Friday, September 29, 2006

Other Cal Blogs

Since we are new to the scene, we would like to give some notice to those that came before us and paved the way. Here are the Cal Blogs we visit and enjoy.

So I have no idea if anyone besides me and my writing partner read this blog but our input plus these blogs plus the local papers (SF Chron, Oakland Trib, Contra Costa Times, Daily Cal) should keep to fully abreast of the Rose Bowl season we are in.

Cal vs Oregon St.

I have spent the last couple hours reading every available preview of the Cal vs Oregon St. game and the general consensus is that the game will be a blow out. Most have Cal scoring above 40 for the 4th straight game and OSU at somewhere in the 20 point range.

My prediction based on stats and logic is 49 - 21, Cal whips the Beavers in Oregon just like 2 years ago. But my gut says that it will be closer. The Bears, every year in the Tedford era, tend to struggle against one of the Oregon teams. I think because OU is ranked and coming up in the schedule they will not be overlooked. I don't think that OSU will upset Cal this Saturday but I think the score might be closer than expected.

OSU has an excellent ground game with the most underrated back in the leauge, Yvenson Bernard. If he played for USC he would be on some heisman lists with the numbers he has put up. Emmanuel Moody, USC new "sensational" running back, gains 80 yards in a game and it is the second coming of Reggie Bush. Bernard has a phenomenal year last year with an Ayoob like QB and gets little if any preseason all league consideration. But I digress, after all this blog is not the Bernard for Heisman site.
ASU's back up fullback/running back rushes for nearly 200 yards on us last week. I know that the defense was set up to stop the pass but when did missed tackles become the result of pass defense. Bernard is a much better back and I hope that he does not set the pace of the game for the Beavers.

Cal will still win this game with their offense. This is a good chance for us to see Cal play four quarters of football and get a good look at the run defense. With Matt Moore behind center you can bet that the box will be stacked with linemen and linebackers all day.

In the end, taking into account all the tangential factors that defy logic, score of the game should be 42-28. I will be furiously reloading my yahoo scoreboard to keep track of the game as it is not televised this week.

(Side Note: I saw Columbia vs Cornell or some crappy game like that last week in New York. It made me wonder, if these Ivy League schools with their midget football can get on TV, how hard is it to get a camera up to OSU to show some Bear love. Was TBS too busy showing reruns of The American President - which is actually a very good movie and the premise for West Wing, the greatest non-college football show on TV - to show the game.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bear Essentials

This is my first time attempting a blog, and as I'm still not sure what a blog is, this posting will probably be pretty's nearly 3am, I'm over-caffeinated & please just uh...Bear...with me. (ok, forgive the lameness, just read on)

First off, great win last Saturday. After yet another shaky start, the sturdy Golden Bears rebounded nicely and put a pretty firm stomping on the sun devils (see cleat marks left by Daymeion Hughes on Rudy Carpenter's ass). This was a very solid all around team victory, with big plays coming in every phase of the game.

Although the second half wasn't exactly a thing of beauty, the Bears made enough plays to keep the door firmly closed. Even though ASU was lacking the big play threat that they've had the last few years in WR Hagen and this year's top WR Rudy Burgess was out w/ injuries, you never want to let a team hang around. Just look at the disgusting collapse by MSU, or last week's comeback by the NFL Giants on the Eagles (and nearly again today against the Seahawks). Anyway, it was a big win to open pac 10 play, and better still, against a nationally ranked opponent.

But after watching the game, I got to thinking about what this Cal team needs in order to keep climbing back up the rankings and eventually come up roses.

Defense must lead the way

Due to the brilliance of Coach Tedford's offensive game plans, more specifically his ability to groom highly successful QB's, the Bears have been defined almost entirely by their QB play. While I'd be the first in line to applaud the efforts of the QBs (minus Ayoob's infuriating penchant for throwing games away, literally), this perception often belies the fact that the recent success of the Cal Bears is usually the result of brilliance at positions other than QB. Specifically, the OL & RB's were the true driving force behind the resurrection of Cal's football program. The truth for this incarnation of the Bears is that the defense is going to have to step up and lead the way, much like they did on Saturday.

Everybody's heard the maxim that defense wins championships, and it's never been truer than this year for the Golden Bears. Longshore is on his way towards erasing the nightmarish start to his career, putting the injury of last year's opener & the insult of this year's behind him. However, I think it's still way too early to expect a guy who's basically got 4 1/2 starts(1 1/2 against Div. IAA competition) under his belt to lead this team to Pasadena; especially when there's an earlier stop along the 110 freeway to take care of.

Now I know what some of you must be thinking; big #10 & Forsett bring enough to the table for the offense to go w/o putting the pressure on Longshore. While I wish that were true, the fact is that the Golden Bears don't play smash mouth football a la the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Baltimore Ravens. Under either Tedford's conventional two back offense, or this new hybrid spread/pro style, the QB has to make plays down the field in order for the offense to work. On top of all that, everybody and their mother is already keying on shutting down our explosive RB combo.

The way I see it, the Bears are super loaded with talent at RB & WR and have a promising but untested QB running the show. As I addressed above, the run game in this offense is opened up by the pass, and not even Jerry Rice could make an offense go w/o a QB getting him the ball. On the other side of the ball, the Bears have a talented (if somewhat underachieving) DL, tons of depth & speed at the LB position, and a secondary led by all-everything CB Hughes. If the DL starts to play more on the other side of the line of scrimmage, like it's capable of, and Syd'Quan Thompson keeps maturing, there's no reason that this can't be the best defense in the Pac 10.

The ASU game provides a pretty good blueprint for how the defense can lead the Golden Bears to the promised land this year. Longshore finished with some pretty gaudy numbers, but seemingly every TD was set up by a defensive big play. By giving Longshore a short field to work with, the defense allowed Coach Dunbar to call plays that went for ASU's jugular, and to the credit of the offense, they executed. This is pretty much the winning formula for any team, but with an inexperienced QB, forcing turnovers & winning the field position battle becomes even more critical.

Not only did the defense do those two things on Saturday, they also compensated for the rare miscues by the offense. The fumble by Stevens was soon followed by Hughes' second interception & returned for a TD. And the failed 4th down conversion attempt by Forsett was immediately followed by Pimentel's beautiful tip & pick 6. These plays weren't just highlight reel fodder. What they did was keep momentum firmly on the Bear's side & protect what I see to be as a somewhat fragile offensive spirit. Until the offense comes into its own (don't get me wrong, I think that they're well on the way), the Golden Bear's success will likely hinge on the continued dominance of the defense.

(On a side note, mother eff the AP voters for leaving us @ #20, and the damn coaches for moving us up only 1 slot. Effin Nebraska re-grows their cojones against mighty Troy after bending over for USC & they get moved up 2 slots?!?! Effin biases...)

Next post, Bear Essential #2 Creating/strengthening the identity of the offense.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Cal Iron Man Team

So I have some time on my hands today so I decided, what would the team look like if I could only have eleven guys all playing both ways.

QB/FS - Nate Longshore (good QB, could be like Scott Frost at safety)
RB/SS - Marshawn Lynch (best RB in the nation, hard hitter: see Tenn game)
FB/ILB - Desmond Bishop (Would destroy linebackers trying to plug the hole, great tackler)
WR/DB - DeSean Jackson (best receiver, fast enough to cover)
WR/DB - Daymeion Hughes (2 picks last game = good hands)
TE/OLB - Cameron Morrah (Undersized DL in high school, could be converted LB)
OL/DL - Brandon Mebane (Too valuable to leave out)
OL/DL - Andrew Cameron (Great blocker, would probably love to hit someone)
OL/DL - Rulon Davis (I just like his story. I think he know what it means to be in the trenchs)
OL/DL - Worrell Williams (best athlete on the team, had to put him somewhere)
OL/DL - Mike Tepper (tough guy, see his story from last year)

List your own version of the Cal team or post your own school's iron man team.

Nice Win!

I was impressed by the Bears on Saturday. QB and receivers looked great. Marshawn was solid if not spectacular on some runs. Defensive line did a great job against a tough Minn O line. D Hughes was the All American we all know him to be. So was there anything to worry about?

Was not too happy to see Cameron go out with the ankle sprain. I think that had more to do with the fact that the guy has gone through a lot to come back (3 operations in the last year) and you want to see if go through this year healthy. Otherwise, it was the optimal game to bounce back with after Week 1.

Other musings:
1) So we lay an egg in game one and the national press if all over us. I think I read something in every publication about Cal and how we were overhyped. Then we go out and dominate a middle of the pack Big 10 team (which most claim to be the 2nd best conference) and nothing. No even a small post saying Cal bounced back. I am strictly refering to the sports columnists out there and not general AP wire posts. But it would be nice to have more balance. Then again, there was that little #1 vs #2 game that seemed to pop up everywhere.

2) For the 2 of you that read my post on ND vs PSU, I really messed that one up. I still don't know about ND defense but I am now sure that PSU offense needs some work. Lets see how the Michigan games turns out because I feel Mike Hart and Kevin Hardy can get some yards.

3) I am hoping Tenn bounces back from that near Air Force loss and destroys Florida. No I am not a Tenn fan nor do I hate Florida, but I feel like our loss is diminished if Tenn stays high in the rankings.

4) Lists
Most enjoyable game (non-Cal): Oregon vs Fresno St. (strange stuff)
Most boring game: Iowa vs Syracuse (clinic on how not to play offense)
Underrated: Extra Points (see BC vs Clemson)
Overratted: FSU (unless Troy is the new Miami I just can't see why that offense can't run the ball better)
All Heart: Colt McCoy (he made me a believer. Not the best numbers but I like the way he plays. One bad pick and if Pittman does not fumble near the goal line that is a very different ball game.)
Next UC Davis: San Jose St. (Stanford is making a lot of school look good these days. I believe they will become the first D1 school that D1-AA school will schedule to soften the schedule).

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Penn St. vs Notre Dame

Short Post before the game starts on NBC.

First let me start off by saying I don't buy into the Notre Dame hype. I think they are a good team, top 15, but don't think they are a top 5 team. Charlie Weis is a great coach and the offense will be explosive but the defense is still suspect. I think they will lose 2-3 games this year.

Now Penn St. had a great year last year but people are not as big on them because it just seemed like the gods were smiling on them in 2005. I think Penn St. will have a good year and and should give ND a tough game today.

Morelli looked good in tough weather in the opening game and ND looked less than good in their opener vs G Tech. Based on, I think this will be a tight game going into the fourth with PSU winning late by taking advantage of an overrated ND defense.

Cal vs Minn

For the team, this is a chance to redeem themselves at home against a respectable team. For us fans, this is a chance to see the promise this season once held and whether it is justified. Is Longshore the answer? Is the O-line going to gel? Etc, etc. This game should be won by Cal and Marshawn should run for over 150. So rather than give you a preview here are some thoughts that struck me when looking at this game.

1) Alex Daniels - Minn new running back, former linebacker. Makes me wonder what Desmond Bishop would look like in the backfield. He wears the number 10 (like Marshawn Lynch), maybe Tedford can find a way to slip him in just for kicks.

2) What elements of the spread will show up this game. While I am certainly not a coach, I always thought the spread was about shotgun -> handoff/fake hand off to the running back -> QB pass or run. Perhaps this is just the West Virginia and Urban Meyer spread version but I assumed that was the basis of the spread. I just can't see Longshore doing any of that. If I am a defensive end collapsing, I am always going to be looking at the RB since I know even if Longshore pulls it out, I can chase him down from behind. Perhaps someone can shed more light on how the spread is working at Cal.

3) I have a buddy from UMinn who I attempted to engage in a verbal battle prior to the game. This is how the exchange went.
Me: You ready to have the bears stomp all over your tree eating gophers.
Him: You guys got a great team, we are still figuring things out, should be fun to watch.

I am beginning to think that most college football fans are a lot nicer than Cal fans. I remember heading to USC in 2004 and tailgating in their main quad. Expecting a verbal assault from the Trojan fans, we had a long list of choice word ready for any SC fans that head our way. Instead we were stunned into silence by the following comments, "Good luck", "Should be a good game", "Glad to see you guys supporting the team". While I love the inner rage that simmers within all Cal fans that comes to a boil game day, I believe this behavior is more an outlier than the norm amongst fans.

Welcome Bear Fans

After reviewing many blogs for the past months, I decided to throw my hat into the ring. Here is another Cal Football blog. It will not be fair and balanced but hopefully entertaining. So lets begin with the last game.

Tennessee Game
So I watched this game with high hopes and dreams of a national championship. I found very little to be positive about after the game. All this has been written about in national publications (I guess if we want to be considered a national power, we have to accept the hype and criticism that come with it) and blogs everywhere. Here are the only points I want to add:

1) Receivers dropping passes do not help a new QB get into a rhythm at a hostile stadium. Longshore might not be Aaron Rodgers but he deserves another shot.

2) I am a little concerned about the pass rush. Not sure how good the Tennessee line is but even if they are the best in the nation shouldn't our front seven be able to get more than just one QB hurry. I think I saw Ainge rub dirt on his jersey just so he could look the part.

3) Looking at the title of this blog you can see that the Rose Bowl is my ultimate goal. In that regard, we run the table, OSU or Texas wins out and West Virginia coasts through the Big East and suddenly we are in the Rose Bowl. Is that the weakest silver lining ever?

Thanks for reading and hope to post more.