The criticism last year of the offense was about the creativity; are they being bottled up? Can that even happen though? Is it possible to fit the middle in before edges are done?
UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel: “You know what, no one is more critical of our offense than we are. I accept all criticism. No problem. The numbers are what they are. When you’re eighth or ninth or 10th in the Pac-10 in offense, that’s not good enough. We’re like car mechanics – we’re always going to tinker. But you also have to always ask, what can you execute. It isn’t what we know, it’s what our players know.
When you’re dealing with an inexperienced offensive line – a freshman left tackle, a brand-new junior college player inside, Kai Maiava playing his first year at center, Mike Harris playing in his second year – there was no one with more than two years of experience. Johnathan Franklin, freshman. Kevin Prince, freshman. Nobody at wide receiver with the exception of Austin with more than two years in the program. What can we really do and execute? One thing we couldn’t do was turn the ball over. We learned that in our first year, and our turnover ratio was better last year, gave us a chance to win.
You go back to the games we were unsuccessful…an interception against USC cost us the game – it was 0-0 at halftime and you have to play that field-position game. You can’t turn it over. The Cal interception, when we were going to make it 38-33 and they take it in for six. The turnovers are the hugest thing we can keep for ourselves. The Oregon game, first play of the second half, there it is.
We aren’t good enough to beat that. There will be a day when we’re explosive and we’ve got it all going and we’re good enough up front and we’ll be able to weather those storms. But we’re not there yet.”