Ah, the joys of preseason hype. Just five short hours ago I was on top of the world, looking at a possible dominant start and now I'm sitting crushed, shat on by the team I've entrusted my love in for as long as I could remember. This game hurts, not because it's a loss, but because it's exactly how I didn't want Utah to come out and play. They looked completely lost from the first possession of the game and made too many boneheaded mistakes to even be taken seriously by a UCLA team that obviously is more talented and better coached than Utah.
While this post is made out of haste, I can't deny that I am now really concerned about this season. I expected a good game and even prepared myself for a loss to UCLA because I know how difficult it is to go on the road and play a Pacific Ten team and win. Yet I couldn't prepare myself for this kind of game. A game where Utah's offense looked about as bad as it's ever looked and a Utes secondary that was gassed half-way through the damn second quarter.
I don't know if UCLA is this good, or Utah is this bad but what occurred tonight was the worst loss in recent memory. Utah not only gave up, they were emotionally beaten and drug through the dirt by an inspired Bruins squad giddy over the possibility of kicking off a successful 2006 campaign. Now I like Kyle Whittingham and I'm not about to jump off his bandwagon right now, but I can't help but question his game calling and his ability to rally the troops. All night Utah was faced with adversity and every time they collapsed when put in the position to turn things around. They looked lost, confused and even down right scared. This was not the Brett Ratliff that had led the Utes to a surprise victory over TDS and then a dominate victory over Georgia Tech in the Emerald Bowl. No, this was a quarterback that looked completely flustered and taken out of his game.
Right before the half Whittingham pulled Ratliff and put in Grady. Grady got one good pass off and then threw an interception that turned into 6 for UCLA. This was the turning point, but I can't help but think it was the right move. The wrong move however was not staying with Grady. Ratliff showed no poise, put together no effort and was too challenged by a suspect UCLA defense. Everything that could have gone wrong tonight, went wrong. Utah hung in there for a half, but the inevitable took place and the Utes find themselves with an 0-1 start. They must rebound next week against a weak Northern Arizona team, or this season -- like I mentioned in an earlier post -- could be like 2000 all over again.
I'm not one to dissect games and find positives in losses. To me, a loss is a loss and it's difficult finding any silver lining. Therefore, I won't. UCLA, as of right now, is the better team and deserved to win in the fashion they did. This is the only thing keeping me sane in a time of pure hell. If I question UCLA's ability, I then must concede Utah is on a crash course this season. The Bruins weren't flawless, but had their way with Utah. It was something I couldn't predict because I didn't want to predict it. An action I believed to be false because I actually bought into the preseason hype spoon fed to me by the coaches. This season is not over, but I can't help but question if it's heading in the right direction.
I'm a poor loser and I hate losing. I don't like talking about losing and I won't talk about this game much anymore after this post. UCLA was in the past, it's now time to look to Northern Arizona. Congratulations to our friends over at Bruins Nation for a pretty impressive win. The Bruins played a damn good game, I just wish my Utes could have done the same.