It’s been a Horror Story for Ben, up until this Omen: Olson Rings up spot on prestigious QB Watchlist, because Exorcists Neuheisel and Chow can Saw a Johnny Unitas out of “Johnny Bench”
Chalk this one up to Norm Chow…. and save the chalk outline.
UCLA’s hard-luck QB Ben Olson recently received a nice stroke, with his inclusion in the 26-player Watchlist for the Johnny Unitas Award. Olson has gone from being an almost-forgotten has-been to being a Unitas Hopeful practically overnight. After losing his starting job to Pat Cowan, but then getting it back when Cowan’s career was cut short by injury, “Bench” Olson is now in contention to win an award named for one of the greatest QB’s ever. And Olson’s raw talent and past performances are NOT the only reasons that he made it.
The panel of “well-known media experts” knows very well that Olson is now playing for a new Offensive Coordinator, who happens to be a Mastermind. They know that Chow — with Rick Neuheisel’s blessing — will devise a plan that will utilize Olson’s strength, and protect his weaknesses. Even though the Bruins aren’t expected to be a BCS-level team this year, the experts still think that Olson and therefore, the Bruin Offense, might perform at an Elite level. And it would NOT be surprising if super-lobbyist Neuheisel personally called each and every one of the experts, to remind them to still think that.
Of course, it’s hard to emulate Unitas from the bench. And that’s where injured players — and second-stringers — watch the game from. But the experts have to allow for the remote possibility that Olson will survive the whole rigorous schedule. And if they are REALLY experts, they know that one of Olson’s most devastating injuries was due to a Wildcat late hit cheap shot, so it is NOT evidence of Olson being indefensibly injury-prone.
Also, maybe the only time the experts ever saw him play a full game was the game at Palo Alto where he tossed about a half-dozen Touchdown passes. He sure looked like a Hall of Famer on that afternoon.
The knock on Olson, besides his being too immobile and fragile, is that he thinks too slowly on his feet. But a simplified Chow attack may make the game move slower for Olson, and if it does, watch out. If the lowly-touted O-Line can somehow give him time, his results may finally match his classic mechanics, and his memorable High School results.
By the way, it is nice to boast about the fact that there are no trojans on the Watchlist, but the only reason there aren’t is that the Award includes OFF-THE-FIELD behavior, so no one lobbied for the drunken, vandalizing, accused but “cleared” sexual attacker. Just kidding — It’s actually because the Award is for Seniors only. Either way, it is NOT because Olson is expected to outperform Sanchez (or Mustain) on the field this season.
Finally, anyone who has soured on Olson’s performance over the past few years, and has no hope for a sudden shocking improvement, has a very short memory. DREW Olson’s Senior campaign outdistanced even the most confident Bruin’s wildest expectations. If it suddenly all clicks for Ben, he could be the only Bruin besides Cade McNown to take home the Unitas trophy. And he’s already better than Cade OFF-the-field — He parks in Lot 8).