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Archive for September, 2011


Sorry Giants fans… but I’m glad

I bear no ill will towards our hosts at AT&T park, even though I’m a life-long A’s fan, but I have to admit I was glad to hear the Giants quest for the post-season is officially over. On the one hand, nothing would make me happier than another Bay Bridge Series. However, I’d want it in a year where Cal Bear games wouldn’t be affected by the outcome. So sorry Giants fans, but thankfully you’re eliminated.

No more grass infields, lightly painted lines/logos and other AT&T compromises for the Bears! Woohoo!

Things the offense has lost

As I’ve been reflecting on the game yesterday, a few things have come to mind that I saw earlier in the season that I didn’t see yesterday:

  • Maynard running the ball: While there were a few running plays, it doesn’t feel as frequent as in past games. When he did run, it was just a simple read-option (which weren’t working very well and he mostly handed off) and nothing very complex, which brings me to point #2…
  • Fewer trick plays: In the first couple games we were treated to a number of deception or trick plays that were successful, the most obvious being the pass-back to Maynard for a big gain against Colorado. Many of these plays were designed to get Maynard running the ball in the open field (linking us back to point #1) and I just didn’t see any attempt to do that against Washington.
  • Changing the tempo: This is the one that was the genesis of this post. Remember when against Fresno State when Cal would occasionally turn a play really quickly, sometimes stringing two or three of those together? That was awesome. Where has that gone? Cal’s tempo was vanilla and slow, letting the defense prepare for each play. The team would do well to find some of that creative rhythm again.
  • Screen passes: This doesn’t as much go back to earlier in the season as it does to the Tedford of old… whatever happened to Cal’s screen passes? I know they’ve been a disaster in the last couple seasons so many of us are glad to see them go, but it seems to me it’s an effective play if coached up correctly and used at the appropriate times. There felt like there were a few moments against UW that they would have been valuable.

Now in fairness, I saw some things yesterday I hadn’t seen before. Sofele was showing more determination and ability to bounce off tacklers. He had a pretty good game actually until the Bears sorta gave up on the run (perhaps a little too early?). I saw a defense that had completely solved it’s screen pass problems. So it’s not that the team didn’t do anything interesting or new. But at the same time, it feels like a few new wrinkles the team had added this year, the QB runs, more focus on trickery, particularly to get our superstars the ball in the open field, and changes in tempo that kept the defense off balance, have been lost.

I hope the team remembers those things and reincorporates them later in the season.

CJ Anderson on the goal line?

For some reason this didn’t at all occur to me but I saw it elsewhere (a comment on an SFGate article) and it rang so true I had to post on it:

Why wasn’t CJ Anderson at RB on that final goal line stand? He’s the running back one wants in that situation. It would have made any bluff of running inside a lot more credible even if we didn’t give it to him and heck, did the coaching staff remember the hit he delivered to get into the endzone earlier in the game? Maybe that play should have been called again, yes?

Washington OTRH Podcast

Well that was a tough one to watch. While there was hope up until the last seconds, it just never happened and the impressive play that marked the Colorado game just wasn’t repeated. Here are my post-game thoughts, recorded just after the game:

Washington 31, Cal 23 – Deadblog

We liveblogged, then we died. And so did Cal. Replay the horror after the jump. (more…)

Pre-game thoughts and prediction

Some random thoughts I had late this week and this morning:

  • This is the first game the Bears will be playing on artificial turf. Candlestick was grass. Colorado was grass (ruining the perfect north-south split of who has turf/grass in the conference). AT&T is grass (and dirt). So despite the fact that we practice on turf, even on our home away from home practice facility, the Bears get their first chance to show off their speed today. Not sure if this matters much, but worth mentioning.
  • One thing that has been clear watching the matchups of the last few years is how much the story was the UW defense. Sark/Holt has had the Bears number and has shut down the Cal offense. Once that resulted in a defensive struggle (last year) and once it resulted in a tuckered out defense that couldn’t keep up with an on-fire Locker. This is probably the key to the game. If the Cal offense is able to score points, expect the Bears to win.
  • The other big question is how good is the Cal defense. Against our weaker opponents, it looked like last year’s defense. At altitude against a Pac-12 foe, it looked pretty exposed in the passing game. Was that just the lack of speed while gasping for air? How much did that have to do with the lack of pressure the D-Line was able to get on the QB? Was it just a bad game? I think it’s hard to tell. It’s possible this game is a shootout. It’s possible this game is a defensive struggle.
  • The more I think about it, the more I like that this is an early season, early afternoon game in Husky stadium. We’ve gotten the shaft the last few years, playing UW after the Big Game and late in the season. It was our own doing, wanting that bye mid-season, but it still was bad news. The reports are that Husky stadium will not be full, that’ll help as well. The Bears will do well to score early and keep the crowd out of it.

So where does that leave us? The more I think about it, the more I think the Bears are in position to really stick it to UW. They’re hungry for a big win. All the intangibles are on the Cal side. In fact, I’ve got to temper my optimism when predicting a final score, because I don’t want to look foolish.

Final score: Bears 31 – UW 24

Looking back on ’09: Washington

(We continue the looking back series for the 2009 season. We’re going to continue the trend of doing these in “matching order” instead of chronological order. Today we look at the 2009 Washington game. Go here for past looking back posts.)

Pre-Game notes and thoughts:
The Bears had re-inserted themselves in the conference conversations after two upset wins over Arizona at home and Stanford in Palo Alto. They were 5-3 in conference and 8-3 overall. If they won this game, as everyone expected, they’d be tied for 2nd in the conference with 3 other teams and could go anywhere from the Holiday bowl to the Nut or Vegas. If they lost, something no one was talking about, it was the lowly Poinsettia bowl. They’d had a bye after the upset in the Big Game, something it was unanimously assumed was good for the team after the bruising Big Game. But could the off-time, including Thanksgiving actually be to the detriment of the Bears? Was Washington better than their 4-7 record indicated? We were about to find out.

Scoring and momentum changing plays:

  • Riley makes a couple of nice throws on the first drive of the game, one to Jones on 3rd down and one to Ross, that help get the Bears deep into Washington territory.
  • UW makes a nice stand at the 25, first stopping Vereen for a loss on 1st down and then not giving anything up the following two plays, stalling the drive.
  • D’Amato hooks the 42 yard field goal attempt and the Bears come up empty on their first drive.
  • UW goes for a pass off a of a reverse, that goes for 38 yards despite reasonably good coverage from Nnabufee.
  • Nnabufee gets taken advantage of again, when Locker throws a beautiful pass into the endzone and despite reasonable coverage, it was just too perfectly thrown. Two big plays and UW is up 0-7
  • Shane Vereen makes a nice cutback move to get into the secondary for a 50 yard gain down to the UW 15.
  • The drive stalls there and D’Amato this time succeeds on the kick. Bears slim the lead, but two trips this deep into UW territory and only 3 points is trouble: 3-7
  • After completing a nice pass again, UW tries to pound the ball 3 times on their next series of downs, failing to convert on 3rd and 3 and the Bears are able to force the punt from midfield.
  • After a 3 and out, Anger has one of his all-to-frequent for how good he is, less than stellar punts, giving UW the ball back around midfield.
  • The Huskies go for it on 4th and 5 from the Cal 34 yard line. Locker throws a strike to a hole in the zone to his favorite receiver (at least in this game), Jermaine Kearse to convert the 4th down.
  • UW goes for it again on 4th down, this time 4th and 2 from Cal 14 deciding to forgo the field goal, and the Bears sack Locker to get the ball back.
  • After another Cal 3 and out, Anger’s punt is returned down to the Cal 34.
  • Locker runs it on a designed run play, easily out sprinting around the outside and into the endzone for a 19 yard touchdown pass. The Bears had been dancing with disaster with their 3 and outs and finally UW capitalized to go up big: 3-14
  • Locker caps a complete drive with a 2 yard keeper on 1st and goal from the 2. Just before halftime the deficit goes from a challenge to troublesome: 3-21
  • Locker runs for a 1st down on 3rd and 7 and a busted play where it’s just amazing how fast he got around the outside pursuit and up field.
  • On the next play Locker throws a back-shoulder pass into the corner of the endzone and UW extends out of the locker room: It’s officially a mountain to climb for the comeback to be a possibility: 3-28
  • Riley throws two strikes on the Bear’s first drive of the 2nd half, the first to tight end Skylar Curran, the second to Marvin Jones, to get the Bears down the UW 17.
  • Boateng catches one in the flat and cuts back to the inside and into the endzone. Bears finally get a look at the colored section: 10-28
  • Washington bounces right back with a short (long kickoff return to midfield) but potent drive, capped by a 13 yard strike by Locker on a slant into the endzone. The Bears touchdown is for not: 10-35
  • Sofele takes the kickoff return down the left sideline, showing off his speed in hitting the hole from the wedge, down to the UW 18 yard line.
  • Riley throws a horrible ball on 3rd and 4 for what should have been an easy TD. Then on 4th down, Riley gets a horrible spot on a run off a busted play and the Bears turn it over on downs in the redzone.
  • Riley gets sacked for the umpteenth time with less than 7 minutes left in the game and the Huskies recover at the Cal 42.
  • Polk caps the short field drive with a 10 yard touchdown run. That’s the final score with just over 3 minutes left: 10-42
  • Riley fumbles again on a scramble (the ball was forced out) and Huskies recover again for their second turnover.

Observations:

  • Nnabufee really had a rough first quarter. Not only did he miss on the two long plays on the first drive, he also was out of position on a number of smaller plays as well.
  • There was an interesting stat shown with Riley’s completion percentage in wins (62%) and losses (44%). It clearly shows how teams have been forcing the Bears to beat them through the air. When Riley was successful, the Bears would win. When he wasn’t, they’d lose. I’d say the same trend played true in 2010. It’ll be interesting to see if opposing defenses play things similarly in 2011. I kinda hope they do, because I think the Bears will burn that sort of strategy, but the less potent run game in 2011 may allow defenses to play the Bears in a more balanced fashion.
  • One could definitely tell the impact of Matt Summers-Gavin not being able to play. Riley did not have a lot of time to throw and the running holes were inconsistent.
  • Cal ran a lot of the wildcat in the 1st half this game and it just didn’t work. At least two drives were stalled because of losses on wildcat plays.
  • The pressure on Riley started to take it’s toll in the 2nd quarter. He fumbled once (Bears recovered) and was sacked to effectively end another drive. He seemed to be much more skidish after those two plays.
  • The final score before halftime was really demoralizing for the Bears. Not only was it a complete drive with successful runs, passes and a few 3rd down conversions, it also was clock sapping, not letting the Bears have a good opportunity to score before halftime. Down by 11 and down by 18 at half is a very different thing.
  • Riley did not have a good half. He was 2 of 8 at one point and missed a number of open receivers (including a wide-open Verran Tucker in the endzone) as well as a having too many mis-throws. The pressure on him didn’t make his life easy, but that doesn’t deserve all the blame. It was just another off game for Riley.
  • It’s really too bad the Bears couldn’t stop UW on their first 2nd half drive. 10-21 would have been a very doable situation and the momentum would be all on the Cal sideline. Instead the Bears were already in desperate catchup mode.
  • Riley actually didn’t have a bad 3rd quarter. Minus a couple of key bad throws, overall he made most of his throws despite the heat that UW was bringing.
  • You definitely got the sense that Riley was affected by the cold. Out of the locker-room in both halves, he didn’t do half bad, but later in both halves as he got cold both his accuracy and his decision making went downhill.
  • The Bears were desperate and tired in the 4th quarter. Nothing went right after Cal’s lone touchdown in the 3rd quarter.

Implications for the future:
This being Cal’s last trip to Seattle, it’s instructive to the home-field advantage that the Huskies have. With Oregon’s rise to prominence and USC’s extended stay on top, UW’s storied home field advantage has gotten a lot less press. That doesn’t make it any less real. Let’s just be thankful this year we’ve got an early season day game instead of the late season games of the last few years and the night games have been killer as well. In most ways however, these are two very different teams than in 2009 (the soon to be published 2010 recap will not have that shortcoming). If there’s one thing that’s consistent it’s that UW is one team that can play the power game with Cal quite effectively. The Bears won’t just be able to power-up and win this one.

Conclusion:
In some ways this game was every bit as terrifying as we all remember it. In other ways, it was much closer than the final score indicated. I will say this, this game was UW’s best performance of the season. They were clicking on all cylinders. You could argue they haven’t played a game this well since either, particularly on the offensive side of the ball (their victory in the Holiday bowl over Nebraska last year was an incredibly strong defensive performance). There’s not much about UW that scares me at this point, although saturday’s should be a fairly evenly matched affair. I wouldn’t expect them to as great as they were on this night. Not even that team could have repeated this performance.

Looking back on ’08: Washington

(We continue the looking back series for the 2008 season. We’re going to continue the trend of doing these in “matching order” instead of chronological order. Today we look at the 2008 Washington game. Go here for past looking back posts.)

Pre-Game notes and thoughts:
It was a very different time in Pac-10 football. Cal was just 2 years removed from a co-Pac-10 championship. They were 1 year removed from being ranked #2 in the country (before the meltdown of 2007). 2008 had been a good, but not quite great season and things were looking up for 2009 to be another banner year. Washington was in a very different place. They were winding down a sequence of two bad coaches in Gilbertson and then the surprisingly bad run of Ty Willmingham. Willmingham had already been fired before this game, so everyone knew it would be his last at UW. Cal entered the game 7-4 (en route to 9-4). Washington was 0-11 and was as down as a team could be. If there was one danger here, it was the drive to make sure the game didn’t go victory-less. Could that desire give them the heart needed for an upset? It was hard to believe that to be possible, but Old Blues knew that nothing should be discounted.

Scoring and momentum changing plays:

  • Washington gets nothing done on the first possession of the game and when combined with a short punt, give the Bears good field possession for their first drive.
  • On the 2nd play from scrimmage, Best busts through a big hole on the left side and accelerates away from the secondary for an all too easy touchdown. Bears up early just 2 minutes into the game: 7-0
  • After a long drive that included overcoming a 15 yard penalty on Alex Mack (a rare event if there ever was one), Tavecchio pushes an easy 30 yard field goal from the right hash.
  • Zack Follett comes flying off the end to sack UW QB Fouch and Mohammed recovers and the Bears are back in business in the redzone 3 plays after Tavecchio’s miss.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. Tavecchio makes take 2, a 23 yarder. Bears extend on their early lead: 10-0
  • Mohammed decides it’s not good enough to just recover the fumble and this time both forces and recovers the fumble on the sack on Fouch. That’s two drives in a row ended on sack-fumbles for UW.
  • Longshore is brought in for Riley after he struggles (after starting with 2 completions, went 1 for 5). However, Longshore too starts off slow, missing his first throw and then fumbling on a sack (Vereen recovered) so the Bears have to punt for the first time.
  • Syd’Quan Thompson returns a punt down the right sideline down to the UW 7 yard line.
  • Two plays later, Best jumps over the line and into the endzone. Bears have a 3 score lead: 17-0
  • On the next drive, Darian Hagan beats the receiver to a ball with too much air under it and intercepts Fouch.
  • On the next play, Longshore completely the first meaningful pass of the game, a 29 yard pass to Morrah on the outside.
  • A couple plays later, Best accelerates through a small gap in the line for his second touchdown, this one a 20 yarder. Bears up big mid-2nd quarter: 24-0
  • Backup UW QB Bean (Fouch went out after a hard hit), can’t thread the needle into cover-2 and Hagan intercepts his second of the day.
  • Jahvid Best unleashes another signature run, cutting back against the grain to get in the open field, doing a stop move to let two defenders go flying by and then is eventually tracked down from behind after a 53 yard gain.
  • It takes Longshore 2 passes in 3 attempts to get it into the endzone, the 50th touchdown of his career. Just before halftime Bears up huge and maintaining the shutout: 31-0
  • Best outdoes his previous run on the second play of the 2nd half, getting around the outside and then exploding downfield, somehow managing to run full speed even after getting hit from the side and somewhat turned around. From there, no one was able to touch him. Best dominates the scoreboard: 38-0
  • Vereen gets in the action, running it in from 2 yards out after Best shatters the Cal single-game rushing record. Bears cross the 40 point threshold: 45-0
  • Bean caps a long (15 play) drive with a designed QB rollout and run for a 2 yard TD run. The shutout is lost: 45-7
  • Jordan Kay, the senior, gets in a late field goal to cap his career at Cal and the scoring for the game. Final score: 48-7

Observations:

  • The Bears went very run heavy in their first few possessions. The good news is that they were quite successful, but the lack of balance was notable. Additionally, Riley wasn’t very accurate, only 3 of 7 (and those 3 weren’t very impressive) despite the weak defense being played.
  • The crispness of the offensive line compared to the last couple seasons was very notable in 2008. They got out of their stances quickly and in unison. This was a Michalczik coached line at its best. Disappointing to see the lack of precision in the last few years. Hopefully by the end of this season they’ll have gotten it back.
  • Longshore had a little bit of a slow start, but got into a rhythm as the half wore on. He definitely was the better of the two QB’s in the 1st half.
  • Losing Fouch for UW was a tough blow for them. Fouch was already their backup to Locker who was injured earlier in the season. Bean was their 3rd stringer who did not expect to play. Their offense when from bad to pathetic. But with no protection on Fouch, it was bound to happen.
  • In the mid-3rd quarter, Cal started bringing in some backups on defense and you could definitely tell. Bean started finding more open receivers and had more time to throw. He got into a bit of a rhythm, something neither he nor Fouch was able to do prior.
  • Mansion got some snaps in the 4th quarter but didn’t look particularly good, although it’s hard to tell when it’s just about all the backups in.

Implications for the future:
This game is from a different era of both Cal and Washington football, so it’s hard to make much of it. However, if one stretches real hard, one can see how Mansion may not be our best option, and also see just how good coach M was at coaching up our offensive line. I haven’t seen that sort of precision and team work in our offensive line since that game. Maybe we’ll get this back soon?

Conclusion:
I think this game summarize the current frustration of Cal fans in relief. We know what we want, we’ve seen it. What troubles us is what we’ve seen the last couple years has not been it. Both 2009 and 2010 showed a surprising lack of precision and effort, particularly on offense. At the same times, the seeds of 2009 and 2010 are here. Riley was off his game and showed the sort of inconsistency that would mark his last two campaigns. Mansion looked even worse. The running game that was so potent under Best would never quite look the same once he left.

Cloaking Device (EMFMV 2011 #4)

Another week, another podcast with Jason and Ken talking fundamentals of Presbyterianism. Also Cal football! On the agenda beyond Comparative Religion 101: AT&T Park, previewing Washington, a recap of the Pac-12 week, and an overview of the Pac-16 expansion rumors. Plus, no secret word! Sorry. Instead, leave a comment that likens some aspect of Cal Football to Star Trek, as Ken does during this very podcast.

You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Presbyterian OTRH Podcast

Sorry this is a little later than usual… OK, maybe not usual when looking at prior seasons, but usual from this season. I’m trying to be better about publishing this on Sunday. Lot’s of commentary about Tedford’s record and AT&T:

Photo Gallery: Cal vs. Presbyterian

The blue and gold flags flew at AT&T Park today.

Blue and Gold Flags

And the California banner was by the Coke bottle.

Cal Banner, Coke Bottle

More photos after the jump.

(more…)

Live from AT&T Park

So it turns out the wifi at AT&T park works. But typing on my iPhone is not conductive to live blogging.

Anyway, GORGEOUS day here. Could not have picked better weather.

20110917-020539.jpg

Cal is wearing blue over gold. The best look.

Band note: The random song in the opening show was, appropriately enough, “San Francisco.”

Early in the second quarter the separation of church and state is four touchdowns.

The PA system here is great, in general. But today it’s a disaster. At Memorial I could blame the old system, but here there’s no excuse. I can’t hear the announcer but the guy on the field sounds fine. Whoever is in charge, you are doing it wrong. Fix this.

Looking back on ’10: UC Davis

(We continue the looking back series. We’re going to continue the trend of doing these in “matching order” instead of chronological order, with doing games from 2008, 2009 and 2010 as needed to complete the series. Today we look at the 2010 UC Davis game, last year’s weak non-conference opponent. Go here for past looking back posts.)

Pre-Game notes and thoughts:
After a disappointing end to the 2009 season, a loss on the road to Washington and a loss to Utah in the Poinsettia bowl, there had been some changes in the coaching staff. Alamar was finally replaced. Just as importantly, defensive coordinator Bob Gregory had been replaced. In his place was an aggressive minded NFL grade guy in Pendergast. Obviously there wasn’t too much concern about the Bears beating UC Davis, but there were two questions Bear fans were hoping to get insight into from the game: Would Kevin Riley finally turn the corner and deliver on his promise in his senior season and what would this new defense look like.

Scoring and momentum changing plays:

  • UC Davis gets the sort of break that an upset minded team wants: An un-forced turnover (Riley had the snap punched out of his hand by a pulling guard) gives UC Davis the ball in Cal territory. However, the Cal defense stepped up and UC Davis wasn’t willing to go for it on 4th and 4 from the 37.
  • Vereen is wide open after slipping out of the backfield for an easy touchdown pass. Bears up early: 7-0
  • Riley throws a strike on a slant in the redzone to Marvin Jones for an all-too-easy TD. Bears extend their lead early in the 2nd quarter: 14-0
  • Jeremy Ross returns a nice punt that somewhat out-kicks the coverage down deep into UC Davis territory.
  • Cal goes for their 1st trick play, an attempted pass by Keenan Allen. Because the receiver wasn’t open, Allen channeled Marshawn Lynch, pulled the ball down, ran across the field and into the endzone. Just after the last score, Bears are up 3 scores: 21-0
  • Marvin Jones makes a remarkable catch on an underthown ball by Riley where the safety is draped all over him swatting for the yet-to-be delivered ball. The flag is thrown before the completion is made, but somehow Jones kept focused, kept his hands free and hauled in the ball for a 51 yard pass. Sadly the drive collapsed from there and the Bears turned it over on downs.
  • Keenan Allen has a huge run on a wide receiver screen, almost getting down to the endzone on the 50 yard play. Vereen punches it in on the next play the bears extend to a 4 TD lead late in the 2nd quarter: 28-0
  • UC Davis makes their first unforced error, a fumble on the kickoff return that wasn’t really forced out, giving Cal the ball in the redzone just after having scored a touchdown.
  • Vereen has a nice run, nice enough to merit it’s own line in the key plays list as opposed to an addendum to the turnover, staying on his feet after two different hits en route to the endzone. Up big about ready to go into the locker room: 35-0
  • They run the wide receiver screen to Keenan Allen again and this time he makes it all the way to the endzone. Bears extend to open the 2nd half: 42-0
  • UC Davis starts at around midfield on their next drive after a good run back. After one of their best drives of the game, UC Davis kicks a 43 yard field-goal. So much for the shutout: 42-3
  • Sweeney runs for a touchdown on a busted play inside the 10 yard touchdown. While it’s a touchdown, it reflects that Sweeney wasn’t showing much with his arm and was doing it all with his legs. In either case, it still counts: 49-3
  • Tavecchio finishes the scoring with a 23 yard field-goal after a long clock-grinding drive designed to end UC Davis’s misery. Final score: 52-3

Observations:

  • Riley had a good start to the game, completing his first 9 passes including 3 TD’s before a dump-off pass on a scrambling play is knocked down.
  • Riley had a number of miscues on that drive with his first incompletion. He also had a false start (looks like he forgot his own snap count) and then had a delay of game penalty. The Bears went for it on 4th down at the UC Davis 31 and don’t convert.
  • Despite being out-manned, UC Davis just didn’t have the talent of the Bears, one had to be impressed with their discipline and their schemes. They played with precision using fundamentally sound football.
  • The defense was dominant in the 1st half. Giving up a total of 31 yards, only 3 of which were on the ground.
  • After Riley’s quick start, he fell of dramatically, getting into quite a funk. He was only 1 of 6 on the remainder of passes in the 1st half.
  • Beau Sweeney came in for Riley with 9 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. This is notable for 2 reasons. First, Tedford was willing to make the switch early. Second, since it was Mansion who ended up taking over for Riley when he was injured, the fact that the depth chart was reversed at this point in the season means that Mansion didn’t get nearly as much playing time early in the season.
  • Mansion comes in for Sweeney with less than 5 minutes remaining in the game, but he never gets to throw the ball. He hands it off 4 times before getting one pass play called. Unfortunately the protection broke down quickly and it ended up being a botched play from the get-go. UC Davis held the ball for the last minute of the game and so Mansion never got a pass attempt.

Implications for 2011:
I think the biggest learning from this game as it applies to this year is how much we’ll see the backups. If Tedford sticks with tradition, early in the 3rd quarter, assuming the Bears are up big, we’ll start seeing backups all over the field, from the QB to the RB to the line and all throughout the defense. Other than that, it’s not hard to see why Sweeney was leap-frogged by Mansion and why he eventually left the program.

Conclusion:
These patsy games don’t mean much, so I don’t have a lot to say. The most one can glean from them is how the backups look, but even that has to be moderated against the quality of the foe. I guess we got a glimpse at the new attacking defense and got our hopes up about Riley turning the corner, although his funk mid-game was a bit distressing. At least they make for easy wins en route to bowl eligibility.

Reprimanded analogy

Let’s say I’m about to leave my house on the way to the Cal game at AT&T. I put my backpack full of stuff by the door. My wife decides she’d prefer to use that backpack so she takes all my stuff for the boys (food, sweatshirts, etc.) out of the backpack and puts all the stuff she needs for the day, puts it in the backpack and puts it right where I left it. I pickup the backpack, put it in the car and pack up and leave none the wiser about the change in contents. I go to my friend’s house to pick him up, as he’s coming to the game and we get on the road.

About 10 minutes later I get a call on the cell. My wife explains about the backpack switch. So I turn around and the whole way back home I’m belittling my wife. What an idiot she is. Why’d see take the backpack in the first place? Or at least why didn’t she tell me? Or if not even that, why didn’t she put it someplace other than the exact same place I put it so I wouldn’t be confused? What an bad call by her.

We get home, everyone piles out of the car and my wife meets us at the door with a different backpack loaded with the stuff I originally had. She apologizes, admits the mistake was hers and sends us on our way with no effect on the final outcome, although the final score on the arrival time at the park was closer than it should have been.

Now to the point:

Don’t you think my wife has the right to reprimand me for my behavior when she finds out later about my belittling her in the car (my kids are blabber-mouths) even though the original mistake was hers and she has admitted as much?

Of course she does.

And just as much, that’s why all the scoffing about Tedford being reprimanded by Larry Scott, the Pac-12 commissioner, is short sighted. The Pac-12 has rules and one of those rules is that they don’t air the family laundry to the general public. There’s an internal process to complain about bad calls and those grievances shouldn’t be taken to the press.

If there’s an argument to be made in Tedford’s defense it’s that he really didn’t say much at all, just an off-hand remark it was a bad call. Did he really insult the referees or “create doubts about the credibility of the Conference’s officiating program”. News flash: refs make mistakes on occasion. Merely pointing it out doesn’t seem that egregious. He didn’t seem to complain.

But that’s not what people are focusing on. They’re focusing on the fact that the league admitted it was a bad call. In my opinion, that’s not relevant. Coaches are part of the Pac-12 family and they’re not to speak badly of it. It appears not even in small ways.

…and as a man who loves his family and would never say anything negative about my wife or kids, that doesn’t see so outlandish to me.

Various pre-Hose notes and discoveries

Just some various things from around the web:

  • CRITICAL UNIFORM UPDATE: This is for co-blogger Jason, who’s always interested in uniform stuff: The Bears will be wearing blue-on-blue (see the bottom of the article). It’s my favorite combo.
  • Field layout at AT&T: From the same article linked above:

    The Bears will be on the sideline that runs along the third base line. The biggest change is the fact that there is room for teams to be on opposite sidelines. … The football configuration was moved eight feet toward the third base line, giving more room to the sideline in right field. It also made it safer for players to run through the end zone that is in left field because the left side of the end zone now leads to the open part of the fence where it meets the third base grandstand.

    Is it just me or is that a little confusing? If the two sidelines are the 3rd base side and the right field side, both teams were on the right field side in the Emerald Bowl. How can moving the field towards the shorter 3rd base side give it more room? Perhaps they mean just the opposite?

  • Pay for play cost: The Blue Hose will receive $400K to come play the Bears. Considering that they’re coming all the way across the country it doesn’t seem like all that much in today’s era of nearly million dollar pay-for-play payouts. Still a lot of money compared to what was paid 10 years ago.
  • West of Pittsburgh: From the same (2nd) article, the farthest west Presbyterian has ever played is against Pittsburgh. I’d say ‘they’re not in Kansas anymore’, but Kansas would be farther from home than they’ve ever played before too. To put this in perspective, every time Cal plays UW, WSU, ASU or UA, i.e. twice a year, they travel further from home than Presbyterian ever has. WOW!

Post game thoughts – part II

I finally got around to re-watching the game last night. Here are my thoughts from that:

  • It’s worth noting that Hansen seemed to have more trouble throwing on the run. While they didn’t use it extensively, Colorado did do some rollouts to keep the pressure off of Hansen. However, it generally didn’t work out very well for them, because of his inability to be accurate while throwing on the run. I also stand by my previous statement that Hansen really didn’t have that good of a game. If Luck was playing for Colorado, Cal would have been crushed with all the open guys that Hansen missed, even when he wasn’t on the run.
  • Richardson obviously was key later in the game, but he also had 3 key catches on the 1st drive of the game. In addition he had a long reception on the 2nd drive, just after Maynard’s interception, that got Colorado down to the Cal 25. (As an FYI, that catch and a screen for 15 yards was all it took for Colorado to get the field goal, as the Bears stopped it right there. As for Richardson, there’s no doubt he played a very physical game. He was a powerful combination of a big possession receiver and speed.
  • Maybe it’s just because I’ve got an aging memory, but I didn’t remember that Maynard’s interception was in between Colorado’s first two drives. Cal had been moving the ball well before that poor decision. But instead of stealing the momentum from Colorado by taking it all the way down the field, it allowed Colorado to get right back into their rhythm that they had established on the 1st drive.
  • Of course everyone remembers the booth review later in the game where the Bears got robbed, but there was another one on the first drive where they didn’t overturn the receiver being out of bounds that in my mind the Colorado receiver was clearly out of bounds. The key being he didn’t have reception until very late, not that he didn’t drag a toe. We didn’t get a very favorable game from the replay booth.
  • HA! I didn’t remember the “Colorado revenge weekend against the Bay Area” puff piece by the sideline reporter. Colorado lost to Cal and the Raiders handled Denver. So much for the “revenge” :-)
  • Jeez the refs were bad/confused in this game. It’s not so much that they made bad calls, OK, there were a couple bad ones, but it just took them a lot of talking to make the right decision. Pass interference at the spot of the foul -> nope only 15 yards, etc.
  • After watching the blocked extra point, I’ll take back my criticism of Tavecchio on that. He got the ball up pretty quick. The key to the block was a defender getting through the A-gap, somewhere you just CAN’T afford to let someone through. So when you’ve got a guy 4 yards in the back field and it goes off the top of hit arms 7 feet in the air, Tavecchio got his ball up enough. Seeing as how one of the two blocks at Fresno State was a combo low-kick, too much penetration problem, that means only one of the 3 misses was fully Tavecchio’s fault. The bigger issue seems to be blocking by the long snapper and the guards (the other blocked kick penetration was up the middle as well).
  • The attempted halfback pass by Sofele that ended up being a “sack”, was a rare bad play call for the game. Tedford seems to have a weak spot for seeing that trick pass plays don’t work inside the redzone. There’s just not enough field for the receivers to get the sort of separation needed for someone who doesn’t have quarterback level accuracy to be able to make what needs to be an easy pass to a wide open receiver. That just doesn’t happen on a short field.
  • The screen passes in my mind are one of the most distressing things about the game. I can tell you right now that our next few opponents are going to be trying screens a lot until we prove conclusively that we can stop them. What was so distressing was just how inept the Bear defense was in sniffing them out. They were out of position. They got suckered into over pursuing to the QB. And finally their pursuit to the ball after the pass was less than stellar. We haven’t seen a lot of screens lately in the Pac-10. Perhaps they’re coming back and we’ll see more of them in the new Pac-12 thanks to our new members seeing an opportunity.
  • Colorado had 3 TD’s but none of them were from inside the redzone. The closest was from 37 yards out. In fact, Colorado only had 3 trips into the redzone resulting in 2 field-goals. If the Bears had managed to prevent the long pass plays, this game may never have been close. I had a fair amount of confidence going into OT because, even though I didn’t have the numbers in my head, I felt the Bears had been doing better in the redzone. My only concern was if it got into a dual of field-goal kickers, which luckily it never did.
  • Miller’s touchdown in the 3rd quarter was SUCH a thing of beauty. The way he carried that defender into the endzone was very impressive. I think it also made a statement about playing physically. Colorado had scored their first touchdown and was starting to dominate more in the trenches. Miller said “Not while I’m out here” to conceding the physical battle to Colorado.
  • Richardson’s first long TD was pretty frustrating because two defenders should have had him. Josh Hill who was covering him took a really bad angle on him and then DJ Campbell looked a little lackadaisical in his coming up to tackle him. Richardson accelerated away, and it was all over from then. By contrast, the 2nd TD was man coverage situation where Richardson just had a speed advantage over Marc Anthony.
  • Another note about those two TD’s… the Bears had a 3-and-out in between the two possessions, which didn’t give the defense much time on the bench to make any adjustments. Not so on the drive that followed where the Bears drove 80 yards, taking 5 minutes off the clock. That gave the defense lots of time to catch their breath and to make the needed adjustments.
  • Really, except for the first couple drives of the game, the only real Colorado drive was the final field-goal drive that tied the game. Everything else were big plays. Having re-watched it, I was less impressed with Colorado’s performance. Don’t get me wrong, a big play offense can be quite impressive, but in this case, it didn’t seem like Colorado really had that much that was special that got them the big play ability. It makes me really worried about the Cal defense. There’s only so much I can blame on altitude.
  • In the 4th quarter the Bears whiffed on a number of potential sacks. It wasn’t that the Bears weren’t getting pressure in the 4th quarter, but that Hansen was a bit elusive and poor angles by the Bears D-Linemen.
  • Talk about divergent overtime possessions. Colorado had strong runs on both their first two plays inside the tackles. Things looked really good for the Buffs. But the Bears stiffened at that point. By way of contrast, the Bears managed to get themselves in 1st and 30. Things couldn’t have looked more bleak.
  • That 32 yard pass from Maynard to Allen, it was nearly a touchdown pass. If Allen could have accelerated away just a little quicker, he would have been in. As it was, he was tackled from behind just a moment before getting into the endzone.
  • Call me a naysayer for the “brotherly connection” being really meaningful. Allen’s a good wide receiver. Maynard’s a fine QB and a gunslinger. But to think that he wouldn’t have thrown the same ball to win the game to Marvin Jones if that’s what had been dialed up… I just don’t buy it. There’s been very little in my mind that has suggested that Maynard is over-emphasizing Allen. Nevertheless, a great way to finish the game.

Fundamentals of Presbyterianism (EMFMV 2011 #3)

The podcast is back! In this episode Jason and Ken recap the Colorado win, talk about the College Football Overtime Rule with no concrete stats to back us up, preview the Presbyterian game (Cal’s first at AT&T Park), discuss the roots of Presbyterianism, and review the Pac-12 results of the week. Plus, a two-headed secret word!

You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Post game thoughts – part I

(I didn’t get a chance to re-watch the game yesterday like I normally do. I’ll put that post up as soon as I get that chance (probably Tuesday night), to be part II)

Wow… what a game. I’m still parsing in my mind everything that happened. A few thoughts:

  • What would last year’s team record be?: I’ve tried to figure out in my mind what last year’s team would have done against Fresno State and this Colorado team. Did they have something on defense that this year’s team didn’t and they would have handled ‘the Breakthrough in Boulder’ better and not needed the heroics of this year? Or do they struggle just as much and lose? Looking at the other game, do they lose to Fresno State, giving up the ghost early on a mistake like Maynard’s? Obviously it’s speculation, but there’s an argument for everything from 2-0 like this year to 0-2 and anything in between. At this point I lean towards 1-1, the loss coming in Boulder both because this is not last year’s Colorado team and the altitude would have affected last year’s team just as much.
  • Don’t forget the altitude!: I feel like a broken record on this one… but make sure you judge everything in the light of the altitude. There was no doubt looking at the team, in particular their faces, that they were affected by the thin air. And when you’re playing in pain and winded, certain things break down. You don’t recover from over-pursuing as easily (screen plays). You’re just not as fast (the two big receptions by Richardson). You struggle with the little things (the dropped passes). It’s harder to keep your intensity up (lack of pressure on Hansen and the difficulty of players getting off blocks). It’s harder to get the ball up in the air (extra points)… HA!… just checking that you were paying attention. There’s no excuse for Tavecchio. Back to the serious point, does that mean we can ignore all those issues? Absolutely not. But it does mitigate SOME of the issues. Don’t be surprised if some of them look like anomalies in a few weeks and others look to be the plague of the team. My guesses, anomalies: long pass plays, screen plays, difficulty getting off blocks. Plagues: pressure on QB, dropped balls, and God help me, extra points.
  • The altitude and playing with heart: The altitude issues are what make me particularly impressed with the heart of this team. Despite the pain, despite the gasping for air, this team kept giving it everything they had. They kept at it and had the confidence that they could make the adjustments to slow down Colorado and to get back over the top. Looking back at the Tedford era I can only think of a few games that matched the heart of this one, and they’re all a long time ago: 2003 USC, 2004 USC (yes, a loss, but they played with heart), 2005 Oregon (another loss), 2003 Insight bowl, maybe the 2006 Washington game, although we were in such a funk early and should have easily won, it’s hard to compare. Point being, this ranks right up with the best heart games of the last decade. Definitely in the top-5.
  • Can we get a coach to work extra hard with CJ on blocking assignments?: As much as I’m still a defender of Isi, we need CJ Anderson in a big way and we need him to be able to be in on passing plays (so we’re not tipping our hat when we bring him in). Can we clone coach M and give one to CJ for the week? Anderson is going to be a great addition and I can’t wait, I’m just not that patient, for him to slowly absorb the playbook and his blocking assignments. I’m not sure why Debo is not coming along, but I’ve still never seen anything in him that makes me think he has the inside power game that Anderson does.

More thoughts coming later.

Parking advice

I know this is a first, a Cal home game at AT&T, but I’m looking for advice in regards to parking from people who have driven to AT&T for either Giants games or for the Emerald Bowl and didn’t park in the “official” lots (which are reserved for donors).

Originally the plan for my family was to take the ferry in, but as with all things public transit related, their pricing is not very family friendly (I’ve found transit options are usually priced to be competitive with driving for 2 people when considering the hassle factor). The ferry has “event pricing” that is more expensive than their usual fares. It is $15 round-trip per adult and $9.50 per kid, under 5 free. So for my family it’s $49 (2 adults, 2 kids, 2 free). For the Presbyterian game, I’ll have 3 adults, 2 kids, 1 free so it’ll be $64. All of a sudden driving in and dealing with the traffic doesn’t sounds so bad. Frankly, it’s disappointing because I’m a big fan of public transit and getting cars off the road for big events. But in the end, I only have so much money in my budget and public transit is not THAT high on my list of preferred charities.

So, who’s parked around the park? Any gems of lots? Anybody used parkwhiz.com and their reservation feature (is it TRULY a reservation)? Anybody familiar with the Townsend garage? Is $27.50 a good deal? What sort of pricing should I expect?

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Colorado OTRH Podcast

I hope everyone’s ticker is still working after that nailbiter. I know I was pacing the room like a caged… um… bison perhaps?

In any case, after I thoroughly woke up the 2 month old baby with my victory antics and helped calm her back down, I recorded my thoughts: