The talent disparity between the 10th ranked California Golden Bears and their opponents, the unranked Colorado State Rams, just about equaled the difference between the academic rankings of the schools (
While the outcome never actually seemed in doubt, even when the CSU Rams started playing like the
The CSU defense definitely came out fired up. The Bears started with three straight passes, but good coverage, solid tackling, and pressure up the middle by CSU caused the Bears to go 3 and out on their first possession. CSU got pretty good field position to start their first drive, but were also forced to go 3 and out. A good punt & and even better (lucky) bounce pinned the Bears deep in their own territory to start their second drive. The Bears did a decent job of getting out from the shadow of their own goalposts, but the drive sputtered and they were forced to punt again. CSU went to their big playmaking RB Kyle Bell on 6 of 9 plays, including 4 straight runs to cap off the drive, and (aided by poor tackling by the Bears) got on the board first with an 8 yard TD run by
The Bear offense showed a flash of potential #1 style by evening up the score on one play. A beautiful end around to WR DeSean Jackson who galloped 73 yards for the TD.
However, CSU came right back with a big play of their own when WR Damon Morton ran 43 yards all the way down to the Cal 22 yard line. Reminiscent of last week against the Vols, the
Back to back sacks of the CSU QB by LB Anthony Felder and DE Jordan Cameron quickly ended the next CSU drive, and a shanked punt set the Bears up on the CSU 47 yard line. Longshore connected on two big gains, 20 yards to WR Lavelle Hawkins and 22 yards to Cameron Morrah, and Forsett powered it in on the ground for the TD.
A big gain of 25 yards on a pass completion from Longshore to Jackson, and a nice 12 yard run by Justin Forsett had the Bears driving again just before the end of the half. But a sack and a blown up screen play ended the drive and backup kicker Jordan Kay put the Bears back on top by 3 with a 47 yard field goal. The half ended without much more action.
This time it was the Bear defense that came out fired up, led by DT Tyson Alualu who got his first sack of the season. With the defense starting to assert itself,
Alualu came up big again for the Bears as he absolutely stuffed RB Kyle Bell with a monstrous clothesline, and shared a sack of QB Caleb Hanie with Matthew Malele. The next drive for the Bears was probably the ugliest of the day as they netted minus 1 yards. DeSean Jackson coughed up the ball while trying to spin away from a defender on 3rd down, but luckily he recovered the ball. Tedford decided to roll the dice and go for it on 4th and 1. Longshore connected with Robert Peele for a pretty 34 yard TD, but the play was called back on a holding penalty.
The defense continued to come on strong for the remainder of the 3rd quarter holding the Rams to just 17 more yards. LB Anthony Felder had a huge sack late in the 3rd forcing a fumble which was recovered by
Unfortunately, the Bear offense went into hibernation. Despite starting near midfield or inside CSU territory for each of their drives in the 3rd, the Bears never added any more points or even first downs. The third quarter came to an end with the score still
Continuing the trend of the 3rd quarter, the Bear defense came on strong again. This time they were led by the efforts of back up LB Justin Moye who intercepted a Hanie pass and set the Bears up on the CSU 42 yard line. Tedford then turned to the RB tandem of Best and
CSU managed to drive into
With the game seemingly in hand, the Bears started to rotate in more back ups on defense, and were quickly lit up by a game CSU squad that refused to quit. Hanie struck for a 66 yard TD pass to Damon Morton who just breezed past back up Darian Hagan.
CSU recovered the ensuing onside kick, and streaked down the field again. This time the victim was Marcus Ezeff who failed to turn around and spot the ball that landed right over his head into the waiting arms of George Hill for a 44 yard gain. CSU pounded it in from 2 yards out and all of a sudden the Bears were back in a dogfight.
After sharply turning momentum entirely in their favor, the CSU coaching staff decided to pooch kick rather than go for another onside. With just under 3 minutes remaining,
Ground GameThe biggest thing I saw is the most disturbing, and at the same time, the most reassuring. The last two games showed everyone in the nation that the blueprint to beating
I’m not one to ever question Jeff Tedford’s coaching or play calling…hell, I don’t think I’d ever really question anything football related that the man does. But the results of today’s game are undeniable. The
Granted, if Longshore wasn’t missing high all day, the passing game could have easily dominated too. But with the way the team is currently constituted, keeping possession via the ground game is the best thing for the Bears. We’ve got a good offensive line, anchored by a great center, a stable of RBs that rivals anybody in the nation including USC, and a defense that has yet to find its identity. It seems pretty obvious to me that the best way to protect that defense, while still putting up plenty of points, is to go to our ground game early and often. The reassuring part is that we showed today and last week that even when everyone in the stadium knows we're going to run, we can't be stopped.
With all the talented receivers we’ve got, it’s easy to fall in love with the quick strike potential we have. Like I said above, I don't question Tedford & I honestly think that he was just experimenting today...maybe he was trying to show other teams the dangers of taking away our run...maybe he was just trying to create the impression that we're pass happy in order to create more running opportunities, who knows. The truth is, Longshore had plenty of chances to connect with receivers that had beaten the coverage, and if he had, it would've been all gravy. But the bottom line for me is that until our defense gels and gets to the level where they’re consistently playing with the intensity they showed during the third quarter, the Bears should pound the ground game as much as possible.
Thunder and Lightning Unveiled
I delayed posting this recap until I could find out for sure why Justin Forsett was on the sidelines the entire fourth quarter, but seeing as how there isn’t any injury information…I’m just going to go on the assumption that he’s fine, & Tedford simply wanted to use the opportunity to see what his freshman RBs could do in the clutch…and I’m glad he did. The fourth quarter was the coming out party for the
How huge were the two 40+ yard field goals by back up kicker Jordan Kay? These weren’t simple chip shots, and they proved to be the difference in the game…great great job.
Note to Gregory, keep bringing it
It’s always tough to gauge when a team has had enough, and you never want to see starters get injured during garbage time…but using that 20/20 hindsight, it’s pretty clear that we let up too early on defense. Not going to be too critical here, because I’m pretty sure everybody figured the game was over…and nobody would’ve thought that the plodding CSU offense was capable of going deep so easily. Maybe we just need to wait until we’re up 28 w/ 5 mins left next time.
Defensive line showing signs of life
The young D line showed more signs of growth today, picking up 3 of the 5
Linebackers lead the way
It’s no secret that the strength of the defense is the athletic LB corp. But the leadership of the LB’s was on display in today’s game in the good and bad sense. Tackling seems to be the single biggest problem on the
Secondary still needs work
I’m convinced that as long as the tackling problems get fixed soon, and the front seven continues to mature into a group that puts steady pressure on the opposing QB, the
It really felt like today’s game, despite the miscues and the late charge by CSU, was never ever in doubt. And that’s what the problem was. Everybody and their mother knew all about this being a trap game, and all week long the Bears said the right things about how serious they were taking the Rams. But that didn’t stop this game from unfolding exactly like a trap game…the Bears came out playing far below their level of ability, they kept an inferior opponent in the game with their own mistakes, started to put the game out of reach, relaxed too early, and luckily were able to reassert themselves enough at the end to hold on for a win.
Everyone knows how full of cliché’s the game of football can be, and now that we’ve survived one cliché, it’s time to use this game as another…the motivation cliché. The biggest lessons that the Bears take away from this game are that you can never take anything for granted, you can’t play half speed, and you can never let your opponent up off the ground; things that the Bears have all known since their pop warner days. Still, you can be sure that the coaching staff will use this game as a reminder of all those things, and as a motivation tool to keep their guys fired up and focused on each game. We’ll see how well these Bears learned their lesson next week against a La Tech team that gave