Monday, December 03, 2007
So thoughts on the Big Game...
Heading into the game, I was genuinely excited. While the season was a disappointment to date, a big win in the Big Game was just the thing to pick up the spirits before the holidays. Say what you will about Cal football, but beating Stanfurd always picks up Cal fans. Sadly, my excitement was for naught.
Where to start...
1) Pass Protection
What happened to the O line? This is a unit that was 3rd in the nation in sacks allowed having given up only nine all season. But Longshore was under pressure all game. It was amazing to me how Cal was unable to pick up blitzes off the corner by Stanfurd linebackers. Longshore again did not have a good game, but the pass protection was a bulk of the reason for that.
2) Running Game
Solid first half performance by Forsett. But what happened in the second half. It was as if he did not even exist. Why abandon the run game so quickly? Perhaps it was an effort to make half time adjustments and throw off the Stanfurd defense? I don't really know. But it seems like Cal gave up on the run pretty quickly.
The defense played solid. Not great, not poor. Giving up 20 points should win most games. It was frustrating to see Stanfurd continually convert 3rd and long but the final scoreboard result was nothing to be disappointed about.
Some may complain about the play calling. Other may wonder like I did about abandoning the run. But, if Cal executes, this game is a lot different. There were a lot of critical dropped ball on what were excellent play calls.
Ok, forget this list. What it comes down to is that the players were not fired up for this game and came out flat. Once they were down, they played scared.
Every shot of the Stanfurd sideline showed players hooting and hollering. They wanted it more and they played their hearts out.
Every shot of the Cal sideline was a stoic scene. Players looking off into space. Very little passion or even urgency.
Things that killed me
- The dropped balls. Hawkins was just off this game. He will be missed next year but he had a poor showing in his final game.
- The pick Longshore threw to Nick Sanchez. It is third down... throw it to the outside. Even if Jordan does not catch it, we still have another down. Protect the ball.
- The deep pass to Jordan when he knocked over the camera man. Jordan had 3 steps on his man and tried to catch the ball 5 yards out of bounds. That is a horrible throw.
- The penalties. Then more penalties. Then a couple more penalties. It seemed like Cal was trying to get called for everything. Holding, block in the back, block below the knees, defensive offsides, defensive holding, pass interference, excessive arrogance (for those at the 1997 Big Game, this joke will make sense.)
- The lack of DeSean Jackson. Say what you will about DJax, but his presence on the field makes a big, BIG, difference. Even if he does not catch one ball, he occupies at least 2 defenders on every play. This opens up things tremendously for Jordan and Hawkins.
- The lack of the tight end. Julian Arthur made some nice catches and I saw Craig Stevens make one great grab. But if the outs and corners are not open, shouldn't the middle be open for a TE to run down the seam. How can Stanfurd's defense blitz and cover every Cal receiver? Seriously, how can they do it?
- The lack of team chemistry. This is pure speculation based on watching the game on TV so who knows if any of this is true. But the offense just seemed like they did not believe in each other. Longshore was yelling at O linemen for missing blocks. Receivers were slow to the huddle. Frustration penalties were aplenty. That 3rd quarter was the worst offensive quarter in the history of Coach Tedford.
- The lack of passion. I am sure the players cared about this game. But the letdown of the entire season showed in their performance. Stanfurd wanted it more and hats off to them for playing to win.
- The lack of confidence in your team. After Follett caused that fumble in the 4th quarter I was jumping up and down. But deep down I felt that Cal was not going to capitalize. Since Coach Tedford came to Cal, I have never felt that way, until that moment.
More to come later on what to look forward to next year. Seriously, there are things to look forward to next year.
Monday, November 19, 2007
1) I miss being able to stop the run...
Against Cal's run defense:
USC's Chauncey Washington = LenDale White
UW's Louis Rankin = Reggie Bush/Adrian Peterson
If this keeps up, Stanfurd's starting tailback will look like the second coming of Bo Jackson.
2) I miss the days when a QB stat line of 3TDs and 250+ yards was always a win...
Three touchdowns and one pick for a little under 300 yards. Numbers wise that is a solid to great game. Many of the passes were on target and the three TD passes were all right on. The throw to Montgomery was a great touch throw.
But there was still a bit of frustration with the performance. On the pick, Longshore looked like he lost track of the linebacker who was playing underneath. It was not so much the pick as the timing of the pick. It was a huge momentum killer.
Also, the underthrown ball to Jordan was a sure TD. Jordan has at least three steps on the defender and had to actually come back to catch the ball. Of course the result was a field goal.
3) I miss being able to score from within the 5 yard line...
Three TD's were scored from within the 20 yard line and outside the 10 yard line. All on great passes. When Cal got inside the 5, things just went downhill, as has happened in the previous 6 games. While the UDub linebacker made a great play to destroy Forsett in the backfield on second down, it makes it a lot easier to do that when you are no blocked and have a free shot at the RB.
The goal line offense just astounds me now. I don't have the numbers but I would guess that in the past 6 games total yards gained on plays from inside the 5 would be negative. From now on, if Cal gets inside the 5, it should false start on purpose, to move the ball back to the 10.
4) I miss being able to return the ball at least once to start a half...
5) I miss DeSean Jackson (v. 2006)...
Let's hope that DeSean can make it back for the Big Game. There seem to be more and more DeSean haters these days but his presence on the field is better for Cal. Even when he is not catching the ball, he requires constant attention from the defense so it opens things up for the other receivers.
6) I miss Brandon Mebane...
His work rarely showed up in the stat line, but the way he was able to clog up the middle and take on multiple blockers is sorely missed this year. Inexperience and injuries have really hurt the D line. Lets hope that next year things get better.
7) I miss Desmond Bishop...
Though all three of the current LB's are better athletes than Bishop, his nose for the ball is sorely missed. Bishop rarely overpursued and usually made solid tackles.
8) I miss Daymeion Hughes...
I can't remember the last time a Cal DB had an INT. Hughes was a true playmaker who often times shut down half of the field. True, he gambled a lot and sometimes paid for it, but most times he made the right decisions.
9) I miss Marshawn Lynch...
Only because he was fun to watch. Forsett has done a fantastic job of stepping into Lynch's shoes and is really the only Bear playing consistently well.
10) I miss having a competitive Big Game...
For the last decade or so, the Big Game has been one sided. Maybe not always in score, but in the direction both teams were heading. I think more people will be tuned into this year's Big Game simply because no team is heavily favored to win.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
UW QB Jake Locker is out. Well... Willingham is saying he is possible but reports say that Locker can not move his neck. Perhaps you should sit him this game Ty.
Cal QB Nate Longshore took full responsibility for last weeks loss to USC. Does that mean he will step up this game? Well, it will be wet and cold in Seattle so who knows...
- The Goal line Situation
There is some back and forth between two fellow Cal bloggers (Hydrotech and Ken) about Coach Tedford's conservative playcalling at the goal line. Both raise some valid points though I have to lean towards Ken.
My thought is that Forsett will simply take it upon his own shoulders to score once Cal is within the 20. He will not be taken down and thus eliminate goal line situations.
Side Note: Why not rotate in Riley for goal line situations? He might be able to run that QB option better.
- Cal Defense
Holding WSU and USC offenses to around 20 points a game, back to back, is a pretty impressive effort. Let's hope they keep it up.
Last year Carl Bonnell threw 5 picks against Cal but still let them to overtime.
Rain and cold... that is the same as last week.
Forsett will go crazy. Longshore will have trouble holding onto the ball.
Result will be Cal wins by 10 in a game they should win by 30.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Now take a look at these stats over 4 games...
One set is Dennis Dixon's stats in Oregon's 4 regular season losses last year and the other is Nate Longshore's stats in the last 4 Cal games.
Pretty similar... in that both are bad.
So if that progression holds true, next year Nate will be a Heisman trophy candidate leading his team to the BCS championship game. Awesome, maybe this is why Tedford is sticking with Longshore.
Does anyone know if Longshore can hit a curve ball? We got to get him out to a minor league camp this summer like Dixon did if we really want to see a turnaround.
(Answer: The top numbers are Dixon 2006 and the bottom numbers are Longshore 2007.)
Monday, November 12, 2007
Here are some thoughts on the USC game:
QB Nate Longshore
- The first interception was the result of a miscommunication. The receiver, Jordan, ran an out, while Longshore threw it in. Based on the coverage, it seemed like Jordan made the right read because the DB and safety were playing inside. But there appeared to be a DB or corner underneath the out route so I am not sure the play would have work either way. But if there are 3 guys covering that receiver, shouldn't someone else be open or in man coverage? Frustrating...
- The fumbled snap is something that happens in rain games. Booty had a couple and Longshore was bound to have one in those conditions. But the timing of Longshore's fumble was a momentum killer. Frustrating...
- The second interception was where the frustration comes in. Jordan was open on the wheel route. If the ball had more loft or arc, that would have been 6 for Cal. Also, it looked like DeSean had a step on the safety on his post route. A very well designed play called at the right time. The execution just was not there. Frustrating...
- Hawkins makes a great catch for a TD, but that was unnecessary if not for an overthrown ball. Frustrating...
- Sideline passes. I can recall four only one of which was completed. The deep ball to DeSean near the end of the half. The other three actually gave the receiver no chance because the ball was thrown out of bounds. Frustrating...
- I am trying be more diplomatic with this analysis, because there is plenty of ranting and raving about Longshore elsewhere. Longshore did make some nice throws at other points in the game and was able to covert some key third downs. We tend to only remember the picks and final stats in a loss, so that is what we dwell on.
The Running Game
- Justin Forsett was the man. He was hitting the hole hard, breaking tackles, spinning left and right. The man could not be stopped. It was great to see him have a huge game after a couple weeks of sub-Forsett performances.
- Big ups to the O-line guys. They opened some big holes for Forsett in the running game and they also kept Longshore upright with the exception of 1 sack (which was on an overloaded blitz on the blindside).
- I have not seen any updates on Jahvid Best's injury. Let's hope that it is not serious and that he is back for the next game.
- The best run by Forsett was when he ran for a first down but the line was called for holding. So on the next play Forsett runs for 20+ yards. The man could not be stopped.
The Wide Receivers
- Overall a solid game. They got open and caught the ball in difficult conditions.
- They are also tough guys. There were a couple passes where they got hung out by high passes and were crushed by USC's safeties. Craig Stevens took a brutal hit and Hawkins also took one over the middle.
- Run defense was not very good. Chauncey Washington is not an elite back. Even USC fans will admit to that. He is tough to bring down but there were times when the Cal defense made him look like Marshawn. Frustrating...
- Overall, the defense played well and made plays when needed. DeCoud had a huge hit on Washington to cause the fumble near the goal line.
- Follett played a good game but there were a couple plays when it looked like he was in position to tackle the runner for a loss but he just missed the tackle. Frustrating...
- Booty scrambled for 2 first downs against the Cal D. This is a QB who some say is more immobile than Longshore. Frustrating...
- It looked like USC was willing to kick to DeSean and had excellent coverage on those plays.
- Either Ronald Johnson is going to be the best kick returner in the NCAA next year or Cal needs to shore up the kick off return game a little. He never broke one for a TD but it was mighty close a couple times. Frustrating...
Inside the 5 offense
- Cal was inside the 5 once during the game. And the result was a field goal. The short yardage running plays near the goal line just aren't working. Frustrating...
- First and goal from the 2. Forsett is dropped for a 3 yard loss. Frustrating...
- It was almost a relief (almost) when Cal got pushed back for the false start. Obvious passing situation now and Longshore has been good on the short passes and the receivers are getting open on their breaks. But alas, it was a draw to Forsett. Frustrating...
Final result... Frustrating...
Friday, November 09, 2007
- Cal has been having trouble throwing the deep ball so the rain might just completely eliminate that option. (Though this would decrease the potential for interceptions on those deep balls)
- Cal receivers could break something big on the shorter routes while defenders are slipping and sliding around.
- The running game could suffer with USC stacking the box with all eleven defenders.
- Those heartbreaking third and long conversions with long passes should decrease in the rain.
- Missed tackles can now be blamed on the rain.
- Bend but don't break defense is great for the rain. Keep everything in front of you and wait for the offense to mess up.
- The 2 biggest problems with the USC Offense.
1) QB John David Booty has been inaccurate, missing receivers
2) Receivers are dropping the passes that are on target
- Rain usually affects the passing game and the ability to hold on to the ball. Advantage: Rain
- The rain might actually provide USC an opportunity to use all 18 of its 5 star running backs.
- Aggressive defenses can be caught "slippin" in the rain.
- USC's defensive line is very good and rain games are usually won in the trenches.
Conclusion: Who knows? But rain or shine, Cal takes this one at home. (Eternal optimism is a good thing.)
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
On why Longshore will start:
“I would say if he continues to look like he did in pregame, he will continue to start,” Tedford said. “Unless something happens throughout the week—he has a set back or something gets worse—then that would change. If he stays the way he was this last week, then he would be the starter.”No problem. Longshore is the starter, he has struggled, but if he is healthy enough to play, he should play.
On the ankle injury:
Tedford said he does not think that Longshore’s ankle will ever fully recover and that it may be a lingering injury that the junior quarterback will have to play through the rest of the season.
“It’s probably something that’s going to stick with him here,” Tedford said. “It’s very difficult to let something completely heal like that. Maybe in a couple of weeks, when we get a bye, it’ll let him recover a little bit. But I don’t see him recovering that much in the next couple of weeks.”
Ok, a little confusing. Is he healthy or is he not healthy? This is a little disconcerting. Hopefully, Coach Tedford is prepping Riley in case the ankle flares up again. Don't want to pull a Karl Dorrell and be putting your backup into the game with no prep.
Those of you calling for Riley, it appears that the die has been cast. Here are some reasons why you should to feel good about Longshore starting.
1) The game is at home. Longshore is solid to awesome at home. Perhaps, we will see some vintage Nate a la Arizona St or Oregon last year at Memorial.
2) Real game experience is very important against a very talented and aggressive defense such as USC's.
3) The last four games have been an elaborate scheme. Cal is trying to fool USC into thinking that the Cal offense is sputtering. In reality, Coach Tedford has a separate, even larger laminated play sheet, specially crafted for the USC game.
Look for some crazy things. Double nay triple reverses. WR options back to the QB. Forsett and Best in the backfield together in the Wildcat formation.
Not crazy enough, what about these. DeSean running a go route. Passes down the middle of the field. Screen passes that result in first downs. A pass longer than 20 yards. A passing play on 1st and goal. A pass play on 2nd and goal. A running play on 3rd and goal that gets in the end zone.
Ah yes my friends, the trap has been set. Very clever... very clever...
The Cal vs USC game was hyped as the game of the year for the Pac 10 conference. It was easily seen as the best game of the week and was supposed to get national Saturday night coverage on ABC.
So I checked the schedule and it looks "undecided" what will be shown out here in NYC. Great, so now I might be treated to a big time match up of two ACC teams grinding out to a 10-7 finale rather than a classic Pac 10 battle of 2 ranked teams.
- Freshman tailback, Joe McKnight, has finally learned
1) how to hold onto the ball and
2) which direction to run
and it only took him half a season. This is not good news for Cal.
- USC's best running back, Stafon Johnson is also healthy now. More bad news.
- John David Booty's finger is better and he will be leading the USC offense. JDB or Mark Sanchez, neither has looked remarkable this season. If Cal can get in his face, Booty can be forced into a poor game.
- After getting only 20 sacks for the year, the USC defense got 9 against Oregon St. OSU not playing their starting tailback might have something to do with that stat, but it is still worrisome.
- USC linebackers are playing well but not up to their preseason hype where some publications had all three as first team All Americans. Injuries and two losses have faded some of the luster but they are a solid core. Keith Rivers is an excellent tackler and in always in position to make a play.
- Post-Aaron Rodgers, Pete Carroll and the USC defense have been able to stop Cal's passing attack. Jackson has been shut down in both previous games. USC has the speed on defense to cover well and has a D line that can generate pressure on the QB without help. Coach Tedford might have to get a little more creative this year.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Honestly, this is the first I am hearing of this. I am sure some Cal fans are excited at the prospect of getting a new defensive coordinator. Personally, I think Gregory does a lot with the talent he has. While the defense was getting hammered early in the season, it has really stepped up as a unit recently.
Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory, a Washington State graduate, is among a group of logical candidates for the Cougars' head coaching job if Bill Doba is fired, which has been the subject of widespread speculation on the Internet.
Gregory's first job interview - a 20-17 win over the Cougars - was nearly flawless.
Gregory haters, any thoughts?
Why November will be like September:
- Defense had a great game. There were some fluke throws that went for big yardage, but that happened in September also.
- Zack Follett is back and bring the heat. Follett blitzing off the corner is one of the rare times that Cal gets pressure on the QB and can really affect a QB and the defense. Recall in the Tennessee game, his hit on Ainge and the subsequent fumble returned for a TD. Follett is a big time player that makes game changing plays so it is good to see him healthy.
- Kay was kicking well.
- Forsett and Jahvid had some nice runs. The running game drives the Cal offense.
- Winning is winning, no matter how you look doing it.
Why November will be like October:
- There appears to be an invisible wall that goes up once Cal's offense gets inside the 5 yards line. This invisible wall prevents any sort of run play from getting into the end zone. The wall appears at home and on the road. Gotta take down the wall somehow.
- Longshore still appears to be unable to make the throws downfield. His first interception was short and Hawkins looked like he was blowing by the safety but had to come back for the ball.
- Forsett is still struggling to gain yards. I believe without the 44 yard TD run, Forsett was averaging less than 3 yards a carry. Teams are stacking the line to stop the run and to get pressure on Longshore. Right now, the strategy is working.
- Trick plays work, if you expect only 7-13 yards gains. Reverses are all being sniffed out. Anytime Best touches the ball he is swarmed and has to use his natural ability to gain yards.
I like what I saw on defense, but the offense scoring only 20 points was disconcerting. The goal line situation must improve. And Nate has to hit the deep receivers.
Friday, November 02, 2007
So here is a brief look at the Cougs.
- Tailback Dwight Hardy is out for the season after tearing his ACL on a 51 yard run against UCLA. Bad news for Dwight, good news for Cal. But then again, last week, ASU's starting running back was out for the season and their backups filled in more than adequately.
- WSU QB Alex Brink is a very good QB. Besides Oregon's Dennis Dixon, I think Brink is the best QB Cal will face this season. He does the most with the talent around him. The Bears need to bring pressure and force Brink to make some quick decisions. If not, Cal fans might have a long night of watching Brink sit back in the pocket and pick up easy yardage.
- WSU is coming off a big win against UCLA. Not really sure how to analyze that because UCLA is the most enigmatic team in the country.
- WSU head coach Bill Doba is in a three way fight with Arizona's Mike Stoops and UCLA's Karl Dorrell for the coveted title of "Coach on the Hot Seat".
- WSU is 3rd in the Pac 10 in sacks with 20. No worries, because Cal has an elusive QB that can easily avoid pass rush.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I live in LA and hosted about 25-30 of my family and friends at a tailgate at the Rose Bowl 2 weeks ago, and subsequently had my heart ripped out of my chest. A few thoughts…
There are some issues on defense, but I felt that the defense played well against UCLA and Arizona State. The real issue was our own offense. Against Arizona State, Cal only held the ball for 23 minutes. That’s a 14 minute advantage for Arizona State. The offense kept turning the ball over, and putting the defense in impossible positions.
Our offensive problems, ironically, are the root of the 3-game losing streak. And it’s not a problem with Forsett or with Tedford’s playcalling. The problem is at quarterback. Against Oregon State, I’ll admit that Riley’s final decision was a problem. However, I excuse him since it was his first start. I think his issue on that final play was pure inexperience. He saw open field and thought he could make it to the end zone. And since it was his first start, he completely underestimated the speed of linebackers at the D-1A Pac-10 level. That open field closed a lot faster than he expected by the Oregon State linebackers. What can you say? A guy who’s started for several games estimates linebacker speed more accurately. To me, it’s not Riley’s fault. Other than that, I though Riley played excellently for the rest of the game.
Against UCLA and Arizona State, I can say with certainty that our problems stem from the ineffective, near tragic play of Nate Longshore. Here is my assessment…
We need to bench Longshore. Unless the designed play gets everyone open, Longshore cannot create. A few years ago, Bill Walsh was interviewed for a Sportscentury special on his development of QB's. What he explained as the #1 element necessary for great quarterback play was the ability of the QB to evade that first tackle, which extends the play for another 2-3 seconds. That's all you need. Doesn't have to have great downfield running ability, just enough mobility to evade the first possible sack.
Some players recently in college who have had that innate ability: Matt Leinart (USC), Aaron Rodgers (Cal), Tim Tebow (Florida), Brady Quinn (Notre Dame), Carson Palmer (USC), Dennis Dixon (Oregon), Jason Campbell (Auburn), just to name a few. These guys are not all speed burners, just slightly mobile. It’s not coincidence that each of these guys has gone onto moderate to major success in the NFL.
And here are a few guys who have had that ability at the pro level: John Elway, Brett Favre, Steve Young, Vince Young, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair, just to name a few. Oh, and a guy named Montana.
Some players recently in college who are high profile, but actually do not possess that ability to evade the first tackle: Nate Longshore, Ben Olson (UCLA), John David Booty (USC), Jason White (Oklahoma), Chad Henne (Michigan), just to name a few.
These guys simply start throwing interceptions when plays don’t go perfectly as designed. They cannot create and extend plays. They are system players. Plain and simple.
Two things I saw when Kevin Riley played for the Bears. First, a lot of heart. The guy brain lapsed at the end of the game, but he was pretty good for the first start of his career. Second, ability to avoid tackles and make plays. He walked out of a sure safety in the end zone and made a 15 yard completion. Did the same thing from elsewhere on the field several times in the final few minutes, completing nearly impossible passes from within the grasp, or just beyond the grasp of a defender.
Longshore (like Ben Olson) is a statue. He's Marino without the ability. Basically, he's the Stan Humphries of college football. Time to put in Riley and stop retarding our program.
In my mind, it all goes back to Walsh.
- Longshore is injured. Let him rest until he is 100% and then bring him back.
- Longshore has led Cal this far. He made some good throws but had a couple bad games. He will bounce back.
- Experience is far more important than any raw talent Riley might possess.
- Better arm, more mobile
- Nate has peaked and will never take us to the promised land
- Time to play for next season, let's see what Riley can do
After watching the ASU game, I don't believe Longshore's ankle is 100%. There were multiple times when he was limping around during the game. His mobility is limited when he is 100%, so with the bum ankle, his mobility is zero.
Longshore is throwing off his back foot and side arm a lot. His throws appear to be off and receivers are making a lot of adjustments on the ball. Hawkins, Jackson and Jordan all made fantastic catches on poorly thrown balls when they were relatively open.
Until Nate is 100%, give Riley the ball. Let the new guy get some experience and see what he can do. Once the ankles is completely healthy, Nate gets his starting job back. When Nate is healthy, he is a player that puts Cal in a position to win (see what he did in the Oregon game).
Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.
- Late dinner at home. Opened up a bottle of wine with the meal.
- Defense came out attacking and was getting great pressure on the ASU QB. While some of the drives stalled, the aggressive play calling on offense was great to see. Happy times. And the wine is pretty tasty too.
- Finished off the bottle of wine and opened a bottle of rum a friend brought me from Puerto Rico. Mixed it with some coke to keep energy level high.
- Great catch by Jackson in the corner of the end zone. Celebration.
- ASU is starting to come back.
- No worries, into the locker room up at the half.
- Man, this rum is pretty good, I think I will have some more.
- Tedford looks pissed. That is good. There are going to be some sick halftime adjustments and the Bears will come out roaring. Raise a glass to that.
- Bottle of rum is quickly disappearing...
- Ahhh, Follett tackle the ball carrier not the pile. 4th and 1 and we had them stopped. ASU TD, they take the lead.
- Alcohol is really beginning to take a hold of me. Nate appears to be throwing every ball off his back foot and side arm. Must be the alcohol, right?
- Rum is gone, frantically searching home for more alcohol. Ah, jackpot, bottle of Bacardi in the back of the freezer.
- Why can't we move the ball?.... Wait, Jackson is open... Nate sees him... Just hit him in stride... that looks short... really short... Interception???
- Defense Bears, Defense (clap, clap)... ok, maybe not.
- Thinking to myself, why is the middle so open for ASU, but we can't get anything down the middle except for that one Stevens reception?
- Is that really three in a row?
- Blindly texting friends with nonsensical messages like, "Dude, I need to live one more year. Do you think I can do it?" or "Is there an NYC to El Paso, non stop flight?"
- Friends have all turned off phones. Can't tell if it is because of game or because of me.
- Pass out
A better look at the game from a more lucid state of mind, later today.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Cal has to win this game to keep their slim Rose Bowl/Pac 10 championship hopes alive. Here are some positives and negatives heading into Saturday's games.
- ASU starting RB Ryan Torain is out for the year. This is a positive for Cal, since Torain ran roughshod over the Cal defense last year.
- ASU is largely untested. Due to a soft schedule, ASU has been able to cruise through the first half of their season. How they perform on a bigger stage has yet to be seen.
- ASU's defense while solid, is not on the same level (statistically) as UCLA or Oregon St. I say statistically, because I have really only seen part of 1 ASU game so the defense might be better than the stats indicate.
- ASU struggled in its last game (2 weeks ago) against Washington St.
- Cal is playing on the road. QB Nate Longshore has a history of not performing well on the road so this does not bode well.
(Side note: I was a little surprised by some fans mentioning a QB controversy. The same fans that were calling for Kevin Riley's head after the OSU game were calling for him to replace Longshore after the UCLA loss. Ironic.)
- ASU is coming off a bye week. So they should be well rested and well prepared for Cal.
- Defensive Coordinator Bob Gregory stated after the UCLA game that there would be no changes to the defense and that the players simply needed to execute better (that was paraphrased by me). I understand his point regarding tackling and overpursuing. But what about the pass rush? Is he saying that if the guys in the trenches executed better they would be getting more pressure on the QB?
No more score predictions for the rest of the season, as I am obviously horrible at it. Let's just say, I think Cal will bounce back in the desert [Update: Correct from dessert to desert, see comment #1 for more details].
Nate will do enough to not lose the game while Forsett will re-establish himself as the conference's best running back with a huge game.
ASU will score points but the defense will come up with some big plays at the right moments (like in the Oregon game). Go Bears.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
- UCLA rushing defense is much better than I expected. They held Cal RB's to less than 100 yards and that is an impressive feat.
- Patrick Cowen is better on one leg than most QB's. That guy made the plays when he needed to and kept the Bruins in the game.
- Cal's defensive line is not better than I expected. There was little to no pressure on Cowen from the D line. The only pressure seemed to come from the LB's and they were sent only a couple times.
Honestly, I can't believe we lost this game. I was surprise to be up by only one at the half but I figured that halftime adjustments would be made.
Give all the credit to the Bruins, who played well and showed that when their defense is playing up to their talent level, they can be dominating.
I don't really know what else to say at this point. This loss is WAY more disappointing than last weeks loss to OSU. Perhaps I can live another year so I can see a Rose Bowl before I die.
(More lucid and rational commentary once these feelings of dread die down and I am able to think more clearly. I need another drink.)
Friday, October 19, 2007
Why UCLA will only score 13 points...
- UCLA's QB situation consists of these options
1) a one legged back up
2) a walk on that turned the ball over 4 times against Notre Dame
3) a QB turned WR turned QB (though still behind the walk on)
- UCLA's starting running back, Chris Markey, is injured (he might play but is listed at 4th in the depth chart and can't really plant his foot.)
- The Bruins' offense has scored 16 offensive touchdowns this season.
Let's just say that I don't see the Bruin offensive machine kicking into high gear this week.
Why Cal will score at least 56 points...
- UCLA's defensive line has been decimated by injuries. This was a strength of the defense.
- UCLA's defense ranks 9th in the nation in rushing D. Good for them. Oregon St. was ranked 3rd in the nation in rushing D and Forsett had no problem getting his 150 against them.
- Cal offense should score 35 points on its own. (2 Forsett TD's, 1 Jackson TD, 1 Jordan TD (possible Stevens TD here), 1 Best TD off a long run)
- UCLA will turn the ball over at least twice (one of which will result in a defensive TD)
- Special teams will produce a TD (Jackson, Hawkins, Best... it is about time one of them broke another one).
- Hmmm... ok I will lower the prediction to 49 - 13.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
You’ll have to forgive me for posting this so late. Honestly, I wasn’t even going to do it at all since it’s already mid-week and we’ve all got some bruin pounding to look forward to. But, I’d be doing a disservice to my beloved Bears by balking at breaking down last Saturday’s game (don’t worry, my ego ain’t that big…just making a joke and I dig alliteration). Is it being overly optimistic to say that the only thing we learned from this loss was that even the best teams can lose on any given weekend? Possibly, but after forcing myself to sit through the game (and having to silence the little voice in my head that kept saying ‘omg, we’re gonna pull of the comeback!’) I really honestly believe that we’re the best team in the Pac 10; just not in the standings right now.
The beaver offense performed exactly as expected on their first possession. Meaning that they quickly drove down to the Cal 31 on just three plays, but turned the ball over when DB Brandon Hampton forced a fumble which was recovered by LB Zack Follet.
The Bears’ next possession stalled quickly when Forsett stumbled on second down setting up a third and long. Riley showed good velocity on his pass attempt to WR DeSean Jackson, but couldn’t connect leading to a punt.
Brandon Hampton made another big play on defense as he broke up what would have been a fourteen yard completion on second down, and LB Mike Mohamed stopped RB Yvenson Bernard short of the first down marker setting up a punt.
A short pass to WR Robert Jordan was stopped for a loss, and yet another 3rd down incompletion forced
osu got 17 yards on first down on an end around by James Rodgers, but were unable to do anything afterwards as the Bear defense continued its good early play.
The first turning point of the game came when the usually reliable Justin Forsett fumbled on first down, giving the beavers the ball right back on the Cal 16 yard line.
A holding call against the beavers seemed to lessen the scoring threat and for a brief moment it looked like osu might only get a field goal attempt. But a pass interference call against safety Thomas DeCoud gave the beavers first and goal from the 5 yard line. The Bear defense nearly came away with yet another goal line stand, but the beavers converted on fourth and goal to open up the scoring.
Kevin Riley completed his first pass for positive yardage when he connected with TE Cameron Morrah for 6 yards on first down. Forsett picked up the first down on a nice 5 yard run over right end, and on the ensuing first down Riley connected with Hawkins for 8 yards. FB Will Ta’ufo’ou was stuffed up the middle and the first quarter came to an end with
Coach Tedford showed his faith in the capabilities of Kevin Riley when on 3rd and one he dialed up a deep pass play which resulted in a 35 yard completion to Hawkins. Another big gain by Forsett set
First quarter defensive standout Brandon Hampton was injured on the ensuing kickoff, but the Bear defense stiffened up, after the beavers crossed midfield, by forcing three straight incompletions and a punt.
Sadly, the Bears failed to build on their momentum when they had another three and out. Punter Andrew Larson made sure that the beavers didn’t get good field position however, by booming a 73 yard punt all the way down to the osu 9.
The Bear defense gave up one first down, but continued to play well. They nearly forced another fumble and eventually forced the beavers to punt from their own 24.
After a twelve yard return by
Unlike after the first Bear turnover, this time the defense did manage to keep the beavers out of the end zone. On first down James Rodgers ran another reverse for a big gain of 16, but the next three osu plays netted -3 yards forcing a Serna FG.
Down by three, the Bear offense put together its best drive of the first half. Starting deep in its own territory, the offense turned to the ground game. Three consecutive rush plays brought the ball all the way out to the 36 yard line. After a 1 yard loss on a pass to DeSean Jackson, Justin Forsett got 10 yards on second down and Riley found Hawkins again to convert another 3rd and short. Three more runs by Forsett set
A terrible squib kick gave osu one last chance to score points before the end of the half, and with a little help from a terrible blown call by the refs (QB Sean Canfield threw a pass from 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage…no call, booth somehow ruled it an inconsequential play, thus no review), Alexis Serna was able to convert a 52 yard FG. End of first half
The first possession of the second half was undoubtedly the Yvenson Bernard show as he almost single-handedly drove the beavers all the way down the field. Bernard was involved, either via run or reception, on all but one play on a 76 yard drive that was capped off by his 1 yard TD run.
Not to be outdone, the Bear RB’s powered
Luckily for the Bears, their failure to score was not magnified because the defense forced the beavers to go three and out. The first bad punt of the day by Serna set
Cal and osu traded penalties on the first two plays of this drive, and the quarter came to an end after a sack on Riley and a false start on Brian De La Puente. End of third Quarter
An excellent return by Gerard Lawson set up the next osu drive nearly at midfield. The beavers gained most of their yards again with Bernard, but perhaps the biggest play of the drive came early on when the Bear defense allowed a 26 yard completion on 3rd on 9.
Disaster struck for the Bears on the ensuing kickoff return when freshman phenom Jahvid Best accidentally collided with one of his blockers resulting in the third
A questionable late hit call against DE Tyson Alualu put the beavers on the Cal 23 yard line, but the defense managed to hold them to just a FG.
With the Bears down by ten with only 6 mins remaining, the osu defense was free to rush the passer with all they had. The resulting pressure led to three straight incompletions and punt. The decision to punt paid off when the
The Bears were unable to recover the onside kick, but the defense managed to force a punt, and
Riley did a Houdini act when, on first down, he escaped a safety, but was unable to connect with
Most of what I think was already covered by Danny in his earlier post-game, um, post. The only thing I feel differently about is that, if anything, I’m even more supportive of Kevin Riley now. Perhaps it’s just because in the last few days I’ve already given about 5 sermons to younger non-football educated
At the risk of sounding overly Mike Gundy-ish, everyone (hopefully there’s nobody left) needs to just back the hell off this kid. Time and time again he made plays to keep
First off, ten of osu’s thirteen first half points came off turnovers, and the remaining three points were a gift from the ref who swallowed his flag. And before the dissenters point out that one of the first half turnovers came from Riley, that interception can’t really be put on him as it came off a vicious blind side hit.
Second, it’s impossible to know how the offense might have run with a banged up Longshore in at QB. Maybe he dissects the osu secondary, &
Third, fans can’t overlook the fact that Riley is a redshirt freshman that was making his first start. If the play he made (or failed to make) at the end of the game came during the first quarter, this isn’t even an issue at all. Bottom line is that we were playing from behind for a significant part of the game, had to rely exclusively on the pass late in the game, and we got a performance that was probably better than anyone was hoping for. We just didn’t get the final result which is a team blemish, not Riley’s.
My final thought on the offense is that, overall, they played a great game against one of the best defenses they’ll face all year. The Bears out gained the beavers 478 to 339, had 184 net yards rushing against a team that came in giving up something like 43, and they got 294 yards passing with 2TD (1Int) and 1TD rushing from a guy making the first start of his career. Like I told a lot of people this week, the way I see it is if Riley was a pro or even an experienced starter…he gets the blame. But he’s a young kid that played his guts out to try to keep his team’s dreams alive. It was his heart that kept the Bears in the game and nearly brought them all the way back. Sadly, he just played with too much heart and not enough head when he desperately tried to make a play instead of throwing the ball away.
Despite being put behind the eight ball time and time again by turnovers and bad special teams play, the Defense actually played a decent game. Well, they were great in the first half, and bad in the second so I guess that averages out to decent, right? Like I pointed out above, all of the beavers’ first half points were the result of excellent field position given up by a unit other than the defense. In fact, the Bears were lucky to only give up thirteen.
I generally don’t delve into weird hypotheticals about how the game might have gone if things were changed in the first half…but this game’s driven me temporarily insane so…
If, hypothetically, you take away all the first half points, obviously we’re talking about a
Unfortunately, the bottom line is that osu did get those first half points, and the defense did come out completely flat in the second half. But we here at RBBID are eternal optimists about
Our D line’s depth has been depleted ever since the La Tech game, and while it showed during the zona & oregon games, those teams weren’t running much late in the game. Basically, that meant that while we still were too gassed to get a pass rush from our line, our LB’s & DB’s were able to pick up the slack and we got the W. This time, the lack of depth hurt us in the second half because our guys were getting worn down by the pounding of the run game. This proved to be more fatal to the Bears because osu’s scoring drives took up more precious time than the ducks’ drives did. Agasint oregon and tennessee, the opponents scored quickly, and we used the run to milk the clock against them. This time, the script was flipped and the beavers killed off just barely enough time to stop our quick strike offense. Needless to say, I’m going to stay positive and say that once our line is back to full strength…we’ll be just fine.
While the turnovers were bad enough, had we gotten the usual production from our special teams then the game would have ended differently. For the first time all year, we were out kicked, out covered, and out returned all game. The only good kickoff return we had ended in Best’s fumble. And Serna was an absolute beast for the beavers as he consistently denied DJax return opportunities, and converted all his FG attempts (including a 52 yarder).
The Bears are a good enough team to win when one side of the ball (offense or defense) has a bad game. And they’re good enough to pull out a win even when they lose the turnover battle. But no team has the right to win when they get spotty play on offense, defense, and on special teams. Instead they come up 12 yards short.
I've been hearing some grumbling (mostly on sports talk radio) about how Tedford cost the Bears the game. The general criticisms are that a) he should have started Longshore b) he got too greedy at the end of the game and c) he showed no class by throwing down his play sheet and headset at the end of the game. The reasonable side of me can see how an outside observer would make those arguments, but the fan in me just wants break a bottle on their heads. Instead I'll just settle for tearing apart their arguments on a blog posting (so unsatisfying).
I've been hearing some grumbling (mostly on sports talk radio) about how Tedford cost the Bears the game. The general criticisms are that a) he should have started Longshore b) he got too greedy at the end of the game and c) he showed no class by throwing down his play sheet and headset at the end of the game. The reasonable side of me can see how an outside observer would make those arguments, but the fan in me just wants break a bottle on their heads. Instead I'll just settle for tearing apart their arguments on a blog posting (so unsatisfying).
The first two arguments are nothing more than people trying to play monday (sunday?) morning quarterback. There's really no way of knowing how Longshore would have done, and what little evidence there is points more to his being buried by the pass rush. As far as the end game, I have ZERO problem with Tedford calling one play for the end zone. Our defense was gassed, our QB had a hot hand, and, had Riley followed the plan and thrown the ball away, there was plenty of time for a game tying FG. What makes me even sicker, is that these same critics would be ripping Tedford for lack of killer instinct had we gone to OT and lost without taking our shot.
Like I said, I think these arguments against Tedford were made by people who are unfamiliar with his track record. If Cal fans ever get the urge to seriously question Tedford, all they have to do is consider this: before Tedford arrived, we all just prayed for one win per year (over the furd) and we never got that...and in just 5 years, he's made it so that losing one game per year is excruciating. Incredible.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Mychal Kendricks (LB) - 3 stars
The speedy (4.53 forty) and talented Kendricks has been gaining a lot of recruiting attention, especially after his strong performance at the Stanford Nike combine earned him MVP amongst the linebackers in attendance... (read more at Bear Insider)Starting LB trio, Felder, Follett and Williams are all juniors and should be staying at Cal another year. Cal has plenty of young guys like Michael Mohamed and Eddie Young gaining playing time now. And last year's star recruit DJ Holt should be a stud when he gets on a field. So there is plenty of depth. But, there is always room for fast, hard hitting linebackers.
(Side note: With the quality players we have at LB, I always wondered what Cal's pass rush would be like with a 3-4 defense.)
Marvin Jones (WR) - 4 stars
The 4 star Jones brings the size and speed (4.5 forty) they’ve been looking for at receiver. He led his Etiwanda squad to a big upset win this Friday in a 29-26 nailbiter a week after an impressive 151 yard, 2 td game along with an interception on d in close loss to Chino Hills... (read more at Bear Insider)With the possibility of losing all three starting WR's, Jackson, Jordan and Hawkins, this is a great signing for both Cal and Jones. Also, with Nyan Boateng's odd legal situation in Florida still in limbo that might create more opportunities for newcomers.
(Another side note: Cal's high powered offense + possible immediate playing time + possible DJax-like media exposure = more high profile signing for Cal at the WR position before it is all said and done?)
- Longshore is still listed as day to day and at this point no one really knows who will start against UCLA. Everyone thought he was going to start on Saturday against OSU so who knows what the true extent of his injury is.
- UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell is optimistic that backup QB Patrick Cowen will be ready by Saturday. Cowen tore a hamstring before the start of the season and then tore a ligment in his left knee against Washington. Even if he makes the start, you have to wonder about his mobility.
- For a team who's last performance on the field was a loss to Notre Dame, possibly the worst team in college football, the Bruins and their fans are feeling pretty confident.
Coach Dorrell on Cal's WR's
"They have experience at wide receiver. We have a great deal of experience in our back end, too," he said. "We had a little bit of a rough start coverage-wise, but those things have been shored up the last couple of games and our team is playing very confident on the defensive side right now. They're excited about this challenge that's in front of them – this offense that we have to defend, that has tremendous balance. They know about those three guys in particular, so it's something that we're looking forward to."
The funny thing is though, I believe we are going to win this weekend’s game. I have seen four Cal games this year. And frankly I am not really all that impressed with the talent they have on their defense. Don’t get me wrong. I think Coach Tedford is a superb head coach, who is getting most out of his offense. They have better skill set players at WR, but I am not sure whether they have superior talents at RB positions or at OL. However, unlike Dorrell Tedford knows how to coach up his QBs, who in turn get the most they can out of their available offensive talent.
But UCLA because of its access to the Southern California recruiting base has enough talent on its roster to win this game despite lack of credible leadership from its head coach, which is known around here as "the Dorrell Factor".
13-9 showed last year that we do not need a head coach to win an emotional game at home. I believe our guys are going to be fired up enough that they will be able to pull out an ugly victory with a superb defensive effort and less than average offensive output (which pretty much takes place during most Dorrell “coached” games).
Again Cal is banged up. Even if Longshore is back he is not exactly the most mobile QB. He is kind of hurt. The games I have seen him play he looks like a QB who doesn’t have a good feeling on defensive pressure. Reminds you of someone? Yet, he get the best out of his abilities by taking advantage of the great play calling courtesy of the offensive mind of Jeff Tedford.
As for rest of the Cal team I don’t think the talent in their OL (which is athletic) is greater than our OL. I certainly believe our defense is more talented, experience and deeper unit than their defense. I like our special teams better. So all in all, I believe we are going to win this game
Check out the message boards for UCLA fans if you want to see delusional behavior. Apparently a team that lost to Utah and Notre Dame, is going to stomp all over Cal. Even BruinsNation, which I think is a pretty good blog, dismisses the Cal game as a foregone conclusion.
My favorite logic from UCLA fans is that Dorrell owns Tedford at the Rose Bowl. When will people learn that past performance in a team sport has little to no bearing the current year's game? Surely UCLA learned that last year in their win against USC after how many embarrassing losses.
Lastly in regards to BruinsNation reasoning,
1) Superior Talents at RB
UCLA's Kahlil Bell is a solid back and putting up some good numbers. But compared to Cal's trio of Forsett, Best, and Montgomery, I don't really see how UCLA compares.
2) Superior Talents at OL
Cal OL has given up 7 sacks all season while UCLA's OL has given up 17.
3) Defense vs Defense - "I certainly believe our defense is more talented, experience and deeper unit than their defense."
I don't agree with that statement, but even if true, what does it matter? The defenses don't line up against each other. Cal's offense is vastly superior to UCLA's offense. Does that make it a wash? Like I mentioned at the beginning of the year, UCLA's defense is a vastly overrated unit living off that USC victory last year.
Are all UCLA fans this delusional? Check out BruinsNation post about UCLA possibly landing Steve Spurrier as the new Head Coach.
I don't mind confidence or even arrogance, but this takes it to another level. I guess it is just easier.
On that note, Cal will destroy UCLA on Saturday 56 - 13
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I'm not stalling on the game recap b/c I'm one of the no-class Cal fans that are bashing Kevin Riley, Jeff Tedford, and the entire team. I just don't think I have time (or the stomach) to watch the entire game again this weekend (which is what I do while writing the recap). Honestly, I think those of you that didn't watch the game are better off w/o reliving it, but I'm still going to do it...it'll be up soon enough.
So what does this mean going forward?
Check out any of the Cal blogs, listed on the right, and there is an overwhelming amount of support for the team. Yes, the loss was tough, but not the end of the world. Particularly in this season of college football, where anything can happen, one loss does not eliminate a team from anything, national championship or Rose Bowl.
What should we be concerned with?
- Pressure on the QB from just the defensive line. What happened to the Alualu we saw for that three game stretch earlier? Where is the emergence of Derrick Hill and Cameron Jordan?
- Pressure from the linebackers. Follett and Williams are great at blitzing. Follett off the edge and Williams timing the snap count up the middle. Why aren't they being sent after the QB more?
- Turnovers!!! Cal came into the game second in the nation in turnover margin. Is this a trend? Probably not but I can guarantee you that Best will learn to protect the ball better.
Is Riley a goat?
- Yes, he made a boneheaded play even though he was trying to make a play and thus he is the goat. No one remembers Bill Buckner's stats the year the BoSox were in the World Series, they just remember the ball rolled through his legs.
- But Riley is a gamer and his temporary mental lapse will be forgotten. The kid throws a great deep ball and seems to have that natural leadership you see in great QB's. When Longshore graduates the team will be in good hands.
- Take heart in the fact that Riley is a redshirt freshman. If, Cal had pulled out that game the message boards probably would have been filled with threads about QB controversy. Overall, Riley had a good game and that is what Cal fans should focus on.
What is left for this season?
- An outside shot at the National Championship. Cal is still in the top ten of the polls and with big games against Arizona St and USC, they can continue to climb up the polls.
- A very good shot at the Rose Bowl. If Cal takes care of business the rest of the season, then they will go to the Rose Bowl.
Lastly, there are 2 ways to look at this game.
1) The defense was finally expose. Cal was overrated. This is the beginning of the decline.
2) Cal played a bad game with a first time starter. The defense was hurt by poor field position but played good. This will refocus a team that was maybe feeling too high.
I am going to go with the second option. This is still a very very good Bear's team that has an explosive offense and a defense that makes stops and comes up with big plays.
Fairviewbears will have a recap of the game once he pulls himself out of the dark place he is currently inhabiting.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Big news, Oregon St's Sammie Stroughter is out for the season, taking a medical redshirt. While Oregon St has had an up and down season, Stroughter is a game changer. He single handedly beat USC last year. This is good news for Bear fans who were fearing a let down game against OSU. With the personal problems that Stroughter had to start the year, this might be the best thing for him. If he get the medical redshirt he will have another year to terrorize Pac 10 defenses.
ESPN Pac 10 Midseason report
Cal also take the prize for Midseason MVP, Justin Forsett and Coach of the Year, Jeff Tedford.
The biggest surprise -- at least in a positive sense -- is that California is ranked No. 2, its highest perch since Pappy Waldorf's Golden Bears were No. 1 in 1951. That said, it's not terribly shocking that Cal is unbeaten, so its lofty ranking is largely a function of the profusion of top-10 upsets.
Nonetheless, the Bears are trying to make the hardest transition: from top-15 program to elite, national title contender. They probably need to win a few more games before anyone takes them seriously as a championship threat, and their October is fairly robust: Oregon State, at UCLA and at Arizona State.
And, of course, that's all prelude to what remains the Pac-10 game of the year: USC at Cal on Nov. 10.
The Bears own an elite, balanced offense that will be able to score on just about anybody. But they will have to shore up their injury-riddled defense if they are truly eyeballing the biggest prize.
This is shaping up to be a big year for the Bears. I think unquestionable Forsett has been the MVP for the Bears and the MVP for the conference. On defense I would go with Anthony Felder, who has been coming up with big plays all year.
ESPN Midseason Team by Team breakdown
California Golden Bears
California officially arrived as a national power when it out-ran and physically manhandled Tennessee, but that bounce for the Golden Bears self-esteem would have been fairly meaningless if they hadn't won at Oregon. Winning at in Autzen Stadium was a far tougher challenge, and it established Cal as a potential foil to USC.
And then, when the Trojans stumbled against Stanford, something else happened: Cal became a national title contender, rising to No. 2 in the national rankings, the program's loftiest position since Pappy Waldorf's Golden Bears were No. 1 in 1951.
The Bears offense has been dynamic, as expected, even with DeSean Jackson limited by a thumb injury before busting out against Oregon. But if this season is going to be special -- read: national title game or Rose Bowl -- then the Bears injury-riddled defense is going to have to improve.
Of course, if Cal's turnover margin continues to be plus-2.2 per game, they might not need to do anything but wait for their opponents to screw up.
While running back Justin Forsett's steadiness earned kudos as the conference MVP, we'd be remiss if we didn't salute Jackson, who's came up huge in Cal's biggest victories. Sure, a thumb injury suffered against Tennessee hurt his early numbers -- and Heisman Trophy candidacy -- but his spectacular punt return set the tone for that game. Then, against the Ducks, he looked all-better, hauling in 11 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
A date with LSU in the BCS national title game? Sounds unbelievable, but if the Bears win out, that's the reality. Of course, they've got USC coming to Berkeley on Nov. 10 and four other tricky road games to contend with, so a lot of work remains.
UCLA Game Update
QB Ben Olson is out 3-4 weeks and will miss the Cal game. Back up QB Patrick Cowen is still uncertain for the Cal game. Freshman walk on, McLeod Bethel-Thompson was horrendous against Notre Dame. Former QB turned WR Osaar Rasshan is turning under center.
My take is that I wanted Olson to play the game. The devil you know is better than the devil you don't. Look at what Stanford backup QB Pritchard did against USC. I was pretty confident the Bears would shut down Olson as he has not done much this year. Either way the Bears will take down UCLA.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
DeSean Jackson started the season as a Heisman candidate. He was not one of the favorites to win because of his position (wide receivers rarely win the award) and his location (west coast school, non-USC) but his playmaking skills and athletic ability kept him in the conversation.
He started the season out great with a spectacular punt return against Tennessee that was seen by everybody in the nation.
Against Colorado St, he had one electrifying run to keep his buzz alive.
There were two down game against La Tech and Arizona that pushed Tha1 nearly out of Heisman contention.
Jackson placed himself right back in the Heisman race with a career day against Oregon. That was his most complete game of good numbers and memorable plays
Helping Jackson was the implosion of other highly touted candidates:
Pat White/Steve Slaton - sorry but you guys had to run the table in the Big East
John David Booty - Washington and Stanfurd games were uninspiring
Colt Brennan - 5 Ints in 1 game. Out.
Those still in the race
Darren McFadden - putting up good numbers but nobody is watching Arkansas games.
Tim Tebow - Superman effort in loss to LSU, but a sophomore has never won the award
Matt Ryan - If playing for Cal is a Heisman disadvantage, playing for BC has got to be worse
In what is probably the most open Heisman race we have seen in a while, Tha1 can wrap up this award by doing the following:
Do this against Arizona St. or UCLA on national TV
Do this against USC near the end of the season
Monday, October 08, 2007
- Cal moves up to number 2 in every major poll.
- Stanfurd upsets U$C (at the Coliseum) with a backup QB that attempted 1 pass before this game.
- UCLA loses (at home) to previously winless Notre Dame. Keep Karl Dorrell. Cheers up Bruin fans, basketball season is just around the corner.
- Arizona St (new trendy pick in the Pac 10) struggles to beat Washington St.
- Tennessee crushes Georgia. Thank you Tennessee. Also, watching Tennessee pound the ball against Georgia makes Cal's run defense look even better.
- Dinged up Cal players got an extra week to rest up before the stretch run.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Some might choose to use this Saturday to spend time with the loved one's you have been ignoring for the past 5 Saturdays. Others might be downloading torrents of previous Cal games and running them on loop.
For everyone else, this is a great weekend to watch some fantastic games without the fear of possibly dropping dead from a heart attack like last week. Here is what to watch and why.
Wisconsin vs Illinois (Noon EST on ESPN)
With the Whiskys still hanging around (and I mean barely) as an undefeated, how they do in this game can affect Cal, possibly. If Wisconsin wins this one in a blow out, I can see some voters giving them a little bump in the polls. Illinois is coming off a big win against Penn St and is looking to be an outside contender for the Big Ten crown.
Prediction: Another undefeated bites the dust, Illinois over Wisconsin
Oklahoma vs Texas (3:30 EST on ESPN)
The Red River Shootout has lost some luster with both teams falling last week. The game will come down to which QB, OK's Sam Bradford or UT's Colt McCoy can bounce back from terrible outings last week.
Prediction: Oklahoma big over Texas, because I hate Mack Brown.
Georgia vs Tennessee (3:30 EST on CBS)
As Cal fans we must now root for Tennessee. Georgia has been playing well since its loss to South Carolina and has a great rushing attack. Tennessee can counter with Ainge running the no huddle offense and put points on the board.
Prediction: Tennessee over Georgia, to help with the strength of schedule.
Florida vs LSU (8:30 EST CBS)
As I understand it, in the spread offense, the QB puts the ball into the gut of the RB and has the option to hand it off or pull it out. In the Florida spread offense, the QB always keeps the ball. Tim Tebow is great but until one of the RB emerges the LSU defense will be focused only on stopping one player.
I would love to see Florida take it to LSU and hear more comments from Les Miles about how the SEC is too tough. But the LSU defense is looking too good right now.
Prediction: Florida over LSU, because then Cal is #2 in the nation.
USC vs Stanford (7:00 Versus)
Cal's natural rival, Stanfurd against Cal football's biggest rival, U$C. I think most fans want to see USC come to Berkeley undefeated to set up the biggest game at Memorial Stadium since who knows when.
I can not see anyway that Stanfurd keeps up with the Trojan. Particularly because Stanfurd HC Jim Harbaugh seems to have a way with pissing of USC HC Pete Carroll. This should be fun for Cal fans because it is always fun to watch Stanfurd get beaten down.
Prediction: USC in a blow out.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Not sure why, but this video and soundtrack sum up how I feel this week. Something about a big win and having the #3 team in the nation. (Note: soundtrack lyrics NSFW)
Thanks for indulging me, hopefully fairviewbears will continue to provide actual analysis.
Monday, October 01, 2007
10. Cal, Memorial Stadium
Autzen Stadium is probably noisier than Cal's Memorial Stadium, but there is a little magic to this quirky place. Since 2003, the Bears have faced five ranked teams at home and knocked off four, including an upset of then-No. 1 USC in 2003 by a then-unranked Cal squad. Of course, Jeff Tedford deserves plenty of credit for that, too.
But oregon is a different matter. Four out of the last five Cal v. oregon games have been extremely competitive, and of course there's the myriad connections between the two programs. Basically, I'm starting to really look forward to this game every year...both in anticipation of a great match up and also with a bit of trepidation because they always play us so hard. Every blogger and his momma has recapped how close the '03 and '05 games at oregon were, we all know that in '04 Cal was a dropped pass away from an upset loss, and this last game was the most unbelievable game I've ever watched.
The rivalry with the furd has more to do with proximity and overall institutional prestige/principles (ie. Cal is a public school with an impeccable academic reputation, and has made significant contributions to every facet of American life...while the furd is merely a snotty private school named after an industrialist robber baron who made his fortune and fame off the exploitation and subjugation of Chinese immigrants.) Man I hate them, but back to the point...oh yeah, the oregon game looks like it's going to be a helluva ride for the foreseeable future; let's just hope they keep ending like they did the last two years.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Congratulations Bret Bloomquist of the El Paso (TX) Times. You're the clear winner of the "most incompetent voter" award. This genius cares so much about the quality of his reporting that he placed Cal @ #13 and Oregon @ #5. Either Mr. Bloomquist can't read a box score or a headline, doesn't know the difference between 13 & 3, or mixed up Cal & oregon's positions on his ballot. While the most likely answer is the last one, putting south florida @ #3 and ohio state above (Cal/Oregon) @ #5 is laughable as well.
Granted south florida pulled two big upsets so far this season, but the win at auburn didn't really shock that many and Friday's win over west virginia took place @ home (and WVU lost their starting QB during the second quarter). Again, I don't know where Mr. Bloomquist had south florida before this weekend, but I highly doubt that it was above where Cal was...even with all the losses in the top 10, I don't see south florida jumping above the #5 spot where it seemed he meant to place Cal.
As far as putting ohio state above Cal, there might be at least some justification for this vote...but that justification is based solely on the program prestige that ohio state enjoys. Based on what's transpired this season, there's absolutely no logical reason for voting ohio state over Cal. To illustrate, ohio state has victories over: Youngstown State(Div IAA...screw the new designation), 2 win Akron Zips, @ 2 win Washington Huskies, 2 win Northwestern, and @ 1 win Minnesota. Cal's victories over tennessee (then ranked # 15) at home, and #11 oregon @ oregon should alone be worth more than all of ohio state's wins combined. Even if you see the victory over Tennessee as a win over an unranked team (even though their only two losses came to Cal and florida), these facts remain unchanged...ohio state hasn't even played a ranked opponent...and the total wins of their BCS conference opponents is 5, whereas Cal's BCS conference opponents total 8 wins.
Incompetent #2 (3 tied):
Rodney McKissic of the Buffalo (NY) News (GO SEE ABOUT HIM MARSHAWN!) rates Cal as the #5 team in the nation behind wisconsin @ # 3 and ohio state @ #4. Not trying to be flippant, but what in the world is this guy smoking...seriously!? wisconsin has been even more unimpressive than ohio state. Not only have they played absolute nobodies (until this past game when they HOSTED michigan state (and barely won). But along with texas, wisconsin has been the most vastly overrated team in the nation. Their lone blowout (over 2 win washington state) was actually a 7 point game heading into the fourth quarter. Their average margin of victory over the likes of mighty unlv, citadel, iowa, and michigan state (ALL UNRANKED)...Seven lousy points! Cal might have had less than impressive wins over some bad teams, but they still were winning by more than a freakin touchdown, and oh yeah, they've beaten two ranked teams Mr. McKissic! Do your research please.
Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle and Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News. Ok, so these two only placed ohio state at #3 above Cal @ #4. But what really draws my ire is that these are west coast guys! Maybe they're just bitter because they work for terrible publications...maybe Ratto's surname comes from the rat and he's just trying uphold his family's reputation. Or maybe Ray "head up my ass" Ratto has a lover amongst the tree dwelers.
In the words of the great Johnny Drama "that's great, zero stars in my own hometown paper!?" What the hell Ratto, West Coast teams have a hard enough time with the rest of the idiots around the nation. Were you too busy wetting your pants in anticipation of the furd's next loss you jackass?!?!
I'm getting carried away here, but you all get the point...the logical arguments against ohio state being ranked above cal are in the section for incompetent #1...so no, I'm not just bashing them for not being homers.
Incompetent Honorable Mention (I've got my eye on you fools):
Chuck Banning of The Day of New London (CT)
Eric Hansen of the South Bend (IN) Tribune
Tom Keegan of the Lawrence (KN) Journal
Glenn Guilbeau of the Gannett Louisiana
Dave Birkett of the Oakland (MI) Press
Jon Giglio of the Raleigh News & Observer
Austin Ward of the Capser (WY) Star-Tribune
These voters were only guilty of putting ohio state at #3 and Cal at #4. I know that the list isn't extensive, and they might have always had ohio state above Cal...But I still can't see a logical reason for keeping ohio state above Cal after this weekend. And the fact that there are still 7 (11 total) writers that aren't giving Cal the proper respect is highly annoying (and it makes your betrayal all that more ignominious Ratto).
An Outlier shows Cal some love:
Joseph Hawk of the Las Vegas Review-Journal ranked Cal at #2 behind only lsu. As outrageous as this might seem to usc fans, based upon the results of the season thus far, Mr. Hawk's rankings are very legitimate.
All that being said, I again reiterate that the Polls are really more for fun than anything else at this point in the season...and the AP poll won't have an effect on the BCS standings or a Rose Bowl berth. But for a poll that deliberately split itself off from the BCS because it found the latter to be far too politically biased and untrustworthy, voters like these need to take a long hard look in the mirror. I think the only reason I'm coming down so hard on these AP guys is that my innermost hope is for a Cal Rose Bowl victory over an undefeated ohio state and an AP National Championship (knock on wood)...so don't screw it up!