The longest continually active Cal Bear blog

Archive for September, 2007


Forsett feature article posted

My latest article, based on my post-game interview with Justin Forsett, is posted at cal.rivals.com: Forsett the Heart and Soul of Cal.

Cal Ranked #3

In a first for my lifetime, Cal is ranked #3 in the AP and USA Today polls.

In other news, is it just me or is it weird to watch the Buffalo Bills offense, with Trent Edwards at QB and Marshawn Lynch in the backfield? That’s just wrong, people.

Oregon game article posted

My recap article at Rivals has been posted. Cal comes up nails in Eugene.

You can also expect a player highlight article and my analysis article over the next couple days. I’ll make a blog post when each goes up.

You can also expect a podcast either tonight or tomorrow night depending on how much energy I have after I finish my player highlight article.

Why Ken does pick the results of Cal games

Ken’s prediction: Cal 31, Oregon 24.

Final score: uh-huh.

VICTORY: Cal 31, Oregon 24

11:50 AM: Ken has reported in from Eugene.

12:16 PM: Ken: “The teams have left the field and it’s time for the band performance! It’s a little stanford’esque…They ran out in random fashion, although then they dropped into a formation (spelling out Oregon).”

12:27 PM: Ken: “Weather is overcast and cool. 66 degrees. Looks like we’ll be rain free.”

12:32 PM: I can not believe ABC didn’t bother to broadcast this game in HD. Oh god, and it’s Dan Fouts.

12:35 PM: Man, it’s the ugly uniform shootout. Cal in the all-whites (which aren’t horrible, though I prefer colored pants), and Oregon in what is even ugly for them: green shirt with the black arms and white tire treads on the sleeves, and black pants.

12:40 PM: Ken: “Longshore just missed a fairly open DeSean, WAY downfield on first play of the game.”

12:41 PM: 3rd and long for Cal.They want the screen, and it’s an obvious call. Fourth and a zillion. Punt time.

12:44 PM: Oregon moving the ball with ease.

12:46 PM: Dennis Dixon misses a wide-open receiver down the slidelines. Jason Williams was wide open, blew past Ezef, and Dixon just overthrew it. Ken: “Corner released WR like it was cover 2 and the safety sure didn’t play like he thought it was.” Punt time.

12:51 PM: First down Bears! Longshore to Jordan on 3rd down. Nice. First good Cal play of the day.

12:52 PM: Forsett stuffed on a run again. Ken: “I hate that bunch formation, particularly for running. It puts too many defenders in the box. But Longshore is getting all the throwing time he needs.”

12:55 PM: Longshore making some good completions here. Great one to Jackson. Ken: “Wow, how did DeSean pull in that pass? I thought for sure he was going to drop it.”

12:59 PM: 47-yard, 11-play drive stalls, so Larson comes out to punt. Now Oregon will start from deep in its own territory.

1:04 PM: Ken: “Dixon is doing a much better job avoiding the tackle. That’s twice now he’s made positive yards on a broken play. In that case it was huge because the 2nd from inside the 5 would have been rough.”

1:06 PM: Ducks have moved downfield with some good runs by Dixon and Stewart. Now inside the 20.

1:09 PM: Dixon misses a wide-open receiver in the end zone on 2nd down, and throws it behind a receiver at the goal line on 3rd down. 32 yard field goal attempt… good! Oregon 3, Cal 0.

1:11 PM: 3-0! This is a barn-burner. Ken: “So much for those 24 points in the 1st quarter that ‘respectful’ Duck commentator was talking about.”

1:13 PM: Ken: “Bellotti still refuses to kick to Cal, even on kickoffs.”

1:14 PM: Ken: “Oregon is tackling much better than Cal right now.”

1:14 PM: End of First Quarter. Oregon 3, Cal 0. The first time Cal hasn’t scored in a quarter since the fourth quarter versus USC. Brr.

1:18 PM: Three and out. Oregon is playing really well. Punt. Oregon ball at the 23.

1:23 PM: Dixon escapes for another run. Ken: “AGAIN!?! Cal really needs to get him down one of these times.” Next play… they get Dixon in the backfield. Ken: “Like that!”

1:24 PM: Great punt for Oregon. Jackson has to retreat to catch it and can’t make much out of it. Ken: “Jackson blew another punt return opporunity by not getting back behind the punt. He just can’t accelerate when he’s backpeddling to catch the ball and doesn’t get away like he usually does.”

1:28 PM: A couple of hand-offs to Jahvid Best, including a first down run. He’s definitely a different sort of runner from Forsett, which is why I think using him can be effective. Montgomery seems to be much more like Forsett. Now in comes Forsett and has his best run of the day, to the left side with a good block by Jackson.

1:31 PM: Great play call — a fake handoff to Forsett, running left, then a turn back for a screen to the right for a first down. Ken: “Yup, now the Tedford damned if you stop the run, damned if you stop the pass play calling comes to life. Tedford loves that swingout in that situation.”

1:33 PM: Cal in the red zone, but now it’s 3rd and 8 after an incompletion and a short run. Big play. Ken: “And the crowd just got louder than it has been since the opening series.” And it’s right off of Jordan’s chest at the goal line…

1:34 PM: Jordan Kay’s first big kick of the year. 34 yards. Up… good! Cal 3, Oregon 3.

1:35 PM: Nice drive. 12 plays, 66 yards, 5:44 off the clock. Some signs of life in the running game.

1:45 PM: Good Oregon drive here, and some poor decisions by the Cal defense on a couple of 3rd downs. Cal’s playing fairly well, but not consistently enough to force a punt.

1:47 PM: Ken: “These outside rushes are just fast enough that Cal can’t seal the corner before Stewart gets there.”

1:49 PM: Ezeff hits a Duck when he was already out of bounds, 15 yard penalty. STUPID. Oregon would have had to punt. Instead, first down at the 22 yard line. About as bad as you can get. Ken: “ARG!?! They’d been stopped. Why, why, why!?! Admittedly it was a marginal call but JUST DON’T DO IT!”

1:50 PM: This is going to be a gift score for Oregon, and that’s how you lose football games. This one’s on Ezeff.

1:51 PM: Touchdown Ducks, Stewart walks in. Oregon 10, Cal 3.

1:56 PM: Ken: “Critical possession coming up here. If Cal can score, negates the bad situation, if they can’t Oregon gets the ball to start the 2nd half up 10-3. Cal wasted WAY too much time. 1:43 to 0:38 on two plays.”

1:57 PM: Cal fails on fourth down on a dropped pass. So let’s tally it: Bad tackling, dropped passes, and a stupid penalty. Not a good half. At least they’re just down 7.

1:59 PM: Halftime. Oregon 10, Cal 3.

2:21 PM: And we’re back. Telling halftime stat: Cal 2-7 on third downs, Oregon 6-10.

2:22 PM: Ken: “Halftime thoughts: This is a definite grudge match. We’re one stupid penalty from a 3-3 game. I suspect we’ll see a slight improvement for Cal’s offense in the 2nd half. Sadly I expect Stewart to continue breaking tackles. That’ll be the key to a Bear victory. If Cal can stop the missed tackles and get just a little bit more offense going, this game is very winnable.”

2:24 PM: Oregon is forced to punt after a lame play call. They had 3rd and short, but they called the deep hand-off up the middle. Why be forced to gain one yard when you can be forced to gain four? Punt goes out of bounds, Cal ball.

2:25 PM: Ken: “I can FEEL a fake punt coming from Bellotti, the question is when.”

2:29 PM: Good start to this Cal drive. Forsett had a great run with four missed/broken tackles.

2:30 PM: Huge Forsett run. First down Cal inside the 20. It’s like night and day versus the first half, right now. And another Forsett run to the 13.

2:32 PM: Longshore’s pass on third down batted away, but definitely some contact on DeSean that the ref didn’t call. A missed opportunity. 34-yard attmept by Kay, no good. Best drive of the game and nothing to show for it — not good.

2:37 PM: Ken: “The offense needs to hold its head high after that. The Bears are only down by 7 and if they keep up that kind of play, they’ll score more than enough points to make up the differential… asuming the defense can continue to slow the Ducks.”

2:37 PM: Ken is much more positive than I am. But we knew that. Great defensive stand and Cal gets the ball on a punt. 15-yard penalty on Oregon for failing to let DeSean catch the ball. I’ll say this for DeSean: he clouds men’s minds. Ken: “No joke. At least they didn’t pull an ASU and level DeSean.”

2:42 PM: Ken: “If there’s one thing Cal has been doing well all day it has been protecting Longshore. Has he been hurried or knocked down yet? Not that I can remember.” Once or twice, but not a lot.

2:43 PM: Touchdown DeSean Jackson! 25 yards from Longshore, wide open. Cal 10, Oregon 10. Ken: “YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It had to happen eventually. This is one of the few moments I hate being in the press box. I probably look like I’m having a seizure trying to keep my mouth shut.”

2:46 PM: Great drive. Two good drives in a row, and good defense on two Oregon possessions. Things are looking up right now.

2:49 PM: Cal has a tad of momentum right now. Ken: “Definitely. the crowd is doing some extra cheers to try and lift the Ducks spirit.” But two quick first downs here by Oregon get the Ducks into Cal territory, and off we go…

2:50 PM: 3rd and long for the Ducks, and Cal plays up to stop the first down. Deep pass, touchdown Ducks. Oregon 17, Cal 10. This hearkens back to an earlier play when Cal played deeper on third down, allowing the first. Here they seemed to play up and the result: someone broke deep, end of story.

2:54 PM: This game is starting to remind me a little bit of the Cal-USC game from last year. Slow, struggling play for a while, then a quick burst.

2:56 PM: Forset stuffed. The momentum, she is gone, as quickly as she came. Good third-down conversion to Hawkins into Oregon territory, though. Longshore well protected.

2:57 PM: Deep completion to Jackson downfield, first and goal Cal. Jackson was wide open, and he’s showing his skills as a receiver today.

2:58 PM: End of Third Quarter. Oregon 17, Cal 10.

2:59 PM: Jackson is showing a lot more as a receiver today than in previous weeks. Ken: “Yup. And Oregon seems to be playing him more balanced than our previous opponents.” That’s probably why.

3:03 PM: Ken: “QB sneak, watch.” Longshore tries to go to the left, stopped short. Third down.

3:04 PM: Touchdown Bears! Forsett over the right tackle. Cal 17, Oregon 17.

3:07 PM: Ken: “I’d better go on record with this in case my heart gets broken in the next hour: this has been a very enjoyable, good game.”

3:08 PM: Another terrible kick return by the Ducks, letting the ball bounce and almost losing the ball to Cal. For a team with scary returners, this has been a bad performance — or good kicking by Cal. Ken: “Cal almost got the mistake it was looking for.”

3:09 PM: Another Duck third down. They’ve been crazy on third down today. SQUAD HIT! Come on, Bears. Pressure. GET THAT GUY!!! No. GET THAT GUY!!! Thrown deep. Complete? No. Intercepted? No. To the ground. Wow.

3:13 PM: Cal starts at the 50 after a Jackson fair catch.

3:13 PM: Ken: “This is the moment Cal needs to take the reins and win this game… RIGHT HERE.”

3:14 PM: Third and long… time out. Ken: “That was a good time for the Bears to call a timeout.” And it allows ABC to show me some more ads. A new car you say? A cell phone you say? A drill that turns into a motorcycle? Oh, I don’t want that one. Away with you, ABC.

3:17 PM: After the time out, huge third down. COMPLETE to Hawkins! Ken: “Perfect call for that defense.” Hawkins is slow getting up, I think maybe he got banged on his leg. It looks all contusion-y.

3:19 PM: DeSean Jackson catches it for a new first down… and runs it all the way into the end zone! Ken: “He stayed in, he stayed in… I just know it.” Cal 24, Oregon 17.

3:21 PM: ANOTHER HUGE ERROR ON THE KICK RETURN. The two returners bump into each other and leave the ball on the ground. Jahvid Best wearing his nameless #14 jersey recovers! Gigantic. Gigantic play. Cal ball.

3:23 PM: First play, deep to Jackson in the end zone, just missed. But the perfect call. Get ‘em when they’re stunned.

3:24 PM: Holding call makes it 2nd and 20. Ken: “I wouldn’t have taken that penalty.” I agree. Gives Cal two chances. Unfortunately, Longshore threw it wide and missed some open receivers on the other side. So now it’s 3rd and long. And Longshore is sacked for the first time. Fourth down. So the penalty-accepting strategy works.

3:26 PM: Well, it’s too bad that they didn’t score on that, and by getting penalized they moved out of field goal range. But I liked the first-down call, which almost put Cal up by two touchdowns. A lot of pressure on Longshore there, and after the holding penalty the run was taken away from them. Anyway, Oregon now gets the ball on their own 8 with 10 minutes to go, down a TD….

3:30 PM: Oregon advances out to the 50 yard line. And the Ducks are in business… Oregon passing with comfort right now. Another huge pass, and the Ducks are down to the 15.

3:32 PM: Momentum, she has shifted allegiances once again. Failing to capitalize on the failed kick return, and now the Ducks are about to tie it.

3:33 PM: Quick snap, line plunge, touchdown Ducks. Cal 24, Oregon 24.

3:36 PM: Ken: “Looking back. The inability of Cal to capitalize on that turnover was huge, particularly in a back and forth game like this.”

3:37 PM: Ken: “They let the crowd back into the game, it’s louder now than at any point in the game.”

3:40 PM: Longshore goes down, hit late in the knee. He’s limping slightly off the field. Kevin Riley has to come in.

3:42 PM: Two hand-offs with your backup QB, and the Bears have to punt. What a crushing turn of events. Larson must punt. Oregon gets the ball at the 10.

3:44 PM: FELDER WITH THE INTERCEPTION AT THE 20 YARD LINE!!!! Dixon with a terrible pass… First down Bears with 4:23 to go. Dixon’s first INT of the entire year.

3:45 PM: Forsett all the way to the one! Hold on to that ball, Mr. Forsett.

3:46 PM: Touchdown Bears! Forsett over left guard with 3:11 to go. Cal 31, Oregon 24.

3:48 PM: Okay, Oregon ball, 1st and 10. 3:06 to go. One pass, and they’re over the 50. This ain’t near over yet, my friends.

3:50 PM: Stewart plows down to the 20. Ken: “Cal should call a timeout.”

3:50 PM: AluAlu intercepts! He starts to run and Joe Starkey shouts, “Fall down, for pete’s sake!”

3:51 PM: Forsett runs. PROTECT THE BALL. Timeout Ducks. Cal really needs to get a first down here or they’ll have to give Dixon another chance.

3:53 PM: Forsett goes nowhere, timeout Ducks, 2:07 to go. Third and long.

3:54 PM: What to do on 3rd down with a hobbly QB? Handoff again, Montgomery gains some yardage but it’s 4th down.

3:55 PM: In the interests of un-jinxing I have removed a comment Ken made about a bag and a rosary. Ken didn’t realize they had all 3 timeouts. Good call, JoshieMac.

3:56 PM: Oregon gets the ball back… one more defensive stop is needed. They start from the 23. 1:45 to go, no Duck timeouts.

3:57 PM: 1:30 to go, Ducks first down at the 34. Dixon pressured, throws it away.

3:58 PM: Huge gain — Cal had Oregon stopped after 5 yards, in bounds, and instead it’s first down Oregon, Stewart. Clock ticking, ducks driving, under a minute, 34 yard line.

3:59 PM: Down to the 20 yard line. 30 seconds to go after an incomplete pass.

4:01 PM: Timeout Cal, maybe a play too late. Two picks on Dixon and yet, mostly owing to the Longshore injury, Cal can’t move the ball and now Oregon is trying to push this into overtime or even win it on a two-point conversion. Four shots for Oregon at the end zone…

4:03 PM: Oregon fumbles the ball out of the back of the end zone! Ezeff with the hit! Redemption? Ruling on the field: touchback! If the ruling stands, Cal wins.

4:06 PM: This is clearly the right call. No way it was a TD, no way he was out of bounds. It has to be a touchback. This will be a travesty of Oklahoman proportions if it’s reversed, when the visual evidence is clear that the call on the field was right.

4:07 PM: The ruling is affirmed! Cal ball, 16 seconds to go, on the 20.

4:08 PM: Final Score: Cal 31, Oregon 24. Great game. Unbelievable. Lived up to the hype.

In business in Eugene

Hello everybody! As you can see from the below pictures, I’m in business in Eugene:

Stadium from the press parking lot:
Stadium
Field from the pressbox:
Field from pressbox
View of the pressbox:
Press Box

I’ll be here and perhaps Jason and I will figure out how to co-live blog… although he’ll be doing most of the writing as I’ll be working my articles and analysis.

Some quick notes about Oregon and their facilities:

The stadium is a lot smaller than I expected. The old bowl was REALLY small. With the mid-90’s addition, it increases to just “smaller than I expected”. The entire stadium is bleacher seating with the exception of 3 donor sections on the 50 yard line. The press box is pretty high off the field, it make me appreciate just how well positioned Cal’s press box is. It’s a 3 row press box and I’m on the top row, as is to be expected for a Rivals reporter.

Despite things being on the smaller side, they are really, really, really nice facilities. I’ve not seen all the Pac-10 stadiums but it blows away the 3 I have (Memorial, LA Colliseum, old Stanford stadium). Admittedly those are probably the Pac-10’s worst. Nevertheless, if Cal’s facilities ever equal Oregon in quality, all Bear fans will feel like they’re in heaven.

The fans are over the top excited, and in a good way. They’ve been respectful of the Bears fans, of which there is a sizeable contingent, albeit a drop in the bucket next to Oregon’s. The student section is just about full at 11:30 AM, a full hour before game time. We just heard a loud round of boos as the Cal bears came out onto the field for their pregame warm-up. I’ll leave any further commentary for live-blogging comments.

Why I don’t pick the results of Cal games

Most of you will understand the mind set of long-time Cal fans. Those who have been riding this horse only since Tedford arrived, you won’t understand. Those of you who are Cubs fans (or, let’s face it, Giants fans like me) will understand it.

We are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. For the inevitable disappointment that comes with being a Cal fan. This is a mental illness that really can only be cured by one of two events occurring. First, a Cal appearance in the Rose Bowl. Or second, death.

This is why I don’t pick the results of Cal games beforehand.

Scenario #1: Cal is favored by a huge margin against an overmatched team.

Who I think will win: Cal.

Who I hope will win: Cal.

In this scenario, I can pick a Cal victory, but I’m just telling you things you already know. And I risk jinxing it for all those who are stitious, or even superstitious. (Little Office reference there.)

Scenario #2: Cal is favored by a little, or the underdog.

Who I think will win: Not Cal.

Who I hope will win: Cal.

In this scenario, which covers almost every game Cal plays, this is what I’m left with. I’m convinced that things are going to go wrong and that Cal is going to be handed a loss. At the same time, I’m desperately hopeful that nobody will wake me from this wonderful dream and Cal will actually continue winning.

Again, though, my pick-analysis is entirely meaningless, crippled as it is by my pathological belief that Cal is finding the cruelest, most horrible way to disappoint me. And trust me, you don’t want to see that, and I don’t want to do that in public.

Though blogging about Cal seems an odd choice for me to make, given all that, don’t you think?

CAL VERSUS OREGON: WHO WILL WIN?

The I’ve-been-here-since-the-days-of-Kapp pick: Oregon 37, Cal 35. (Tiny voice in my head says: Oregon 45, Cal 17. Shut up, tiny voice!)

The oh-god-oh-god-don’t-jinx-it pick: Cal 35, Oregon 34.

It’s late in the game. Cal leads by one. Oregon lines up for a field goal from a moderate distance. There’s the snap, the hold, the kick… it’s up, and…

Your guess is as good as mine.

Article posted at Rivals

My next article: Crunching the Numbers: Cal vs. Oregon is posted at cal.rivals.com.

I think it is one of my better preview articles with lots of fun and meaningful stats… and only one typo!

Oregon game preview

Obviously with the Cal vs Oregon game being so huge every commentator and their brother has had something to say. Some are saying that nothing has changed from last year. Some are saying Oregon is miles better than last year. Others think Cal just doesn’t have the consistency this year to put Oregon away like they did last year. Still others think it is all about home field advantage.

Put me in the “nothing has changed” group with one glaring exception: I think that last year’s game, had it been played multiple times, wouldn’t have been a blowout and wouldn’t necessarily have gone Cals way every time. That game turned on that first interception. Dixon never got his confidence back after that. While I still suspect that Dixon is easily rattled when he makes a mistake, I’m not so confident to suggest that he’s going to make a similarly high profile, confidence killing mistake this year. In fact, I’m confident that at home, without the crowd noise, I think it is a lot less likely he’ll make that kind of a mistake. Without that blow, I think the teams are more equally matched.

The other thing that most pundits are getting wrong in my humble opinion is the score. I don’t think Cal scored 45 points last year because it was a dominating offensive performace. No, while it was a good offensive performance, Oregon’s offensive mistakes gave Cal far more scoring opportunities than it deserved. The Oregon defense was on the field A LOT last year with too many short fields to defend. When facing a good offense, a defense just isn’t going to be able to hold up forever without some support on offense to give the defense some time to rest and a long field to defend.

At the same time, I think Cal’s defense is up to the challenge of Oregon, just like it was last year. People keep quoting Oregon’s offensive numbers… frankly, one of two things are true: Either Oregon has the most prolific offense in the history of college football or Oregon has played some very suspect defenses. Remember that Bellotti doesn’t have Tedford’s “let’s just grind out this easy win” mindset. He’s a “stick a dagger in them one more time” coach. I’m not being critical, I’m just pointing to the facts. Oregon will continue to put in their starters and be running aggressive plays long after Tedford has re-geared to a conservative offense. As a result of this different, forgive me for not being tremendously impressed with Oregon’s numbers. I think the Cal defense has what it takes to keep them to a sub 30 point score.

Finally, we need to remember that last year is the anomaly of the Tedford vs. Bellotti matchup. Here’s a question for everyone: What’s the highest score outside of last year’s 45? Try 28. That’s the HIGHEST score. For those who doubt me: 2003 -> 17-21, 2004: 28-27, 2005: 20-27 (tied 20-20 before overtime) and 2006: 45-24. This matchup traditionally has been a defensive struggle. Tedford and Bellotti know each other too well to be blown out by the other. Despite the fact that during that time both Cal and Oregon had some of the most potent offenses that the Pac-10 has seen in recent history, neither Tedford nor Bellotti have been able to outwit the other enough to blow out their old friend. That’s what made last years debacle so bad.

So, while nothing has changed since last year, I think last year’s game didn’t reflect the actual talent and Cal fans shouldn’t be too smug about the superiority of the 2006 Bears over the 2006 Ducks. What I will say is that Tedford is likely going to try his hardest to make sure that Dixon loses his confidence again. Expect to see large doses of blitzing and loaded defensive plays to induce Dixon into a confidence killing mistake.

Cal 31, Oregon 24.

Trial Update

Many have you may have been wondering if there has been much going on with the SAHPC hearing. The answer is of course yes, but nobody seems to be reporting on it. It seems that as soon as the bomb scare happened, which still hasn’t been specifically linked to this hearing, everyone decided not to report. Here’s what I do know:

  1. The hearing has been significantly extended. After hearing arguments last Friday afternoon, there was also a full day of hearings on Tuesday. Because Judge Miller’s schedule only alloted until Tuesday for the hearing and there are more days left, they had to be spread out. The next day will be October 2nd and then final arguments will be October 11th.
  2. The judge is going to visit Memorial Stadium on October 4th. Why she is doing this is somewhat of a question mark. Is it grandstanding as some have suggested? Or is she just trying to very extremely thorough since she doesn’t have a ton of CEQA and APZ experience and this is a very high profile case? Nobody knows for sure, but it is definitely outside the norm both for the judge to visit the site and for the trial to last much beyond a day (we’re at 3 1/2 of 5 1/2).
  3. The last day and a half of hearings focused more on whether the EIR was complete. The city argued that the information about 3 trees for every 1 was not in the EIR as well as how it would handle any indian remains. The University countered that the information is part of a separate EIR, one that has the global plan for the UC renovations and it states how all of these things will be handled. Since the University is bound to both EIRs, they didn’t need to duplicate the information in this EIR.
  4. As for analysis, there are those who say that the worst that can happen here is for there to be a delay. I think I agree. The difference is how bad a delay can be for the project. Costs continue to go up with every delay and there are risks regarding a certain head coach sticking around should the delays start to have a multi-year/perpetual nature to them.
  5. As for whether the city will be able to force a delay, the opinions seem to be mixed. If I had to guess, and it’s a shot in the dark, the judge will require some minor changes to the EIR, ones that can be made in less than a month and are minor enough that it won’t require recirculation of the EIR (that’s the lengthy part of the re-do process) and then have it approved by the regents at their next meeting. It’s also my guess she’ll say the SAHPC and the Stadium are two separate buildings for the purpose of the APZ. All of this means that we should be ready to fire up the bulldozers not long after the season is over, should things go as I am guessing.

Blog spammers… ARG!?!

Well I wondered how long it would take for the new blog to get “found” by the comment spammers. They’re back in force, submitting about 5-10 comment spams a day. It’ll only get worse. I had been filtering them by number of links in the comment, but in addition to that having the side-effect of moderating a couple of valid comments who included more than one link, it also didn’t stop the spammers smart enough to only post one link.

The point of all of this is that I’m going to have to take more aggressive action. I’ve enabled a spam plugin called Akismet which is supposed to work pretty well without requiring any action by the commentors. It works the same way e-mail spam checkers work by comparing comments to known instances of spam. We’ll see how it works. I fear that it’ll either block too many valid comments or not block enough of the spam comments. If you find that your comments aren’t going through, please e-mail me at blog aT thecrawfordfamily d0t net.

If this spam plugin doesn’t work, I’ll step things up to the math based comment filter that requires you to answer a simply math question like “what’s the integral of X squared over the square-root of X where X is unbound?” OK, OK, OK, I’ll stick with whats 3 + 4 or something like that. That worked pretty well over at my old blog and didn’t seem to bother the commentors too much.

Let me know in the comment box if you have any suggestions for how to rid the earth of these digital scumbags.

Article posted at Rivals

My next article at Rivals has been published. Consistency for Cal is key.

As a bonus, this article doesn’t require a subscription to view.

It’s REALLY official now

I saw more “it’s official” posts and articles on GameDay coming to Oregon that I care to count and not one of them could reference a press-release or quote from either a University of Oregon or ESPN official. While the body of work of those articles definitely made it look official, I’m one to hold off until an actual press-release is made for the “it’s official” statement.

Well we finally have it:

The ESPN College GameDay website shows this week’s show being hosted from Eugene, OR.

Two notes:

  1. There is a poll there of who people think is going to win. Oregon Duck fans are known for their quickness to inflate those types of polls and this is no exception. The Ducks are up 68-32 as of 4:45 PM PDT. Go vote if you care about that sort of thing.
  2. I’m pretty excited about getting up at 6:00 AM to go get a good spot behind the camera and hold up my sign… now I just have to decide what it should say. Any ideas?

Controversy at OSU

Not our Pac-10’s OSU, but the Big 12’s Oklahoma State University.

The controversy is over head coach Mike Gundy’s comments about a newspaper column at his post game interview. You can see those comments in this YouTube video. You can read the column that has him so upset at The Oklahoman, byline Jenni Carlson. This was all pretty much regional news until CBSSportsLine’s Dennis Dodd jumps in the fray with his column.

On the one hand, I like the fact that coach Gundy stood up for his players and refused to ignore what I believe to be a very childish column. Seriously, bringing up his mom feeding him after the game? That’s bad form. Write about his performance on the field. Reading a couple of Ms. Carlson’s other articles, she seems to be one of those writers who loves to act like she knows everything, has good insight and has no sense of integrity or what is appropriate to discuss about college football. I’m making a snap judgement based on 2 video articles and 3 written columns, but that’s the way it appears based on my limited exposure to her work. I suspect this was not the first column that upset coach Gundy for its crossing the line into personal attacks.

At the same time, it was childish to refuse to do a press-conference at all and spend his time berating a single writer, a slightly over-weight young woman, and tell her that “she obviously doesn’t have any children.” Does he know her well enough to know whether that may be a very painful subject for her? And if so, why is he calling her out in public instead of having a closed room meeting? If you’ve got a complaint about a writer, the right place to air those complaints is with the writer themselves or if they’re being completely unreasonable with their editor. In fact, it’s probably wise to raise the complaint to the athletic director and let them address the matter.

Nevertheless, Dodd steps into a situation he either knows too little about to speak with any authority or he is too close to the situation to speak objectively. He completely mis-characterizes the nature of the column just noting it as being critical of the team, which is a ridiculous understatement and entirely focuses on the excesses of coach Gundy’s statement.

To me this seems to be a situation where it is best for everyone’s bosses to call them into their offices and tell them to let the issue die, and by the way, don’t be so hot headed in the future. Stay away from the personal attacks next time, all of you.

It’s official… probably

Well, it’s not an announcement from ESPN itself, which is what I really like to hear, but it’s from an actual reporter who covers the Oregon Ducks. Those guys usually don’t say something is official unless it is:

LINK

Quote of interest: “Chris Fowler of ESPN’s College GameDay program just informed UO officials that the show will be based in Eugene this Saturday.”

Arizona Game thoughts

My thoughts on re-watching game on TV:

  • What was with running the ball on 3rd and 11 on that first possession? Just a “keep them honest” thing?
  • Versus had their first ooops not a minute in with 3-5 seconds of black mid-broadcast.
  • Although later in the game the AZ punter did a good job of punting away from DeSean, the first shank… pretty bad. It seems no matter how good the punter is they’re going to shank one if they’re instructed to punt away from DeSean all game.
  • Another thing that Cal cleaned up later but didn’t do that well in the 1st quarter: Tackling. Way too many misses.
  • The TV coverage didn’t give us nearly a good enough view to determine if indeed Syd’Quan blew the coverage on that long pass or whether the safety was supposed to be giving support. Syd seemed to play it like cover 2…
  • That Morrah roll-out play… man I am impressed with his speed. He was 1/2 a stide short of breaking that for a TD.
  • Hawkins first TD was definitely setup by over-emphasis on DeSean. He was open deep because Arizona bit on quick out by Longshore. Longshore looked it off and then saw Hawkins deep.
  • I’ve reached the Technical Difficulties… do the announcers know that they’re having difficulties? (oh, now they mention it.) Nevertheless they haven’t done what a lot of announcers do which is give the details they usually give on the radio like down and distance. In fact they’re still saying things like “watch how they’re doing X”. HELLO!?! We can’t watch anything!!!
  • Man… I wanted to see the roughing the passer hit on Longshore. I missed it during the game. Stinking Technical Difficulties.
  • Wow, it took them 25 minutes to fix those problems. That’s unheard of. That must have been the most stressful 25 minutes in a TV trailer in the history of TV. They missed 6 1/2 minutes of game time and 14 points of Cal scoring. I can see how those who watched the TV coverage would be less positive about the outcome because those 6 minutes where the cornerstone on which the big lead was built.
  • Continuing that thought, Arizona had ZERO defense while the TV was gone, but when the coverage returned they scored their lone TD until the late game comeback.
  • Looks like my view of the Longshore INT was all wrong. Stevens was more crossing than running deep. Looks like the throwing lane closed faster than Longshore thought.
  • And that 15 yard penalty on Cal was stupid. The defense doesn’t block the offense… it’s the other way around refs. I think he was diving (way too far away btw) to try and get at Cason’s feet.
  • Mike Thomas for Arizona was fairly impressive. Yeah there were a lot of missed tackles on him but a big part of that was him getting Cal to miss. He seemed be the biggest threat against Cal particularly with the quick outs that he’d sprint up the sideline for big yards.
  • It was nice to see Cal running the 2 minute offense again at the end of the 1st half. I’m sure we’re going to need to be able to run that in the 4th quarter at some point this year and it’s nice to see Cal get some experience.
  • Nice to see DeCoud getting a pick… but that was a garbage pick. End of the half, AZ was desperate… but still nice to see.
  • How can anyone be disappointed after a 31-10 first half? All around that was a great half. A half that reminded me of the 8 game winning streak last fall.
  • Hahahaha… that halftime interview with Tedford was awesomely hilarious. The interviewer calls Tedford ‘Ted’ instead of Jeff, and then corrects himself, and Jeff doesn’t seem to like the guy to begin with. How does the interviewer make up for his transgression? He calls Tedford ‘Ted’ again as he’s walking away.
  • Another area where the Versus coverage was weak was doing a replay more than once. The controversial hands to the face penalty that undid an Arizona TD was worth a second look especially since the first replay was abreviated and didn’t show the end of the play, but like every play, one replay is all we got.
  • Stripped ball turnover was very good play by Cal. That’s the extra level that the defense needs: not only bend but don’t break… but also force the turnovers. That was the 4th turnover of the game.
  • As I said in my podcast, the first of the offsides was definitely triggered by the center doing that extra move before he snaps the ball. We’ll see about the rest.
  • As Cal went into its offensive funk, Longshore was missing his passes again… it seems Longshore really needs the pressure of a tight game to play his best.
  • Versus also didn’t show Syd’Quan’s face-mask that kept Arizona drive alive after stuffed QB sneak.
  • OK, I walked frame by frame through the offsides call on 4th and 6 on AZ drive inside redzone and I can say with confidence two things: 1. Center did his double-snap move again. 2. Williams was not offsides. He timed that perfectly. I’ve got the video frozen on the frame that matters right now and the ball is snapped and Williams is just on the line of scrimage… bad call by refs that cost Cal the turnover on downs (pass was incomplete).
  • TD fade route was one of Syd’s worst coverages of the year, and I mean that as a compliment. He bit inside on what turned out to be a fade route and Tuitmana placed a ball in the corner where it needed to be for the TD. Syd ended up way out of position because he bit on the inside move by the WR.
  • At the same time as Cal was sputtering that let AZ close the score, the defense also stepped up after the Montgomery fumble. Held AZ to a field goal.
  • There’s no question about just how good Forsett is. Just as it looked like the offense was stalling, Forsett came back in and took the team on his back.
  • The next referee snaffu… OK: we have a flag thrown at the line of scrimage, thrown before the QB threw the ball. Then we have a second flag thrown just after the QB threw the ball. Then we have two penalties: 1. Personal foul, in what appears to be roughing the passer, although we were never told what explicitely the personal foul was for. 2. Intentional grounding. Both of those would only be thrown after the ball was thrown, so it doesn’t account for the flag thrown at the line, particularly since there was nothing on the line that justifies a personal foul. What’s the story? I couldn’t see whether there was indeed roughing the passer, so I won’t comment, but what I do know is that there’s still a flag that was unaccounted for. And since there was a clear hold, it would have offset the personal foul.
  • Continuing in our referee debacle… The personal foul for the late hit was the WOSRT CALL YET. There were four players in the tackle. The first player, #5, Syd’Quan, holds up the receiver but can’t quite get him down. #7, Peele, then come in and hits the receiver hard putting him down. It’s possible that the receiver’s knee went down before he got there but there was no whistle and it was only a brief moment before the hit. #15 comes in just behind Peele (like their bodies were overlapped on video), and basically joins the pile without hitting anyone very hard. He almost didn’t even touch the receiver being squeezed between Peele and Syd. Finally, and perhaps the lone guy who there was a remote hope of calling a late hit on, #93 comes in from the middle of the field, circles around behind the pile and lands on top of Peele and probably never touches the receiver. He may have been a moment late, although nothing egregious. That’s all well and good until the penalty is called on Peele who wasn’t even close to late. He, from what I can tell on video from a poor angle, was the guy who actually got the receiver down. Horrible, horrible call.
  • Something I hadn’t noticed at the end of the game: Best got the majority of the last drive’s carries.

Some final thoughts:

The referees were every bit as bad as I thought at the end of the game. I don’t know why, but I really suspect that Stoops antics had something to do with it. That’s aggressive speculation on my part that isn’t giving the referees the benefit of the doubt, which I usually try to do, but oh well, those were horrible calls. In every single one of the final calls they did at least one thing wrong, even when I do my best to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Although I piled on in my commentary on Versus, we shouldn’t be too hard on them. They’re brand new at this and they’re a pretty high quality network. Their sailing coverage is excellent and their hockey coverage is pretty good too. They’ll get the college football sorted out. I guarantee everyone that by the Big Game, the other game on Cal’s schedule they’re going to be covering, they’ll have the kinks worked out.

Overall, after watching the game again, the Arizona comeback wasn’t as troublesome as it was to me during the game. Really, the moment that it seemed bad in the stadium was the Montgomery fumble because it setup a situation where it could have been a 7-point game. But it didn’t become a 7 point game, the defense stepped up and held Arizona to a field-goal. The penalties also made it seem like Arizona was going to make the comeback happen, but again in the end it didn’t come to pass. All of these things don’t bother me moving forward because I don’t think they reflect on how well Cal played and their potential to stick it to Oregon next week.

No, in the end, Cal executed well and the defense showed its ability to keep the spread in check. I think things look good going into Oregon next week. I don’t see Oregon repeating last year’s belly-flop, but I do think Cal should and will be favored going into the game and are likely to win in similar fashion to Tennessee.

Cal holds at #6

Cal held their #6 ranking in the AP and leapfrogged Texas and Wisconson in the coaches poll (which is who they’d leapfrogged in the AP poll the week before) to get to #6 in that poll as well. Oregon moved up two spots to #11 in the AP poll and up one spot to #12 in the coaches poll. #6 versus #11… that’s huge. As a comparison point, in their last meeting they were ranked #16 and #11 respectively.

I haven’t heard explicit word yet but the rumor is that ESPN GameDay is going to Eugene next week for Cal’s game there. I’ll post as soon as I know for sure.

Arizona Podcast

I’ve posted my Arizona game podcast. You can hear it over on the podcast page.

Since I do these podcast while driving home from the game I’m doing them from memory using my feeble memory skills. In addition to this meaning that I may not cover all of the topics I’m intersted in, it also means I’m liable to say some things that are just plain false. Also, sometime I make errors because I haven’t had a chance to read any of the post game articles or commentary and I don’t listen to the radio during the game. They may illuminate something that I didn’t catch in the stands. This week, I caught two errors during editing:

  • This is Jordan’s 4th year as a starter, not his third.
  • It turns out Forsett did have a minor injury that was why Montgomery was playing in the 3rd quarter. Of course the fumble put the end to that

I’m sure there were other minor ones but those were the glaring errors.

Finally, I know about 20-30 people are downloading the podcast each week, which is great, but I haven’t gotten significant feedback from those who have listened to my podcasts. I always want to improve and would love to hear everyones comments. For example, I added an audio intro a little while back, what do peopl think of it? This week’s podcast is a lot longer than the previous ones… is that good or bad? Is the large amount of background car noise distracting? Consider the comment section for this post the best place to answer those questions and provide feedback.

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Dry (Cal 45, Arizona 27)

Despite my rain fears, it was a rain-free game in Berkeley. And it was a good one. If I felt uncomfortable after a 30-point win versus Louisiana Tech, why should I feel much better after an 18-point win over Arizona?

Montgomery struggles

Maybe it’s because the game, despite a late Arizona rally, was never really that close. Cal’s offense clicked more than it has the entire year, highlighted by a 28-point outburst in the first quarter. Tedford’s play calling in that first quarter was brilliant — you could actually see Cal zig every time Arizona zagged, passing when Arizona seemed to be playing the run, and running when they played the pass. Longshore, who we have established can be streaky when it comes to passing, was on a hot streak. Justin Forsett, when he started running, ran with authority. And when he came back in the game late, after a James Montgomery fumble, he shredded the Arizona defense like a man among boys.

After you go up 28-3, and then 31-10, there’s going to be a letdown. And there was. The offense played more conservatively, and Longshore was a bit less accurate — though he wasn’t helped by some drops by his receivers. The defense softened, which (again) I can’t really fault, since they were up by three touchdowns at that point. And it’s pretty hard to defend that crazy Texas Tech-style offense, especially when they’re always in the spread due to being behind by 21. And how about that Thomas DeCoud? He was everywhere.

DeCoud tackle

Here’s what I didn’t like: The turnovers. Longshore threw a couple shoulda-been-intercepted balls, plus the interception. Montgomery’s terrible fumble. I also didn’t like the stupid penalties, especially late in the game when Cal had reasserted itself. Use your head.

I also didn’t like Mike Stoops very much. He lost it a few times on the sidelines, which didn’t impress me. I really appreciated his playcalling in last year’s Cal-Arizona game, where he boldly went for it on every occasion because he knew he couldn’t win otherwise. And he won, in the game that ended up being the reason Cal didn’t go to the Rose Bowl. Ouch! But this year? Not so much. With 13 minutes to go in the game and trailing by 14, Arizona opted to kick a 32-yard field goal. I found that pretty weak, since it cut the game from two scores to… two scores. But okay, if you’re going to play the incremental-scoring, then why go for it later on 4th and 9 at the 16 when you’re down by 18 again? A field goal in that situation brings you within two scores, and yet Stoops opted to go for it. After a false start penalty, they went for it on 4th and 14.

It just doesn’t make sense, certainly not from a pure strategy perspective. Perhaps it was an emotional decision: Stoops might have figured that a touchdown to make it 45-34 would pump up his team in a way that a field goal to make it 45-30 wouldn’t. But at that point, the Wildcats needed three scores, and Stoops bypassed a short field goal. Dumb. And when they failed on 4th and 14 with four minutes left, that was the end of the game.

Short Takes: These will be really short, because I’ve got a super-early flight in the morning… All my game photos are here… Not a huge game for DeSean Jackson, but his presence caused at least one terrible punt — you’ve got to figure that punters used to kicking normally have to adjust their approach knowing he’s back there, and sometimes that simply leads to terrible kicks… My spies tell me that Versus, which televised the game, makes CSTV look like the pinnacle of broadcast excellence. Versus lost its signal for a while and aired nothing but commercials, and the main camera looked like it was mounted on the cannon on Tightwad Hill…. With the A’s on the road, AnnouncerBot 2.0 beta was reinstalled to the P.A. system, and the world yawned… The alumi section’s Mic Man today was on some severe tranquilizers. I half expected him to start reading his poetry to us. Not that I’m complaining — it was easy to tune him out… Cal is averaging 42 points per game through four games, for an average score of 42-25. Crazy! But it gets harder next week versus Oregon at Autzen Stadium. A lot harder.

Montgomery TD run

Excuse Me For My Raincoat

It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to a rainy Cal game, but I think we’re going to get one today. When I missed a game in 2001 after my daughter was born, it rained, and the winless Bears got thumped by USC. Not sorry I missed that one. I recall a game a few years back when, sadly, it was sunny in Marin when we left to go to the game, but that metaphorical black cloud that hung over Cal Football for so many years turned out to be non-metaphorical and full of rain. That was a bad day.

But today? I’ll be prepared with my nice blue raincoat (I kind of wanted the green one, but what if it rains when we play Oregon? So blue it is — this explains why everything I own is blue.) and my nice blue rain pants that keep my pants warm but make me squeak when I walk. Such is the price of comfort.

Rain aside, I’m feeling pretty good about today’s matchup. Go Bears!