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Archive for September, 2012

Ohio State initial thoughts

Well, that was an interesting one. I can’t decide if I’m happy that the Bears have improved dramatically and represented us well in Columbus, or whether I’m disappointed we let one slip away.

Let’s start with the slip away:

  • 9 points lost on 3 field goals
  • A very ill-advised thrown ball that ended the Bears last hope
  • A VERY blown coverage on the play that gave tOSU the lead.
  • Why did we see so much of CJ Anderson down the stretch when Bigalow was on fire?
  • How did Cal let Braxton Miller score that first touchdown? We had him totally corralled.
  • 100 more yards, 7 more first downs, better 3rd down efficiency, 16 more plays, more time of possession… we dominated in every statistical category except the only one that matters.

So that’s pretty frustrating.

Yet, at the same time, compared to where we have been and the expectations going into this game, how could it be anything other than a success?:

  • See those dominating statistics above? That’s a good thing.
  • Turnovers were not a big problem… well, minus the one interception being at an inopportune time.
  • Only 4 penalties for 40 yards.
  • Maynard completed 70% of his throws, made lots of good decisions, and had only a couple of misthrows.
  • Generally very few miscues and mistakes. The team seemed to have a lot more discipline than in the previous two games.

When I’m being positive, those good signs are very encouraging. We had all accepted we’re going to start 1-3, and while that wasn’t good, what we were even more worried about was whether we could beat teams in the middle of the conference. Who thinks we can’t beat UCLA, ASU and WSU now?

Yet on the flip side, imagine Cal didn’t lose to Nevada… what would we be thinking about the lost opportunity today?

Please vote in the poll on the right. I’m only giving two options. No wishy-washy voting allowed!

(Much more to come!)

tOSU Trip Blog: Game day

One of the things that has me traveling the country to watch the Bears, despite the fact that they’ve disappointed so many times, is that I get to see so many nice places. Ohio State was no exception.

First of all, we’ve all heard some bad things about Ohio State fans. I saw ZERO sign of them. Before the game we walked to the stadium from about a mile away. We ended up walking most of the way with a group of recently graduated, and quite drunk I might add, Ohio State alums. They were talkative and let us know about a number of interesting traditions, including one where all the freshmen jump in this pond on campus the night before the Michigan game every year.

We didn’t hear a single taunt before the game. We walked all around the stadium taking pictures and all the fans were friendly. Two fans even wanted to take their picture with us. We walked past the student section and the body-painted students wanted us to take their picture. I guess there was one guy there doing a little bit of trash-talking but nothing major.

After the game we heard a few taunts, including one from behind where he said, “Go back to Berkeley you pot smoking hippies!” (if only he knew me) About 4 other guys, all tOSU fans, quickly interjected to tell us to ignore them and that they were impressed with Cal’s play.

When you combine that with the nice fans we met the night before and at the hotel, it was a very pleasant fan experience.

As for the towns, Ohio State has a very nice campus. Lots of brick buildings. It’s big campus, with lots of high-rise buildings.

The stadium is big, but it feels very cozy. Frankly, I don’t know if it’s much bigger than an NFL stadium, but they pack them in, kinda like at Memorial but with a little bit more leg room, so the attendance figures are much higher (106k) for the same size stadium. The concessions were standard affair.

Columbus is a much larger town than I imagined and a pretty nice place. It was a LOT nicer than a lot of the places we drove through in Pennsylvania. Actually, all the way across the board, minus Cleveland which we are in now, Ohio is a pretty nice state (in September anyway).

One last trip blog post after I get home tomorrow afternoon.

tOSU preview

It’s no secret that the Bears have been a disappointment so far this season. As such, the poll on the right side reflects just how lacking we all are in optimism for today’s game.

You won’t find me blowing any smoke up you saying that the Bears are better than they’ve looked nor that they have a good shot at beating Ohio State. I don’t think the Bears have a good shot at it.

However, what I will say is that I think we’re over-estimating how good Ohio State is. Their performance to date has not been all that strong. They haven’t been tested at all. If there’s a reason for a glimmer of hope, this is it.

The problem is that their offensive style is exactly what Cal’s defense has proven most susceptible to. To make matters worse, it appears that Urban Meyer isn’t going to do a massive overhaul of the scheme of Ohio State, so the hopes we had of a team that was still working out the kinks turns out to be unfounded. It also means the scheme doesn’t change to one the Bears have a better shot at defending.

If those things had broke Cal’s way, considering how untested Ohio State is, I might be willing to consider the upset. But they didn’t and so I’m not:

Ohio State: 31, Cal: 17

tOSU Trip Blog: The actual road trip

Today we headed out from Springfield, MA at 5:15 AM. It is a 12 hour drive to Columbus, OH. But yet again, why just do the drive when you can add a bunch of other things to the trip? We had the following stops in mind:

  • The Tri-State marker (New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania)
  • Penn State in College Station, PA
  • Flight 93 memorial
  • Cal U. (more on this later)
  • Monroeville Mall (site of the “Dawn of the Dead” movie)

We left at 5:15 AM and we had a limitation on what we could do: We HAD to make it to Columbus, OH by 8:00 PM so that we could get our free T-Shirts at the Cal event at Golden Biersch. We fully expected we wouldn’t be able to go everywhere on the list. Monroeville was the most off the direct path between the two end points, so we fully expected that would be the one we dropped and perhaps one other one.

The Tri-State marker was fun, but very quick. Just snapped a couple pictures after finding it at the end of a cemetery on a peninsula between two rivers. As such we were ahead of schedule early.

Penn State was interesting (boy do they have a BIG stadium and LOTS of athletic facilities in addition to a nice campus in a quaint town). But we didn’t get out of the car. We just took pictures from the car and got a flavor for the town. Thus we were even further ahead of schedule.

The Flight 93 memorial was very nice and it’s going to get better over time as the trees grow in. Very well done and the right combination of mournful, respectful and hopeful. The names of the 40 who died were on white granite slabs at the end of a triangle shaped charcoal concrete patio. I’m not sure if this was intended, but the patio looked like a wing to the white granite body of the plane. We also made sure to make note of the former Cal rugby player who died (Mark Bingham) in the crash.

We had budgeted an hour and a half for that one, and it took a little less than an hour, so we were over an hour ahead of schedule when we left there. All of a sudden, my brother’s desire to make it to Monroeville Mall looked possible.

But first we had to go to California University.

I’ll put on my Cliff Clavin voice: “It’s a little known fact that there’s a town in Pennsylvania called California. And what’s more, there’s a college there named ‘California University of Pennsylvania’.”

Yes, it’s true.

We just HAD to go see it. And we were aghast to see that their colors were RED, yes RED, and black. How could that be possible!?!

In any case, we didn’t stay much longer than to take some pictures in our Cal gear in front of their entrance sign. Thus the trip to Monroeville was on.

From Cal-U, Monroeville is 30 miles to the north as the crow flies in a suburb of Pittsburg to the east of downtown. Cal-U is only 2 hours and 30 minutes from Columbus, Ohio. We had nearly 3:45 of time left, so we thought that was plenty of time.

Boy were we wrong.

That 30 mile trip took over an hour, winding our way through multiple small towns with lots of lights and a surprising amount of traffic. After 15 minutes in the mall at their little museum shop (which my brother realized was a waste when we got there), we got back on the road and realized that we had two problems: One, we now had to drive through downtown Pittsburg at rush hour. Two, even without any traffic, it was a nearly 3-hour drive.

All of a sudden we were AT LEAST a half-hour behind schedule. Long story short, we drove like mad-men to make up the time that we lost in traffic. Yet, we just couldn’t do any better than to get to the Golden Beirsch in Columbus by 8:25 PM. By the time we’d parked and got to the door it was 8:35 and they. were. out. of. shirts…


Well, we can’t win them all, and we did have one heck of an adventure.

The GB was JAM PACKED with Bear fans, which is a good thing unless you haven’t had any dinner and don’t really know anyone there. We ended up heading down the road to the next pub and ate there before heading back to the hotel.

The game tomorrow is at noon, and we hope to head out of here by 10:00 AM to head over there. Let’s hope the game is a good one!

tOSU Trip Blog: Flying out

(Sorry for the lack of posts this week. Monday and Tuesday were really busy at work, as any vacation shortened week seems to be.)

After missing the Tennessee game road trip in 2006, and hearing about how amazing their stadium and game day environment was, I vowed never to miss another road game at a big-name school again. With that as the goal, how can one even THINK about missing a trip to the Horseshoe?

The planning for this trip began in March, and it started with the search for a cheap flight. I’m somewhat good at it and I’m willing to fly somewhat unusual routes to make it happen. Leave from a different airport than I arrived at? Why not?!? Fly the red-eye? Of course! Multiple airlines? Whatever it takes.

Thus my trip began from SFO at 11:05 PM on a Tuesday night. I took the red-eye to Detroit. I had a hard time sleeping on the flight, which was a bit of a surprise. I don’t usually have a problem. It was even more surprising because the plane was half empty and I ended up having a row to myself. You’d think with all that room it would be easy to fall asleep.

Maybe I normally rest my head on the people sitting next to me and I don’t know it (because I’m asleep)?

In any case, I only got about an hour of sleep before arriving in Detroit.

Detroit is an interesting airport. It has one VERY LOOOONNNGG terminal for all of the full size planes. To facilitate movement through the airport, they have a tram that runs up along the ceiling of the terminal. However, not being familiar with the airport, and with signs explaining what the tram was for and where its stops were, I ended up huffing it down most of the terminal.

To add to the walk, the small commuter jets have a separate terminal as they do in a lot of airports. And just like most of those airports, it was a pretty long walk to get over to the other terminal. Luckily my gate wasn’t too far down that terminal.

Also of note for Detroit is that it is almost entirely a Delta hub and nothing else. I don’t know if I saw a single plane that wasn’t delta, and it was a bigger airport than I anticipated. In any case, I got to the gate with plenty of time to fly on to my final destination: Hartford, CT.

I know what you must be thinking, “Hartford!?! Doesn’t this bozo know that Connecticut is a long way from Ohio State which is in, you know, OHIO!”

Yes, I know.

But like all my road-trips I decided to combo it with another goal. In this case, to see my brother and my brand new from the factory nephew. Because my wife and I are both eldest children and we married young (at least by today’s standards), we were waiting for our first niece and nephew for a long time. Late this July, the first one finally came.

The plan was to fly out to see them in Springfield, MA for a couple days.

Also, because my brother was raised to be a life long Cal Bear fan like his brother, he’s aching to go to any Cal game within driving distance from the East Coast.

So this trip is a flight and THEN a road-trip. My brother and I leave for Columbus tomorrow morning early.

Southern Utah OTRH Podcast

Here’s the latest podcast.

It’s interesting how much things changed in the Pac-12 from when I last had data on it at about 3 PM and the end of the day. All of a sudden it looks like the Pac-12 may be stronger than we thought. Other than that, most of what I said sounds reasonable in retrospect.

Podcast later this evening.

I recorded my OTRH podcast on the road yesterday, but didn’t have a chance to put the intro and closing on and to clean up the noise/audio. That will have to wait until this evening as I’ll be at Church for most of the day with various activities and then have a few more pressing things when I get home. Expect it later this evening.

Maynard’s Interception

There seems to be wide disagreement on how bad Maynard’s interception was…

One side looks at how “obvious” a read it was. The guy was standing right in front of him and he threw it right at him. How more horrible could it be?

The other side looks at the design of the play and sees more nuance. Maynard’s job was to look to the other side of the field to distract the defense away from the play. When he turned and threw he didn’t see how bad it was.

I fall somewhere in the middle of those two thoughts. It was both something harder for Maynard to see than it looked AND Maynard should have been more aware of what he was doing. Both have some truth.

But there’s another aspect that hasn’t been mentioned in what I’ve read: The lack of touch. That ball wouldn’t have been intercepted had Maynard put a little loft on it. All good screen passes know that you have to get the ball over the charging linemen, so it takes some touch and good loft to drop it in at the right place for your receiver.

We saw no touch out of Maynard yesterday. He was pretty good when he could sling it in, but just about all of his misses were cases where he needed some touch to get the ball in there. The missed TD throw, a couple of throws out to the flats and this screen pass, were all cases where he needed to slow things down, take a little off and drop it in there.

So I find myself less discouraged with the “poor decision”. He’s not going to see a lot of repeats of that situation. But at the same time, his lack of touch is far more worrisome to me. Tedford’s playbook relies heavily on a QB with good touch.

Note to Cal secondary

Just a quick note, in case the secondary hasn’t heard it enough from their coaches yet…

When there’s a Hail Mary, you hit the ball DOWN!

You don’t try to catch it. You don’t knock it in the air.


That is all.

Post Southern Utah thoughts

What a bi-polar game. Were the Bears vastly superior as the stat line suggested, outgained them 517-367 and held them to 72 yards rushing, or is the slim 20-17 lead in the 3rd quarter more indicative of the performance?

Personally, I think it was a little of both.

The Bears hurt themselves early with penalties and turnovers. Cal committed 50 of the 95 penalty yards in the 1st quarter and 8 of their 9 penalties in the 1st half. Those 50 yards of penalties killed Cal’s 2nd drive and contributed to the demise of the 3rd drive.

Which brings us to turnovers. The Bears 3rd drive ended on a long 2nd and 18 with an interception (more on this later) giving Southern Utah the ball at the Cal 28. Somehow the Bears managed to sack S. Utah out of field goal range, saving at a minimum 3 points. Yet 2 plays later Keenan Allen fumbles the ball bringing a swift end to the 4th drive of the game and giving S. Utah the ball yet again on the fringe of field goal range (this time they convert it).

Point being, S. Utah’s points and Cal’s lack of offensive progress, all fall on stupid mistakes. While frustrating, stupid mistakes have the upside of being correctable fairly quickly.

Let’s look at the next few drives:
#5: 8 plays for 78 yards and field goal
#6: 7 plays for 95 yards and a touchdown
#7: 4 plays for 60 yards and a touchdown
#8: 9 plays for 44 yards and a field goal

That looks a lot to me like what the team we hope Cal can be should do against a team like S.U.. Cal had 3 drives in the 2nd half (a pick-6 and a punt return for a touchdown reduced the normal number) and the results were one punt, one field goal and one touchdown. Not horrible stuff at all.

I was pretty hard on the defense in the OTRH podcast which I’ll be posting shortly, but looking at the stat sheet, minus one drive to start the 3rd quarter and the fluke Hail Mary to end the 1st half (more on this later), both of which were pretty disappointing, the 1st string defense did pretty darned well. Minus those, they gave up 84 total yards.

Once the backups started getting on the field, the S. Utah offense got rolling, adding 150 yards to their otherwise mediocre numbers (217 before then) and 14 points.

This doesn’t diminish much of my criticism. I’m still seeing poor tackling, failing to wrap them up. That’s going to burn us against better teams. I’m still very disappointed in our secondary coverage. How Marc Anthony and Steve Williams (and to a lesser degree Josh Hill) lost the ability to make a move on the ball before it gets to the receiver, or failing that, to rip the ball out, is a complete mystery. To add injury to insult, their coverage has been sub-par and way too many open receivers have been the result of the corners getting beat.

We should be very thankful that the S. Utah receivers have hands of stone and the QB isn’t more accurate than he was. They could have really torched us at a number of points with better execution.

But somehow, I have this lingering feeling it wasn’t as weak a performance as it seemed, that the stupid penalty and turnover mistakes masked an otherwise acceptable offensive performance and the defense was not as bad as 31 points would suggest.

Southern [insert state here] preview

Trying to save myself time by writing this post once and saving it for future years

The Bears are playing Southern [state] today, in the [week] of the season. It’s interesting how these games never seem to be on the first week of the season.

There’s not much to say about this game. The Bears should win easily. And unless the game is close, we won’t be able to tell anything about whether the Bears have improved over their disappointing performance over [non-conference team we shouldn’t have lost to] the previous week.

I expect to see a heavy dose of [running back name] today. I also expect to see a very vanilla offensive and defense today. I also expect we’ll get to see a lot of backups playing in the second half. This might be the [only or last] time this year we get to see [backup quarterback] playing. That might be the most interesting thing we’ll see today.

Final score: Cal: [random number between 50 and 59], Southern : [random number between 6 and 17]

Seat dimensions

I’m the type of guy who can never have too much information… and I’m willing to do the legwork to get that information. To that end, you know what the first thing I did when I got to my seats on Saturday?

I pulled out a tape measure, pen and paper and started measuring:

Dimensions of the Gold Zone bench seats, side view:
Side view of Gold Zone bench seating
(Click on the picture to a full sized view)

Dimensions of the Gold Zone bench seats, front view:
Front view of Gold Zone bench seating
(Click on the picture to a full sized view)

To be clear, I just measured my seats, which are the first seats above the handicapped seating platform at the the tunnel (note the railing at the front of the side view and across the front of the front view). Although I suspect this spacing is pretty consistent throughout the non-donor bench seating, I can’t be sure.

A few thoughts:

  • 24″ total per row, after the first row, is pretty tight. Sit down and measure the distance from the back of your butt to the front of your knee to appreciate just how tight that is.
  • On the other hand, 18″ of butt width is pretty generous for our otherwise cramped quarters. It’s wider than most airplane seats anyway.
  • You an also see why I was so determined to get the first row in that section. 34″ (up to the wires, not the post) is a TON more space than 24″. That 10″ goes a LOOOONNG way.
  • Also notable is the 5+” between the foot platform and the bottom of the seat in front of you. Wise people will make use of that space for their feet. Get your butt as far back as you can in your seat to get your knees back and then slide your feet under the seat in front of you.
  • Also notable is how much space there is under the benches. One could even store a stroller there if so inclined. (and I’m not)

If you’d like the source for the graphics, you can find the Visio file here.

No huddle no one-time gimmic

For those who don’t read the CC Times Cal blog, it looks like the no-huddle is going to be the status quo going forward:

The no-huddle offense is here to stay. Tedford said the team has been practicing it since spring ball and it will be the Bears’ primary offense going forward.

Frankly, that surprises me.

I really think this is a mistake with one lone exception: Up up tempo play after a big play. It was nice to see the Bears hurry to the line and get another play off after a successful play. It was a big change of pace and definitely kept the defense off balance.

However, I think that change of pace is most meaningful when the offense is huddling up the rest of the time. With Tedford’s offense being so complex, they need every second they can get to absorb the play and internalize it before executing it.

Told ya so

Tedford elaborates on why he kept the team in the dark about Bridgeford starting:

“The (number of practice) reps were the same. We practiced the way we wanted to practice. I didn’t want to get a bunch of distraction going on, didn’t feel like it was something our opponent needed to know.”

It was all about deception to Nevada… Ugh.

Maynard’s benching handled poorly?

The big controversy after the game was the decision to bench Maynard for the 1st quarter.

Personally, I fully stand behind Tedford’s decision to bench a player for not taking his academics seriously, particularly when he’s a player who is struggling academically, as Maynard is rumored to be. Even if it means the Bears lose a game because of it, I fully stand behind proper discipline/academics being more important than winning.

Yet, I also agree that this was handled poorly.

To be clear, all the wrangling over why Tedford did it the way he did, let’s make it quite clear there is only one answer: Tedford didn’t want the opposition to know. It’s just that simple. There were no other motives. The only way to assure that is to tell as few people as possible and not do anything in practice that would tip his hand to the press of what he was about to do.

But, that’s when a head coach has to take a step back and ask himself: What’s worse, the opposition knowing, or my team being poorly prepared for the game?

The answer to that question is obvious, and should have been to Tedford before yesterday afternoon.

That’s the real problem here. I had hoped Tedford had figured more out about team psychology and proper preparation, but I’m starting to worry that the last 6 years of experimenting and trial-and-error, have not led him to the right conclusions. He’s running out of time to figure this out.

Post-game thoughts

Various random thoughts on the game yesterday:

  • Bridgeford looked terrible. His decision making was horrendous, but his passes were. And although they weren’t bad decisions, they were a bit on the slow side. If he’s the best thing we’ve got for a backup QB, we’re in trouble.
  • Keeping Maynard out of the game may have been the decision that lost the Bears the game. We lost almost the entire 1st quarter of offensive play, gave Nevada too many early possessions, and Maynards slow start meant that there was very little offense for the first third of the game.
  • That’s not necessarily to say I think it was the wrong decision (more on this in a separate post)
  • As for Maynard’s performance, this rumored “big leap” he made in the off-season is a cosmic joke. Sorry, this is the same inconsistent Maynard we saw last year. He played worse in this game than he did against Fresno State to open the season last year. While I think Tedford can use a similar strategy as he did last year to win some games (rely on the running game and use Maynard to keep them honest, particularly by rolling out and threatening the QB run), we won’t be seeing the kind of improvement we had hoped for specifically because of QB problems.
  • Seriously, how is that possible? I’m really starting to be at a complete loss as to why Cal can’t find/develop a good QB. No one can take away from Tedford his past of developing good QB’s, but whatever it was, he doesn’t have it any more. Either that or he’s a terrible recruiter of QB’s and just can’t tell who has the real tools and who is going to succumb to the Peter Principle when they get to college.
  • The more I think about it, this game was lost in the trenches. The defensive line was a big disappointment, they were hardly disruptive at all. The offensive line did fine in pass protection, but did a poor job of opening up running holes.
  • While the offensive line issues weren’t terribly surprising, the defensive line problems are. These guys were supposed to be the veteran unit that anchored an otherwise inexperienced group.
  • Speaking of under-performing experienced players, both corners in my opinion did a poor job in pass coverage. Yes, they made a lot of tackles, so their run support was good, but the number of open receivers and the lack of getting a hand in to break up completions was very troubling, particularly considering how good they played last year.
  • I think we may have underestimated the impact of all the injuries this fall. Wilkerson was experienced and very good. Backup cornerback Stefan McClure showed great promise last year and was solid and needed as a backup. Cecil Whiteside was likely to be a keep piece amongst our linebackers. That’s three important players on defense. Add in Galas on the offensive line and that was a tough group to lose over the course of training camp.
  • Along those lines, the inexperience was showing itself during tackling. I saw a lot of diving at feet and WAAAAY to many instances when players weren’t wrapping up. Luckily, it didn’t really burn them at any point, but there were a lot of inside runs that were for 4-6 yards that could have been for 2-3 with proper tackling.
  • I stand very much behind my podcast statements that CJ Anderson getting the bulk of the carries was a big mistake. I didn’t see any meaningful improvement in him and he never has been as good as Isi Sofele. Isi need to get the bulk of the carries. That could have the difference in this game too.
  • Allen had lots of traction problems, obviously, and it makes me wonder if there were lots of traction problems in the trenches which are not as obvious from the stands. Seriously, how can this be? It’s the practice field. There should be no surprises. The equipment crew needs to solve this ASAP.
  • I was very disappointed with Tedford’s decision to hand it off to the RB on 3rd and 16 from their own 6 yard line. Look, I get it that it’s a tough place to play from and in the 1st half, I accept being conservative. But there’s 3:30 left in the game and your defense isn’t sitting on a great track record of stopping the opposition. You can’t just give up on 3rd down and punt it away and hope for the best.
  • Back to the secondary, one thing that was really disappointing was how often they had a guy in the area, but he wasn’t reaching in and breaking the pass up. Right down to the final drive, when Josh Hill could have made a move on the ball instead of just hitting him to tackle him, there were too many uncontested 3rd down completions… and not because there was nobody there to contest it.
  • Both of the outside linebackers, particularly early in the game, didn’t anticipate the speed of the Nevada QB. We had a guy in position to tackle him (McCain) on his long TD run, he just got burned.
  • For a defensive positive, although early in the game the defense was still figuring it out, by the 2nd quarter, it wasn’t the pistol itself that beat the Bears. They eventually got it figured out, although the overall quality of the Nevada offense, in particular the passing game, in the end proved too much.
  • Final thought: Redzone defense… not where it needed to be. It sure seemed like the defense lost their heart right about the 20 yard-line.

So, in summary, I see 3 main reasons we lost:

  1. Maynard being benched for a quarter
  2. Losing the game in the trenches
  3. Too much of CJ and not enough of Isi

Sunday Morning Demons

Every die-hard fan has their way of coping with the heart-breaking losses, yet they also have the dark place/time that is hardest for them to avoid. For many, that dark place is immediately after the game. For others it’s later after the adrenaline has worn off. For me, and I’m sure for others, it’s Sunday morning.

I’m too busy after the game to get into a truly deep funk. Getting the family home, helping make sure everyone gets dinner and the kinds are in bed, etc… all of these things help me to forget.

But Sunday mornings, when I wake up before everyone else, I’m left alone with my demons. Why do I invest so much time and effort and money into this team? What a waste of a day! Is there any hope for the future?

And then inevitably, a door will open, signaling one of the kids is awake. Or a cry will come from the nursery letting me know the baby is awake. And I go to them to say good morning.

And then the future is bright again, and I remember that it’s just a game.

The Horror! Pepsi products!?!

OK, for some levity this evening to get me out of my bad mood:

I’m somewhat of a soda aficionado. I can tell all the flavors and all the different brands apart. I know when a fountain soda has a poorly tuned mixture. I can tell a Mug from a A&W from a Barqs. I can tell a 7-Up from a Sprite from a Slice/Sierra Mist. When 7-Up changed their formula, I noticed before I had heard an advertisement for it. I can usually tell on a new soda who made it based on the flavor of it and the philosophies of the flavoring of each company.

Oh yeah, and a SURE AS HECK can tell the difference between a Pepsi and a Coke.

I think the movie “The Invention of Lying” got it right as to what the purpose of Pepsi is in their “honest commercials”: Pepsi… for when there is no Coke.

So I was pretty disappointed when I saw that they were dispensing Pepsi products.

SSSSOOOOOOOOO disappointing!

Nevada OTRH Podcast

Get my positive thoughts and my negative thoughts, some about the new stadium, some about the game… I’ll let you guess which subject gets the majority of the negatives:

(One thought I had that I didn’t remember on the road: The tackling sucked! Way too little emphasis on wrapping up during the tackles. There was a lot of shoulder diving. If I was Pendergast, I’d spend AT LEAST a half of my time in the first full-pads practice focusing on tackling drills.)

Nevada preview

(Side note: Sorry that my nice plan for a post-a-day of the 4-part series didn’t quite go as planned. My plan was Monday-Thursday on that and Friday would be for previews and the such. Unfortunately, both of the first two posts took a LONG time to put together, researching all the facts that I wanted to make sure were accurate and finding all the links I wanted.)

There’s two very different ways to look at the Nevada game:

The Old Blues are quaking in their boots right now. We got “destroyed” by the Pistol in 2010 and it was a blowout. Nevada has a QB who lit up the 2nd half of last year and if UCLA’s game last year showed anything, we haven’t figured out how to prepare for the pistol yet.

The less pessimistic know just how special the 2010 Nevada team was. Colin Kaepernick is currently the #2 QB at the 49ers and was the core of that team. Yeah, the new guy looks more than capable, but he’s no Kaepernick. That 2010 team went 11-1, beating unbeaten Boise State and upsetting their national title/BCS hopes in the process. All around, it was a special year for Nevada. 2011, was a return to what is normally considered good for Nevada, 7-5, with wins over Fresno State (much tighter than Cal’s win over them) and Hawaii and losses at the end of the season to Louisiana Tech and Utah State.

What’s also worth remembering was that the 2010 game was a lot closer than people remember it. Cal had pulled to within 3 points midway through the 3rd quarter and had all the momentum when Riley threw a really stupid interception for a touchdown. Cal still managed to kick a field goal later in the 3rd quarter to make it a 7 point game, but as the altitude wore on the defense Nevada put the game away midway through the 4th quarter and added a late TD to make the score worse than it was.

I feel confident that if that game was played at sea level, the Bears had better than a 50/50 shot at winning, even with a home Nevada crowd. Much better than that in Berkeley. Heck, even just moving the game to Saturday to give the Bears an extra night to acclimate might have made the difference.

Thus, I predict 3 things for this afternoon’s game:

  1. Cal’s defense will stifle Nevada. Any thoughts that Cal hasn’t figured out the Pistol will permanently be put to rest as Pendergast has had all off-season to clean up any remnants of problems.
  2. Cal’s offense will move the ball with easy. Heck, even in 2010 they put up 31 points, and that was with Nevada holding on to the ball a lot.
  3. The magnitude of the potential blowout will be covered up by a heavy dose of Isi and CJ. They’re going to wear down Nevada much like they did against WSU and OSU last season.

Final score: Cal 38, Nevada 16