Friday, October 12, 2007

Accidentally Shot by Claudine Longet | by Jay

I need to clear out a couple of notes on UCLA this morning before jumping to some BC stuff. I had intended to collect my postgame thoughts earlier in the week, but like Mo Crum running unhindered towards the end zone with an interception safely tucked away, I was accidentally shot by Claudine Longet, and I went down in a tumble of arms and legs.

Quickly, then, as I regain my feet:

• As hinted at by Pat's calculations of the MOE, I think the most heartening thing about UCLA is that we played pretty much mistake-free ball for 60 minutes. People were saying at the tailgater after the game that we played an "ugly" game or that was an "ugly" win, but from my vantage point almost all the ugliness was on the Bruins side. We were ineffective on offense, and sure, we didn't always make a block or find an open receiver, and we kept a few UCLA drives alive with penalties, but we took care of the footbaw and didn't do anything excessively dumb. Well, the players didn't do anything excessively dumb. As for the coach...

• I can't believe we haven't talked more about passing on 1st & goal from the one.

• And as bad as that call was, I think the 4th down go-for-it at midfield, while up by two scores was the more egregious error of the game for Charlie -- and maybe his worst call as a coach at ND. At that point in the game there was little to gain by going for it. Consider: there were 10 minutes left in the game, so you weren't going to have a chance to run out the clock (a la Georgia Tech, '06). Our defense was firmly in control, having forced 4 turnovers and a punt on UCLA's previous five possessions. Moreover, we'd already pooch-punted it once before in the game, and had perfect coverage on it, downing the ball at the UCLA 1. The worst case is the ball goes in the end zone, and they start twenty yards further back than if the 4th down fails, which it did. Essentially, we spotted them two first downs in a game with plenty of time, and in a game where they needed two scores to catch up. I've been on board with just about every one of Charlie's 4th down calls in the last two years, but I didn't understand this one at all.

• Brandon Walker has plenty of leg. We were right behind the goal post, and the conversation went like this:

Jay: "That didn't hit the crossbar, that was longer. It hit the...the...not the crossbar, the--"
Dylan: "The stanchion."
Jay: "The stanchion?"
Dylan: "The stanchion."

(It was like the dinner scene in Goodfellas with Pesci's mom. "The deer's paw...the paw, you know--" "The hoof.")

• When Olson got crunched and had to come out, I figured Dorrell would do everything he could to protect his walk-on QB, and not put the game on his shoulders. Unfortunately for the Bruins, that's not what he did. Inexplicably, Bethel-Thompson had about 40 passes called for him in a little over half a game that was really never out of reach, including an horrendous 4th & 1 call at the ND 32 (with the score 6-3), where MBT took the sack. Yes, Bethel-Thompson was raw and made some mistakes, but his coaches put him in poor situation after poor situation.

I don't think we're going to be able to reap the same kind of opportunities tomorrow.

• My estimate on the ND fan turnout: 25-30,000, based on both end zone sections completely filled with ND fans. (One of whom was Rhema McKnight, whom we spied a section over). The double serenade on either end by the ND players at the end of the game was a nice touch.