay connects with Thelwell for 19, down to the 3.
We are stopped on the 2. Ellis kicks a 20 yarder. 30-10, 0:58 left in the 3rd.
Hope we work on our red zone offense for next week ...
Gain of 45 on a deep ball to Brad Dillard. He now has 5 receptions for 114 yards.
Interception by FS Keith Thomas.
Rattay goes down on 2nd down - sack.
And he is picked on 3rd down. Troy ball at our 27.
14 yard pass to Yates.
4th and 6 at the 9. They settle for a 27 yard field goal. 30-13, 11:31 to play.
Rattay strings together a couple of completions to get us up near midfield.
15 more to Thelwell, who runs over a man to get some extra yards.
And back to Thelwell for a 30 yard TD as he slips a tackle. 37-13, 8:16 to play.
3 and out for Troy. Kilroy just isn't going to lead these guys back. He is 11-31 for 179 yards on the day.
Screen pass to Voight for 13 on 3rd and 11.
We are using short passes to run time off the clock, since Troy is loading up on the run.
The drive stops near the 20. Ellis comes in to convert a 41 yard field goal. 40-13, 1:53 left to play.
48 yard screen play to RB Brenner. We are really lax at the end of this game.
We were the same way at the end of the first half and I didn't like it then either.
The drive dies on the 32. Kilroy just can't keep completing passes - it isn't in him.
I just noticed that Washington State did not make the playoffs. Their loss to Washington in their rivalry game knocked them out. They did proceed to win their bowl game. Good to see their QB go out with a win, 425 yards and 3 TDs.
USC slapped around LSU in a 41-20 victory. Recap of playoff games to follow.
UCLA/Troy box score info:
We outgained Troy 484-314. It would have been a lot more if we had played any D at the end of either half.
Rattay played his game: 29-44 for 324 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. I really didn't like to see him passing that much when we were running the ball well, but so be it. He is a pretty durable guy.
Nicolas Morris finished with 27 rushes for 178 yards. I would still like to see him get a little better at moving the chains in the 4th quarter when we are running out the clock. But hard to complain with a guy who had 3 TDs.
All of our receivers had pretty good games. Voight was the best with 8 catches for 121 yards.
OT Yale Givens had 4 pancakes. C Nick Moore had 3 key run blocks. We'll miss both of those guys next year.
Ellis was busier than I would like with 5 field goal attempts.
Jared Burford had 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Sick.
USC 41-20 over LSU
Michigan State 27-17 over Oklahoma - down go the champs!
Pittsburgh 38-16 over Minnesoata - we will not have a rematch with the Gophers.
UCLA 40-13 over Troy.
We draw Pittsburgh next. We are listed as one point dogs. We are pretty healthy for this game. Hopefully we can give them a better game than we did in year 1 of my UCLA regime.
Looking at the Pitt roster, this is what I expected to find in the playoffs. The first two games were just some pretty fortunate scheduling. We will need our A game to beat these guys.
QB - two very good ones. The starter is JR Ashley Manuel. Ashley has only started six games, but has compiled 1,510 yards, 15 TDs (and 4 INTs), and a QB rating of 163.7 in that time. Throw in a completion percentage around 63%. Those numbers, pro-rated, match up with his stats as the full-time starter as a sophomore. He has displaced SR Buck Brown, who is a very accomplished guy in his own right. 59 TDs and a rating of 145.9 for his career.
Tailback Dewey Cherry, a SO, is one of the best in the nation. He has 1,716 yards and 12 TDs on the year. Throw in another 6 TDs between receiving and on kick returns, and you get the picture - this is a very explosive, versatile back. He has put the ball on the ground 7 times on the season and we will try to add to that number.
WR - decent trio of guys. The #1 is Seth Smith, a three year starter who needs 70 yards for his 3rd straight 1,000 yard year. He also has 9 TDs receiving and another 2 on punts. Looks like special teams play will be important today ... Seth's running mate is fellow JR Justin Scifres. Another three year starter, Justin has 2,641 yards and 21 TDs for his career. Very consistent performer; he catches everything near him.
The offensive line is quite good - both tackles and the left guard are guys who I would love to have. SR Brent Davenport is one of the best I have seen. 4 year starter with 96 key run blocks and 101 pancakes for his career. He won the Punisher award as a SO and was a 3rd Team All-American this season. Larry Bartkowski is a three year starter at LG and didn't allow a sack or commit a hold all season.
On defense, RDE Justin Zeier jumps off the page with his 12 sacks. He is a 1st Team All-American. He also had another 10 hurries, forced 9 fumbles and recovered seven.
SLB W.K. Koman is an All-BigEast performer who put up some big stats this year: 107 tackles, 7 sacks, 15 stuffs, 11 hurries, and 4 passes defended. I'm glad we don't face him (or this team) every season.
The secondary is solid, particularly at safety. SR Mike Garrison is the best of the bunch. He had a down year compared to his JR season, but still recorded 73 tackles and intercepted 3 passes. They go six deep at safety, which may have accounted for some of the production loss.
The key matchup for the game is expected to be Nicolas Morris against the Pitt front 7. They are #13 against the run.
Across the board the scouts think Pitt is just a little bit better than us.
32 yard pass and run on the first play to Kato Thelwell up to midfield.
OG Luis Jones is out with an injury. One more injury and Perryman will be in play.
Pitt stops our drive at their 49. The 47 yard field goal by Ellis is his longest of the year. 3-0, 11:41 left in the quarter.
Pitt comes our running, gaining 19 on the 1st two touches.
Then Seth gets open on the sideline for a 50 yard gain, inside the 10.
Cherry runs it in from the 1. We got whupped that drive. 7-3, 9:44 left in the quarter.
Morris gets 3 on 3rd and 4 and we are done after 3 plays.
We are seeing QB Ashley Manuel make plays against good defense. Twice in a row he picks up 10 despite heavy pressure and good coverage.
He finally misses on his 6th attempt of the afternoon.
12 yards and out of bounds to Cory Kent on 3rd and 12.
We stop Cherry on 3rd and 1, forcing a 30 yard field goal. 10-3, 2:29 left in the quarter.
28 yard run by Morris to start this drive, out to their 39.
Voight shows some moves after the catch on an 18 yard gain.
Rattay gets sacked on 3rd and 1. Yuck, hate the playcall in that spot.
Ellis kicks a 37 yard field goal. 10-6, 14:32 left in the half.
29 yard completion on a deep ball to Justin Scifres. We need our DBs to start making some plays.
DE Mark Dickerson takes it upon himself to make a play, jarring the ball loose from Cherry and recovering the fumble. We take over at the 48.
3 and out for the offense. Wasted opportunity. Punt.
The Panthers go right back to Cherry, who picks up 14 on his first touch.
Another 20 yards on the ground for Dewey Cherry. He is explosive.
We gasp as Manuel throws his 2nd incompletion of the day.
And he only gets 4 to Smith on 3rd and 10. 41 yard field goal attempt is wide right.
Morris turns on the jets for a 25 yard run - controversial ruling that he stepped out of bounds, or else he was gone.
Koman sacks Rattay.
But Rattay answers, standing tall in the pocket on 3rd and 15 to complete a 26 yard pass to Thelwell.
Incomplete pass on 3rd and 4. Ellis nails a 43 yard field goal. Nice work so far by him. 10-9, 5:15 left in the half.
Dickerson sacks Manuel - good coverage downfield.
We force a 3 and out.
Clutch 3rd down play by Rattay - on the run he finds Olsen for 11, two more yards than we needed.
But we end up having to punt from the Pitt 39.
Touchback - 2nd time today that we have failed to pin them deep.
Great pass by Manuel to Scifres, gain of 27.
Fingertip grab by Smith for 35, into field goal range.
1st and goal on the 5, less than 30 seconds to play.
And Manuel isn't taking 3 this time. He finds his 4th receiver in the corner for a 5 yard TD pass. 0:20 left in the half, 17-9 Pitt lead.
Jackson has a big return, back to the Pitt 45.
Rattay, on the run, completes a 9 yard pass to set up a 54 yard field goal attempt.
Ellis has the distance, but is sails wide.
We cannot settle for field goals in the 2nd half.
Their QB is just killing us: 18-21 for 252 yards and a TD.
Our offense has gotten good field position twice and squandered it. They outplayed us this half, but we had a chance to be much closer than 8, if not leading, if we were really executing.
Need to play better on both sides of the ball, and probably benefit from a big turnover or return, if we are going to win this game. Pitt is good.
And there is a big play. Swilling nailed Cherry in the backfield and Bruschi jumped on the loose ball. The offense takes over at the Pitt 33!
Rattay is sacked on 1st down, loss of 2.
Morris runs for 8.
They get pressure again, but Rattay finds Voight for 6 to move the chains.
A terrific TD is called back for offensive pass interference on Gene Fortunato. Voight is again victimized ...
3rd and 18, screen pass to Voight, who shows a lot of shimmey after the catch. He is finally brought down by the free safety, but only after 19 yards. I love the fight our guys are showing right now.
Another screen, this time to Morris, and he runs it in from 10 yards out. Two point conversion is good, 17-17, 10:50 to play in the quarter.
3 straight incompletions for Manuel, matching his total for the first half. Punt.
20 yard gain for Morris, he now has 105 on 16 carries.
Rattay misses a man on 3rd and 4 and we punt from midfield.
Seth Smith has a 26 yard return, the Panthers will start at their 37.
4th and 3 for Pitt at our 44 and they go for it. Screen pass, Manuel sucks the defense in before unloading it to Cherry, who has all kinds of blocking. 44 yards for the TD. 24-17, 5:48 left in the quarter.
One play drive - Morris erupts for a 68 yard run, untouched. 24-24, 5:06 left in the quarter.
Cherry picks up 12 on 3rd and 4, but a flag is down. Facemask, no help from the refs on this one.
19 yards for Cherry on his next touch and he is now over 100 yards for the day. And Pitt is in scoring range again.
Again Hank Swilling is involed in a turnover. Manuel forces one to Scifres who is lit up by two defenders. The ball pops into the air and Swilling has it. He runs for 16 yards, up to the 20, before being tackled.
3rd and 3, Rattay sees that Thelwell has beaten his man. He lofts it up for him, right in stride, 73 yard TD pass! 31-24, 0:34 left in the quarter.
20 yard run for backup HB Steve Hill.
10 more for Cherry. Panthers are at midfield.
Elijah McCallister whiffs on Cherry in the backfield, he goes for 16.
We stop them at the 31. Their kicker misses wide on the 49 yarder. He has two misses on the day after being 24-26 coming into the contest.
And Rattay was overdue for this interception, unfortunately. 3rd down, Koman jumps a route and returns it to the 26.
Manuel to Scifres for 24, great pass and run, down to the 2.
5 yard TD pass to Smith on 3rd down. 31-31, 9:45 left in the game.
Pitt already has 530 yards against our D. We may have to take a long look at our coordinator ...
Offensive pass interference again - we miss out on a 20 yard gain.
And holding wipes out a 1st down. Now 3rd and 19.
Holy crap, Voight catches it, jumps right over the safety, and is off to the races! 89 yards! 38-31, 7:46 left to play.
The defense forces a 3 and out.
Another penalty wipes out a 1st down. 3rd and 14 now. Incomplete, and we have to punt. Penalties are really increasing the degree of difficulty for Rattay.
Pitt quickly moves into field goal range, mixing run and pass.
Bruschi goes out with a thumb injury after making a big 2nd down stop.
Scott Wilson sacks Manuel on 3rd down.
Pitt takes a 42 yard field goal. 38-34, 2:24 left to play.
Another penalty on the kickoff, we start at the 24.
Morris runs outside for 1.
Morris up the gut for 5.
Morris snuffed outside, loss of 1.
Punt. 46 yards, no return, Pitt starts at their 25.
Screen, gain of 6.
Deep ball is up for grabs. Cory Kent comes down with it. 32 yard gain. Timeout!
Pitt now has the ball on the 37 with 0:33 to play and two timeouts.
Gain of 14, plus a roughing the passer call on CB Rulon Bowens.
1st and 10 at the 11, 0:24 left to play.
2 yarder to Scifres, we light him up but he holds on. Timeout.
2nd and 8 at the 9, 0:12 to play.
TD pass to Kent, 9 yards. 41-38, 0:06 left to play.
No miracle on the return, what a tough loss.
Their QB led TD drives at the end of each half and that was the difference. We got killed by penalties in the 4th quarter. Pitt is awfully good, but we were right there. They will probably get housed by USC in the title game, just to annoy me further.
There will not be a Pac Ten team in the championship, as Michigan State came from behind in the 4th quarter to defeat USC 24-22.
Pitt had an amazing 32-14 advantage on first downs - we hit big plays, they sustained long drives. I'm just surprised we put up 38 points on 14 first downs.
Pitt collected 629 yards on the day, but was only 4-13 on 3rd down conversions. Translation - they annihilated us on 1st and 2nd down. Pitt ran 81 plays to our 64.
Their QB Manuel had the best passing day against us that I can remember since my first year running the Bruins: 32-42 for 437 yards with 4 TDs and 1 INT. And the scores were clutch.
Cherry ran for 145 yards, but we did get him to fumble twice. So no major surprises there.
On our side of the ball, Nicolas Morris had a monster game in defeat. 26 carries for 199 yards. 2 TDs, one rushing and one receiving.
John Rattay struggled a little with his accuracy, but he came up with a lot of big plays. 16-31 for 332 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT. If he improves his accuracy and his decision making for his JR year he is a Heisman threat. I feel that he has a lot of Brett Favre in his game - just a gunslinger who really trusts his arm.
Thelwell and Voight both had 5 receptions and way more than 100 yards. Each one took a long pass in for a score.
Nothing really noteworthy, good or bad, on the offensive line. Those guys were a bit of a disappointment this year. My first recruiting class was loaded at OT and we brought in a stud center as well. This should have been the year for these guys to dominate, but it didn't happen. We'll have to play 52 card pickup there next year, which is probably my biggest concern heading into the offseason.
Defensively, Simms had 10 tackles. He finishes with 120 for the season, which is the most I've seen at UCLA.
Coming up - recap of departing seniors and the championship game results.
Michigan State takes home the title with a 28-14 win against Pittsburgh. QB Ron Warner threw for 4 TD passes in the victory.
1. Michigan State
4. Texas - sorry, you lose to Troy you are not #4
5. Southern Cal
6. Miami (FL)
7. Washington State - what a load of crap
Others of Note:
11. Pittsburgh - runner-up deserves much better than this
13. Fresno State
Troy did not even show up on "Others Receiving Votes"
The Spartans went through a murderers row to win the championship - Michigan, Oklahoma, USC, and Pitt. And they don't graduate a ton of seniors, either ... nice job by their program. Their prestige was 63 for this season - lower than ours.
QB Greg Moorehead - never higher than 3rd on the depth chart, but we had to play him some as an underclassman due to injuries and academics. He just didn't really belong at the UCLA program I'm trying to build. One of last guys here that I did not recruit.
RB Dwayne Baker - we struck out at RB during my first class, so we grabbed Dwayne late in the process. Had a very solid JR year as a backup, although he was knicked up a little more than we would have liked.
RB Quentin Christian - walkon who actually saw the ball 9 times in his junior year. Hard worker, liked by his teammates. Will be a successful professional in a field that is not football.
WR Dan Campbell - another guy that I inherited. Always the 5th receiver, but he made plays in limited opportunities.
TE T.J. Thomas - bumped to 3rd string for his senior year. The guy just never developed like we hoped he could, despite a solid work ethic and good intelligence. I don't think it is too harsh to call him a bust, although it really didn't impact our team.
TE Jeff Westbrook - if I had known he was on the team the last four years I would have cut him.
OT Steve Whiting - had an NFL body, practiced hard, but just didn't see the results translate on the field. No idea why he wasn't better.
OT Yale Givens - four year starter who finished with 73 pancakes and 9 key run blocks. How do you only get a key run block once every five games if you are good enough to start 50 games in your career? Missed 20 blocks his senior year.
OT Lonie Smith - wasn't quite good enough to displace his classmates at OT. Which, if you read my reviews of them, doesn't say a ton for Lonie. I'm going to have to take a look at our OC skills at developing linemen. The ratings and results just are not matching up.
OG Luis Jones - started 3 of 4 years. In 40 games (27 starts) he had 4 key run blocks, 4 pancakes, allowed 29 sacks and missed 29 blocks. And he was a world better than the guy he was moved ahead of (Perryman).
C Nick Moore - I wish the other linemen had the number that Nick posted. Four year starter, 69 key run blocks and 46 pancakes. His stats were down this last year; perhaps he should have gone pro early although we are glad he did not.
DE Ronald Smith - my favorite recruit in this class. Four year starter, finished with 162 tackles, 21 sacks, 40 run stuffs, and 48 hurries. Just seemed to spend a lot of the time in the backfield. I think he is good enough to play in the league, although he probably would not be a star.
DE Randy Gajan - another guy I inherited. He had four sacks in 11 games for his career so maybe I should have let him play more. Of course, his tackling left something to be desired, which is one quality I tend to value in my defensive linemen ...
DT Chuck Wayne - how did this guy last four years? Because finding DTs is a bitch, that is why. He got a start as a senior and finished with one sack. He also missed four tackles in four games.
ILB Bryant Bruschi - finally a starter as a senior after being a very dependable backup his first three seasons. Did everything pretty well.
ILB Scott Wilson - academic problem his entire career. When eligible, he started. Finished with almost 200 tackles and 8 picks.
ILB Ben Arthur - I still chuckle when I see B. Arthur on the depth chart. Got to start 7 games as a senior. Got better every year. Good special teams guy. I would take a guy like this on every one of my teams.
OLB Travis Wilcox - seemed like he was better as an underclassman than during his last two seasons. Still, he rang up a lot of tackles this year (104), just didn't seem like he made as many big plays as Swilling.
OLB Hank Swilling - four year starter, liked him a lot. Finished with 201 tackles for his career, along with 22 hurries, 16 passes defended, 8 forced fumbles and five interceptions.
OLB Adrian Kyle - usually the 3rd guy among our three OLBs, although he started ahead of Wilcox last year. Based on defensive results, perhaps we needed to play him more this season ...
CB Peerless Flutie - came in the class before I got here. Somehow survived my purgings at CB. Had a big interception this season, the only one of his career.
CB Freddie Walker - played less than Flutie. In fact, he only appeared in one game as a freshman. Perhaps the least productive guy in the first class that I brought to LA.
P Ollis Smith - doesn't count as least productive player since he didn't have a scholarship. Never punted for us.
Guys that might leave early:
SS Taz Simms - doubtful, but 3 year starter who had big season
WR Mike Voight - more likely, his numbers were pretty comparable to Ben Jackson's last year.
DT Jared Burford - has had health issues, but been dominant when in the lineup. This is my worst fear ...
CB J.R. Jackson - believe he has done more as a return guy than as a CB up to this point
We graded out very well for the year:
Team Performance: A
Board Expectations: A
First time I have gotten that grade at UCLA. Feels good. And I think we deserved good marks as our only three losses were by a combined 9 points to teams that all made the final eight in the playoffs.
Fresno State brings in a new guy after their huge season. I hope it was a case of the old guy retiring; if not that is one harsh administration.
Programs who come calling: Florida State, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Memphis, Ohio (wow, they made the playoffs and nearly pulled a 1st round upset), Northern Illinois, and Utah.
I'm upset that Utah is looking for me to come in and replace my former defensive coordinator. I would be just fine if they cut him and I got him back, however. Not that I don't want my coordinators to succeed - but I want the ability to get him back if he was fired and didn't have another head coaching opportunity.
All in all, some good schools are looking to talk with me. But I want to get the UCLA prestige above USC before moving on. And we are up to 71 now, so we are trending in the right direction in a big way.
Potential Early Departures:
DT Jay Battle - USC
DT Jared Burford - UCLA (damn it)
SS Fred Edmunds - WASH
DT Darren Hayes - OSU
CB Malcolm Haynesworth - WSU
FB Nate Irvin - CAL
TE Alyn Johnson - USC
OLB W.K. Koman - PITT
RB Bob Lee - ASU
QB John McAdoo - USC
WR Joey Odom - WSU
QB John Reese - OSU
SS Taz Simms - UCLA
RB Floyd Tonnemaker - ARI
OK, two guys thinking about making the jump out of the four I highlighted as possibilities. If I had to pick a guy to lose, it would have been Voight because we have depth at WR. We certainly don't have it at DT and not enough at safety either. Hope that they both don't leave us ...
USC has quite a few guys thinking about leaving. Nice to see ...
UCLA Hall of Fame Honors go to OT Yale Givens, C Nick Moore, and DE Ronald Smith.
Personally, I think having Givens in cheapens the distinction. Here are the guys who have departed so far that I think belong in:
HB Derrick Brown - mainstay on some mediocre teams. But only a starter for two years, so actually borderline despite how good he was those two years.
Out, but close:
WR Ben Jackson - 3 year starter, but only had 17 TDs - 13 in his last season. Would have been in if he had stayed four seasons.
WR Gary Brewer - academics forced him to miss some time. Four year starter, but never even 1st Team Pac 10.
C Nick Moore - four year starter, was very good for SO/JR campaigns but tailed off as senior.
DE Ronald Smith - four year starter, got better every year, but only 21 sacks and 2 forced fumbles - just not quite HOF productive.
OG Bill Westbrook - was a monster his senior year and productive all four years. I just didn't have him long enough or I would probably put him in there.
Not even close (but in by computer selection criteria):
QB Harold Edwards
OT Yale Givens
TE Pettis Larscheid (appears to be because of problem reading his real stats?)
ILB Jerry McCullough (have to start your senior year to make my list, real tough, I know ...)
K Ron McMullen (GMAFB)
Forgot to note earlier - budget will be up 80K next year to 2,285,000.
We will be looking to fill 21 scholarships and will have 123K per week for that task.
All of our coaches want to stay. Time to take a look at what they have done and determine if they are the right guys to keep as we make a push for the title ...
OC Kent McNown has been in place for three years now, after we hired him away from Ohio State. In that time our offense has been ranked #24/#12/#27.
Of some concern is that our rushing numbers are pretty weak - 34/76/86. But I don't know how that could be with the season we got from Nicolas Morris last year. He had what I consider a pretty successful year.
Passing - the attack has been excellent: 22/4/7.
Points - again very good: 23/10/4.
He is also considered to be a genius at developing the offensive line. I haven't seen it yet, but we'll see where he goes with guys he helped recruit. Obviously he struggled getting the best out of the last batch. He stays.
DC Will Clanton has never held a job for two seasons and after last year I think I have some understanding of this trend. We were 83rd in points allowed with what I considered to be pretty decent talent. Our schedule ended up being pretty challenging, but I'm not sure this is an excuse for #83. And #100 against the pass. Just terrible. We'll have to see what else is out there - he is drawing 525K per season so we may have to go up the ladder financially to find better. But we are trying to build a program, so it may be worth it.
ST coach Donnie Knight actually had coached at UCLA prior to my arrival, back in 2006-2007. We are pretty happy with his work last year, as we were the #1 team in the nation in net punting and #2 in kick returns. #24 in punt returns, pretty solid as well. Now if he can get our kickers to make big field goals ...
There is a guy, Nick Moore (father of our ex-center?) who is asking for 625K that would be a decent upgrade over Clanton. That is more than I want to spend - I'm going to try and offer less than his asking price and see if we can get him. If not then Clanton will get one more year because I don't want to make a "equal but different" move. Of course I will regret this if we suck on defense again, but that is the course I'm taking for now.
Moore comes on board at the end of the process. I feel a little bad about canning Clanton when he doesn't have an opportunity to get another gig, but then i watched the defense in the last two minutes of the Pitt game and I'm convinced we did the right thing.
We will be losing CB Patrick Harrison and TE Kent Thompson. Thompson was my #2 TE last year - I don't know why he never saw the field.
Not one player is interested in coming to UCLA when we have 21 scholarships available. So much for the 1.04 patch changing anything ... this really frustrates me that we have no ability to address the talent drain. I understand making it hard for elite programs to get transfers as a balance issue but our prestige certainly does not mark us as elite (at least not in my eyes).
Our guys head to Boise State (they do enjoy picking up our transfers) and BYU. We put an offer out there for an OT and failed to land him because TCU is the place to go for guys who value winning. OK, whatever.
Transfer rant over.
Initial player interest for recruiting:
Top rated guy interested is OT Paul Glover out of Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, CA). He is listed as #5 in the nation and the top lineman.
Three of the Top 25 show up with interest.
Six of the Top 50.
13 of the Top 100.
It looks like there are players along both lines who can help. Time to do a roster review to determine where the biggest needs currently lie.
QB - Rattay is back and we like him a great deal. But he is also a good bet to leave after this year. So we need a legit backup. Right now the closest thing is redshirt FR Nathan Short (7/11). And while I like the idea of starting a mobile QB one of these years I'm not sure that handing the keys to Nathan next year is optimal. We will lose one more guy to graduation in Fazande, leaving 3-4 players after this year. Relative Need: 5 (1-10 scale)
RB - Morris returns and has shown durability + good grades. We have him for two more years. Gannon Dawson is heading into his senior year. We have one more guy who is well suited for the 4th RB option. So we could use another guy as a quality backup. Relative Need: 3
FB - Toomer is a senior and we two guys behind him who both project as decent options. I wouldn't mind another guy or an absolute stud at this position, but we are not hurting for this year. Relative Need: 2
WR - Voight is a senior and everyone else is an underclassman. Interestingly, redshirt freshman Derrick Palmer is initially listed as the starter ahead of Voight, Olsen, and Thelwell. I could use one more guy here so I can cut the stiff at the bottom of the roster. But it would have to be a lower level recruit so he doesn't want to transfer. Relative Need: 1
TE - Gene Fortunato, a senior, is the only one I have after the dim-witted transfer by Kent Thompson. Relative Need: 8 (would be higher, but we barely use our TEs)
OT - Roell English is the last guy from our class of many tackles. J.W. Hunter, a redshirt last year, is slated as a starter. We have one other guy who should not ever see the field. Relative Need: 10
OG - We have two seniors out of five players here. One is a starter, the other is the worst of the bunch. Right now John Perryman is scheduled to start. He had better improve his play on Saturdays if he wants to keep the position. I will start a fullback in his place if he is as baby-soft as he was last year. Relative Need: 8
C - SR Greg Knight is serviceable. The backup should never, ever see the field. Relative Need: 10
DE - Dickerson can play, but the new coach isn't wild about what Phil Patten brings to the table. Patten is set to graduate and has grade issues, so we definitely need to shore up this position. Relative Need: 9
DT - Farmer and Burford are both seniors. The two backups are horror shows. We need help here ASAP. Relative Need: 10
ILB - Lee Brown is raw. Leon Jacoby isn't much in the eyes of our new guy. Both are sophs, so they will be around for awhile. But neither looks like a starter. Relative Need: 9 (a little bit of a surprise)
OLB - SR Fred Mitchell is a stop-gap. The other two guys are bottom of the barrel players for the current UCLA program. Relative Need: 10 (ugh, D needs help)
CB - Finally a position the current guy likes ... We have four seniors here and SO Curry Thompson. Relative Need: 10
S - If Simms leaves we have nothing at all at SS. FS is in better shape with 3 options in Thomas, Brock, and Starr. Relative Need: 6 (9 for SS, 3 for FS)
K/P - both are juniors. I would be happy to bring in a stud to take the job from Ellis. I'm happy with Bingaman.
So, here are the needs:
2 OT, 2 DT, 2 C, 1 CB, 2 OLB, DE, ILB, SS, OG - 14 guys on the 8-10 priority list
Our top initial targets:
OT Paul Glover (#5) - listed as a power lineman. At 341 now, with an expected weight of 358, do you think?
DT Chris Allen (#24) - little bit of a risk academically (2.1) but we need some beef on the line. Another big boy at 311, but he looks like he can move.
ILB Bobby Anderson (#53) - impact guy at the position with great grades to match.
Yes! Paul Glover is in the fold. I hope this guy is as good as we think he is. We also landed a center with a cool name: Adam Slaughter.
Cal landed a good CB (Kulbacki, #23 in the nation). Oregon and WSU landed guys were had offered that were in the 80-90 range.
No signings for us.
USC grabs DT Allen. Stanford grabs a center prospect we had offered.
DT Roger Parsons signs on. He is the #29 guy in the land so another good get. But with only 3 players signed in the first week we still have 20 left to get this period. Better get busy.
Oregon signs two more players we had offered. Georgia pulled in a highly rated OT from our back yard. All of the players we had offered in the Top 50 up to this point are off the board.
Both Simms and Burford tell me they are going pro - I am not sure I have had a guy consider and not go yet. I'm curious how this is working for other people. There are guys that are significantly better than our players staying for their SR year so am I just getting lousy dice rolls or is the game stacked against the human player in terms of going pro (as well as transfers - again, separate rant)?
List of Pac 10 guys (and other notable names) going pro to follow ...
DT Jay Battle - USC
DT Jared Burford - UCLA
DT Darren Hayes - ORE
WR James Huard - MINN
FB Nate Irvin - CAL
OLB W.K. Koman - PITT
RB Bob Lee - ASU
QB Johnny McAdoo - USC
WR Joey Odom - WSU
SS Taz Simms - UCLA
RB Floyd Tonnemaker - ARI
Pretty evenly divided - I think we took a bigger hit than anyone else because we lack studs behind our players. Not sure if that is the case with ARI and ASU but I know that USC has a good option at QB unless Phillips skipped study hall ...
Week 12 - no one signs with us. We see a DT that we wanted go to Arizona State. Another 10 or so we had looked at, but not offered, sign with other schools. 3 with Boise State, 2 with Washington.
Week 13 - Four guys join the Bruins, including our coveted MLB Bobby Anderson. We added a 2nd ILB in David Davis (#92) and a WR and DT. Still have a ton of needs to fill ...
Week 14 - Three more sign on the defensive side of the ball - a SS, DE, and DT. But with as many scholarships as we had to give, this class has been a disaster. I'm not of a mind to throw a bunch of scholarships at scrubs if I can bank them for next year.
Week 15 - we pick up a pair of OLB and another DE. None of these guys are highly regarded. We are just looking for walkon protection and hoping that someone blows up unexpectedly like Kai Olsen at WR two years back.
Week 16 and 17 - WR, QB, OT, QB, TE, and FB to round out our class. Lots of offense after loading up on defense with our earlier signees.
Final recruiting summary:
3 5 star recruits (Top rated - OT Paul Glover #5)
7 4 star recruits
7 3 star recruits
2 2 star recruits
I'm expecting to do some cutting on these guys between this year and next. And I had much higher hopes for this group that what we ended up signing ...
During training we get our first look at the new guys:
OT Paul Glover will start and very possibly be our best lineman.
C Adam Slaughter may eventually be a good center, but he is very raw right now.
The same comment applies to all five defensive linemen we signed. This addresses a huge long-term concern although it may not help much this season.
ILB Bobby Anderson will get playing time this year and looks like he could be a good one in the future.
All in all, I hope our offense is able to score a lot of point because the defense has some work to do ...
Some random early season musings ...
The expectations continue to nudge upwards - Top 15 and 2nd in conference.
Our recruits were ranked #4 in the land. I can only assume that is weighted on volume over impact.
We are #14 in the preseason polls. So scheduling may play an important role in getting that Top 15 ranking, although the overall conference strength is also key. We are listed as 2nd in conference predictions, behind you-know-who.
USC is again the preseason #1.
School fundraising, academics, and alumni funding stay at the same levels - would really like to see the alumni step up at some point assuming we continue to win.
Navy is on the schedule this season.
The roster breakdown
4 blue (including my buddy at OG Perryman)
So not nearly as much depth as we had last season. Have to figure out how these pieces fit in place for our offensive and defensive philosophies. I'm worried about our O-Line and our defense as a whole while looking at these decisions.
And here is the new prize freshman, Paul Glover.
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