Karl Dorrell and his boys left Salt Lake City with arguably their worst loss in school history. A 38-point drubbing at the hands of an undermanned, outmatched Utah team that no one thought was capable of winning, let alone winning by as much as they did. And now it appears Karl Dorrell's tenure at UCLA is quickly coming to an end because of that defeat.
UCLA's poor play isn't that unexpected when you realize it has been a consistent staple in Dorrell's coaching ever since he arrived at Westwood in 2003. But no loss could compare to what happened Saturday afternoon. The Shellacking in Salt Lake City has demoralized a team many felt were ready to take the next step and join USC atop the Pacific Ten. Now, at least at the moment, UCLA's head is tilted up, looking toward not only USC, but Oregon, Cal and maybe even Arizona State.
UCLA's problems do not get any easier, as they host Washington this Saturday. That game might be the most important in Karl Dorrell's history, because a loss will inevitably usher in a change at the top. While a victory could go along way toward salvaging his career and the Bruin season. But is the latter possible, or are the Bruins spent and ready to mail in the rest of their season?
It's hard to say, since some teams thrive off adversity and play better when down. I know no one expected Utah to come out and do what they did to UCLA, but they did. Counting out UCLA right now does not seem to be the wise choice because, as the old cliche goes, never underestimate a wounded animal. A team fighting for their pride, especially one as talented as UCLA, can step up and score some victories. But then again, a wounded animal is often just as likely -- if not more so -- to injure itself than it is to take out its opponent. Will the Bruins collapse and mosey through the rest of the season, pitying themselves and their woes? If Karl Dorrell is any form of good, he won't allow that to happen. A good coach uses this as a rallying cry, while a poor coach fails to try and save the ship. Which coach are you, Dorrell?
I don't know Karl Dorrell or the entire situation which he faces with UCLA. But from what I've seen he's a very dispassionate man. Even on the sidelines, while his team was getting hammered, he showed little emotion, he had no fire and you have to wonder if that trickles down to his players. If the coach can't get fired up for a game against a decent non-BCS team, one that has more recently played in a BCS bowl game than the Bruins, how are the players supposed to do the same? Football, as much as it is intelligence and ability, is about emotion. UCLA seemed to be lacking all three Saturday afternoon and the blame there goes to the coaching staff. It's now Dorrell's job to recapture that emotion and use it as fuel for future games. If they can't do that, then someone else will be roaming the sidelines of the Rose Bowl next season.