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.
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.