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Archive for September, 2013


Is WSU out of the doghouse?

Or should that be the basement?

In any case, the question going into this week is just how good (or bad) is WSU? Let’s take a quick look through their games to see:

WSU 24 – Auburn 31: A relatively close loss to a better than expected Auburn. Since the first game, Auburn has destroyed Arkansas St. and Mississippi St., neither of whom are any good, and then lost a close one to #6 LSU, which suggests that Auburn might not be half bad. Considering WSU lost that one on the road, this game alone suggests WSU might not be half bad. Parting thought: How does this compare to Cal’s 30-44 loss to Northwestern? Probably a bit stronger.

WSU 10 – USC 7: USC is an enigma. They look horrible against Hawaii and WSU, then look not-half-bad against Syracuse and Boston College, all of this led by their defense. Then their defense decides to disappear against ASU and they lose that one in a shootout. Overall, this win for WSU is not as impressive as it seemed at the time, but I think it does show two things: 1. WSU can be stopped by a good defense and 2. WSU’s defense isn’t terrible.

WSU 48 – S. Utah 10: Meaningless game versus a really crummy opponent. Portland state will crush SUU in a couple weeks.

WSU 42 – Idaho 0: If you thought SUU was bad, Idaho is 1-4 losing to North Texas, Wyoming, Northern Illinois, in addition to WSU. Their victory over Temple is a bit of a mystery. But again, not a lot one can take from this, although the zero says something about WSU’s defense.

WSU 17 – Stanford 55: Stanford is looking really good and they showed it against WSU. WSU had no answers. They gave 120% for a half to keep the score to 17-3 at halftime and then the wheels came off the bus. At the end they got some pity points, to make it look like the WSU offense wasn’t stifled, but they were.

After looking through it all, it’s hard not to see that WSU has improved significantly over years past. Leach is starting to make a dent up on the frozen potato patch. However, the Stanford game demonstrates that they’re not quite there yet. Both USC and Stanford showed that good defenses can shut them down (oh how I wish Cal had a good defense!?!). WSU’s defense is showing signs of life, but also has shown it has a way to go.

So are they still the Pac-12 north’s basement? I’d answer: maybe. We’ll know after they play both Cal and OSU. Their improvement is enough that it’s anyone’s guess, which is a positive sign for WSU fans and a warning for Cal fans. But until they show it on the grid-iron, it’s too soon to say they’re out of the basement.

Speaking of ugly

WHOA! Mid-SEASON:

Lane Kiffin fired

I knew his days were numbered after seeing the highlights of that one, but I thought it would happen at the end of the season. Things are getting nasty in LA.

The good, the bad and the U.G.L.Y!

Boy was THAT a disaster. Minus pity points and letting off the throttle, that would have been a 70-3 affair. Oregon was the far, far, far superior team.

At the same time, I find myself discarding it as an indication of where the program is, other than to remind myself that this is not an elite program right now (duh!).

This team has been completely re-engineered in the off-season. When a coaching staff does that, they focus on the stuff the HAVE to focus on and aren’t left with much time for other things that just aren’t quite as important like wet-ball drills and spending lots of time on fumble recovery drills.

As a result, while 2-3 years from now I would be ticked as all get out to see such a poor performance in the rain, today I’m not. It was UGLY out there, and this team just isn’t ready for that and it’s just not that surprising or indicative of where this program could be heading.

Nevertheless, the ugly conditions do not account for all the problems, particularly on defense and on special teams. (The offense mostly gets a pass because of the conditions, although the offensive line performance still leaves something to be desired.)

My hopes for vastly improved tackling were for naught. My hopes that the scheme would start to show some improvement are all but dashed. The only good I saw is the defense seemed to be executing this archaic scheme at a higher level and there wasn’t the sort of blown coverages we saw in past weeks and gap assignments weren’t horrific (although the scheme still seems to WAY too often get the outside linebackers trapped inside the tackles where outside run plays go for BIG gains).

And while I’m willing to let a bit of the struggles be accounted for by the conditions, it doesn’t explain it all. Frankly, I’m not too far from making my official position on the defense be “BUH-bye”.

And special teams… WTH (that’s H for heck people). Never have I seen such bad angles to the ball and such bad tackling. Note to players: “flying around” does not mean you dive to the side of a guy and let him fly right by.

In summary, while there’s a lot of me that discards last night and another large portion that has a wait-and-see approach, there’s still plenty of reasons why I’m pretty fearful for what’s coming in the next few weeks when there are no more excuses.

All I know is this: The Bears MUST beat WSU next Saturday to have any hope of salvaging the season. Dykes task today is to get the Bears to completely wipe from their memory what happened last night and have an excellent week of practice preparing for the Wougs.

Oregon preview

(Sorry for the lack of posts. I briefly considered temporarily turning this blog into an America’s Cup blog for the two weeks in between the games, but I didn’t. Yet that’s where my focus has been, so no Cal posts.)

Bad news… I’ve been all too accurate in predicting doom for the Bears in the right games this season and my DOOOOOOM meter is off the charts today.

Traditionally the Bears have played Oregon tough. In the early Tedford years Cal beat Oregon more often than anyone else and even when they didn’t, always played them close. The victories in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008 drove Duck fans nuts because overall they were the better team. In 2010, despite losing, Cal held Oregon to their lowest total in the Kelly era outside of his very first game. Think about that… in 4 years, nobody, not even the national champions, held them to a lower score.

So there is a temptation to think the Bears might just find some mojo tonight.

But the fundamental problem is the defense. And in this instance, the problem I’m going to highlight isn’t even the technique and experience/talent weaknesses that have plagued the Bears on defense in 2013.

See, the reason Cal did so well against Oregon is that it’s defense in years past, was built to beat teams like Oregon. It was a forward looking defense, even back when it was a 4-3, it had the newest spread offenses in mind at it’s most fundamental level.

This years defense is fundamentally built to beat a power Big-10 team.

So here’s my prediction on defense: The Bears will actually be vastly improved over weeks past. We’re not going to give up 21 points, just for giggles, to start the game. For those looking at the details, the defense will be far more fundamentally sound. Tackling will be better. Gap assignments will be better. Movement to the ball will be better. The bye week will have worked magic both in terms of who’s on the field and how well they’re playing. If you watch closely, there will be lots of reasons for hope.

But it won’t make a lick of difference in the final score.

This defense is going to be run ragged all over the field. They’ll be able to get some (and I emphasize only some) stops early, but by the mid-2nd quarter will be completely gassed and this game will get away from them. The big plays will start to pile up after an early game where Oregon’s offense is effective, marching the ball down the field most of the time, but not running wild and somewhat held in check.

And to make matters worse for the defense, when the offense fails, it’ll be putting them back on the field so fast they won’t know what hit them… or should I say what ran by them.

If there’s some good news, I expect the offense to execute fairly well today. I was tempted to think that Oregon will be all too used to seeing a spread offense and thus will shut Cal down. After further reflection, the differences between the Oregon spread and the Bear raid are so significant, that I don’t see any meaningful advantage for Oregon in this regard.

Since the bye week will have been very good for this young offense as well, I expect to see them executing well in Autzen tonight, particularly considering their fast paced offense should be mostly immune to the noise in Autzen that paralyzes so many teams. In fact, I’ve got my hopes that the offense might just be good enough early to give us some hope that Cal might win this in a shoot out.

But in the end, Oregon’s offense will operate at a far higher level and our defense will get really tired. Bears lose again: 31-55

My two 1st loves in one picture

Sailing and Cal Football:

Ohio State On The Road Home Podcast

Alright! Making progress. Putting up a podcast on Tuesday… woohoo!

This is the “smooth Jazz” version of the podcast as I didn’t actually record it on the way home having forgotten the recorder and headset at home. So instead it was recorded late at night after the wife and kids were in bed. Thus my voice is… different.

Here it is:

Defensive problems are not just youth/injuries

Spent some time over on CGB yesterday evening reading what people thought about our defensive struggles. There are still a lot of people deflecting blame from the coaching staff regarding the defensive woes over there.

Simply stated, while the youth of the defense (much of which is because of injuries) is a big factor, it is not THE factor.

First of all, most of these injuries are not new. The coaching staff has known who they were going to be missing for some time now. That gave them a significant amount time to train replacements and make scheme adjustments. It isn’t like 4 guys went down on Thursday’s practice. Most of them have been missing all season and it was known for a good number of them about mid-way through fall camp they were hurt. So we’re talking about a full month, PLUS THREE GAMES, where these injuries have been known to the world. It is the coaches job to make adjustments for these sorts of things.

Secondly, we have big weaknesses in areas where we still have depth. By way of example, yeah, the defensive line lost Jalil, but where are the rest of the highly touted guys? Where are Moala and Coleman? It’s not like they’re getting double teamed or given special attention. Or if you want to look in the secondary, McClure is getting schooled out there and he’s always been projected to be a starter this season and has a pretty strong history in his early years as a backup.

In fact, McClure is the perfect case study to determine what’s going on, at least from how I see things.

McClure has a lot of talent, showed a lot of promise in year’s past and has a fair amount of experience for a non-starter. If he’s having trouble, one of three things are true:

  1. He’s being coached poorly to use wrong technique.
  2. The scheme being used puts him in a difficult situation.
  3. He’s personally not giving the effort (which could include the effort to learn) he should be.

Numbers 1 and 2 would be the fault of the coaching staff, so if we can eliminate number 3 I think we can safely point to the coaching staff as the problem. And while it is not definitive evidence, the fact that we’re seeing defensive problems throughout the defense and not just with a player or two, it suggests it’s not effort issues, particularly considering that if there’s one thing Dykes has done exceptionally, it’s to get these young men to buy into bringing a strong effort.

Thus, personally, I think the main issue is coaching.

And more specifically I think the problem is a poor scheme setting the defense up for failure.

I said before the season that I was leery of the move back to the 4-3 but was willing to be open-minded, particularly since the lines between a 4-3 and a 3-4 have blended in the most innovative defenses. Well, this IS NOT an innovative defense. This is an old-school Big-10, completely unprepared for modern college offenses, we’ll just be playing a lot of 2 linebacker nickle, defense.

I’m just not seeing anything that makes me impressed with the scheme. I’m seeing cornerbacks being put on islands play after play and asked to do the near impossible. I’m seeing safeties and linebackers who have the same assignments over and over again. I’m seeing formations that pre-snap are obviously exploitable with no post-snap adjustments to take it away. Heck, just in general I’m not seeing a lot of deception or hiding of schemes.

Sorry folks, we’ve got a weak defensive staff right now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be happy to find out a few weeks from now that everything is clicking and all of a sudden Buh and company have taken their game to the next level. I’m open to the possibility that Buh is very talented but in a bit over his head and with time will improve dramatically. I’m willing to be a bit patient. Nobody needs to be fired.

But I don’t have to delude myself into thinking my patience is waiting for for some players to get healthy, when in fact what I’m waiting for is the coaching staff to figure out its incompetence.

Former Cal OC Dunbar dies

[Jason here, making a very rare appearance…]

Mike Dunbar, Cal’s offensive coordinator during the Pac-10 co-championship season in 2006, died of cancer Friday at home in Washington state. There’s a great article about him in the Chicago Tribune. Dunbar finished his career on the staff at Northern Illinois, but he had to resign after getting his cancer diagnosis.

I think it’s safe to say that Dunbar was brought to Cal by Jeff Tedford specifically because Tedford continued to struggle with his development as a head coach. Dunbar brought knowledge of the spread offense, and in hindsight Tedford just couldn’t give up control of his pro-style offense. It was a bad fit and Dunbar left after a year.

My aunt and uncle met Dunbar when he was coaching at Toledo and remained friends for the rest of his life. My family and I were fortunate to be in the same room as the coaches and their families when UCLA upset USC immediately after Cal won the 2006 Big Game, making the teams co-champions. Many cheers for Cal’s first co-championship since the ’70s.

RIP Mike Dunbar.

Ohio State Preview

I wish I had better news to report, but the Bears are going to get skunked today. I was nearly appalled reading some of the comments over at California Golden Blogs… yeah they somewhat admitted they were using wishful thinking, but it bordered on delusional. I take that back, it had well crossed over the line into delusional.

The Cal defense stinks. The game starts and ends right there. Even if by some miracle the Bear offense clicks today, which I’m not sitting on a ton of confidence about, we lose this in a shootout. Last year the defense kept Cal in the game, but this is not last year’s defense. Last year’s defense had an NFL minded defensive coordinator with lots of juniors and seniors who had a number of years in his system. It was a defense that was far more sophisticated than Ohio State was used to. Add in the speed of that D, and it kept Cal in the game despite offensive struggled.

This year we have an old-school Big-10 defense, the type that Ohio State schooled all last season going 12-0 with ease (the Cal games was one of their toughest, ironically) and players who are both young and new to the system. Plus we’re decimated… heck technically we’re quadruple decimated… by injuries.

So, the only way Cal wins this game is by winning a shootout where both defenses look pathetic.

And while I’ve got a lot of hope for this offense in the long run, it’s just not clicking enough yet to do that. It struggled against a far less physically talented and less dominating in the trenches Northwestern. It just couldn’t get in rhythm. I think it’ll be even worse today with Cal’s weak offensive line getting pushed around by Ohio State. The defense will be able to come up and play press coverage to take away all the short stuff knowing the Goff just won’t have the time in the pocket to throw over the top.

Don’t get me wrong, the Bears will score some points, but not enough to win a shootout.

Final score will be an embarrassing: 23-52

Portland State OTRH podcast

Don’t worry, I won’t say “better late than never” again. :)

Looks like Thursday seems to be my day for the podcast so far… and that needs to change. There’s nothing like 5 day old commentary, right? If it helps, I’ve got a good excuse this time. I was in a car accident on Sunday (some idiot cut me off), and dealing with the insurance company and the such has sucked what little free time I have out of my week. Luckily no one was hurt.

In any case here it is:

Thoughts on Proselytizers after the game

For those of you who went to the football game on Saturday and exited the stadium to the north, you were greeted by signs and guys shouting something about Jesus. (and the lead guy even had the odd Jeez-zusss pronunciation to top off the stereotype.)

And as I averted my eyes and quickly walked past them, just like everyone else, I had a moment of self reflection. Why didn’t I rejoice in them “bringing the message of Christ” to the people of the stadium?

I mean, I’m as dedicated a Catholic as they come. I do my best to live out the faith, trying my hardest to following all the guidance of Christ and the wisdom of the Church (yes, even the tough and unpopular ones that result in scorn). I’m willing to take on just about all of the community at California Golden Blogs in a someone legendary all-day discussion on a DBD a handful of years back, so I don’t slouch from confrontation. Plus, I’m at my local parish 4+ times a week, teaching multiple classes, many of which are focused specifically on bringing people to Christ’s Church.

So why did I avert my eyes to signs that ask people to repent and believe in Jesus?

And the answer I came to after some reflection was because those people are making a mockery of the faith. I was reluctant to brand them with such a harsh judgment at first, not wanting to criticize people for using a “different strategy” for bringing Christ to people.

But I eventually rejected the notion that it was just a matter of strategy and one thing made it perfectly clear: He was YELLING AT the people.

The realization hit me like a ton of bricks.

I wanted to go back to him and say “Why are you yelling at these people? What have they done wrong?”

His tone was one of anger and aggression. It was one assuming the worst of the people coming out of the stadium. I don’t know where they came from, but my gut says it was from somewhere where it is assumed that all people in Berkeley (or the Bay Area, or Northern California, or “San Francisco”…) were heathens and needed to be told of their condemnation. That their anger over some slight must be taken out on those evil ones in Berkeley (or SF or…).

Is that a message of love?

Make no mistake, anyone who preaches a message of anything but love is not preaching with Christ at his back.

Now, in fairness, love is an abused word that somehow has in many ways lost its meaning. Many get accused of not acting in love when what they really are saying is that they’re not acting in permissiveness. That is complete BS. A father who disciples his child so that he grows into a good man is acting in love. Love does not mean ignoring sin and error out of “niceness”.

Nevertheless, love is doing something out of a genuine concern for the best interests of the other, particularly when done selflessly.

So, I ask you who witnessed those guys yelling at us as we left the stadium: even with the most charitable interpretation of the motivations of those people, were they acting with love?

No. Not in any way.

Which means they do not speak for Christ.

Christ calls all of us to a wonderful, life-giving, live-altering covenant, one that was sealed by his sacrificial act of dying on the cross for our sins, an act done out of love for us, that he would take the penalty for our sins.

God wants all of us to respond to his call, not because it is easy or convenient, but because it is what is best for us, because he loves us. For anyone out there who reads this blog and was turned off by the yelling of those bozos, please don’t let it dissuade you from answering God’s call in your life.

They don’t speak for Him.

These Bears are in real trouble

What we saw yesterday in Berkeley was an absolute disgrace. Unbelievably bad.

I’ve never seen such poor execution on defense. Horrible tackling. Horrible movement to the ball. Bears tripping over each other, letting single guys take out multiple of them. Poor angles to the ball. And that doesn’t even get to the horrible secondary coverage in the 1st half.

Plus, all of that is happening while Cal is putting its corners on islands using press coverage trying to defend the wideouts… If you can’t stop the inside run game nor the short over middle passing game, AGAINST AN FCS TEAM, when you’re dedicating all that you have, personnel wise, to the run game, you might as well just give up now.

Dykes was quoted as saying that he didn’t think the infrequency with which they did live tackling in fall practice as being part of the problem… He’s VERY wrong. It was one of those things in the back of my mind that worried me back in August. But I didn’t want to be a negative nancy and so I didn’t say anything back then. It looks like my nagging concern was justified.

(BTW, here’s a troubling question: why did so many players get injured in fall practice considering how few days they went live?)

The offense also seemed to take a step back, but part of that may be that Dykes was clearly trying to figure out how to get the run game working and was less concerned with overall production as opposed to ironing the wrinkles out. That said, the result of said emphasis was NOT an improved run game.

Sadly, there’s going to be only one thing worse than the run game this year (the defense).

If there’s one caveat, we may be trying to use our experience with Tedford to project how this will go. One thing Tedford always did remarkably well, is beat teams with ease that he had a talent advantage over. When he had bigger guys, when he had faster guys, particularly when he had bigger AND faster guys, he won. Period. Full stop. And he won big.

Lots of other teams “in the middle” don’t have that and sometimes lose games (or sometimes just struggle) inexplicably, even to notably weaker teams.

Perhaps we’re now one of those teams.

The upside, is that a lot of those teams that inexplicably struggle at times is that they also seem more capable of pulling the upset and don’t look as over-matched against superior teams. It’s why WSU would look so terrible against us, yet give USC a run for their money (or win, like yesterday), yet when Cal went to play USC we’d get rocked.

So, if you’re looking for an excuse to hold out hope, that’s it.

Otherwise, yesterday was a disaster: No run game and NOOOOOO defense, and looking like PSU actually had the talent advantage in the 1st half all add up to a very, very, worrying sign.

(PS. I won’t be using my templated game preview for the FCS teams anymore.)

Updates/fixes

It’s long overdue, but I’ve cleaned up a couple things:

  • The links on the sidebar now only reflect current information and have updated links. If you have anything you’d suggest I add, please let me know.
  • The schedule/standings on the sidebar is now correct. That’s much more difficult than it may seem as I do that all programatically and it auto-updates the scores/standings as the games finish. It broke sometime last year for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, but it doubly broke over the summer when the source of my data changed their format. I spent a number of hours getting my code working again. (We’ll see tomorrow if I got everything right – I think I did.)

Just an FYI.

[city name] State Preview

Continuing to save myself time by using this post from last year and will continue using it for future years

The Bears are playing [city name] State tomorrow, 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 (new for 2013 commentary: lol… how bad is it that that line still works this year?).

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 tomorrow.

Final score: Cal: [random number between 50 and 59], [city name] State: [random number between 6 and 17]

Northwestern OTRH podcast

Late is better than never…

Right? Right? Right?

Thoughts on new no-backpack policy after seeing it in action

(It’s been a busy week. Sorry for the lack of posts.)

Well, the new no-backpack policy received very little backlash on Saturday. Everyone seemed to be prepared for it so there was no rash of heated arguments at the turnstile. There was no protest, even by yours truly. From the AD’s perspective, the roll-out has to be seen as a success.

To some degree, I was prepared for that possibility. My big question was how literally they were going to be in the definition of a backpack. And as I went to look up the exact wording for this post, I saw that it had changed, yet again, as seen in this much more informative article/page. Here’s the relevant text (that is again changed):

A backpack is considered a bag worn on or over your shoulders with the primary compartment carried on the back. It can have one (cross body) or two straps (over shoulders) and have one or more zippered pockets/compartments. Neither adult nor kid-sized backpacks are allowed.

The key change is the ‘primary compartment carried on the back’. That language wasn’t there before. And to be even more helpful, the article/page has a set of pictures of acceptable bags and then another set with unacceptable bags. What’s clear from those pictures is the only “one strap” backpack they’re referring to is type of backpack many bicycle delivery people use, but they’re not referring to handbags/diaper/small duffel bags that also happen to have a long, cross shoulder strap.

Which shows that, as the ongoing conversation the last two weeks more or less concluded, that this was an aesthetic issue/policy, mostly in place to prevent people from freaking out when a shady looking character goes to get a hotdog and leaves his backpack, something that looks like the bag used in Boston, in his seat. But as far as actual security, there’s nothing of note, of whatever weight, that couldn’t be carried in one of the many acceptable bags, that could be carried in one of the unacceptable bags. (Along the same lines, there seemed to be no more additional rigor in which they were searching the bags from the past.)

The other question I had was if they were going to get more picky about the 14″x14″x6″ part. Go measure your backpacks, I’ll tell you right now, NONE of them have a max dimension of 14″. The height of a backpack (i.e. the length of the section that touches your back, is generally 18+”. Was this perhaps an excuse to shrink the size of the bag?

And again, the answer is a resounding no. I saw a ton of bags that wouldn’t fit in a 14″x14″x6″ box. This of course further proves the aesthetic argument.

So the end conclusion for me is that it is still a stupid policy but not as horrific as my first reaction. The biggest impact is I have to go buy a couple of non-backpack bags such as this or this or this, all bags that I can wear “over the shoulder” (to use the old Cal language) and thus keep two hands free for the kids but still can hold as much as a traditional school-sized backpack. Another $20-$30 down the drain to stupidity, and perhaps not quite as comfortable to carry, but there are worse things in life.

One final comment on the subject… the Athletic department has been doing a good job lately of reacting quickly to concerns. The updated article/web page posted Tuesday the 20th (probably late in the day, based on when I posted the relevant text previously on the blog), was a significant improvement over the pages I saw on the 19th when I got the e-mail (although published on the 15th) . The pictures were a big help. I think it’s a good thing that they’re being proactive at addressing concerns. What surprises/concerns me is that you’d think they’d be doing more to preempt these things. If they can re-write the bag policy page one day after announcing the policy via e-mail, adding pictures and more descriptive text, why can’t they spend a few hours BEFORE they announce the policy to anticipate the concerns and get it right the first time? After all, I didn’t see the updated page until today, because I had read the previous version on the 19th and saw no reason to go re-read it.

McCain re-instated

Wow, this is a pretty big surprise: Pac-12 removes 1/2 game suspension of McCain.

As we know, it’s very, very, very rare that the conference back-tracks on any officiating decision.

Of course, despite the fact that they’re blaming the change of heart on not following proper review procedures for that targeting rule, I’m pretty confident that if the call hadn’t been so objectionable, the suspension wouldn’t have been overturned, irrelevant of procedural issues.

The simple truth was it was a bad call and anyone who spent the time to review it felt the same way.

1st Sunday morning thoughts

Unfortunately, my preview for Northwestern was far too accurate and the Bears couldn’t quite put it together against a very beatable Northwestern. Frankly, I found it odd overhearing the Northwestern fans leaving the game acting as if their team did well. If I was a Northwestern fan I’d be very apprehensive about the season, particularly with the high expectations for this year. One said to console a Bears fan, “Well, the positive is that you were able to hang with Northwestern until about 5 minutes left in the game.”

Uh, what?

Minus mistakes and blunders, it was Northwestern who was “hanging around” with Cal, particularly in the 2nd half.

So yesterday really will show us who are the glass is half full types and who are the half empty types. There’s a lot to be positive about. There’s a lot of potential. At the same time, there’s plenty to be worried about. If the stalled drives, bad catches that get tipped up, the general sloppiness with the ball (a lot of bobbles), the lack of discipline in run defense, the huge holes in the pass coverage, the false start penalties, the turnovers… if all those things don’t get cleaned up or somehow get worse, it could be a VERY long season. Yet overall, I guess I find myself in the half-full bucket. There was a lot of potential out there.

A few random thoughts:

  • In seasons past I’ve just accepted the general “don’t show controversial replays on the screen” policy, but for some reason it REALLY, REALLY, REALLY bugged me last night. I’m a paying customer. I come to watch the game. Sometimes a play takes extra scrutiny/zoom to see well. You’ve got a video board that you use incessantly to market crud to me. TREAT ME LIKE AN ADULT AND SHOW ME THE FREAKING REPLAY!?! I just finally now saw the Bigelow somersault touchdown that was called back. Replay clearly shows his shoulder/helmet was down. I would have liked to know that sometime before Sunday morning. I just saw the McCain ejection. Beyond borderline in the direction of bad. That too I would have liked to have seen a replay of. And here’s the most ridiculous part: We’re going to boo either way. If anything withholding the information makes us more suspicious. Have confidence in your refs and show the plays.
  • Faking injuries… I’m definitely in the camp of thinking they were “exaggerating” their injuries. The NW coach’s quote, basically saying that even if they’re just gassed/cramping/knicked up they should go down instead of limping off the field is legalistic BS where he’s basically admitting they were doing it. BUT I still am firmly in the no boo-ing camp. This will all come out via the press over time. Let it be handled by the coaches and the press. As tosh-gate showed, the post game repercussions are far worse than the booing is. Thus, there is no reason to boo, and you might just be booing a player who’s truly injured, which isn’t cool.
  • Goff is awesome. He’s going to be a great QB. He made so few mistakes last night, fewer than I would expect from a junior who’s seen mop-up duty multiple times in years past but this is his first start. 2 of the 3 INTs weren’t his fault (the line of scrimmage tip is just how the ball bounces sometimes and the other tipped ball the receiver should have come up with) and the final one, while his fault, wasn’t cringe inducing. He just slightly under-estimated how quickly the safety could close the gap.
  • If there was one thing schematically on offense that worried me, it was the plays where they were tossing the ball between players (like reverses)… they’re sure tossing the ball awful high in the air and it’s less like a handoff than it should be. Seems too risky for turnovers.
  • If there was something that concerned me about the execution of the offense (minus false start penalties) it was the lack of run offense after the first drive. Doesn’t seem like that line is opening many holes.
  • If you allow me a second thing, the dropped balls by the receivers were a bit troubling on the execution front too.
  • If there was one thing that bothered me about the defense, I couldn’t tell you what it was. There were FAR too many troubling things to pick on just one (more on this in a future post). I’m far more concerned about the defense than the offense. I’m instantly questioning whether Buh was a good hire.

More to come, including the OTRH podcast, later in the day.

Torrents of Cal games?

All the old torrent sites seem to be down (or moved?). Anyone know how to get them? Post a comment or e-mail me at blog @ excusemeformyvoice DOT com.

Update on 9/3 @ 8 AM: Looks like the main site from last year is back up.