Monday, November 06, 2006

Cal vs UCLA recap

This was another solid win for Cal. Some pundits are calling the game closer than the score reflected but I actually think the game was well in hand early in the fourth quarter when Cal was up 35-10. UCLA moved the ball well against the Cal defense but could not finish. Better to give up yards than points. Let's break it down further.

When Cal had the ball:
Nate Longshore had a fantastic night. He was 20-24 passing and two of the incompletions were throw aways. Robert Jordan had a great night with 2 TD's. Marshawn Lynch was incredible though the stats don't reflect the work he did. The screen pass that he converted into a touchdown was vintage Marshawn. Juked two defenders out of their shoes and then ran over another four. Forsett bounced back with a solid game. (I am a little concerned that Marcus O'Keith went out with turf toe. O'Keith is a great RB and kick returner, as well as, being a leader of the team. Hopefully he will be back on the field soon.)
But the game ball goes to the offensive line. UCLA came in with two defensive ends leading the Pac-10 in sacks, with over 20 combined. The line only gave up one sack which also resulted in a fumble. This sack could be attributed to Longshore, rather than the line, because he pump faked twice, stood around, waited about 28 seconds before finally getting sacked.
In what is becoming more the norm than the exception, DeSean Jackson returned a punt for a touchdown. On the previous punt, I turned to a friend (non-Cal fan) and said, "I guarantee that Jackson will return this one for a TD." Instead it went for 13 yards. He proceeded to clown me for the next 20 minutes until the next punt, when DJax took it to the house. I turned to my friend and all he could say was, "Wow, he is fast." See video clip below of the punt return and the vicious block by Thomas "Human Bowling Ball" Decoud.
Overall, the offense had a great game. While it was not as impressive as the offensive explosion in the Oregon game, they did the most with the chances they had. UCLA did control the clock for much of the game, limiting the offensive units time on the field. Which bring us to....

When Cal was defending the ball...
Here are some numbers that UCLA put up on the Bears defense.
- 529 total yards (329 in the air)
- 10-17 on third down conversion
- 7.1 average gain per play
- 24 points scored

This was not the same defense that we saw prior to the bye week. Many people call the defense a "bend but don't break" unit. Against UCLA there was a lot of bending to the point of being uncomfortable. The 200 yards rushing are slightly inflated with the addition of a 70 yards run by Markey on 4th down late in the game. The Bears went all out to stop the short yardage gain and simply missed a hole. So, lets say the run defense was solid.
The pass defense gave up a lot of yards to a backup QB. The defense did make some big plays with two interceptions by Desmond "I have nimble hand for such a big man" Bishop and Daymeion "When will you learn not to throw to my side of the field" Hughes. The problem was pressure on the quarterback. Cowen had all day to throw from the pocket. Even when he was flushed from the pocket, there was not enough pursuit to force him into a bad throw. The front four did not get enough pressure on their own. This has been a trend all season with Cal needing to blitz to get to the QB. The problem, this game, was the blitz packages the Bears ran. On multiple plays I saw two or three Bears shooting the same gap in the O-line, only to knock into each other or be pushed off the ball. Also, the Bruin running backs did a great job of picking up blitzers coming off the edge. This is an issue that has to be addressed by the next game. Perhaps a couple of delayed blitzes or having defensive lineman shunt and twist to open up more lanes for the linebackers... anything to get pressure on the QB.

Overall:
The Bears keep marching through the Pac-10 schedule. This was a nice win for the Bears in a trap game. The offense continues to be an unstoppable machine. The defense took a step back this week but defensive coordinator, Bob Gregory should be able to make the right adjustments prior to the Arizona game. Look for the Bears to keep rolling next week in Tuscon. Go Bears.

8 comments:

Bloggslog said...

Jackson is more and more impressive and people are paying attention ie the Jackson highlight of the Oregon game.

Pete Morris said...

Spot-on assessment. Best all-around offensive effort to date, and a better defensive effort than the yardage stats suggest. Cowan was on fire in the first half, so give him credit. But you're right: a bigger pass rush will be needed against 'SC. As for Marshawn's first TD, I'll only add that the catch itself was a thing of beauty. He's got phenomenal hands, and if he goes on to be an NFL superstar--which I think he might--it will be because of his receiving ability as much as anything. More importantly for us Bear fans, he looks like a man on a mission right now, and I almost get the feeling that he simply won't let Cal lose. I look forward to more from Longshore and Jackson (and the rest) next year, but in 2006, there is no doubt that Lynch is the (Heis)Man. Go Bears!

Go Bears said...

Pete, you brought up a great point about Marshawn's desire to win. I agree that this will be a key to winning against SC. It seems to me that Tedford is giving him some extra rest to save his ankles. Forsett is a great back but it is a whole different story when Lynch is in the game.

fairviewbears said...

Thanks for picking up the slack for me. I'll be back in form after this week. Good recap. The only dif. of opinion I had was that I saw this as the worst defensive effort other than the first game. The tackling was horrid, our front 7 got pushed around pretty good, and like you pointed out, the lack of a pass rush allowed fucla to pick apart the coverage in the first half. All that being said, it was really good to see us win a game where the D didn't have it's usual great effort. Like the TV commentators pointed out, I think that the turning point for fucla's QB was when we got that big kidney shot on him. I'm not sure, but I think it was Follett who literally knocked the swagger out of their offense. Anyway, good shit again on the recap. GO BEARS!!!

KYBruin said...

Okay, I've tried three times to post a comment, hopefully this time will be the charm. I'm a UCLA football fan and I enjoyed reading your post on the game up at Cal on Saturday. I do wish my Bruins had come out on top, but I enjoyed the game anyway, somehow. I think you guys have a super, excellent team and will be pulling for you in the BCS!

- Jon

nycfan said...

Wow UCLA fans are nice. That is so weird to me. Cal fans are crazy win or lose. GO BEARS!!!!!!

fairviewbears said...

Cal fans are some of the worst winners ever. Almost certainly because prior to Tedford we never did. I'll never forget how the VA Tech fans robbed me of my gloating by gushing about how great the game was & how our boys sure can play...

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