To Be or Not To Be — Neuheisel barely avoids the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, as Bruins’ Shaky 27-17 victory over lowly San Jose St. brings more fears than cheers
Friends, Bruins, Countrymen, lend me your ears…
It didn’t take a legendary Bard to realize that when San Jose had the ball in the 4th quarter of a tied game with UCLA, the Bruins’ Head Coach was in serious jeopardy of being unemployed within 48 hours. UCLA was 0-1, and about to fall behind to perennial doormat San Jose St., who was a 21-point underdog in this battle at the Rose Bowl.
Fans in attendance were murmuring that if the Bruins lose this game, Rick Neuheisel should be terminated immediately. There is no excuse for losing to the team that lost last week to Stanford 57-3. No one would have come to Neuheisel’s defense, had the Bruin Defense not pulled two rabbits out of their hats to save the game.
The Bruin Offense lost two fumbles with the score tied in the Second Half, but both Turnovers were avenged, by Interceptions. Sean Westgate got one, and Sheldon Price got the other, keeping the score locked at 17. Then the Bruins got a go-ahead Field Goal, followed by a breakaway TD run by Derrick Coleman that gave Neuheisel and UCLA a sigh of relief.
The Bruins hadn’t been able to run up many yards early, but their size and strength advantages finally wore down the Spartans, as Coleman and Jonathan Franklin both found yardage in the Second Half. Coleman ended with 135 yards, all after Intermission, as he repeatedly pounded his way through the line, and dragged tacklers to extend every run.
It was Coleman’s toughness that finally put the Bruins in command of the game. Richard Brehaut played the whole game at QB, and he had his moments, but was not as effective as he was against Houston. He passed for only 145 yards, and ran for only 44, but he didn’t turn the ball over once, and made enough plays in the 4th Quarter to keep the Spartans at bay. His only TD pass was in the 2nd Quarter, when he found a wide open Joe Fauria in the end zone on a big 3rd and Long. Brehaut didn’t have a horrible game, but when the score was tied late in the game, some fans were wondering if Kevin Prince was available to come out of the bullpen.
The way things have been going for UCLA in the last few years, any win is to be cherished, but when you struggle mightily to pull away from a cupcake like SJSU, you know you’re in trouble. You probably don’t believe in “moral victories,” but do you believe in “moral defeats?” Because this game was anything but a confidence-builder for the Bruins, who have 2-0 Texas invading Pasadena in 7 days.
Sure, the Defense tackled a LITTLE better than they did in Houston, and they clogged up the interior for most of the game. But they allowed a 65-yard TD run on a short-yardage situation, and they couldn’t shut down a team that failed to reach the end zone in their first game. This is a team that everyone expected to be a pushover, so any perceived “improvement” should be filtered by the knowledge that SJSU is NOT a Pac-12 caliber team.
So most fans did NOT gain any optimism on Saturday night, and are starting to expect more hard times ahead, and probably a new coach next year. Neuheisel will have to engineer another victory over Texas to win over some fans, and even then his approval numbers won’t be much better than Obama’s. Squeaking by the Spartans will do that to a guy.
Below are 32 photos from the game and pre-game tailgating festivities. On a personal note, I had one of my favorite game experiences of all time, thanks to the company I had. Special thanks to a very special friend, who is hopefully, a future member of the Bruin Dance Team. If you look at the last four photos, you’ll see that, at least in the looks department, she has a great chance to make it. You’ll have to take my word for it that her personality and smarts are also impressive, and make her an ideal candidate for the squad. I sure hope Mollie and the Selection Committee agree.