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.

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 vs Riley

Hot topic on the message boards and in the blogs. Here are the basic arguements:

For Nate
- 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.

For Kevin
- 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

Our Thoughts

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.

Another disappointment, liver is hurting...

Here is how I watched the game on Saturday, which started at 10:15pm EST.

First Quarter:
- 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.

Second Quarter:
- 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.

Third Quarter:
- 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?

Fourth Quarter:
- 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?

Post Game:
- 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

Arizona St

This is a big game for Cal. Cal has never lost three in a row under Coach Tedford. But I am not a big believer in looking at past performance as indicators for the current year.

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


Ok. let me admit first where I was wrong

- 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

Cal vs UCLA Prediction

Perhaps my prediction earlier this week, 56-13 Cal over UCLA, was a little high. High but not unreasonable. Here is why.

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.

Cal vs UCLA Preview (Picture Version)

Why Cal will win...

Why UCLA will lose...

Nuff said...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

For Those With Masochistic Tendencies

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.

First Quarter

Cal started off with the ball and quickly put to bed all the hype about the oregon state run defense as RB Justin Forsett ran straight up the gut for 45 yards. Redshirt freshman QB Kevin Riley looked very much like a young kid making his first start as he bobbled the first snap and then ran into Forsett on the second play resulting in a sack. On third down, good coverage by the oregon state secondary prevented WR Lavelle Hawkins from completing his route and the long pass attempt by Riley fell incomplete leading to a FG attempt by PK Jordan Kay. Kay failed to convert the attempt and the beavers took over from their own 31 yard line.

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 Cal to punt.

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. Cal 0 osu 7.

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 Cal facing a 3rd and one. End of first quarter Cal 0 osu 7.

Second Quarter

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 Cal up with first and goal on the osu 10 yard line. Riley showed good anticipation when he hit Hawkins on a slant for his first collegiate TD pass. Cal 7 osu 7.

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 Jackson, Cal started their next possession from their own 41. The Bears managed to get just one first down before a vicious blindside hit on Kevin Riley forced an interception. DE Victor Butler returned the interception 30 yards all the way down to the Cal 17.

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. Cal 7 osu 10.

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 Cal up with first and ten from the osu 32 when Riley threw a pretty 29 yard pass to Robert Jordan. On the ensuing first and goal Riley ran in for a TD on the option keeper. Cal 14 osu 10.

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 Cal 14 osu 13.

Third Quarter

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. Cal 14 osu 20.

Not to be outdone, the Bear RB’s powered Cal right back down the field on their first possession of the 2nd half. Forsett, Best, and Montgomery drove the ball from the Cal 22 down to the osu 30. There was finally a Craig Stevens sighting when, on 3rd and 4, Riley made a beautiful pass while falling down and Stevens bowled through 5 defenders for a 23 yard gain. Sadly, for the first time all year, the Bear ground game came up short when they failed to punch the ball in on four consecutive tries from the 1 yard line. Turnover on downs.

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 up with excellent field position on the osu 26.

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 Cal 14 osu 20.

Fourth Quarter

Cal started the fourth by finally cashing in on that touchdown that they failed to get near the end of the third. A quick 18 yard completion to Hawkins set up Forsett’s 7 yard TD run. Cal 21 osu 20.

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. Cal nearly had a heroic goal line stand of its own, but osu was again able to convert a fourth and goal to regain the lead on a TD run by Bernard. On the two point conversion attempt, Canfield did a good job of forcing the defense to react to the threat of his scrambling. This threat resulted in the DB coming off his receiver before the help could cover him, and the result was a successful pass for the two points. Cal 21. osu 28.

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 Cal turnover of the game.

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. Cal 21 osu 31.

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 Cal defense forced a three and out of its own by stopping Bernard three straight times.

Cal began its desperation comeback bid from its own 21 with only 3:26 remaining in the game. Unlike the previous possession, Riley was able to elude the pressure and complete balls down the field. Facing a huge 3rd and 6 from the Cal 36 yard line, Riley stood tall in the pocket and threw a dart to Hawkins who did the rest of the work by taking it 65 yards to the house. Cal 28 osu 31.

The Bears were unable to recover the onside kick, but the defense managed to force a punt, and Cal began its last possession from their own 6 yard line with 1:27 remaining.

Riley did a Houdini act when, on first down, he escaped a safety, but was unable to connect with Jackson downfield. On second down, Riley hit Hawkins for an 18 yard gain, but sacked on the next first down. A spike on 2nd down and an incomplete on 3rd had the Bears staring down the barrel of a 4th and 17 from the Cal 17. Riley did a great job of handling a terrible snap and he managed to find Hawkins to pick up the first. After another spike to stop the clock, Riley threw a beautiful 37 yard pass to Robert Jordan bringing the ball all the way to the osu 27. A pass interference call gave the Bears 1st and 10 from the osu 12 yard line. And, well, you guys know what happened after that…oh my God I think it feels worse the second time.

Final Score Cal 28 osu 31.



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 Cal fans about how the sins of Riley weren’t what cost us that game. Maybe it’s also because I’ve gotten in 3 near fights with fucla fans who were crowing about Riley’s brain cramp before the words McLeod Bethel-Thompson (and the threat of a foot up the ass) shut them the hell up. Whatever the underlying reason, I don’t think that there’s any denying how talented this kid is, and is going to be someday.

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 Cal in the game, and he very nearly pulled off an incredible comeback. Now I’m not advocating the idea that we should be happy with coming close, but if you look at the flow of the game you realize just how little he had to do with the loss.

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, & Cal is up so much in the first half that the Bernard show in the second half never happens. Just as plausible, however, is that Longshore gets harassed and buried by a very good osu pass rush and the results are the same or even worse. The one thing we know for sure is that, assuming the score was unchanged, Longshore never manages to elude the sick pass rush late in the fourth quarter. Those guys were pinning their ears back and coming for all they were worth, and last I checked Lonshore wasn’t exactly Vince Young.

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 Cal win (28 – 18) and not about the defense at all. That might be a stretch, but if you take away at least one of the first half scores (not a stretch at all) we’re either still talking about a Cal win or at the very least the game goes into OT.

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 Cal football, and so I’ll focus on the positive, not the negative (or some phrase that doesn’t evoke Mark McGwire). The biggest positive on the defensive side was actually the secondary for a change. SQT came up with a bunch of great pass break ups, Hampton was playing great before he got hurt, and true freshman Chris Conte filled in adequately after Hampton went out. Another pleasant surprise was that, at least in the first half, the tackling was excellent.

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.

Special Teams

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.

Coach Tedford

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.

The final criticism might stick if you didn't know beforehand how classy a coach Tedford really is. The body of evidence over the entirety of his career clearly demonstrates that Tedford is all about doing things the right way. Obviously, I think that he was just showing his frustration in the moment. He's a fierce competitor and you can just imagine how much it killed him to have the game end that way. What seals the deal for me is that he didn't run over to Riley to unleash a tirade, and you saw that he immediately tried to regain his composure.

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

Recruiting Updates

A couple positive recruiting updates got buried after last Saturday's loss. Here they are...

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?)

Tuesday News

- According to Bear Talk, Contra Costa Times Cal Football Blog, QB Longshore says he felt like he could have played on Saturday but had to go with the "boss' " decision.

- 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."

BruinsNation Blog
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


For anyone waiting to read a game recap...give me until Monday to hibernate. It might be up before then, but probably not. I just want to make clear that I agree for the most part with Danny & w/ most other Cal bloggers. I'm still confident that our Bears are building a special season, and that we'll finally get to the Rose this year.

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'll be up soon enough.

Some thoughts (I needed a day to think)

Wow, that was a tough loss. Any loss is tough but because of the way the game ended those negative feels just stay with you longer. It just deflates you to lose like that. I now know how Oregon fans felt two weeks ago.

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

Updates from around the web

OSU Stroughter Out
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

Biggest Surprise
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.

Cal also take the prize for Midseason MVP, Justin Forsett and Coach of the Year, Jeff Tedford.

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.

Midseason MVP:
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.

What's next:
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 = Heisman?

Here is the progression of Tha 1's Heisman candidacy:

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

Bye Week was pretty exciting

Seriously, no game but a damn exciting weekend for Cal football.

- 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

Bye Week - What to Watch

So there is no Cal football on Saturday. The bye could not have come at a better time for the team. But what about us fans? Right after a huge win, we are amped, chomping at the bit to see more of our Golden Bears.

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

Personal Note

Major props to my sister who just changed her Facebook profile pic to this...

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.

Tha1 Gameday Final Interview

DeSean Jackson's post game interview on Gameday (embedding was disabled by the poster).

Listen to the Cal fans in the background. Awesome.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Memorial Stadium - Scary

Bruce Feldman lists the top ten scariest place to play. Guess who made the list...

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.

Addendum to the Game Recap Post

One last quick comment on the game from last weekend (man what a that's not the comment, wise ass). I forgot to mention that I think it's safe to officially dub the Cal v. oregon games as rivalry games from now on. The furds will always be our primary rival...and they remain the only team in the Pac 10 that I enjoy see losing. usc isn't really a rival as much as a target...I mean let's be honest, we haven't taken out usc enough to be considered their rivals.

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.