9:25 AM: Welcome to the Armed Forces Bowl! Who’s excited? Come on, I remember when Cal got excited about the Garden State Bowl. If you can’t get excited about a bowl game, it’s time to take some excitement pills.
9:26 AM: Ken: “Aw man, Fouts!?! Don’t we ever get a break from this guy.” You can’t escape Foutsy. He’s like our broadcast stalker. Get away, Foutsy!
9:28 AM: Foutsy is saying that Jordan, Jackson, and DeCoud are suspended. I thought they were just “not starting” today. Huh?
9:30 AM: Oh, ABC, I see — you screwed up and said they were suspended, but in fact they’re just not starting. Like we all knew hours ago. Way to not apologize for completely screwing that up!
9:31 AM: Ken: “Nice to see that at least one of the announcers knows what’s going on… Tedford love… hilarious.”
9:33 AM: Great first run by Forsett. I get the feeling the hometown kid is going to put up a whole lot of yardage today. Ken: “Great openning running plays by Cal. Nice to see the offensive line making their blocks and opening some holes.”
9:35 AM: Let me just say: When it’s fourth and inches, you don’t hand it off to a guy who’s five yards back in the formation. Lame. Good punt by Larson. Ken: “So much for that. Not making such great blocks on their 2nd set of downs. Can’t convert on 3rd and inches… remind me where I’ve seen this before. It also didn’t help that Forsett didn’t make the cut back to the hole that would have gotten him a 1st down.”
9:39 AM: Now that’s how you don’t defend the option. Just letting the QB run and not pitch the ball… eh. Not so good.
9:39 AM: Cal’s not wearing names on its uniforms. I know, there are all sorts of fabulous poetic reasons why you do that. Emphasis on team. Honoring our fighting men and women in uniform, yada yada. But in reality, it’s just a ridiculous uniform decision that should never, ever take place.
9:41 AM: Ken: “We have got to defend the regular option better than that. The corners and safeties need to do better than that at getting off their block.” My wife: “Did nobody tell them that Air Force plays the option?”
9:44 AM: Touchdown Air Force. That was uninspiring. Air Force 7, Cal 0.
9:44 AM: Ken: “Air Force is using a lot of chop blocks and Cal seems really uncomfortable getting out of them. If they can figure that out, they’ll probably do better…. but they’d better do it soon because Cal’s not going to be able to make a huge comeback and we’re already down 7.”
9:47 AM: Cal takes the kickoff and will start again. Didn’t we just do this 20 minutes ago?
9:48 AM: Ken: “Gotta love the double commercial: TD, commercial, kickoff, commercial… phst!”
9:49 AM: I’m not a big Dan Fouts fan, but I agree with him: why not go for it on 4th and inches at midfield? Ken: “I’ll tell you why, Jason, because Cal’s shown no ability to convert on 3rd/4th and inches.”
9:50 AM: Nice catch, Justin Forsett. He played that like a wide receiver. Let’s just give it to Forsett on every play.
9:55 AM: Going for it on 4th down, I don’t mind that at all. Good try. You gotta hold on to that ball, though. Ken: “Ugh… just when Cal gets some rhythm everything breaks down. And that 4th down drop was key… was that possibly a catch and fumble?” Phil: “Cal Football 2007: It’s… present.”
9:59 AM: Hey, look, Air Force is going for it on 4th and inches at midfield. What an idea.
10:03 AM: Course, I wouldn’t have called the outside option on 4th and inches, but they got it.
10:04 AM: Unless Cal figures out how to stop the option, this game is gonna be over fast.
10:05 AM: Ken: “There’s the real danger of the triple option: if the safeties bite too much, there might be a receiver or two who gets behind the defense.”
10:06 AM: Phil: “It appears ESPN is seizing upon the physical mismatch angle. And by seizing, I mean over-emphasizing.”
10:06 AM: Ken: “Wow, great defense on the RB pass attempt.” Unfortunately, it was followed up by more bad defense and a first down. Sigh.
10:06 AM: End of first quarter. Let’s hope for better quarters to come.
10:08 AM: Ken: “OK, that’s enough of the ‘Tedford love,’ let’s get DeCoud back in there.”
10:10 AM: “Suspended.” Foutsy… that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
10:10 AM: Foutsy: “Cal’s defense has no answers.” Unless the answer is, “run as long as you like.”
10:12 AM: And the option plays off, with a play fake and a touchdown for Air Force. Air Force 14, Cal 0. Hey, this is the 1-6 Cal team, not the 5-0 one. What a surprise.
10:13 AM: Ken: “Man, that 4th and inches conversion was huge. It looked like the Cal defense was figuring things out but after that conversion, Air Force got back to their 1st drive ways. I don’t know if the Bears have it in them to come back from 14 down, particularly against a run heavy offense that may own the 4th quarter against a tired defense.”
10:16 AM: Kicked high into the wind, basically an onside kick, and Air Force is about to put this game away. Ken: “No, no, no, no, no…. that’s EXACTLY what Cal doesn’t need. The 2nd line on the kickoff coverage wasn’t looking up to see that one of them needed to catch the ball.”
10:18 AM: This is going to become a Deadblog pretty soon if this keeps up.
10:18 AM: Phil: “Tedford’s already quit to take some other job, hasn’t he? And that’s why he seems so disinterested? I’m grasping here. I expect the camera to cut over to him on the sidelines, and catch him eating a sandwich.” To which I respond: if Tedford quit, it would have been after the Oregon game, along with the rest of the team.
10:20 AM: The option completely flummoxes Cal again, and it’s Air Force 21, Cal 0. Seriously, at some point the rules specify that if the score exceeds a certain amount I get to stop liveblogging.
10:20 AM: Ken: “Where are the stinking corners and safeties on these option plays!?! They’re a key ingredient to slowing it down and neither Syd nor Hampton is getting off their blocks.”
10:21 AM: Then again, liveblogging is not the problem. The game is the problem. Maybe I need to blog something else. My kids are playing on the floor in here. I could liveblog that.
10:21 AM: Phil: “The Year the Armed Forces Ruined New Year’s Eve.” The other way to think of it, let’s get this last terrible game out in 2007 so we can move to 2008 fresh. Right? Anyone? Hello??
10:23 AM: They had a month to learn how to play the option. And yet… this. So tell me, is that a failure of the defensive players to learn, or is it a failure of the coaches to coach?
10:25 AM: 18-yard gain for Forsett! Strike up the band! Whooo! Cut that lead to 14! Oh, I don’t have it in me.
10:25 AM: Ken: “Does Riley going in mean Tedford just gave up and is focusing on 2008 already or that he’s desperate to try something, ANYTHING, to shake this team up?”
10:26 AM: Riley to Jackson for a gigantic 40-yard touchdown. Wow, that was a great throw and a great pass. And then Jackson celebrates by writhing in pain. Ken: “WOW! Man, if this continues the Longshore haters are going to come unglued in the next few weeks. Nice evasion move to buy time to throw that ball.” Air Force 21, Cal 7.
10:27 AM: I suddenly feel a compulsion to join the Army. Phil: “If your kids want to join the army, please don’t ask them what is wrong with them. A message from the Army.”
10:29 AM: Oh, ad for the Rose Bowl, you mock me and all Cal fans.
10:31 AM: Reader Kat writes: “It’s 1996 all over again. *sob*.” No, no, Kat. It’s not 1996. In 1996, the bowl game ruined Christmas. In 2007, the bowl game will ruin New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve is much less important a holiday than Christmas. And honestly, this game will be over before noon Pacific, so it’s not really even New Year’s Eve yet. So, see, it’s not at all like 1996. Except in every other way.
10:32 AM: Ken: “That’s about the smartest thing (and it’s not tough competition) Fouts and Co. have said: ‘Playing defense is 90% about wanting to.'”
10:33 AM: Phil: “Why is the Air Force player lining up to kick away the ball? That’s very odd. I’ve never seen that before. Must be some wacky option thing.”
10:34 AM: Run, Riley! Run! That’s what a mobile QB can do.
10:37 AM: Forsett fails to find a yard (from six yards back, of course) on 2nd and 1, but Riley pushes over on 3rd and 1 with the sneak. Good call.
10:38 AM: Dan Fouts, please don’t sing!!!! Never. EVER. Phil: “No singing in the booth, Foutsy.”
10:39 AM: Riley to Jordan to the 15. Phil: “Beautiful pass and catch.” This Riley kid, he’s kind of good. Maybe he should have been playing instead of the immobile guy with the bone chips in his ankle. Ya think? Ken: “This is where I hate watching games on TV. Were these receivers this wide open when Longshore was in there?”
10:41 AM: Riley to Hawkins, touchdown! Air Force 21, Cal 14. Excellent fade into the end zone. Cal’s back in this.
10:43 AM: Hawkins, fronting for the 209! Hey, I’m from the 209! I need to write 209 somewhere on my person when I’m liveblogging. Maybe on my sleeve.
10:44 AM: Ken: “While I don’t think there was enough data to justify their passion, the Riley lovers are looking pretty wise right now. Let’s see, 3 punts under Longshore in 3 tries and 2 TD’s in 2 tries for Riley… hmmm… that data is getting a lot more clear.”
10:45 AM: Huge tackle by DeCoud, reaching out with one hand while completely covered by another player to stop the ballcarrier. Wow.
10:49 AM: Ken: “Anyone get the feeling that the team wants to play for Riley and they don’t have any intensity when Longshore is in there? Maybe it’s just a coincidence and the Bears are finally getting in this one or maybe it’s just that the offense is scoring that is helping the defense get back in this one, but something has changed.”
10:52 AM: Ken: “These rugby punters seem to be a pretty awesome way to go. They get 40-50 yards a punt and there’s no hope for a return.”
10:53 AM: Why not use a time-out there? Cal would have 30 seconds at the 45 yard line. Instead, there are five seconds left. Does Tedford not care? Not paying attention? Ken: “The coaching staff blew it again with clock management. We wasted 20 precious seconds by not taking a timeout. Now instead of having 3 plays from the Air Force 45, it’s just a Hail Mary moment.” Phil: “Is the ref ordering from an appetizer menu? It will take 12 minutes to run this last six seconds.”
10:58 AM: Ken: “Hawkins!?! You HAVE to come up with that one. That was a free TD! It hit you practically on the numbers!” Phil: “That was some kind of toss. Fouts had like every receiver trying to catch that. Including guys who had graduated.”
10:58 AM: Ken: “The good news here is that Cal is back in this one. Riley has sparked this team and only down 7. They can win this one.”
11:23 AM: And we’re back.
11:25 AM: Ken: “Well, hard to tell how much Tedford was bluffing on Longshore playing again, but Riley starting the 2nd half is a sign he knows he’s the right guy for the moment.”
11:25 AM: Cal needs to readjust to the Air Force offense. Giving up big chunks of yardage here.
11:26 AM: Option was played right, strung out, and then… there’s nobody out there to stop the RB. Air Force fumbles, but it sure looks like his knee was down. Time for a review. Ken: “And it, in my opinion, was likely not a fumble but not indisputable so the call on the field should stand.” Unfortunately the refs don’t agree, and it’s first and goal for Air Force. Huge call.
11:29 AM: “But ignoring the reversed turnover for a moment, Cal has lost their ability to put an assignment on the pitchout man.”
11:30 AM: Good defense on that goal-to-go series by Cal. Ken: “Now THAT’S how you play the option!” They covered the option perfectly right there. Air Force lines up for the short FG… good! Air Force 24, Cal 14.
11:32 AM: Ken: “Now let’s see if Cal can keep their offensive mojo going. That FG won’t be the difference in this game if the offense keeps clicking.”
11:38 AM: Roll on you Rileys.
11:40 AM: Ken: “What a leap by Hawkins! That’s the type of demoralizing play that’ll keep Air Force on their heels.”
11:40 AM: Riley to Jordan, touchdown! Riley’s got this offense rolling. Air Force 24, Cal 21. Ken: “YES! Now Jordan. THIS is the Cal Bear team that went 5-0. Where have you been my Bears!”
11:41 AM: That was a really nice drive. Lots of good plays that advanced the ball. First down gain, second down gain, third down conversion. Nice roll-outs by Riley, using his mobiity.
11:44 AM: And a big thanks from your friends in Berkeley to everyone in the Military-Industrial Complex for sponsoring the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
11:50 AM: Fourth down and Cal is induced into taking a time-out by Air Force looking like they’re going for it on 4th down. I wonder why that doesn’t happen more often — if you don’t want to go for it, just take the delay and then kick. But if you can get your opponent to waste a time out, why not do it? And if you do actually want to go for it, it sets that up nicely.
11:52 AM: They go for it and get it, because once again Cal didn’t have someone to cover the second option guy.
11:54 AM: Air Force putting together some good plays here, energized by that fourth down play. They’re on the goal line again.
11:56 AM: Ken: “That 3rd down conversion pass is right where Cal has blown it all season. There’s a soft spot in their normal zone that allows easy slant patterns to the slot receiver.” This is why they pay Ken to write things about football, folks.
11:56 AM: Nice stop by Cal. QB on the option, opted to take it himself. Wrong choice. Stopped, smacked, and seriously hurt his knee to boot. Fumbled, too, but Air Force recovered.
11:58 AM: Phil: “They need to get away from the idea that the analyst has to chime in on every play. Because sometimes there is nothing to analyze. So the analyst has to fill the air with empty stupid words. Don’t talk unless you have to.”
11:58 AM: Ken: “OUCH, OUCH, OUCH. That slow-mo shot of Carney’s knee should have come with a disclaimer or an ‘R’ rating or something. Sorry Carney, I’d hate for that to be the way you have to finish your college football career.” Yeah, that was a bad one. But Ken, didn’t you listen to Foutsie? He told us not to look at it.
11:59 AM: Field goal good. Air Force 27, Cal 21.
12:01 PM: Riley to Jordan for a zillion yards. Wow. That Riley kid can throw.
12:02 PM: Run, Riley! Phil: “Now fling the ball away!”
12:03 PM: Attababy Justin. Forsett walks in. Touchdown Bears!! Cal 28, Air Force 27.
12:04 PM: Ken: “Here’s the EMFMV trivia question for the commenters: when was the last time Cal had a lead in a game?”
12:08 PM: Jason’s hint: I was not in the country at the time.
12:08 PM: End of Third Quarter. Cal leads by 1! Can you believe it? It’s as if Cal exorcised the bad team of the second half of the season sometime early in the 2nd quarter.
12:10 PM: Answer: The last time Cal led, it was November 10 (more than 12 quarters ago!) against USC, when Jordan Kay kicked a 23-yard Field Goal to give Cal a 10-7 lead. If you were at the game, you were very, very damp. Me, I think I was eating dinner in the cruise-ship dining room at that point.
12:14 PM: Big third-down throw across the middle to Jordan. Wow. Phil: “OK, I’m sold on Riley.” Ken: “OK, here’s your Longshore/Riley caveat. Riley got both quarters with the wind at his back. This is the first time he’ll be going into the wind. Notice his first pass sailed on him. Although that 2nd pass was awesome.”
12:15 PM: Ken: “Hey Fouts! Suspended means ‘doesn’t play at all,’ you numbskull!” Phil: “The Buddhist Koan for Fouts — if they were suspended for the game, how can they tally big stats in the game. What is the sound of one mouth flapping?”
12:17 PM: Those receivers are wide open.
12:17 PM: Forsett doing it for the home crowd! 21-yard TD for Justin! Awesome. Attababy, Texas! Fronting it for the 817! (Yeah, I had to look up Arlington, Texas’s Area Code.) Touchdown Bears! Cal 35, Air Force 27.
12:19 PM: Phil: “And the 30 Cal fans in attendance rejoice!” Ken: “That’s the benefit of balance. Once the defense has to take your passing game seriously, all of a sudden those rushing lanes are a LOT wider for Forsett. Nice to see Forsett streaking down the field. It feels like it has been a long time.”
12:22 PM: I feel bad for Air Force, because they really seem deflated now with Carney on the sideline with a ripped-up knee. (And they’ve brought out the stretcher for him. He’s got to be cold, and in shock…) Yikes.
12:24 PM: Air Force general: “I would kill to have Dan Fouts as my QB…” Phil: “‘And I have. I once strafed the Chargers’ practice facility to make sure Babe Laufenberg wouldn’t play.'”
12:25 PM: Dumb personal foul on top of a fourth-down conversion, letting Air Force get back in this game. Please don’t let the old Cal come back. Please don’t let the old Cal come back. Please don’t let the old Cal come back…. Ken: “That was a bad call. He pushed him with his hands and shoved him. Evens out the bad call on Air Force for a similarly over-protective of the QB. It was a first down anyway.”
12:29 PM: Field goal, Air Force. Cal 35, Air Force 30.
12:29 PM: Once again feeling the urge to enlist in the Army. And fly a Bell Helicopter. For the Air Force. Against the Marine Corps.
12:32 PM: Big run by Forsett while Fisher DeBarry was talking. Now another big play and a penalty and here’s Cal in the Red Zone. Phil: “That’s a terrible penalty. Good lord.” Ken: “Wow has this running game come alive. Thsoe were two HUGE runs.” And Forsett runs away to the one. First and goal.
12:35 PM: Riley walks in… on the option. Touchdown Bears! Cal 42, Air Force 30. Makes you wonder what this season would have been like if they had kept Riley in after the Oregon State debacle, instead of going with the injured, immobile Longshore. Ken: “YEAH! Give’em a little of their own medicine by running the option! The haven’t scored 40 poings since September.”
12:37 PM: Phil: “Helicopters… we see them flying. But do we ever appreciate them? At Bell Helicopter, we do. Hi, I’m Frank Bell for Bell Helicopter. Our helicopters almost never plummet out of the sky. Not since the court settlement anyhow. If you’re in the market for a helicopter, please think Bell Helicopter. Or I’ll hunt you down with a helicopter.” (This was the last we heard from Phil before his screams were drowned out by the sound of the rotors. The horrible, horrible rotors.)
12:42 PM: Ken: “For those who care, Oregon and S. Florida are tied at… ELEVEN!?!
(both converted a 2-point conversion)”
12:45 PM: Fourth-down conversion failed, and Cal takes over. That may wrap it up. Unbelievable how quickly this game turned. You remember it was 21-0, Air Force, right? Wow.
12:46 PM: Phil: “Begin the milking of the clock! The greatest 7-6 Cal team in history.”
12:46 PM: Phil has cursed us all. Forsett fumbles. Phil: “Now I hope the Bell Helicopter people murder me.”
12:47 PM: Ken: “Air Force has had a lot of late penalties, a definite sign they’re out-manned, especially at a service academy where they play such disciplined football.”
12:47 PM: Ken: “OK, I think Cal still has this under control, but do we always have to go for so many nail-biter style points? Stinking fumble…”
12:49 PM: Air Force converts on fourth down. Ken: “There’s that soft spot in the zone again.”
12:50 PM: Touchdown Air Force. Shades of 1996…. brr. Cal 42, Air Force 36. Phil: “Worst 6-7 Cal team in history.”
12:52 PM: Air Force decides to go for two? Which… makes no sense. And then calls timeout because they’re confused. Buh?
12:53 PM: And the two-point try fails. Now if Cal kicks a field goal the game is out of reach. Strategery!
12:54 PM: It’s time for the Navy player of the game: Thomas DeCoud! Phil: “Who will now be forcibly conscripted in the Navy.” Navy — you remember us, we ruined Christmas in 1996.
12:55 PM: Phil: “The Old Navy player of the game is Kevin Riley. He gets cargo pants.”
12:56 PM: Phil: “Hooray, recovered onside kick.”
12:58 PM: Confusion reigns at the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. But while we wait, Kevin Riley has been named the player of the game for Cal. No kidding. He looked great. And tip o’ the cap to Carney, Air Force’s injured QB, who is the Air Force player of the game.
12:59 PM: Problem with the game clock? Don’t worry! Keep time to the rhythmic beating of the helicopter rotors!
1:00 PM: ABC’s showing us the big star trophy. Phil: “Shouldn’t the trophy be in the shape of a Helicopter? Or an armed force?”
1:01 PM: Third and six, Forsett blows outside for another big gain. 140 yards, two TDs for Forsett today. Pretty much the great showing I expected from him — what a way to go out at home.
1:02 PM: Riley, victory formation! Cal wins! Cal wins!
1:02 PM: Phil: “Winning team exits the field in a helicopter. While the losing team is left behind in Fort Worth while the government falls.”
1:03 PM: Game over. Cal wins! Final score: Cal 42, Air Force 36.
1:04 PM: Dan Fouts: “Perhaps a quarterback controversy next year?” Uh, no, Foutsie. No controversy. I think the performance today makes it crystal clear.
1:04 PM: Ken: “Final thoughts: What a difference a backup QB can make? I’ve long been a believer in Longshore and I just don’t get what it was that got/kept him in his funk as long and as consistently as it has been. But at some point, you just have to accept that he’s not coming out of the funk. Way to go Riley! Spring and fall practice will be VERY interesting. Don’t count Longshore out!”
1:05 PM: I’m counting him out, Ken. But one never knows. It’ll be an interesting offseason.
Thus ends our live blog. More to come, no doubt. And a long offseason. Thanks for being with Excuse Me for My Voice in our inaugural season.