(Written by Ken Crawford)
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:
- Maynard being benched for a quarter
- Losing the game in the trenches
- Too much of CJ and not enough of Isi