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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Youtube's been processing the video for hours... dunno WTF the issue is. So clunky links; sorry.

USC Drive 1

Washington off tackle for one; Booty reacts to a linebacker blitz by hitting TE Davis for a a good chunk. Empty on third down, a slant is nearly undercut – nice play by the CB to get a hand on it, but Jarrett hauls it in anyway.

On the ensuing first down, Booty pumps left then comes back to a wide open Davis on the right side of the field for another first. Some rhythm showing in the Trojan offense; no pressure yet. Zone right for Gable picks up a few. UCLA goes five in the box on second down, blitzes from the edge and manages to shut down a draw that had a ton of room. After the play, a personal foul moves USC back 15 yards. Ensuing bomb is a Jeff Bowden Hopeful Downfield Jump Ball, and it's punty time.

DRIVE NOTES: UCLA lucks out with the personal foul, as USC was looking smooth on offense for the first time all game. Booty was kept clean and picked up a series of first downs until misfortune kept them out of the endzone. This will be repeated.

UCLA Drive 1

Cowan play action is one-hopped. (AAAARRRGH Musberger talking about Michigan in Glendale.) Markey stuffed on second down; Ellis again, this time holding at the POA, driving his man a yard or so back, and disengaging. On third down, Cowan gets pressure and flips a ridiculous left-handed shovel pass incomplete. He is not good.

DRIVE NOTES: Cowan can't throw. Punter launches one, flipping field position despite the three-and-out. This is how you beat a far superior team, with a lot of luck.

USC Drive 2

Booty stands in against an onrushing Bruin and flings up a ball that lands right in Jarrett's hands. Impressive. Jarrett puts on a Manningham-esque double move, but doesn't have that extra step that gets Manningham into the endzone. Next play is a wheel to Gable that Booty puts in between the corner and safety, but a bit high for the shortish Gable. Leaping grab attempt comes up short.

Booty checks down to Davis; throw is high and hard and incomplete. False start from RT Kyle Williams. Now third and fifteen, ace three-wide. WTF? Booty bails on the throw in the face of the blitz, checking down to a running back before he completes his drop.

UCLA Drive 2

Starts with a 24 yard punt return, again flipping field position. UCLA starts near the 50. Cowan drops back, play action, and hits Everett on a comeback for 16. Waggle to Paulsen for another first down. We run this exact play.

UCLA empty, batted at the line. More play action finds Cowan under pressure immediately, forcing a one-yard checkdown. Next play is just badass from Cowan, who steps up through two edge rushers, spins around and takes off, then finds Everett for the first. Not relevant, but sweet.

Markey for two again. UCLA's run game has been nonexistent save for Cowan scrambles. Out on second down a bit wide. ARRRRRGH MICHIGAN WATCHING ARRRRGH. UCLA goes empty, Everett should have enough room to get the first down but hesitates and ends up a yard short. Chippie FG is good, UCLA 10-9.

DRIVE NOTES: Waggle was a clone of our play. USC friend of mine has a couple contacts and said that USC thinks Michigan thinks USC's linebackers are vulnerable in coverage. Personally, I've been impressed with Sartz in straight zone drops but perhaps misdirection is the way to attack them? Fast but stupid?

USC Drive 3

UCLA blitzing into a Gable counter; by the time it develops the blitzers are in position to close it down. Minimal gain. Second down slant batted at the line. Empty on third and eight and UCLA gets some edge rush, forcing Booty to step up. He slips down, sacking himself and ending the drive.

DRIVE NOTES: Booty had that badass completion when allowed to stand in and fire downfield to Jarrett in the only place that pass could be. On the next play, the wheel to Gable, Booty was a little high but well within tolerances for a pass 30 yards downfield. But even though UCLA's rushing has been the wild upfield variety that's easily stepped around and fundamentally unsound, Booty on the move has been mostly a disaster.

He's not Troy Smith, and when USC has gone empty they never bring in more than three wide receivers. Davis, the tight end, is the fourth guy, and the fifth is a motioned running back. Plus it's clear that Booty prefers to stand and deliver, making an empty set an invitation to blitz. USC also eschews the shotgun.

UCLA Drive 3

Cowan fumbles the snap, losing 2. Waggle on second down is checked down to the short option for a few. On third down, Cowan is blitzed, scrambles around, throws a backwards pass that's dropped and recovered by Ellis, turnover.

DRIVE NOTES: Cowan still not good at football.

USC Drive 3

First and ten on UCLA's side of the field. First time in the game USC has an advantage in field position... and they jump before the snap. Bleah! Gable is chopped down on a stretch play – Smith's block attempt is whiffed. Loss of four, second and nineteen. Booty permitted time again nails Davis across the middle.

On third and five, Gable takes a draw-type thing that UCLA reads and attacks – safety was up like a shot. Going on fourth and short; a quick snap pitch that's overrun.

DRIVE NOTES: Third and fourth and short killing the Trojans. Can't make a yard in short yardage and have stopped even trying to get it up the middle, and this is a UCLA defense that doesn't have the destructive power of Branch and Taylor up the middle – check that. On further review, UCLA finished the year 12th(!) in rushing defense, which is amazing after last year's disaster. Didn't Reggie Bush have something like 10 YPC a year ago?

Anyway, UCLA's rush defense is no pushover but it also hasn't been dominant like Michigan's (OSU game excepted, of course... but it's doubtful USC can spread the Michigan D out like OSU did). Long story short: I'd be surprised if USC moved the ball much on the ground.

UCLA Drive 3

Markey up the gut for around five. Holding penalty sets up second and long... Ellis again. Guy will be an issue. Cowan waggle against his throwing motion is thrown into the turf. Third and fifteen, and Cowan is permitted time to find Everett down the seam. Outstanding route and catch by Everett, who's been the guy when UCLA needs a critical conversion.

Markey up the middle for 12. USC linebackers don't get off their blocks.

Williams then has back to back runs for a first down at the ten. Secon is a nice cut through a small seam at the line. Williams up the middle for three... run a zone, UCLA! None of this is that relevant. Cowan scrambles out of the waggle + a tenuous late hit on Cowan gets UCLA inside the ten. On replay, a terrible call.

On first and goal, UCLA stuffed. Nice play by the other DT to flow down the line. Relevant.

On second down Cowan takes an inexcusable sack on another attempted rollout as no one bit on the play action. Cowan just sort of falls down instead of throwing the ball out of the endzone. Third and goal from the twelve ends with Cowan again iffy, dumping down to a tight end five yards behind the LOS. Field goal up and good, UCLA 13-9.

DRIVE NOTES: UCLA's third and fifteen conversion was followed by a series of slashing runs that got them in field goal range. Ellis will be a major issue but on plays we get him blocked Hart should find himself some room.

USC Drive 4

Booty hits Jarrett on a three step drop zag route for seven-ish. ARRRGH MICHIGAN IN BCS AARRRRGH. Gable is sniffed and stuffed, setting up the dreaded third and one. I-form with TE Davis at FB – whenever we do this it's a pass – and it's a pass! Booty is swamped by blitzers, panics, and slips down as he tries to throw.

Punting time.

UCLA Drive 4

First and ten Cowan rollout has an open receiver for 7 or 8 but his pass is wildly inaccurate. Second down run stuffed for no gain. Next play is the Cowan rollout that ends with a helmet to helmet that's uncalled. A virtual replay of the Crable hit. I hate everything.

DRIVE NOTES: Cowan still can't throw. Announcers don't even mention the helmet to helmet.

USC Drive 5

Booty sacked on a pump fake that was an attempt to go deep. Sam Baker beaten. I can see Woodley doing this. It's one of his moves.

Second and fourteen, USC empty and Booty fires it well outside the field of play... likely a throwaway. On third and fourteen USC rolls Booty out of the pocket, has an illegal formation and obviously holds a Bruin and still can't get anyone blocked. End result, with a tenuous PI call, is a redo.

On the redo Booty fires what's his second-best pass of the game. Under heavy duress, pocket collapsing, he launches a ball to Steve Smith that sets up fourth and less than one.

Dreaded short yardage is short enough for a sneak. First down. WR screen thrown behind Jarrett. Booty stands in – getting protection now – and hits his checkdown. Third and three. Booty hits Davis for the conversion; three step drop. Smith underneath for 6. UCLA ceding yardage here in a Herrmanesque way. Gable draw well read by Hickman and shut down for a yard. Dreaded Third And Short next. Booty drops back and lances a post to Smith for a big gainer.

Underneath to McFoy; clock running under 1:30. Booty fires high and incomplete to a bracketed McFoy. Potentially a throwaway. And the next play is the one that will live in UCLA lore forever

Relevant portion of game over.


  • Booty's really good when suffered time to throw. On the move, he is not good.
  • USC's tackles can probably be had. The RT has been poor all year and is a bit of a headcase, walking out of a USC practice earlier in the week. They have no alternative, apparently. Even Baker was not particularly effective against the UCLA pass rush.
  • USC on short yardage? Ugly. They had lost all faith in their ability to line up and run it, and with good reason.
  • Jarrett = good. Expect a series of slants that we can't do anything about.
  • Getting Sedrick Ellis blocked is the key for our offense, especially in the run game. He's bad news for our zone running game.


  • Efficacy of the USC pass rush. Lawrence Jackson was great until this year, when he was skunked on sacks most of the way. Cushing had one nice sack. But Cowan spent most of the game on the run, so there weren't many opportunities to see how the Trojans did against conventional pass drops.
  • USC's secondary. Cowan threw even less frequently than he dropped back, instead taking off. They do appear to play a ton of zone. But how good are they at it and how effective will Terrell Thomas be? He plans on playing but if he can't tackle he'll be a liability.
  • Efficacy of Michigan run game. With speedy linebackers and the penetrating Ellis, this looks like a bad matchup for us.