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The Inside Track | T.J. Simers

Dorrell Finds Unlikely Rider on Bandwagon

October 05, 2003|T.J. Simers

The favored Washington Huskies were the 18th-ranked team in the nation when they took the field Saturday, UCLA the 104th-ranked team in scoring, and the Bruins won by 30 points, which makes Karl Dorrell the "Overnight Coach of the Year" in my book.

As you might imagine, Dorrell was speechless when I introduced myself, and asked him where he intends to hang the plaque.

This has to be especially sweet, I continued, especially after some of the rotten things the media have written.

"I don't read the papers," Dorrell said, so I told him about all the crummy things the other reporters in town have been writing about him, including the suggestion by one guy, and I laughed when I said it, that he has been in over his head as coach of the Bruins from Day 1.

Dorrell smiled. "I've seen some of the things that have been written about me by certain writers."

Oh.

*

I THINK I can honestly write now that I never lost faith in Dorrell, because at no time did I have any faith in him to lose.

I didn't think Dorrell had a clue, and as I watched the Bruins fall behind Washington, I didn't see any reason to change my opinion.

As he had told everyone earlier last week, including the folks who coach the Huskies, the Bruins would not adjust their personnel to stick Matt Ware on Washington's premier receiver, Reggie Williams. So the Huskies matched Williams against pint-sized Matt Clark, and jumped out to a 13-0 lead.

UCLA had all week to look at videotape and study ways to stop Williams, and yet the stubborn Bruins let him run free, the only mystery being why Washington didn't throw to Williams on every play.

Then the Bruins got smart, made the coverage adjustment, and held Washington to three points the rest of the game, while ruining what could have been a very nice rip job this morning on Page 2.

It was still 16-7 at the half, and because the Bruins have averaged only 16 points, it figured one more Washington score would put this game out of reach. UCLA must have thought the same thing because it didn't let Washington score again. Who knew UCLA could be so smart?

*

THE BRUINS scored the next 39 points, and while we wait for the NCAA to rule whether that's a miracle, UCLA had Washington looking as if it was coached by a guy who had no idea what he's doing. And yet Keith Gilbertson had an 85-game lead on Dorrell when it came to experience as a head coach at the collegiate level.

"We are building on doing things the right way," Dorrell said, and he probably would have said the same thing with the same tone of voice had the Bruins lost by 30 points, but the facts -- and you know how much I hate those little devils -- seemed to support his coach-speak this time.

The Bruins outgained the Huskies 245 yards to 87 in the second half, didn't let anyone return a punt for a touchdown and for 30 minutes played like a legitimate Pac-10 competitor.

This is the point, of course, where some UCLA fans will rush to their computers to point out the Bruins already have the edge on the USC Trojans when it comes to playing in the Rose Bowl. You have a week -- I wouldn't waste the opportunity.

*

YOU HAVE to give people their due, so I've been told, and I just hate that.

But when Dorrell tells you after a 30-point win over a ranked team, "We are getting closer and closer to being the team that I think we can be," it's hard to say he has no idea what he's talking about even though you might still be thinking it.

On paper, there's no way this team with its anemic offense, and the starting quarterback that Dorrell can't wait to replace, should beat any team by 30 points. The defense scored a couple of touchdowns, of course, which helps explain the 46 points, but I have to admit after this game this is not the right time to Fight On!

*

I HOPE this doesn't invite some kind of uninformed "I told you so" commentary from Rush Limbaugh, but it appears UCLA and USC have settled on Whites to be their featured running backs.

That's Manuel White for UCLA and LenDale White for USC.

*

RAN INTO former UCLA athletic director Peter Dalis before the Washington game, and asked if he was still on the job, and there was a request, would he have put the Atlanta Brave-Chicago Cub playoff game on the big-screen TVs in the Rose Bowl while the football teams warmed up?

"Probably not," he said, "but if the Dodgers were in the playoffs

That's something UCLA's current athletic director, Dan Guerrero, probably will never have to worry about.

*

FRIDAY'S NEWSPAPER noted that I "was on assignment." I was playing golf with Sports Editor Bill Dwyre. Do you think I'd do that just for the fun of it?

I was ordered to play in the Times-sponsored "Links for Learning Charity Golf Tournament," and arrived to find the good folks from The Times had misspelled my name: "Simmers." Understandable. If the folks at The Times read what I wrote, do you think I'd still be working there?

Of course, they also spelled the old duffer's name "Dewyre."

*

TODAY'S LAST word comes in e-mail from AJ Winter:

"Ah, yes, a typical response from a low-life [working for] the Times to Limbaugh. Now let's see, you CHOSE to live in ALL-WHITE Yorba Linda, your kids go to ALL WHITE schools, you send in your garbage column from your ALL WHITE NEIGHBORHOOD -- like every other writer for the Times. ALL OF YOU LIVE SEGREGATED. Now again, how do you and the Times define racism?"

I'd probably begin with your e-mail.

*

T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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