Beautiful from afar, but far from beautiful. That little bit of pop culture perfectly sums up the Bear's thirty point win over louisiana tech last Saturday. Luckily for the Bears, most of the country will only look at the win from afar (as evidenced by the jump in the AP polls to 6th). Because the game was televised on such a bootleg channel, hardly anyone got to see how disconcerting this "blow out" really was.
(The game recap that I wrote up got deleted by mistake...and honestly, the game wasn't interesting enough to do a re-write of the full game recap, sorry...on w/ my thoughts on the game & the Bears...)
The honor of getting mentioned first goes to the defense this week. It looks like the D is continuing to come together, and despite the rash of injuries, the defense did a good job this weekend. However, tackling still remains a major concern for the defense. The old bend but don't break came through again, but continually letting guys break tackles is the best way to ensure that bend leads to break in the future.
Anthony Felder led the team in tackles again this week, but there were also good performances across the board. Ezeff was a tackling machine, DeCoud had 6 solo's and was robbed of a forced fumble, Hampton and Peele had big int's, and the defense tallied 4 sacks on the day. The only downside of the defense's effort (aside from the tackling issues) are the injuries that we sustained on the D Line. Starters Matt Malele and Rulon Davis both went out with foot injuries; at this time Davis's injury looks to be the most serious. Luckily the backups did a pretty good job, but the last thing that the defense can afford right now is a hit to its depth and continuity. As far as I know, LB Zack Follet's injury was just a stinger and shouldn't cause him to miss any time.
I know that la tech isn't exactly a prolific passing team, and yes, we have given up a ton of passing yards in the previous two games...but I'm really starting to like the identity that our secondary is forming. Ezeff seems to be everywhere on the field. Syd'Quan Thompson continues to improve, and by the time he graduates I wouldn't be surprised to hear his name mentioned in the same breath with other Cal corners like Powell, Hughes, and Asomugha. Thomas DeCoud's big hitting reminds me of Donnie McCleskey (yes, I'm aware that they play different safety positions, but big hits are big hits). And Hampton's experience gives me (and obviously the coaches) confidence in his ability to hold down the other corner.
I missed the opening kickoff by one stinking red light, but I did catch it on the radio and on the replays. It seems like it's just been a matter of time before Hawkins finally took one to the house, and hopefully it's just the first of many. Superman backup kicker finally stumbled, but hey, he came through huge against tennessee and colorado state so he deserves a pass. DeSean definitely looks like he's pressing, and it nearly cost the Bears when he coughed one up on a punt return. I know that the guy is banged up and that he probably doesn't have another year to make a heisman run (since he'll probably leave after this year) but I'm worried that DeSean's need to make College Football Final is going to screw us badly in an important game. That being said, I trust that Tedford knows how to manage his players, and that he won't let things get out of hand.
Well, I hate to say I told you so...but, yeah, you know. Run Forsett Run. I am a big believer in the running game, and I would be even if we had a defense like the baltimore ravens or a quarterback playing like Tom Brady is right now. But the fact of the matter is, we don't have either of those things, so let's just run run run our opponents off the field (see usc's performance against the cornheads). I've been hearing/reading some disturbing things about fans wanting Jahvid to be the starter...thank goodness Tedford's making the choices and not the fans. Jahvid's got incredible talent...I'm excited as hell every time I see number 4 line up on offense...but this team is a legitimate contender for the Rose Bowl and an outside contender for a freakin national championship. There's no way that the burden of those expectations should be placed on the shoulders of a true freshman; especially not when there's a seasoned veteran who had almost a 1000 yards as a backup in 2005, and averages just under 7 yards a carry for his career. Calm down people!
As far as the passing game goes, I've still got faith that Nate will get it together. Hawkins has come a loooooooong way since his first year where he was continually in Tedford's doghouse. He's clearly the most complete reciever we've got, and he's shown it on the field every game. Big TE Craig Stevens finally got in the mix this year with his first TD catch, Cameron Morrah has shown that he's also a threat in the passing game, and Robert Jordan is an excellent third receiver.
DeSean is the man. Anyone who's ever read this blog knows how much we think of this guy's talent. But for the second week in a row he had some drops, looked like he was having trouble holding onto the balls he did catch, and he fumbled again. The drops partly get put on Longshore, but the real #1 brings in those balls. DeSean, to me, is kind of like Barry Sanders in that I don't mind when he tries to make plays that other people shouldn't make because I know he can break one at any time...but unlike Barry, DeSean's starting to develop a habit of fumbling. I can't believe that I'm saying it, but I think the time has come for Tedford to give tha chosen 1 a little time on the bench. First, it'll send a good message to the rest of the team, just like when Tedford benched Arrington and Lynch in the past. Second, and this is the most important point, I think DeSean's thumb is too gimpy for him to play the way he's capable of playing. It's great that he's playing through the pain, but best case, he costs himself the heisman, worst case, he costs us our shot at a BCS game. I say, sit him against Arizona and let his thumb heal up. Oh wow, I can't believe I really think that...
Bottom line for the passing game is that we're beyond freaking loaded at the receiver positions, and our O-line is real real solid as usual. Our running backs are consistently gaining 200+ yards per game, so there's no need for the passing game to feel any pressure. All that remains to be seen is whether or not Tedford can work his magic on the inconsistent Longshore...smart money says he can and will.