January 3, 2023
Welcome to a special New Years Edition of Tuesday Morning Coffee! That was a Hindenburg like collapse by the Trojans against Tulane yesterday in the Cotton Bowl. They had a 15-point lead with 4 minutes to play, yet managed to give it away like a 501C3 charity. That game really just reinforces the idea that Caleb Williams was so spectacular, he nearly lifted USC into the CFP by himself. However, Williams made up for a defense that cannot tackle and has a poor scheme, as well as a leaky offensive line. That’s very problematic for the future. If anything, next season Lincoln Riley owes it to his star quarterback to come up with a defense that gives up less than 45 points a game, and an offensive line that can keep his star healthy. Those really shouldn’t be terribly big asks heading into 2023.
Meanwhile, UCLA suffered their own devastating defeat in the Sun Bowl against Pitt. The Bruins collapsed in the final minutes, and lost on a field goal in the final moments. Dorian Thompson Robinson had his moments where he looked sharp, but others where he did not, ultimately suffering a back injury late in the 4th. Still, there’s two ways to look at this. It was a nice season for the Bruins who did better than you thought. Or, this is the best Chip Kelly is going to do, and it took him 5 years and an easy to schedule just to lose in the Sun Bowl. I tend to lean a little more toward the latter, especially if next year we see much of the same. Dante Moore could change things immediately for UCLA, but the fact Chip Kelly can’t find a defensive coordinator to save his life is also unbelievable. At least the Bruins faithful has the basketball team to look forward to for the time being. More on that in a minute.
Elsewhere around the College Bowl season, death, taxes, and Michigan losing in the College Football Playoff! Meanwhile, Georgia must be the luckiest team in America. They won on a miraculous field goal miss by Ohio State. Can you really cheer for Ohio State though? I mean Jeffrey Dahmer went there. Props to Notre Dame’s Tyler Buchner for combining an excellent performance and a terrible performance all into one Bowl game, in Notre Dame’s victory in the Gator Bowl. The Irish might be a quarterback away from being really elite, but then again, USC just reminded us this year that isn’t everybody?
In the NFL, the Chargers beat up on the Rams over the weekend and I would certainly hope so. The Rams were missing just about all their star players and had Baker Mayfield playing quarterback. The Chargers are also getting even more good news, which is strange for them. Joey Bosa is healthy again, and they will likely play Tennessee or Jacksonville in round 1, which is a great matchup for them in either case. That’s assuming they beat up on those bums from Denver coming in next week. If they don’t beat them though, they’ll be faced with the likes of Buffalo, Kansas City, or Cincinnati on the road, which is instant doom.
As for the Rams, despite the tough season I’ve actually gotta give Sean McVay a lot of credit. He’s really been coaching his ass off the last three weeks, prior to that loss against the Bolts. Top 10 in the NFL in 6 different offensive categories over that stretch. That included 4th quarter scoring, total points, and Red Zone TDs per game. It also appears as though Cam Akers and the Rams have salvaged their relationship, and they can probably move forward together. The Rams aren’t done for the future as long as their stars come back. They do badly need to fix their offensive line so they’ll have to get creative salary cap wise.
Elsewhere around the NFL, my thoughts on prayers go out to Demar Hamlin and his family after he was rushed to the hospital last night and in cardiac arrest. Hopefully he pulls through and is alright. It’s also a little disturbing that it’s really the players who made the NFL call off that game, rather than the NFL themselves. It’s becoming far too common in the last few years to see these athletes collapsing on the field. As NFL athletes get bigger, stronger, and faster, the hits only get harder and more violent. It almost seems inevitable that the results will be more disastrous with these violent hits. I hate to paint such a dim picture, but I’m not sure there is a solution to this if football is going to be continued to be played, and obviously none of us see that stopping anytime soon.
To the NBA, where when was the last time you saw the Lakers this far down in the MMC column? That’s because they are still a walking disaster, despite winning the last two games on the road. We’re nearly halfway through the season, and this team is still 5 games under .500. Lebron James is 38 years old, and last week, he was publicly BEGGING the Lakers to make a trade to help him and Anthony Davis. I can’t blame him. He’s still phenomenal. So is Anthony Davis when he’s healthy. Unfortunately, even if you think this team should rebuild, do you really have the confidence in Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss to be able to do it? They did it once, but that’s also because they landed a once in a generation player in Lebron. If the Lakers fail Lebron, he could easily trash their reputation in the league, preventing them from getting top free agents to come to LA for the next 5 years. Since Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss don’t really know how to build a roster anymore, do you really think they can do it for a second time? I’m skeptical. At some point when you don’t build a basketball organization on and off the floor in a modern way, it catches up with you. In the meantime, I can’t see how this team can survive another month without Anthony Davis on the floor.
To College Hoops where UCLA got a couple of big road wins over the Washington schools over the weekend. The win on Friday night against WSU was especially impressive. On the road, not at the top of your game, yet they grinded it out with a late rally and very tough defense. That’s a confidence building win that will help carry them throughout conference play. I’m also happy to see Adam Bona developing nicely the last few weeks, and making a bigger impact. Now if Amari Bailey’s foot injury can heal and he can do the same, this UCLA team might be poised for something special come March Madness.