Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Starting Score: 47 - 40
Reason: Final score Cal vs UCLA 2005
Home Field Advantage
Subtract: 3 points from UCLA
Add: 3 points to Cal
Reason: UCLA was playing at home last year, Cal is the home team this year.
Subtract: 35 points from UCLA
Reason: Maurice Drew scored 5 TDs last year and is now in the NFL
Add: 14 points for Cal
Reason: Nate Longshore gets 14 points over Joe Ayoob (was 21 prior to WSU and Wash game)
Subtract: 14 points from UCLA
Reason: Luckiest team last year (see: Stanford, Arizona St., Cal games) to unlucky team this year (see: Notre Dame)
Add: 14 points for Cal
Reason: Coming off a bye week (injured players are healthy). Offense back on track.
Subtract: 7 points from UCLA
Reason: Because they are coached by Karl Dorrell
Add: 14 points for Cal
Reason: Because they are coached by Jeff Tedford
Impossible you say? All I can say is that the numbers never lie.
Monday, October 30, 2006
We figured it out! The comments section is now available to "Anyone" not just "Registered Blogger Users". Let the comments flow like the small creek running through campus behind Dwinelle after a rainy week in Berkeley.
Back to your regularly scheduled programming - Cal Football:
So lots of talk this week about what the USC loss means. Does it really matter? Cal still has to win its 4 remaining games to assure itself of the Rose Bowl. Sure, there are other ways to get to the Rose Bowl (USC loses again) but lets do it the right way and win the conference with an undefeated record.
Did USC drop enough in the polls? Not really. But I can understand why voters are hesitant to drop a team too far, late in the season. If USC dropped to 15, then the voters would be admitting they knew about USC's deficiencies but did nothing to correct for those problems in previous polls.
We will have a preview on the UCLA game later in the week. But judging by talk so far, people expect a blow out. Also, there has been much talk about Karl Dorrell and his lack of coaching skill. I personally don't think the guy is a great coach but he is not Larry Coker. His starting QB is injured, his team had a letdown after a heartbreaking loss (it happens), and this is suppose to be a rebuilding year of sorts for them. Also, I like knowing that Dorrell will keep UCLA mediocre. You have to think that Tedford does NOT lose any sleep at night wondering if Dorrell will out coach him.
Question: Would you rather see the Bears in the Rose Bowl or the BCS Championship game? Looking at the title of this blog you know my answer. Feel free to comment, "anyone".
Sunday, October 29, 2006
"People always come up to me and say, 'You've got to get us to a Rose Bowl before I die,' " said guard Erik Robertson, who arrived at Cal after the 1-10 season in 2001. "Being part of the team that helped turned things around and got to the Rose Bowl is the best thing I can think of."In case any readers were wondering why the blog has such a long and strange name, you can see that this is a familiar refrain for long suffering Cal fans. Now, if only, we can get Robertson to slip the web address into his quote next time.
- Pac 10 respect
Voters must respect the Pac 10 more by only dropping USC to 9th following its loss to an unranked Oregon St. team. Or, USC is still living off its past legacy and gets the benefit of the doubt in voters minds.
In the AP poll, there are 4 Pac 10 teams in the top 25. USC is 9th, followed by Cal in the 10 spot. Oregon and Washington St. round out the poll coming in at 24 and 25, respectively. Even Oregon St. gets a mention in "others receiving votes" with 9 votes.
- Ohio St. received 63 of 65 possible first place votes with West Virginia receiving the other two. Granted Michigan did not look spectacular in its win over Northwestern while Ohio St. crushed Minnesota, but can all 63 of these voters believe that Ohio St. will beat Michigan. If a voter believes Michigan will beat OSU, than shouldn't Michigan receive at least a couple first place votes?
- Undefeated teams - down to 6.
Ohio St., Michigan, West Virgina, Louisville, Boise St., and Rutgers. Logically there can only be, at most, 3 undefeated teams by the end of the season. Ohio St. and Michgan play each other and West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers all still have games remaining head to head. My prediction is that Michigan and Boise St. are the only undefeated teams by the end of the season. How you say? Michgan over Ohio St. West Virginia over Louisville, Rutgers over West Virginia and Louisville over Rutgers. (Maybe even Pitt can knock off one of these Big East teams).
- The Best One Loss team
This has been a point of discussion over the past couple weeks by many of the talking head on ESPN. Let me remove Cal from the conversation for the moment and list my top 5 one loss teams -
1) Florida - played well against a down Georgia team. Looks to have a clear path to the SEC championship game. Imagine if they had a running back.
2) Tennessee - a little dinged up. But Ainge is playing well enough to carry the team.
3) Arkansas - Surprised? Everytime, Arkansas wins a close one against a middle of the pack SEC team, people say it shows their true colors as a mediocre team. Florida or Tennessee win a close one against a middle of the pack SEC team and it shows the depth of the SEC. Arkansas blew out Auburn and has a great rushing attack. They are also in the drivers seat for a spot in the SEC championship.
4) USC - Tough loss, they came out flat against a good Oregon St. team. But they really moved the ball at the end of the game and sometimes a loss can be a real wake up call for a young team.
5) Texas - Lucky win against Nebraska, who was blown out against Oklahoma St. Barely pulled out a win against a Texas Tech team that needs to learn how to run a QB sneak. Signature moment this season: Did not get blown out by Ohio St. in their only loss. This does not inspire confidence.
- Rose Bowl Race
With USC's loss, Cal is firmly in the driver's seat for a Rose Bowl berth. That said, nothing has changed in term of what the Bears need to do. They need to win all their remaining games. Unless USC drops another Pac 10 game (Oregon maybe?) Cal still has to beat the Trojans at the Coliseum to secure a trip to the Granddaddy of them all.
- Not Poll Related but Cal related
Check out this month's ESPN the Magazine. There is a great article about Bears, Mike Tepper and Rulon Davis. Both were run over by cars in separate incidents and the article talks about how they are now linked because of it. These are some tough guys.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Skyline High-Oakland grad Shea McIntyre was the leader in that category. The freshman linebacker made two crushing hits and recorded a sack during a four-play stretch. He came back a series later and almost tallied another sack.
Linebackers Matt Russi and Michael Mohamed combined on a sack, and defensive tackle Mika Kane forced a fumble on a sack.
Some offensive players caught Tedford's eye, too.
"Obviously, James Montgomery and Tracy Slocum ran really hard," he said, "and Drew Glover made some nice catches."
Montgomery, a highly-touted tailback out of Rancho Cordova, and Slocum, a freshman from Fresno, appear ready to extend the Bears' successful running attack well into the future.
On a screen pass that appeared to be headed for a loss of yards, Slocum broke about five tackles. He actually never went down, but coaches blew the play dead 11 yards later as he carried a number of would-be tacklers.
Glover, a sophomore from Bishop O'Dowd -Oakland, caught two long passes from redshirt freshman Kyle Reed (McClymonds-Oakland), including a diving catch for a 50-yard gain.
Quarterback Kevin Riley, a freshman from Oregon, completed 4 of 5 passes for 42 yards, including a 19-yard connection on which Julian Arthur made a nifty leaping catch.
(Read the entire article.)
1) The running back position looks solid for years to come. With Forsett coming back next year and Montgomery and Slocum looking solid, the Cal running game should keep rolling along. Also, there are two highly touted running back recruits coming in next year: Brandon Jackson out of the state of Oregon (read more) and Shane Vereen (see profile) from Valencia in SoCal.
2) It looks like Kyle Reed and Kevin Riley are going to battle it out next year to back up Longshore. Unless Longshore decides to head off on his LDS mission, then they will be battling for the top spot. With Brock Mansion coming in next year, the QB line of succession is looking good.
3) Freshman linebacker Shea McIntyre got a nice blurb. Linebacker appears to be the hardest position for players to crack the starting line up. Cal started the season with 2 freshman All Americans, Follet and Felder, as back ups. Worrell Williams is only a sophomore. But I think we can expect to see McIntyre get into the rotation next year if he keeps up this hitting.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Marshawn Lynch is ranked #1. I have written a lot about Marshawn in the last couple days so I will just state that I agree wholeheartedly with this list. Read the post below for an interview with Marshawn also on SI.com.
Here is the list:
1) Marshawn Lynch, Cal
2) Steve Slaton, WVU
3) Ray Rice, Rutgers
4) Mike Hart, Michigan
5) James Davis, Clemson
6) Darren McFadden, Arkansas
7) P.J. Hill, Wisconsin
8) Garrett Wolfe, NIU
9) Ian Johnson, Boise St.
10) Kenny Irons, Auburn
11) Antonio Pittman, Ohio St.
12) Yvenson Bernard, Oregon St.
13) Jonathon Stewart, Oregon
14) Ahmad Bradshaw, Marshall
15) Branden Ore, V. Tech
Here are some random comments about the list:
- Both James Davis and Darren McFadden split time in the backfield. Why do they get the nod over CJ Spiller and Felix Jones. I think by this time next year it is possible the Spiller is the starter for Clemson.
- If this poll was done 2 weeks ago, Garret Wolfe is in the top 5 and Ray Rice is not. Also, Jonathon Stewart is much higher.
- I would put Pat White, WVU at number 11 on this list.
- Ian Johnson is ranked too low.
- Number 14 and 15 can be any decent starter for any team in the BCS conference.
- Best Exchange in the interview:
Jordan: What you know about Too Short?
Silver: Dude, I been listening to Todd Shaw since y'all were in diapers. I put the 'O' in 'O.G.'
(They look at me as though I may be the least cool human on the planet. Which, at this particular moment, I almost certainly am.)
- If anyone knows who Shaadie Boy is or what "Pooned" means, drop me a line in the comments section.
I have been covering the Bears since 1997 and wanted to share my top 5, including this year's team.
1. Tony Gonzalez. The guy was an unbelievable tight end and he will eventually be an NFL Hall of Famer.
2. Todd Steussie. An absolute mountain. Stong, tough, funny. A good guy with great talent. A top notch NFL lineman.
3. Andre Carter. He cut the field in half. Opposing offenses didn't even try to run at him.
4. Ryan O'Callaghan. He could cave in the left side of a defense, both the lineman in front of him and the linebacker behind. He was awesome.
5. Aaron Rodgers. His accuracy was uncanny. He took Cal to new heights.
Linebacker Jerrott Willard, quarterback Dave Barr, wide receiver Geoff McArthur. All three were phenomenal when healthy. Unfortunately, injuries limited them during their Cal careers. Willard had an incredable closing kick to seal the deal. When the game was on the line, nobody was better than Barr. McArthur got all the attention and still made the plays.
Also, Deltha O'Neal was tremendously gifted. Duane Clemons was a monster. Regan Upshaw was just about as good as Carter. Bobby Shaw was one of the most acrobatic wide receivers I have ever seen. Kyle Boller had incredible gifts and not much support his first three seasons.
1) Deltha O'Neal - First team All American, led the nation with 9 picks and return 4 of them for TD's in his senior year. O'Neal carried the team on his back. In fact, he led the team in scoring that year as a DB and returner.
2) Marshawn Lynch - If he finishes the season strong, he gets the top spot.
3) Aaron Rodgers - He would have been a lock for the top spot if he came back for his senior year. Strong arm, accurate, mobile, and poised.
4) Andre Carter - More than just stats, he was the heart and soul of the defense. Here are the stats anyways: Sr year - 59 tackles (2nd on team), 19 for loss, 13.5 sacks, 2 time All Pac 10.
5) Bobby Shaw - You could make a case for McArthur here or an offensive lineman, but Shaw was great on a terrible team. He caught everything that was thrown his way and was a natural playmaker.
Honorable Mentions: Geoff McArthur, Ryan O'Callaghan, Marvin Phillips, Kyle Boller, Desean Jackson, Sekou Sanyika (remember the "Hit Squad"), and JJ Arrington.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
This is better clip of Marshawn's cart ride. But keep watching to hear the best victory cheer in sports. You know it...
Below I list some popular Heisman watch lists and where Marshawn currently sits.
Gene Menez, SI.com
Richard Cirminiello, CFN.com
5. Marshawn Lynch, Cal, RB, Jr.
Last week: 21 rushes, 150 yards, 2 TDs; 4 receptions, 53 yards in a 31-24 victory over Washington
Season: 132 rushes, 907 yards, 8 TDs; 19 receptions, 216 yards, 3 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: A member of this list last month, Lynch had been flirting with making a return. He finally does so after an impressive effort against the Huskies. Though he didn't start because of two sprained ankles, he dominated in the second half, once turning an aborted halfback pass into an impromptu cross-country tour that ended just shy of the goal line. He's here to stay.
Up next: Nov. 4 vs. UCLA
4. RB Marshawn Lynch, CalHeisman Pundit has Marshawn at #6. ESPN has him at #9. Looks like a strong game in a victory at USC would push him into Heisman contention even further.
Both his ankles may have been barking, but Lynch's mind was telling him to forge ahead in Cal's first tight game since the opener. With Washington refusing to go away, he carried the Cal offense in the second-half scoring the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter and the game-winner from 22 yards out after the Huskies sent the game to overtime on a Hail Mary pass at the end of regulation.
Last Week: 21 carries for 150 yards and 2 TDs – 4 catches for 53 yards (Washington)
This Week: Idle
2006 Season: 132 carries for 907 yards and 8 TDs – 19 catches for 216 yards and 3 TDs
Jay Heater, Contra Costa Times has an interesting story about Marshawn's Heisman hopes (read article here). In his blog he even talks about how Marshawn's cart ride might have even helped his Heisman campaign (read blog here). Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity. Best of luck to Marshawn, but Troy Smith is running away with this award.
Personally, I can't wait for the Desean Jackson Heisman push next year (www.djax1.com??). Remember Desmond Howard winning the Heisman? Now picture DJax making a diving TD catch next year against USC at Memorial Stadium then striking the Heisman pose on the back of a injury cart that Longshore is driving across the field.
Last comment: AOL sports recently released the top 13 playmakers for college football. Marshawn comes in at the #3 spot with a mention of his cart driving skills. But more surprisingly, the top spot was given to Desean Jackson. Here is my favorite quote, "Trying to tackle Jackson is like trying to bring down a cheetah while wearing stilletos ... on ice". Anyone who has ever tried to tackle anything while wearing stilletos on any surface can confirm that this is high praise. (read article)
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Tedford is Godlisted their All Tedford Offensive Team. It is a 2 deep roster of the best team from the Tedford Era (2002-present). Check out their team
here.Here is our All Tedford Team in response with some commentary:
Starter: Aaron Rodgers - 23 straight completions vs USC in 2004, nuff said.
Backup: Nate Longshore - Boller was great for only one season, this is a pick based on potential
- Wide receiver
Starter: DeSean Jackson - He might have just scratched the surface of his potential.
Backup: Chase Lyman - If not for injuries could have been a starter on this team.
- Wide receiver
Starter: Geoff McArthur - Clutch receiver (see Big Game 2004). Nice complement to DJax's speed.
Backup: Lavelle Hawkins - Went with potential here. Wanted to go with Bobby Shaw, a personal favorite, but he was pre-Tedford.
Starter: Marshawn Lynch - Has carried the team the last 2 games.
Backup: J.J. Arrington - 2,000 yard rusher is the back up.
Starter: Chris Manderino - Solid blocker and better receiver than he gets credit for.
Backup: Byron Storer - Good player, but with Manderino dominating the Tedford era, there were not many fullbacks to choose from.
- Tight end
Starter: Craig Stevens - More for his blocking. He has been mentioned many times as one of the keys to the running game.
Backup: Garrett Cross - Best pass catching TE of the Tedford era.
Starter: 2004 unit - Amazing running attack and gave Rodgers plenty of time to pass.
Backup: 2005 unit - 3 NFL draft choices.
Monday, October 23, 2006
1) Northwestern vs Michgan St.
Coming back from 35 down, Michigan St. did their best impression of the Buffalo Bills vs the Houston Oilers. I think the manner in which they came back, punt blocks, fumble recoveries, interceptions was all the more crazy.
2) Texas vs Nebraska
I caught the score of this game periodically online and I thought Nebraska was going to pull it out. Lets examine the key play. On 3rd and 3, deep in your own territory, Nebraska chooses a pass play with just over 2 minutes left on the clock and up by one point. Now, how could one predict that a fumble would occur but isn't the better play a running play where you possibly get 3 yards but even if you don't, you punt the ball away and pin Texas back in their territory. Their kicker was having a terrible day. It is hard to move the ball that distance with that little time unless you are...
3) Notre Dame vs UCLA
And you have Brady Quinn passing to the Cubs minor league pitcher. UCLA sacked Quinn 5 times and was pressuring him all day. Now, UCLA went with the conservative play calling by running three straight times and burning all three of ND's timeouts. (A little creativity on these running plays would not have hurt, but UCLA played it safe. It is no wonder a LA Times columnist calls the UCLA head coach Dullard). So UCLA punts it away and goes into a prevent defense. I am sure you have heard this before, but a prevent defense only prevents you from winning. The way ND has been pulling out these win, I am beginning to think that Touchdown Jesus is more than just a catchy name.
4) Tennessee vs Alabama
I really wanted Alabama to put this one away. But you have to hand it to Tennessee. They pulled out a tough win against a tough defense. This was not as exciting as some of the other games but Alabama really had Tennessee on the ropes. Rather than play to protect a lead you should play to win.
Cal vs Washington
So I was wrong about the final score. Wrong about the way Cal would score. Pretty spot on about Marshawn's performance. This game was too close for comfort. The Hail Mary was a fluke but quite exciting. Here are my five random thoughts based on my listening to the game over internet radio.
1) How long does the flu last? I chalked up Nate's performance last week to the flu. Maybe it is one of those 14 day viruses. I heard that the wind was really kicking up that day, but he seemed way off on many of his passes.
2) Another case of the dropsies. WR are dropping balls again. I liked how on the final couple drives it seemed like all the necessary clutch throws were caught, but drops really affect the rhythm of a passing game. Let's hope this is an outlier and not a trend.
3) Defense was solid again with 5 picks. Another team tries to challenge Hughes and pays for it. Linebackers look very athletic except for Bishop getting caught from behind by an O-lineman. Take away the two long TD passes (including the Hail Mary) and the defense played a solid game.
4) Syd Thompson had probably his second worst game of the season. Sometimes he is a great tackler and other times he just blows it. Keep it in front of you Syd. We like your speed when you are chasing down running backs, but the nuances of pass defense take experience and time. Until then, keep it in front of you.
5) Bye week is here. And I think we really need it. Lots of dinged up players will have time to heal during the break and come back roaring for the last stretch of the season. Also, Tedford mentioned that he is looking forward to working with some of the younger players. Hopefully we will see some news come out about future stars like James Montgomery and Cameron Morrah.
In the end, a win is a win. We are 7-1, undefeated in the Pac 10 and still on track to play in the Rose Bowl. Go Bears!
Post game celebration. Lynch on a golf cart and Oskie being rolled up. Only in Berkeley.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Nate Longshore was listed at #7.
Top 15 QBsHere is the full list
1) Troy Smith - Ohio State
2) Brady Quinn - Notre Dame
3) Erik Ainge - Tennessee
4) Brian Brohm - Louisville
5) Tyler Palko - Pittsburg
6) Pat White - West Virginia
7) NATE LONGSHORE - CAL
8) Chad Henne - Michigan
9) Chris Leak - Florida
10) John Beck - BYU
11) Colt Brennan - Hawaii
12) Chase Holbrook - New Mexico State
13) Kevin Kolb - Houston
14) Dennis Dixon - Oregon
15) Chase Daniel - Missouri
This is certainly not my top 15 QB's. I agree with the top 2 but beyond that it looks like SI was trying to appease some non-BCS/small conference gods. Here are some first glance comments:
1) Pat White is a running back. I don't care if he takes the snap, he is a running back in a wishbone offense. He is a great player but not a top 6 QB.
2) Brian Brohm has been injured and did not look that great last week when he came back. Is this based on reputation or actual play.
3) If this list was posted last week, I believe both Chris Leak and Chase Daniel would be higher.
4) Numbers 10-13. Who, who, who and who? Just kidding, I know who these guys are but top 15 in the nation. Maybe it is a down year for QBs.
5) Players I would have included - John David Booty (USC), Drew Tate (Iowa), JaMarcus Russell (LSU)
Cal marched into Seattle to face the 12th ranked Huskies. They were 3-2 in Tedford's first year and the offensive explosion was bringing hope to all Cal fans. Kyle Boller threw for 5 touchdowns to lead the Bears to a 34-27 victory. Boller was carried off the field and a small contingent of Cal fans in the Northwest celebrated in the stands.
Back to present day: Part of the reason I spent some time reflecting is because my preview for this game has changed dramatically. With the lose of dynamic QB Isaiah Stanback the Huskies don't look like the formidable team that took USC down to the wire. Actually, with the lose of Stanback, the Huskies look like Oregon St., a team they lost to last week. This makes for a much less exciting preview.
Unable to watch the game, I heard that the Cal offense sputtered. 21 points is not the 40 plus we Cal fans have become accustomed to, but it was a respectable showing. Also, rumor is that Longshore was battling the flu or some illness. But, fear not, the Cal offense will be back in a big way this Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Here are the key reasons why:
1) Cal plays great at home. Correction, Cal plays extremely well at home.
2) UDub ranks last in pass defense in the Pac 10. If only Cal had some fast receivers to take advantage of this situation...
3) Desean Jackson has gone 2 games without a touchdown. 2 games??? He is due for something big. I am thinking 2 TD receiving, 1 TD returning and possibly a TD on a WR reverse.
4) Defense Bears Defense. The Cal defense is really rolling. Another team tried to throw on Hughes and of course he picked it off. D line is getting to the QB with great frequency and the linebackers are making it hard for the opponents to do anything.
5) Marshawn Lynch is ready to roll. He looked (heard) great against WSU. I think he is hitting a stride that will take him over the 150 mark again with a couple TDs.
That looks like a lot of TDs you say. Well I am thinking Cal puts up 50 plus this week. Also, on a personal note, Willingham made my college football experience miserable by denying me a single Big Game win in my 4 years there, so I hope we pile it on.
Washington had looked like a darkhorse in the Pac 10 up until last week. Not a darkhorse to win the league but one of those teams no one wants to play in case their QB has a crazy game (a la Vince Young) and carries his team to victory. Since then we have seen the following: QB lost to season ending injury --> loss to Oregon St. --> playbook scaled back to accomodate back up QB. I would bother to look up the back up QB's name but I have a feeling the Cal defense might be replicating their Portland St. performance where they knocked out 2 QBs. So perhaps I should be looking up the 4th string QBs name.
Final Score Prediction: 56 - 10. (Is there a team that has scored more than Cal and kicked less field goals?)
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Here are the rankings
|1. Ohio State|
|5. West Virginia|
|8. Notre Dame|
I list only the top ten but as most of you know Tennessee is ranked #11. Which goes to show that the BCS rankings are not perfect. But the BCS was intended to set up a match up between the top two teams and create a real championship game. So is it accomplishing its mission?
Ohio State is deserving of the top spot. Though it has not played the toughest schedule (the Big Ten looks weak this year and other than the Texas game, who have the really played). It is cruising through its schedule and will be a lock for the BCS title game if it beats Michigan.
USC is the number 2 rated team. USC plays a three game stretch of Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame at home. I will be surprised if USC makes it through those three games still undefeated. I actually think that USC lose two of those three. Cal has the talent to beat USC at home and the defense is coming on strong. Oregon should catch USC looking forward to the Cal game and beat them with the spread offense. Notre Dame in my mind is the most overrated team in the country and will not be able to keep up with a pretty pissed off USC team. So USC won't be staying too long in the #2 spot.
I can't really explain it but I see a possible upset by Iowa this Saturday. Drew Tate is coming off a horrible game against Indiana and I always like a team bouncing back after a bad loss (unless it is Michigan State). Thus I see Michigan losing 2 games (Iowa and Ohio State). If they beat Iowa, then the winner of the Michigan vs Ohio State game gets in the championship but only one makes it. So lets say the #2 spot is still up for grabs.
Auburn deserves a look if they win out their remaining games and wins in the SEC championship game. But what happens if Auburn does not make the championship game? After all Arkansas is leading the SEC West after destroying Auburn. I think Auburn will stumble again making this a moot point. Their offense does not look great and Arkansas showed that their defense, though one of the best, does get tired and can be exploited. So Auburn does not get the #2 spot.
West Virginia and Louisville have a big game coming up which many people consider to be the Big East championship game and the winner will be undefeated for the season. But consider that Pitt is 6-1 and Rutgers is 6-0 are also in the conference. While I can not say the Big East is a power house, I can see no team emerging from the Big East undefeated. Louisville beats West Virginia, West Virginia beats Rutgers, Rutgers beats Louisville. So no #2 from the Big East.
Florida looked great until last Saturday. Will Chris Leak bounce back? I hope so, because no one gets more sh!t from his own fans than him. What he goes through make the treatment Ayoob got last year look like pats on the back. Florida, unlike Auburn, controls its own destiny by having an inroad into the SEC Championship game. Florida runs the table and wins the SEC Championship game they are a lock for #2.
Notre Dame will not make the BCS Championship game. Texas has an outside shot but the Big 12 looks pretty weak. And sorry Cal fans but I don't see how we make it to the BCS title game. Afterall, the AP and Harris polls play a role in the rankings and voters can not get it out of their minds that this Cal team now is different and markedly better than the one that came out in the opening game.
To conclude, it is way to early to tell who is going to be in what game. Ohio State is in the drivers seat and I see Florida also making a big push in the end.
But I will be more than happy to see all of you Cal fans at the Rose Bowl where we will face the loser of the Michigan vs Ohio State game. Just like the old days of Pac 10 vs Big 10 in the Granddaddy.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Maybe it was all the pre-game hype about how Cal hadn’t won at Pullman since 1979, or maybe the Cougars seemed so dangerous because they were only one play short of dethroning USC. Perhaps it was only Cal radio announcer Joe Starkey’s maddening penchant for emphasizing the deficiencies of the Bears while getting overly excited about opponents’ big plays. Whatever the reason, I can’t recall ever being more nervous about a 21 - 3 victory in my life. Last weekend’s Cal game wasn’t televised, so I have few concrete impressions of the game. And as I already mentioned, Starkey’s game calling leaves much to be desired. So I apologize if this post is about as exciting as Longshore’s channeling of a Holmoe era Kyle Boller was.
Playing for only the third time on the road this year, Cal had four fumbles, several drive killing penalties, interceptions, and zero offensive rhythm in the second half. If ever there was a recipe for losing a conference road game to an inferior team, that’s pretty much what it would read like. Luckily for the Golden Bears, the defense turned in their most dominating performance of the year thus far; spoiling the Cougars’ upset bid.
After an uncharacteristic fumble (luckily recovered by Cal’s David Gray) on the opening kickoff, the Bears got off to a fast start. Playing on an injured ankle, Marshawn Lynch ripped off a 42 yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Another couple of runs by Lynch and Justin Forsett had the Bears in business on the Washington State 28 yard line when Nate Longshore threw the first of his two interceptions.
The Bear’s next possession began on the Wazzu 5 yard line after Nu’u Tafisi blocked and recovered a Washington State punt. Two plays later, Marshawn found the end zone for his fifth rushing TD of the year.
Cal moved down the field fairly quickly on the next series, picking up big chunks of yardage on a 28 yard pass to DeSean Jackson and a 20 yard completion to Robert Jordan. It appeared that Jordan rolled over the defender who made the tackle and into the end zone without ever touching the ground, for what should have been a touchdown. Sadly, Pac 10 officiating woes continued when they blew the initial call, and failed to overturn it after replay review. Fortunately for the Bears and for the officials, Longshore made it a moot point by taking it in himself from the 1 making the score 14 - 0.
The Bears last scoring drive ate up most of the second quarter, and ended in an 8 yard TD run by Marshawn, his 6th of the year. This drive was probably the most impressive by the Bears, since it started deep in their own territory and was pretty methodical. The lone play of over 15 yards was a 23 yard catch and run from Longshore to Forsett. Other than that, the Bears drove steadily down the field exhibiting a very balanced attack, with Marshawn strolling in untouched from 8 yards out.
Despite the lackluster performance of the passing game, there were some positives to be taken from this game. Most importantly, the O-line proved that it can handle its own this year. Wazzu came into the game leading the entire nation with 27 sacks, 10 by the leading pass rusher in the nation, Mkristo Bruce. Bruce was shut out, and Longshore was only sacked once on what was really a coverage sack. This is the second time this year that the Bear O-line has faced a team leading the country in sacks, and both times they've shut them down. The line also paved the way for a grinding running attack that was successful to the tune of 177 yards (152 by Lynch) and 3 rushing scores. Reportedly, QB Nate Longshore was ill, so maybe he gets a pass (no pun intended) for this game. With all the success that the offense has had of late, especially with the lighting fast pass plays, it was good to see that the Golden Bears can still pound the rock when the electricity shorts out.
While Wazzu isn’t exactly Oregon in terms of offensive firepower, the performance turned in by the defense was, in my opinion, even more impressive than last week’s. The Defensive Line continued its improved play by shutting down the Cougars’ run game. Other than one 70 yard run, the Bears gave up only 18 yards on the ground, and held Washington State without a touchdown for the first time since 2000. Linebackers Desmond Bishop and Zack Follett had another dominating game with 8 tackles each and Follett added another sack. The Bear Secondary came away with two more interceptions including number six for super stud CB Daymeion Hughes. When it counted the most, the Bears again and again answered the call, holding the Cougars to an abysmal 0 of 11 on 3rd downs and 2 of 6 on 4th downs.
Although the entire defense had a great game, I think special praise has to go to the goat of the Tennessee game, CB Syd’Quan Thompson. He’s still got a thing or two to learn from Hughes, but Thompson has really started to come along since he was thrown into the fire opening week. The effort he showed in racing across field and running down Washington State’s track star RB Derrell Hutsona from behind not only saved a touchdown, but perhaps the game. Of course, the defense had a great goal line stand to capitalize on Thompson’s hustle; including a pass defended by Thompson and a great play by DL Brandon Mebane on the 4th and goal from the 1 yard line. But at that point in the game, had Wazzu scored, the entire complexion of the game would have been different. Thompson’s early struggles were really to be expected of a freshman starter, and just remember Cal fans, against Washington State last year even the great D. Hughes was torched. Maybe Thompson is ready to develop into this year’s superstar freshman a la Marshawn & DeSean.
I wrote earlier this season about how the Defense was going to have to lead this team to its
success, and this game illustrates that point perfectly. Not only does the defense have to shut down high powered teams like Oregon and (a healthy) USC, they’re going to have to deal with teams like Wazzu that know they have to gamble in order to beat Cal. Washington State started going for it on 4th down from only their second possession, and continued to take a lot of risks throughout the rest of the game. Other than USC, the rest of the teams on Cal’s remaining schedule are going to be gunning for the Golden Bears just like Wazzu did. Some of them (i.e. the furds) aren’t even going to be fighting for a bowl birth so they have absolutely nothing to lose. Hopefully, the offense will just keep putting up 40+ on teams every week from now on. But if they have another game like this where they keep giving the ball back to the opponent, then the defense is just going to have to keep stepping up and making plays. Luckily for the Golden Bears, they can and will.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Cal Looks to Show Washington State Game on Scoreboard at Memorial Stadium, Athletic Department Hopes to Have Technology in Place for Live Showing of Saturday's GameWhile this is not exactly the best option, at least fans in the Bay Area will be able to catch the game. This actually sounds like a fun event if it works. Go Bears.
BERKELEY California athletics is working with Washington State University to provide the scoreboard feed from Martin Stadium directly to the Memorial Stadium scoreboard in Berkeley for a live broadcast of this Saturday's college football game between the two schools.
On Friday, Cal will test the technology necessary to provide the video feed to Berkeley. If it is successful, Cal fans will be invited to come to Memorial Stadium FREE of charge to watch the feed on Saturday beginning at 1:30 p.m. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. Along with the video, the Golden Bear Radio Network audio feed will be provided as veteran play-by-play man Joe Starkey calls the action with Troy Taylor providing analysis and Todd McKim handling sideline updates.
All seating will be open in the stadium, however, fans are encouraged to bring food and drinks as concession stands will not be open. There will be no alcohol allowed and field access will also be prohibited.
Cal reminds fans that this will be the Washington State scoreboard feed;"Go Bears" cheers are strongly encouraged despite any contradictory scoreboard messages coming from Pullman.
Cal has been firing on all cylinders these past five week culminating in the Oregon win last Saturday. Every aspect of the team was exceptional from the offense to the defense to special teams. So it is hard to see Cal stumbling in this game in Pullman. While I expect WSU to play hard I still expect a blow out win. Final Score prediction: 49 - 18
The way that the team has been consistently putting up 40+ in the past five games I feel like this section is getting repetitive. So instead I will provide other information.
From College Football NewsSo we have the best player in the conference. Along with numbers 2, 4, and 6. I think Mebane should also be on the list but it is hard for defensive tackle to generally get recognized as there are few stats that truely capture the dominance they display.The Pac-10 best players
Offensive Player of the Midseason – Marshawn Lynch, RB Cal
Defensive Player of the Midseason – Mkristo Bruce, DE Washington State
Ten best Pac-10 players in the first half of the season
1. Marshawn Lynch, RB Cal
2. Nate Longshore, QB Cal
3. Mkristo Bruce, DE Washington State
4. DeSean Jackson, WR Cal
5. Jonathan Stewart, RB Oregon
6. Daymeion Hughes, CB Cal
7. Isaiah Stanback, QB Washington
8. John David Booty, QB USC
9. Justin Hickman, DE UCLA
10. Jaison Williams, WR Oregon
To conclude: This is a very good Cal team. The offense is loaded. The defense, though not as hyped as the offense, is very opportunistic and creates a lot of turnovers. The way they shut down Oregon's spread offense and ground game was very impressive. Also, as you can see in the DJax video posted, special teams is, for lack of a better word, special.
Washington State Overview
So which Washington State team will show up. The one that took USC to the wire at home. Or the one that was destroyed by Auburn on the road. Also, the 13-6 win last week against Oregon St. was not that impressive. Here is what I expect.
Alex Brink is a quality QB. While he can't make all the throws he does get completions and can lead drives. They way he moved the ball against USC was quite impressive. The question mark here is whether Jason Hill will be available for the game. Last year, he caught 3 long touchdowns against us and looked dominate. I imagine Hughes will shadow him if he does play and I think that should be enough, as usual.
Also, Jerome Harrison, WSU's all world tailback from last year has graduated making the offense less balanced and allowing the Cal defense to focus on stopping the ariel attack.
WSU has a very underrated defense. They lead the league in total defense and have a stud DE in Mkristo Bruce who leads the nation in sacks. This guy is a beast. But the Cal offensive line has been playing much better. Also, ASU came into the Cal game leading the nation in total sacks and we all know how that game turned out. While the WSU defense is stout, I believe they have not faced a team with the team speed like Cal's. With a healthy (or so they say) Marshawn Lynch in the backfield and speedy wide receivers catching bombs from Longshore, I think the WSu defense is in for a long afternoon.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
Literally from the first play from scrimmage, the Bears seized control of what was supposed to be a clash of offensive titans, and turned it into a completely one sided affair. After their disastrous start against Tennessee, the sturdy Golden Bears have now turned in five such dominating performances in a row; scoring 42, 42, 49, 41, and 45 points in each game, a school record.
What made this victory so impressive was that it came against an Oregon team that was ranked higher, averaging more points and yards than Cal, has always given the Bears fits, and was picked by most “experts” to win. Those same “experts,” when talking about each Cal game, have referred to them as Pac 10 shootouts, although none of them were. What these people, along with the Ducks, failed to recognize is that this year’s Bears play a ferocious brand of defense.
In breaking down the game, I separated it into what Cal did on defense and what they did on offense. While the win was a total team victory, breaking it down this way made it even clearer that this game was totally dominated by Cal. Since the defense arguably turned in the more impressive performance, I’ll give them the place of honor and start with them.
Cal Defense Performance(summary)
While I’m sure that Defensive Coordinator Bob Gregory will take his boys to task for letting up a bit, especially on the fake field goal and at the end of the game, even he would have to admit that this was a very impressive performance. Mobile QB’s have often been able to exploit Gregory’s aggressive schemes, and the run defense has looked a little suspect at times this year. But any questions were laid to rest in this game when the defense gave up only 25 yards on 18 carries to one of the most dominant backs in college football. Not only that, the defensive front harassed one of the most athletic QB’s in the nation all day long. This pressure led to three interceptions, one more than Dixon had thrown in his previous 4 starts this year combined. While the game was still in doubt, the Golden Bear Defense was at its best; forcing either a turnover or a quick punt on 6 of the Duck’s first 7 possessions. Overall, the Bears stars at each level of the defense (DL, LB, DB), were flying around the field making plays everywhere on the way to shutting down one of the top offenses in the entire country. Special recognition has to go to the entire defensive front seven, for blowing up the Oregon OL and stopping most plays in the backfield.
Cal Defense (drive by drive)
1) INT – Hampton intercepted Dixon’s first pass and returned it for 8 yards.
2) FG – Oregon put together a nice drive, aided by a personal foul penalty on LB Bishop. But the Defense came up with an impressive goal line stand and held the Ducks to a chip shot FG
3) PUNT – Oregon picked up two first downs, but quickly bogged down and was forced to punt. Desmond Bishop had a very nice sack on Dixon which forced a fumble that Dixon recovered.
4) INT – Bishop came up with a beautiful one handed interception on just the fourth play of the Oregon Drive. Zack Follett had a sack that was negated by a bad inadvertent whistle by the refs.
5) FUMBLE – DT Abu Ma’afala recovered a Stewart fumble on just the third play of the drive.
6) PUNT – The Defensive line stuffed three straight runs and forced the Ducks to punt.
7) PUNT – Follett came up with a big tackle for a loss, and the Ducks went 3 and out again. DeSean Jackson ran the punt back for a TD.
8) TD – Oregon scored on a 3 yard run by Stewart. The score was set up by a trick play on a fake field goal that went for 25 yards.
9) PUNT – CB Damymeion Hughes came up with impressive plays on back to back downs forcing the Ducks to punt again.
10) TD – Oregon scored its second TD of the day on a 29 yard pass from Dixon to Williams. The Bears Defense showed an uncharacteristic lack of intensity on this drive, mostly due to the fact that the game was well in hand by this point.
11) INT – Hicks broke up a deep pass attempt by Dixon, Follett broke up a shovel pass, and Hicks killed the drive by making an interception on the next play.
12) TD – Oregon scored its final cosmetic touchdown on two quick pass plays.
Cal Offense (summary)
While the Defense was doing its thing, the Offense again cashed in on the great field position set up by turnovers and special teams. The passing attack seems to have a few kinks left to work out, especially in the short passing game, but overall the Offense was pretty money. They continually converted big third and fourth downs, overcame an injury to star RB Marshawn Lynch, and put the game out of reach just after the start of the third quarter. The star of this week was backup Justin Forsett who ran for 163 yards and a TD, mostly in the second half. Longshore did a great job of spreading the ball around to the abundance of talent that Cal enjoys at WR. Hawkins is quickly becoming Mr. Clutch, with 2 of his 3 catches coming on critical 3rd down conversions. And DeSean Jackson remains Mr. Big Play piling up yet another TD along with 77 yards on just 2 catches.
Cal Offense (drive by drive)
1) TD – Set up inside the 10 yard line by Hampton’s interception, the Bears cash the turnover in on Longshore’s pass to TE Stevens.
2) PUNT – Backup TE DeSa dropped what should have been an easy third down conversion, and the Bears are forced to punt.
3) TD – The drive nearly stalled, but Lavelle Hawkins converted a huge 3 & 15 that took the ball into Oregon territory. On the next play, DeSean Jackson put a beautiful double move on the Oregon DB and hauled in a 36 yard TD.
4) INT – Marshawn Lynch converted a 4th down, but Longshore threw a pass into traffic that was tipped and picked off in the end zone.
5) TD – Lynch finally broke a big gainer for 24 yards that set up Longshore’s QB sneak for another Bears TD. Lynch re-aggravated an injury and did not return to the game
6) PUNT – Probably the least impressive drive of the game for the Bears ended in two straight incompletions and a punt.
7) END of Half – Two nice runs by Forsett to run out the first half with the Bears leading 28 – 10
8) FG – Longshore hit Jackson for a big 41 yard gain on the first play of the 2nd half. The drive stalled and Schneider converted a 44 yard FG.
9) TD – Three big third down conversions by Forsett, Stevens, and Hawkins set up a 2 yard TD pass to Robert Jordan. Earlier in the drive, Jordan dropped a sure TD on a really well thrown deep ball by Longshore.
10)PUNT – With the game already decided, Cal began to run down some clock and punted.
11) TD – Cal’s final TD came on a nice 23 yard run by Forsett on a toss play. This drive was impressive because it came when Oregon knew that Cal was going to just run the clock out. 10 straight run plays including two big 3rd downs and one 4th down conversion by Forsett set up the beautiful run for the score.
12) END of game – Cal killed the final 5 mins+ of clock with 9 straight run plays including a nice 48 yard run by Forsett.
First off, I agree with my co-writer that props needs to go to the Memorial Stadium faithful who finally showed up and created a home field advantage for the Golden Bears. They were called out a bit lately by the coaches and players for their lack of football knowledge, (i.e. not making enough noise, or making it at the wrong time), but from what I saw on TV, the crowd was really into the game. Good job Cal Fans.
With the debacle of the season opener well behind them, and with this second stomping of a nationally ranked opponent, the Bears are well on their way towards a showdown with USC for top spot in the Pac 10 and a potential Rose Bowl bid. There’s no letting up however, because every game in the conference is a tough one, and teams are going to be gunning for the Bears. The next two opponents for the Bears both nearly humbled the mighty Trojans, and you can be sure that UCLA, Arizona, and even the lowly furds would each love to spoil what is shaping up to be a dream season for the Golden Bears.
I hated the idea of ending the post on somewhat of a downer, so here are some pretty interesting stats on two Golden Bear stars:
- DeSean Jackson is tied for 2nd in the nation with 8TD’s receiving. He has only 30 less receiving yards than Calvin Johnson, and 1 less TD than Mario Manningham. He’s out gained Rhema McKnight by 30 yds and 1 TD, Ted Ginn Jr. by 60 yds and 2 TD’s, and Jeff Samardzija by over 150 yds and 3 TD’s. And, oh by the way, he’s housed two punt returns this year.
- Nathan Longshore is 3rd in the nation with 17 TD’s passing. The only two QB’s ahead of him both have 18 TD’s and both play in pass happy run and shoot type offenses.
1) Rankings - We started the season at number 9 and now have climbed back up into the top 10. I feel this is good progress. When the new BCS rankings come out I expect us to be similarly ranked. This bodes well for the end of the regular season. We run the table the worst we will do is the Rose Bowl. And judging by the name of this blog you can understand how happy that would make me.
2) Tennessee - Great win by Tennessee against Georgia. Putting up 51 against what was a top 5 nationally ranked defense (then again they played a relatively week schedule) shows that they are not a fluke. If Florida keeps winning and Tennessee wins out, I think the loss at the beginning of the season will be more acceptable.
3) Cal Defense - Looking better and better every week. I really like Follet coming off the end to add some more pressure. The hit he put on Rosario was bone rattling. But the play I like the best was Desmond Bishop coming up from his lineback spot, chasing down Dixon rolling out and spearing him in the legs taking him down.
4) Desean Jackson - The punt return was awesome. But the stop and go touchdown reception was better. The guy was playing 12 yards off him, he stutter stepped and crouched 7 yards in front of him and then blew by the DB. Then he made a great over the shoulder catch.
5) Cal Fans - It was great to see Memorial stadium rocking. When I was in school during the Holmoe years there were times when I thought it was louder in Doe Library. It is great to see the student section yelling their heads off and coming early to the game. Keep it up.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
of Illinois attempting to plant their school flag on the S of Michigan St. field. Coming from Cal I know all about ridiculous celebrations:
1) 1997 Big Game - Cal loses in a close game. Stanfurd fans rush the field. Proceed to taunt Cal fans. Angry Cal fans tear down fence around the field, storm the field, watch as tearful Stanfurd students run away. Then proceed to tear down goalposts and carry one out of the stadium.
2) 1996 Big Game - Stanfurd mascot is assaulted. Nuff said.
3) There are countless more.
This whole planting the flag phenomenon which I see mostly in the Big 10 is ridiculous to me. Especially for an Illini team that for the season has little to cheer about. Maybe they take what they can get. Also, I find Michigan St. to be hypocritical for being angry about the flag planting since they gained fame after their planting of the flag at Notre Dame.
Last comment on this topic. The stomping on the logo in the middle of the field is also overrated. No need to anger a team you are about to play. While I like clever celebrations and grandstanding, I think this is something to be done after a score or a victory. Otherwise you just look like an idiot and Sportscenter clown on you all day (see Miami vs Louisville).
Preview of Oregon game coming up. We were going to put up a recap of the Oregon St. game but thought we should just direct you to the ASU overview which pretty much was the same. Go Bears.