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The way I see the conference, particularly Utah

(Written by kencraw)

You could call this a “very coarse” power ratings… although that term is so abused.  When I think of power ratings, I think of how the teams are playing right now, whereas the term seems to have morphed over time to speak to how the teams have performed over time.

I think the conference has 3 good teams: Washington, Colorado and USC.  Outside of USC making the wrong QB decision to start the season, none of these three teams have lost to anybody outside their group.  They’re the best.

Next up are WSU and Stanford.  I’m tempted to put WSU above Stanford, but WSU has had a very soft Pac-12 schedule thus far and didn’t look that good against Colorado.  Yes, they beat Stanford, but Stanford has gotten meaningfully better since then and I’m not so sure the result would be the same now.  But nevertheless, these two teams are good and beat everyone below them.  But they’re not in the top tier either.

Then comes Utah, which if one just went by record, would be in a group by themselves.  But I actually think they SUCK far more than people think and belong with the next group.  So let me put Utah aside right now and talk about the next group…

“The Muck” are the rest of us, with the exception of Arizona (who is below the Muck and winless and conference play).  Cal, UCLA, ASU, Oregon, Oregon State are all 2-6 in conference.  These teams have lost every game to the top-5 teams above.  The wins come from each other (and Arizona), with two exceptions.  Those two exceptions are Cal over Utah and Oregon over Utah.  And that’s why I think Utah belongs in The Muck.  All their victories are over Muck teams, with 1 exception, and they’ve lost to 2 of The Muck.  The only thing positive they’ve got going is a victory over USC, but that was the pre-QB switch USC and can safely be discounted.  And once you discount that, you’re looking at a team that had a Muck heavy schedule and competed reasonably among the Muck, but as the two losses indicate, are not meaningfully better than the rest in The Muck.

So what does that mean for this weekend games?  It means that Cal has a real shot at UCLA, another Muck team.  It also means that I’m expected Colorado to kick the crud out of a WAAAAY over appreciated Utah team.

Big Game thoughts

(Written by kencraw)

The Bears actually were competitive in the Big Game longer than I expected.  They apparently agreed with my advice to focus on stopping McCaffrey and force Chryst to beat them with his arm.  And that worked reasonably well for a half.  But the moment McCaffrey ran right by three over-pursuing defenders en route to a 90+ yard TD run, the game was over.  If you can no longer stop the one thing you’re dedicated to stopping, your chances of winning are not good.

Additional thoughts:

  • I don’t know if it would have mattered if the Bears could have kept McCaffrey in check for the remainder of the game.  Eventually Chryst found some rhythm and the openings in the Cal secondary and extended the lead.  My guess is the Bears would have lost anyway even without McCaffrey’s 2nd half flurry.
  • An interesting question is why the Bears seem to be able to stop what they intend for a quarter or two, but then fail to do it for the rest of the game.  One possible answer is conditioning.  These Bears just don’t have the strength to do what they need on defense for 4 quarters.  I’m pretty sympathetic to that answer, but it’s not the only one.  Another one is game-planning.  Perhaps the Bears are doing a reasonably good job of confusing their opponents with unique game plans well tailored to each opponent and it is taking the opponent a quarter or two to adjust.  Then there’s the inverse argument: The opponent is better at in-game/half-time adjustments.
  • Just as frustrating to me as the defensive failings is the inconsistency of the offense, particularly in the 3rd quarter.  For those who listened to my OTRH podcasts (which since I’ve been sick and haven’t made it to the last two home games have been lacking) all season, know that I’ve been complaining about the offense getting too cute and putzing around, particularly in the 3rd quarter.  I felt the same way on Saturday.
  • Similarly, I also feel like the team tries to go to the same well too many times.  While the wide-receiver screens haven’t worked all season, I was very happy to see the O-line screens working so well against Stanford’s aggressive linebacker core.  But by the 2nd half, they stopped working.  Why?  Because they ran too many of them.  And I feel that way about a number of plays.  They’re good plays, but we use them too often.  The most blatent example of this was the WR screens early in the 3rd quarter.  They must have run 6 of those in a row.
  • I have a similar concern about the run game.  The team is very streaky in when they use it.  The run game needs to be mixed in every drive, not used for a drive or two (and we tend to use it heavily during that drive) until it stops working and then abandon it until later in the game.  That is not how to keep the defense honest.
  • But probably the most baffling thing about the 2nd half of the season has been the COMPLETE inability of the WR’s to stretch the field.  And I refuse to blame all of that on Hansen’s injury.  I’m more inclined to think that Webb’s hand still isn’t right.  Or perhaps the defenses have schematically figured out how to stop it.
  • Speaking of Webb, I think too many people are going too easy on him.  While he’s not a bad QB, he’s had a lot of inconsistency.  Inconsistent decision making.  Inconsistent throwing.  Inconsistent footwork.  I don’t want to harp on him too much, as there are plenty of people playing worse football on the field than him.  But he deserves a share of the blame.
  • Which brings me to my long-term Dykes-led team fear: Is his system too dependent on a QB who executes near perfectly?  A lot of plays require the QB make a run-pass decision pre-snap.  If the QB is unable to make the right decisions, things can go quite poorly.  I wonder if the reason the run game is used in such a streaky fashion is because Webb is making these decisions pre-snap and doesn’t have the big-picture of how to mix it in.  I really wonder if we’ve now had two head coaches in a row that put too much emphasis on the QB.

Big Game preview

(Written by kencraw)

A month ago, I was pretty optimistic about the Big Game.  Stanford was struggling, had recently changed QB’s and the rushing game wasn’t working.  Also, the defense was looking softer than they had looked in a LOOONG time.  Oh what a difference a month makes!  Stanford has started to find their rhythm offensively (to their standards) and their defense has tightened up significantly.  Don’t get me wrong, this is still not the power-house Stanford of a few years ago, but they’re a lot more solid than they were a month ago.

If Cal was entering the game as the same team as last year, I’d have a lot of hope.  Even with Stanford improved, they’re still more vulnerable than usual.  But the problem is that Cal is on the ropes right now in just about every phase of the game.  The offense is sputtering, having failed to get to 30 points in any of their last 3 games.  The rushing game, that was a meaningful threat and kept defenses honest has mysteriously disappeared.  The deep passing game that both helped the Bears put up lots of points and ensured there was plenty of room for short and medium range passing is practically non-existent.  And Webb hasn’t looked like himself, particularly in the mid-range stuff, since the Oregon State game.

And that’s the better of the two units!

The defense is an absolute mess.  Any team that can competently pass the ball is going to destroy the Bear’s defense.  There’s just no other way to say it.  At their best point of the season they were acceptably mediocre.  But between offenses adjusting to their weaknesses and a rash of injuries that has left them decimated, they’re officially horrible.  The rush defense isn’t quite as bad, but is still in a pretty bad place.  I think they look even worse than they really are because the linebackers and safeties are so preoccupied with their suckitude as a pass defense, they’re not able to properly focus on the run game.

And that’s where the potential silver lining lies…

Here’s what I would do if I were game-planning today:  I’d put my corners on islands and tell me linebackers and safeties to play run-first.  Tell the defense it’s OK if they get torched through the air, but it is unacceptable to lose through a thousand cuts to Christian McCaffrey.  Force Stanford to prove they can beat the Bears through the air.  Put a lot of pressure on Keller Chryst.  Force Stanford to beat the Bears a way that is not very comfortable to them.

It might be that the Bears won’t be able to pull that off, but it’s the ONLY thing they have a remote chance of pulling off.

As for the offense, spread the field and focus on getting all four field spreading play types working:  Deep passing, short passing, inside running, outside running.  With the exception of the WR screens (which just aren’t working!), they should try to be VERY diverse.

But as one can obviously tell, I’m not sitting on a lot of hope that the Bears pull that off.  So while I think there is a path to victory, the opportunity is slim.  And thus my official prediction will be bleak:

Losing streak continues and no bowl game: Cal 17, Furd 42

(The theoretical win would look like Cal 45, Furd 38)

Boy does the loss to OSU hurt!

(Written by kencraw)

It’s looking less and less likely the Bears can win both of their last two games.  And if they don’t, they don’t make a bowl game nor get the MUCH needed extra practices that go with a bowl game.  Looking back over the season, the loss to OSU stands out as a massive disaster.  The Beavers ONLY conference win is against Cal.  And it’s not like they haven’t played other weak teams, they lost handily to a VERY weak UCLA team (Cal’s best hope at a win before the season’s end) just last week.

I guess the Bears got a win against Utah that each week becomes more and more of  a head-scratcher, but ignoring that, MAN does that loss to Oregon State hurt!

WSU preview

(Written by kencraw)

What everyone wants to talk about when previewing a Cal-WSU game is high scores.  But what those people seem to forget is that 2 of the 3 Leach-Dykes matchups had cumulative scores in the 60’s, that I suspect the under won, not the over.  Yes,  yes, 2 years ago the score was 60-59, we all know that.  But last year it was a more comfortable than the score indicates 34-28 Bears victory.

And if you look at the history not just of Cal-WSU but of most teams with high-scoring offenses that are of a similar nature, when they meet, on average the scores tend to be lower.  Why?  Because the defenses are very comfortable defending it.  They saw that offense (or something very similar) for all of Spring and Fall practice.

The problem with 2014 was that both teams had horrible defenses, and that overwhelmed the usual pattern.

Which brings us to this year.  Do both teams have a horrible defense?  No, only one does.  WSU’s defense is getting better every week and although it would be a mistake to overstate how good their defense is, it’s much, much, MUCH better than Cal’s.

Cal’s only hope, is that their defense has an unusually good showing.  And as I said already, going up against this familiar offense does make that more likely.  But unfortunately, the injury situation is so untenable, that I just don’t see it happening.  I was tempted to believe it was possible considering the larger problem this year has been rush defense, and WSU gives the Bears a bit of a break in this department.  But as loss to the Huskies showed, the injuries are plaguing the secondary even more so than the run defense.  So, the more I look at who is hurt and who’s replacing them, I just can’t believe this defense will have success.

And sadly, I do see it happening for WSU.  So as much as my heart believes Cal has a better shot at this than most people think, my head and my official prediction has to be that Cal loses a really, really tough one to take: Cal 31, WSU 59.

3 election thoughts

(Written by kencraw)

I’m a bit of a disinterested party to this election.  I’m a “member” (it’s not an official party yet) of the American Solidarity Party and haven’t voted for the presidential candidate of either major party since 2000.  I refuse to vote for politicians who are ideologically far from what I stand for.  I just won’t do the “lesser of 2 evils” thing.  I don’t vote for “evil”.  Neither Clinton nor Trump were worthy of my vote and both would have been forcing me to endorse too many things I’m ideologically opposed to.  And so I wrote in a candidate who I can get behind.

Nevertheless, I’m at peace today and do not fear the future.  Hopefully these words will be helpful to where ever you stand:

  1. Hyperbole is not helpful (notice how I scare quote evil above).  If you feel yourself making broad sweeping and aggressive statements, I would caution against it.  Trump is not Hitler.  The world is not coming to an end.  For those on the other side, this was no “beat-down of the establishment”.  8 years ago it was the conservatives who thought the world was coming to an end.  Guess what, we’re still here and mostly in the same place we’ve always been.  16 years ago it was the Democrats.  Guess what, we made it to Obama without too much change to our daily lives.
  2. Do your best to avoid demonizing the other side.  The people on the other side are human just like you.  They’ve got real concerns and make judgment calls based on less than perfect information.  They make compromises that they don’t feel that comfortable with.  They talk themselves into being 100% behind something they really aren’t that excited about because they want to win and you don’t win by having lukewarm support for something.  A pattern I see time and again:  A person does something stupid and/or wrong, and others are very forgiving.  They rationalize.  They sympathize.  They ask for mercy.  Yet anther person does something similarly stupid and/or wrong and the same crowd is ready to nail them to the wall.  Why the difference?  Because one is seen as “us” and the other is seen as “them”.  Try to get away from having a “them” in your mind, so you have no one to demonize.  Listen and be sympathetic to everyone.  Try to understand, not write people off as evil or bigoted.
  3. Remember what what you do locally on a daily basis is far more important than the national policies.  While of course national politics has an affect on our lives, the reality is, whether you have a good day today has more to do with whether you’ve got good friends, good co-workers and good family than anything else.  And how that happens is by all of us collectively committing to being good friends, good co-workers and good family members.  And part of how we do that, is by not demonizing those among our friends, co-workers and family who don’t share our political views and by avoiding speaking in hyperbole with them.  Sympathize with those who are troubled today.  Forgive those who gloat.

 

There are those who are just but are treated as though they had done evil, and those who are wicked but are treated as though they had done justly. This, too, I say is vanity. Therefore I praised joy, because there is nothing better for mortals under the sun than to eat and to drink and to be joyful; this will accompany them in their toil through the limited days of life God gives them under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 8:14-15)

Don’t count out the Bears vs. WSU

(Written by kencraw)

The Bears need to win 2 of their final 3 to go bowling.  Most people reasonably assume that the likely candidates are Stanford and UCLA.  But here’s my early prediction:  Cal always plays WSU tough and Dykes has the keys to the WSU air-raid.

Expect Saturday’s game to be a close one with a reasonable chance the Bears pull the upset.

(And if you’re wondering where the Washington post-game post is… I’ve said all I’m going to say.)

Washington preview

(Written by kencraw)

I must admit, I’m having a bit of cognitive dissonance with Washington.  Is this the same Washington team that Cal was up 27 to 7 over early in the 3rd quarter last year?  It’s not like they’ve had an influx of new guys.  It’s mostly the same guys from last year.  And this year the game is in Berkeley, not Seattle.  How is it possible the Bears are such underdogs?

But at some point you can’t ignore the evidence: The beat-downs of Oregon and Stanford.  The solid victory over Utah.  Or perhaps it is just as simple as 8-0.  There’s no doubt that UW is a vastly improved team.  And the way they’re improved is precision and consistency.  Turnovers are down.  Penalties are down.  Execution consistency is WAAAY up.

And let us not forget, UW turned the ball over 5 times against Cal last year.  We can’t expect that again tonight.

And then there’s the Bear’s struggles.  Last year the UW defense held Cal to 30 points, their lowest score in a win all season.  It frankly wasn’t the Bears best offensive performance of the season.  However, the defense played one of their better games.  The game ball deserved to be given to the defense, not the offense.  I don’t think I have to mention how much of a rarity that is.

So, this is what is going to happen this year:  UW will play a clean game and not give the Bears extra possession and free points.  The UW defense will frustrate the Cal offense enough that we won’t be seeing 40+ points on the Cal scoreboard.  Of the above statements I am nearly 100% confident.  The question mark, if there is one, is the defense.  Can they keep the Huskies in check and get the ball back to the Cal offense.  If they can repeat last year’s performance, the Bears have a chance to pull the upset.  More likely, they’re the rusty swinging gate that results in another painful loss.

Cal loses big: Cal 24 – UW 45

Free Washington game tickets!

(Written by kencraw)

I’ve got a cold I just can’t beat, so I won’t be using my tickets.

I’m willing to give away my 7 tickets (a row of 3 behind a row of 4) for “free” with one condition: That you are willing to mail me half of the Bobbleheads you get (so if you take 2 tickets, you mail me 1. If you take 4, you mail me 2. If you request an odd number, I’ll let you keep the “split baby”.

If you’re interested, e-mail me at tickets@excusemeformyvoice.com

GAH! WSU game is at 7:30 PM too!

(Written by kencraw)

Another week, another 7:30 PM game.  Admittedly not a home game so it doesn’t have the same downsides, but it’s still a ridiculous trend.

ESPN’s short-sighted thinking

(Written by kencraw)

A handful of years ago, the unthinkable happened when the Rose Bowl was moved from ABC to ESPN.  I made a big stink about it at the time, and indicated it was a big mistake by the Rose Bowl committee as the key to long term success is continued visibility.  The Rose Bowl would be wiser to accept a million or two less right now by insisting that the game be on broadcast TV, because in the long run, the number of viewers will stay high and ensure that their future contracts will still be for large viewing audiences.

I stand by that analysis.

But what I didn’t think of was the impact on ESPN.  It was easy to see the short term benefit to ESPN.  They would drive up their subscriber numbers by moving more content from ABC to ESPN.  More people would bite the bullet and get a cable plan with ESPN and ESPN would make more money.

However, what I’m now learning is the long term impact works out the same way.  By moving their games to ESPN, the casual fan stops watching their games.  And since the key to long-term success is turning casual fans into hardcore fans, ESPN is ensuring themselves a shrinking fan base by putting all of their content on channels only the existing hard-core fans get.

The chickens are coming home to roost.  ESPN’s subscriber numbers are WAAAAY down.

Cal and the Pac-12 really need to get their minds around this concept.  They’re going for the short term money and they’re listening to ESPN’s short-sighted thinking.  And in doing so, they’re ensuring that the next generation of Pac-12 football fans never tune-in and never show up at the stadium.  If the conference wants long term success, the #1 criteria in their TV negotiations should be visibility (both on TV and in the stadium), not dollars.

The dollars will flow naturally over time based on that visibility.

Getting sick of these 7:30 PM games

(Written by kencraw)

I’ve got a slew of reasons why it stinks, but I’ll start with quoting myself from CGB:

My kids are losing interest in Cal

It used to be Cal football was something we did as a family, something my kids loved because they participated in something their dad loved. Now it’s something that Dad goes and does with his friends that they have no part of. It’s too late for them to even watch on TV.

Is it any wonder why they’re losing interest?

Adding to that:

  • I’m a church-going man and it’s really hard to be fully awake for Sunday morning Mass when I get home at 2 AM, Sunday morning.  This week, I’ve got to give a reflection at the 7:30 AM Mass, so I’ll be getting about 4 hours of sleep before I have to get up and be at my best.
  • Any complaints we have on the west coast are amplified by 3 hours for our East Coast fellow Bear fans.
  • It’s so late I have trouble getting friends to come.  They, just as much as me, have things to do on Sunday and only have a small part of the interest as I do in the game.
  • This week’s game will be a particularly long one as I’m going to make sure I get there early to get one of the bobble heads.
  • It’s one thing if it is one or two or even 3 games.  But when it’s EVERY game (every one but Utah has been a night game), it is just too much.
  • #Pac12AfterDark may be a fun slogan, but it really is just a way to cover up the fact that no one outside of the conference ever sees our games.

(Update: Just read an interesting article from the LA Daily news indicating, among other things, that “special attention” is given to homecoming games, implying that they are far less likely to get a 7:30 PM start.  The Utah game was Cal’s homecoming.  Said another way, the only game Cal didn’t play at night was the one game the TV networks were forced to give “special attention” to so that it wouldn’t be at 7:30 PM.)

USC Preview

(Written by kencraw)

Cal hasn’t beaten USC since 2003 and frankly, haven’t come close in a long time.  Until Dykes took over, the previous time the Bears kept it to a one score game was 2007.  Between 2002 and 2007, Tedford had reasonable success trying to beat USC at their own game, pro-style power football.  He only won one of those, but the Bears were competitive in all but one of them.  After 2007, as the Tedford Bears started their decline, Tedford refused to try and beat them any other way and it got worse and worse and worse.

However, after the debacle in 2013, Dykes now has had two games in a row where he’s kept it reasonably close, sticking to his kind of game.  However, the scores are a bit deceptive.  Last year the Bears were down 7-24 and ended up putting up just enough points to get back in it.  I never felt like the Bears were threatening to win.  It was a similar story in 2014 with the Bears down 9-31 and 16-38 late and the best the Bears could do was to get it close late.  Again, I never felt like the Bears were threatening.

Which brings us to this year.  What is clear from the history of Cal vs. USC games is that two things need to happen for the Bears to win:

  1. Cal needs to win in the trenches
  2. Cal needs to start strong, leading early in the game

So, can they do that?

I actually think the Bears have a better chance in the trenches than in quite a while.  The offensive line is gelling and can both open running lanes and protect the QB reasonably well.  And while the defensive line has been a bit inconsistent, they’ve shown flashes of being pretty disruptive even against teams with pretty good offensive lines.

Starting strong will be the difficult part.  A Thursday night game, during mid-terms, on 6 days rest, playing a team on twice the rest they’ve had, coming off two back-to-back (kinda, there was a bye in there) overtime games, all point to a difficult/slow/tired start.  Add in that the LA Coliseum has been a very intimidating place for the Bears to begin with, and I’m just not feeling it.

I think there are two scenarios that are the likely ones:

  1. Cal is just too tired and gets blown off the ball, losing the game in the trenches, and loses horrifically.
  2. Cal has a slow start and can just never catch up.

Neither one results in a win.  Bears lose in heart-breaking fashion: 23-38

(And here’s hoping my reverse prediction mojo keep working!)

Cal theme of the week: Tired

(Written by kencraw)

All the videos of team interviews I’ve seen indicate this is a tired team.  These very close games, including overtime in the last two, are taking their toll.  Add to that the short week, and the Bears will be on the wrong side of exhausted on Thursday night.  I didn’t think the Bears had much of a shot at USC ever since USC switched their QB, but the exhaustion will likely lead to an ugly game, the worst of the season.

(Full preview to come tomorrow)

Oregon OTRH Podcast

(Written by kencraw)

Sorry that this is ridiculously late, particularly for a Friday came.  I’ve had this cold I just can’t kick and it’s knocked me down pretty good.  In any case, here it is:

Post-Oregon monday morning thoughts

(Written by kencraw)

Various thoughts after Saturday night’s thrilling LOOOOONG victory over Oregon:

  • There will be an OTRH podcast this week.  I’ve been sick and had a busy weekend, so I didn’t get to posting it yet.  Hopefully tonight or tomorrow morning.
  • I’m seeing way to much of “the offense scored 52 points” argument this morning.  If you want to take a holistic view based on points scored, you need to limit yourself to regulation.  The Bears only scored 42 in regulation.  Admittedly, that’s not nothing, but it’s also not so much that one can’t be frustrated with the offense.
  • That’s particularly true when you pull out this nugget: The Bears only scored 11 points in the 2nd half.  Don’t tell me the offense didn’t struggle at times.
  • I’m probably less concerned with the defensive effort than most.  Yeah, there were some portions of the game they were frustrating.  But they held Oregon to 14 in the 1st half and were given absolutely no support in the 2nd half by the offense.  They were pretty dang tired by the end.
  • Speaking of the defense, I thought they did pretty well against the read-option game, something they have failed miserably against in recent years.
  • One thing that is concerning is the offense’s lack of ability to stretch the field.  This team lived by the long-ball for the 1st portion of the season and now they can’t seem to throw the ball downfield to save their life.
  • Call me under-impressed with the clock management on the final drive of regulation.  The Bears got the ball with 3:15 left.  And while I know they wanted to make sure they didn’t leave any time for Oregon to score, there’s no excuse to run out of time and have to kick a 41 yard field goal on 2nd and 4.  Push that ball another 10 yards down field and it’s a gimme of a field goal.
  • I’m practically getting vertigo watching the defense struggle yet then coming up with game-winning plays at the end of the game (at home anyway).

Oregon preview

(Written by kencraw)

There are a number of things that set off red flags for me when looking at an upcoming game that the Bears are favored in:

  1. The opponent had a bye
  2. The opponent has been under-performing
  3. The opponent has typically had our number (should have been a red-flag against Oregon State)
  4. Cal has recently lost a game where their biggest strength was exposed
  5. Cal has an under-appreciated injury (no Enwere is not one)
  6. The game is not on Saturday (Cal is on a 7 game losing streak, the last win coming in 2005 at New Mexico St.)
  7. The opposing team has a really good defense
  8. The game is a road game

When 5 of my 8 red flags (1, 2, 3, 4 and 6) are going off, I’m going to be your source of doom and gloom.

The best case scenario is that Cal gets the offense back on track, manages to corral the Oregon rushing attack, but does it in a way that prevents the Oregon freshman QB (Justin Herbert) from finding his rhythm.  But I think if any one of those things goes wrong, the Bears are doomed.  Let’s take them one by one:

  1. Cal gets the offense back on track: My hope here is that we really can blame the passing game troubles against Oregon State on Webb’s injury.  So far this season, press coverage on the Bears has not worked.  It was really surprising that it worked so well for OSU.  And while in the back of my head I know that this wouldn’t be the 1st time the Beavers showed the rest of the conference how to shut down the Cal offense, I’m going to believe that this is the least likely of the group to bite the Bears.
  2. Cal manages to corral the Oregon rushing attack:  So who are the real Bears… the Bears that kept Utah in check or the ones that looked like a high school team against Oregon State?  Beyond that, how will the Bears do against their first real read-option team of the season?  The likely answers to both questions are concerning.  This is the one that is most likely to hurt the Bears.
  3. Oregon’s freshman QB finds his rhythm:  Don’t under estimate this one.  The mid-season bye tends to be one of those moments that a freshman QB starts putting things together and the game starts “slowing down” for him.  There are two techniques that tend to prevent young QBs from improving: Get lots of pressure on them or throw lots of confusing pass protection schemes at them.  I haven’t seen much from the Bears this season that would suggest they could accomplish either method.  The counter to this is that this QB hasn’t exactly shown a lot of promise, so perhaps it doesn’t bite the Bears.  But don’t be shocked if it does.

If there is good news, this shouldn’t be a keep-away game for the Bears like the Utah game.  The Bears should have a fair number of chances to get the offense working.  But the risk is that it is a shootout and Cal just can’t keep pace.

And that’s what I’ve got to predict: Cal 38, Oregon 51

There will be NO 2nd watch post this week

(Written by kencraw)

If my silence since Saturday means anything, it means I’m disgusted.  There’s NO WAY I’m ever going to watch that game again except as an act of penance for some terrifyingly horrible sin.

What the heck!?!

I mean seriously… did Tedford take back over the program for a week?  Because this is exactly the sort of face plant against OSU that he was known for.  Unable to beat the press coverage and dominated at the line of scrimmage for the entire game… but the team gets their act together in the 4th quarter enough to make it a close affair before the team does something stupid to prevent the comeback, like Riley running with less than 30 seconds left with no timeouts in 2007.

Apparently Webb had an injured hand, and perhaps that mitigates why the passing game was so ineffective and over-rides my growing concern of his inability to complete game winning drives.  (What was with that horrid in the turf pass to Robertson on the last drive?)  Up until now, the offense was licking their chops whenever the opponent played press coverage.  But for some reason, perhaps an injured hand, the Bears were mystified by it.

But that is NO EXCUSE for the defensive line and linebackers who both were getting physically dominated AND couldn’t tackle worth a hill of beans.  They looked hesitant and refused to attack when tackling.  If I never see another player dragged for 5 yards before letting go again it will be too soon.

And what makes it worse is that Dykes’ teams have not had this problem.  Sure, they haven’t been at the top of the pecking order, but they’ve always beat the teams below them, particularly OSU.  In the past 3 seasons, the only games one could argue the Bears were the superior team based on their season performance and yet loss are the following:

  • 2014 BYU (marginal, team was 8-5 but against worse competition)

That’s it!  I went through every other game, and every one that Cal lost to finished ahead of them in the conference standings and for the non-conference teams had a record that suggested they were better.

Until Saturday night.

Perhaps we’ll look back on this game at the end of the season in a different light, seeing an OSU team that went on a tear starting with this game, but somehow I don’t think so.

There’s no other way to say it: This is the worst loss of the Dykes era.

Nevermind

(Written by kencraw)

(Update: This post was originally titled “Anyone interested in an EMFMV liveblog tomorrow night?”.  But seeing as how no one said they were interested, I won’t be doing one.  No biggie.  I’ll be enjoying the game anyway!)

It’s been a long time since we’ve done a live-blog during a game… anyone interested in participating on one tomorrow night for the OSU game?  Post a comment if you are and if there’s at least a few who are, I’ll have one.

PLEASE NO! No alcohol in Memorial!

(Written by kencraw)

Jon Wilner has been reporting on the budget shortfall for the athletic department at Cal.  Among all the talk was this nugget:

One option, based on a brief conversation with AD Michael Williams, is alcohol sales throughout Memorial Stadium.

For the love of God and all that is Holy… NNNOOOOOOO!

I’m no prude.  I drink.  But Cal games need to remain alcohol free.  There are just too many bozos who don’t know how to control themselves at games once they get liquored up.  It’s not like one’s private life where I can just stop inviting those sorts of people or stop going to things where those sorts of people are invited.  No, I’m stuck with these random jerkwads who can’t control themselves once they get a few beers in them.

DON’T DO IT!