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Archive for August, 2010

2010 Podcast #1: Hope Springs Eternal

We’re back like a recurring hamstring strain!

In this first podcast for 2010, Jason Snell and Ken Crawford discuss the podcast that we never bothered to post, and preview the entire 2010 football season. Plus, Jason talks about where he’s sitting — that part’s truly riveting, by the way — and we pretty much yammer on for an hour. But hey! You’re not tired of us yet, right? RIGHT???!

Reasons for hope

The unedited, unbalanced thoughts that rattle in my skull and make me want to travel to every game while buying tickets for the Rose Bowl right now:

  • Never underestimate the senior QB: There’s a long lineage of Pac-10 QB’s who were question marks after multiple years as a starter who make a HUGE leap their senior year. Dixon at Oregon. Canfield at OSU. Boller at Cal. It’s not like Riley’s been horrible and there’s every reason to expect him to make the senior-leap. Just look at what Tedford’s been saying about him!
  • Keenan Allen: The last time we signed a 5-star wide receiver his name was DeSean Jackson. He started his freshman year, even with Hawkins and Jordan around him. Allen broke into the starting lineup too. Why shouldn’t we expect great things? Add in Marvin Jones on the other side, who’s been getting better with every game plus Jeremy Ross backing them up and we could have a pretty good WR core.
  • Shane Vereen is much better suited to Tedford’s offense: Best was awesome, but he wasn’t the grind it out RB that Cal’s offense depends on. When a defense was committed to stopping Best, they could. Sure Best might still break out a 95 yard run for a TD, but otherwise he’d be pretty bottled up. Vereen gets the hard yards. Everyone who saw him at the Big Game knows what he’s capable of and it’s going to open up a lot of possibilities in the passing game as Vereen continues to get 6 yards a carry even with a loaded box.
  • Anthony Miller is healthy: Anthony Miller was pretty good before he got injured and never really got back to 100% in the last few games after coming back. Now he’s 100% and there’s every reason to believe he’ll be a key component in the 2010 offense.
  • Defensive line ready for a breakout year: Cameron Jordan was awesome at times, inconsistent at others. Owuso and Payne have shown great potential. Those 3 are ready to come of age and be a dominating force on the defensive line.
  • No substitute for experience on the O-line: Sure they’ve had some struggles and losing MSG for a while hurts, but there’s no substitute for experience and years of working together and this unit has that. All these guys have seen a lot of playing time, even Galas as a sophomore. They’re ready to take it to that next level, particularly now that it’s their 2nd year with their coach, Steve Marshall.
  • Pendergast will give us the same edge the 3-4 did: Remember how that 3-4 had all the offenses in the Pac-10 off balance in 2008? Well, get ready for version 2 of that as Pendergast is going to unleash a new defense, an NFL grade defense, on an unsuspecting Pac-10 this year. That alone will make up for any deficiencies in personnel.
  • Better recruits are going to make an impact: Sure we lost a guy or two, but we also kept the vast majority of the recruits of the last two years. People forget how thin our recruits were a few years back: 2007 and 2008 had only 5 4-stars. 2009 got the number to 6, but more importantly 2010 took the number to 8, and one of those is a 5-star. These players are going to make a difference, even this year. But just as importantly, it’ll make a bigger difference in years to come. Cal already has 4, 4-stars lined up for 2011.

See, things aren’t so bad in Berkeley. Why is it we’re ranked so low? Oh yeah, the final reason for hope: no high expectations to mess with the team’s psyche.

Next up: review of the depth chart

Reasons for despair

This is the first in a two part series. Reasons for hope comes next.

The unedited, unbalanced thoughts in my head that cause me to despair:

  • Recruits leaving or having problems: Before this season, the last 5 star Cal got was DeSean Jackson, so Cal fans were pretty stoked when we got 2 in the off-season in Keenan Allen and Chris Martin. Then Chris Martin drops the bomb that he’s transferring to Florida. What the heck!?! Not a week later we hear that 4-star Cecil Whiteside will grayshirt for academic eligibility reasons. What the DOUBLE heck!?! Why can’t we keep our best recruits? WHY!?!
  • Riley hasn’t progressed: There was so much promise for Riley after 2007, but it hasn’t really materialized into a great QB. In 2008 we shook it off because the competition between Longshore and Riley didn’t help Riley’s confidence or consistency, frequently getting swapped out for Longshore. He was also still “young”. But 2009 it was all his show and he didn’t take the next step. We’ve now waited two seasons for the next step and have seen consistent mediocrity. Only a fool would think he’s going to make the next step in 2010.
  • Key players have the injury bug: The last two years Best couldn’t stay healthy, but sadly the injury bug didn’t leave with him. Matt Summers-Gavin is awesome when he’s not on the bench and he’s hurt yet again. In fact, he’s not even on the depth chart right now. Derrick Hill has had his problems and now has GOUT!?! Vereen’s been injured in camp too. Now Cattouse is injured. There’s just not the depth on this team needed to overcome these problems.
  • O-Line doesn’t have what it takes: While Tepper doesn’t seem like that big of a loss, with MSG out, the line is rebuilding. Sure Edwards is a senior, but when he’s playing at one of the tackle positions, that’s a bad sign. He’s never shown the ability to be better than mediocre. Add in 2 sophomores who have talent (Galas and Schwenke) but are relatively green and this unit is going to under perform again this year.
  • Secondary has problems: With Syd gone, an already dicey secondary got far worse. Hagan has shown signs of brilliance but is far too inconsistent. Nnabuife’s inexperience was clear last year, despite being a junior. He’s got upstaged by Anthony who’s got very little experience. And Conte, everyone’s favorite kicking-boy is starting at safety. If that’s not a reason for despair, what is?
  • Linebackers just not there: We’ve been used to great LB’s and while this group won’t be horrible, don’t expect a return of 2008 anytime soon. Mohamed is the real deal, but outside of him, everyone else has been inconsistent or has surprisingly little experience for their age. Kendricks was hit and miss last year. D.J. Holt has seen surprisingly little playing time and is now a starter and Browner is a senior who’s just now breaking into the starting lineup. This isn’t a recipe for success.

There you have it, all the worst thoughts from the worst corners of my brain. Don’t slit your throats yet, the reasons for hope are coming soon.

Pick’Em League is ready

The ExcuseMeForMyVoice Pick’Em league is ready for people to sign-up for the 2010 season.

Those who have participated in the past know that our league is unique in two ways that make it worth adding to whatever other fantasy/pick’em leagues you’re in:

  1. You pick ALL Pac-10 games, both conference and non-conference, not games for the top-25 or other contrived group of teams. Let’s be honest, we’re Cal fans and we know the Pac-10 best. One’s ability to pick the winner of the Tennessee Tech @ Arkansas in week 1 and likely the Indiana State @ Cincinnati (Cinci being a team that you won’t get to pick for week 1, but at virtual #26, will likely be in the poll week 2) in week 2, doesn’t impress me. If it doesn’t impress you either, this is the league for you. Plus I’d like to be in a league where I get to pick the Cal game even when Holmoe is coach.
  2. Scoring is not based on the spread or on confidence points, but instead on predicting the score accurately. You don’t just pick a winner, you predict the score, which adds another dimension and gives bragging rights for picking the exact score.

For those who didn’t need the sales pitch, the lone change this year is that I finally got the notification e-mails working so you’ll be less likely to forget to make a pick, something that is a bigger disaster with our scoring system than with traditional leagues. I’m 98% confident we won’t have a repeat of the 2008 debacle where most of you got a flood of 20-50 e-mails when the old system broke down. I also changed the way I get the game data that will no longer impact page load times, so the site should seem snappier, particularly on game days.

Sign up now by clicking on the “Pick’Em” link on the top or by going to:

UPDATE at 10:30 AM: Login’s from last year won’t work. Everyone has to sign-up fresh each year. Of course you can re-use the same login info from the previous year, but you do have to sign-up again.

Beginning Pac-10 thoughts

There will be plenty more to come, but some opening thoughts:

  • I can’t remember a season as potentially wide open as this one. Seriously, USC is already weakened and has a new coach and sanctions, Oregon is without its star QB, Oregon State is rebuilding in more ways than people care to admit, and up-and-coming teams like Stanford, Arizona, Washington and perhaps UCLA, well, what can I say, some kernels pop, some don’t. About the only thing clear is that WSU is going to still be in the losers bracket and ASU will likely be joining them.
  • The “Old Blue” in me says, “Great, for 5 years we we’re poised to win the Pac-10 and now that the Pac-10 is open, Cal is struggling a bit.”
  • The optimistic fan in me says that Cal is more in the mix than anyone wants to admit. If Riley can put it together and the new attacking defense can more resemble 2008’s performance as opposed to 2009, there’s no reason this team couldn’t be Rose Bowl bound.
  • Personally, I think Washington is the most over appreciated team in the conference. They’ll be just like Stanford in 2008. After getting to 5-7 in 2007 with a generous schedule and a couple lucky wins, they were sure bowl eligibility was coming in 2008. Nope. 5-7 again. Same for the Huskies. I guess if they go 2-1 in non-conference play and beat BYU, they’ve got a shot at 6 wins, but I see them losing to USC, OSU, Oregon, Arizona, Cal and Stanford in conference play. Last I checked that would only get them to 5-7.
  • Stanford is also on my “I’m not so sure about them” list, albeit not to the level of UW. AT Oregon, AT Notre Dame, and Oregon State late in the season won’t help them this year. Add in that USC will be out for revenge and it won’t matter that the game is in Palo Alto and the close Big Game will be in Berkeley, somewhere Stanford has struggled of late, and it’s not feeling like a year that they go even further than last year, particularly without Toby. Nevertheless, they’ll be a good team and we’re not talking about missing a bowl game, just not challenging for the Roses.
  • The wildcard team of the conference is most definitely UCLA. This is a team that could end up at the losers table pretty early in the season but could also challenge for a Rose Bowl if all the pieces fall into place. Having Arizona, Oregon State and Stanford, 3 teams that are in the mix but not over-powering, at home will help them. If they could have swapped UW and WSU to get the Huskies at home it would have been their best scenario. At the same time, this team really hasn’t shown signs of putting it together yet, so God only knows what will happen with them other than that they’ll lose in Berkeley. 🙂
  • The upward surprise of the conference in my humble opinion is WSU. OK, you can get up off the floor now, because I’m not predicting a run for the roses or anything. What I am predicting is 3-6 in conference play. They’re going to get overlooked by 2 teams, I’m not sure who, but it’s going to happen and then they’ll win one out-right, likely either ASU or UW (who will have just lost bowl eligibility in Berkeley the week before). They could easily be 5-7 overall this season with their non-conference schedule.

Next up: Reasons for despair (followed by reasons for hope)

What’s coming up

I know things have been quiet here on EMFMV for the last month or so, but now that the season is getting close you should expect to see a lot more action… but not for a couple more weeks.

I’ve got a big regatta that I host every year in early August (this year it’s 8/14, so closer to mid-August) and that really consumes my time in July and early August. Once that’s done, then football becomes hobby #1 (behind God, family and job of course, that’s why it’s a “hobby”). So, starting 8/15 expect to see the following:

  • My game-by-game predictions (for what it is worth, I was 8-4 last year, missing USC, ASU (what was I thinking there?), OSU and UW (still ticks me off), but bravely predicted the loss to Oregon, the win over Stanford and Arizona even though they were unfashionable at the time.)
  • Looking back posts for the last 3 2008 games (I’ll do the 2009 mid-season like I did for most of 2008 before I got overwhelmed by the reporting gig).
  • Podcast from Jason and I
  • New Pick’Em league, much like past years

Jason always takes an off-season sabbatical, but he should start posting sooner rather than later and get back into his regular flow.

Looking forward to a great season…