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.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Readers Comment on Cal QB's
Oftentimes readers of RBBID write excellent comments in response to our posts. Aaronrodgersforpresident wrote something I thought should be shared with all.
Posted by Danny at 12:24 PM