Monday, November 13, 2006

Cal vs Arizona Recap

Offense - Passing
Longshore was off at the beginning of the game which shook his confidence and led to some bad decision making in the second half. Two of his interceptions were on tipped balls which are somewhat excusable. The interception that was returned for a touchdown is not. He never once looked off his receiver. There were other instances where Longshore looked like he was holding onto the ball too long. As a result, balls were not thrown to receivers coming out of their breaks thus leading to incompletions. Longshore still has not shown he can play well on the road. The good news: Cal fans have seen the potential he has when he is on; the bad news: the USC game is on the road.
DeSean Jackson became a front runner for next year's Heiman trophy after the Arizona game. His 62 yard reception was nearly as impressive as his punt return. The other receivers, Jordan and Hawkins, were invisible except for their mistakes. Jordan dropped a couple passes and Hawkins, not only, got called for a block in the back on Marshawn's TD run but also tripped and fell at the 1 yard line with no defenders around him.

Offense - Rushing
There were two completely different rushing attacks in this game. In the first half, Marshawn rushed for nearly a 100 yards (and had a 70+ yard TD carry called back). In the second half, the run game was completely shut down. This was most evident on the two carries from the one yard line which both resulted in losses. Arizona was definitely stacking the run as Marshawn was hit multiple times behind the line by linebackers.
The offensive line, while phenomenal in their pass blocking, were pushed around by the Arizona defense on running plays. While Cal did not rush the ball frequently in the second half, there were very few holes for Marshawn to run through.

Defense - Passing
There were a couple tough calls by the refs in the game that really frustrated the passing defense. But overall, the defense was much improved in passing yardage compared to the UCLA game. The pass rush also stepped it up from the UCLA game and was able to get some pressure on the QB. But, it is hard to give too much credit to the defense against an Arizona passing offense that came into the game ranked 9th in the conference. Also, Tuitama was not passing well even though there were open Arizona receivers on many plays.

Defense - Rushing
Again, this was a solid performance by the defense. It held Arizona to short runs and was able to consistently stop them. The defense was also able to contain Tuitama and restrict his ability to scramble. Ironically, this was not the bend but don't break defense we had seen in the past. Once Arizona was able to reach the red zone, it was able to convert (albeit with the help of some questionable calls). Also, the defense was unable to generate any turnovers (again, if not for some questionable calls.

There was some questionable play calling toward the end of the game...
- Why not go for it on 4th down at the 4 yard line down by 7 in the fourth quarter?
- Why not go for it on 4th down and 6 form the 50 yards line, with 5 minutes remaining in the game?
- Why not run a draw play to Marshawn on the final drive? You saw what he did against Washington at the end of that game.
- Why not stretch the field more if Arizona is going to stack the run? Hawkins was wide open on the one long pass play in the fourth.
It is hard to question coach Tedford after he has taken this program so far. But this year's team lacks the balanced rushing and passing attack of past teams.

After the loss to Arizona, there are a lot more questions about the Cal team, going into Saturday's game against USC. More on that later in the week. But let's hope that this loss was a wake up call for a team that looked like it was on cruise control the last 4 weeks.

No comments: