(Written by Ken Crawford)
Well that stunk. REALLY stunk.
I’ll start with giving Stanford’s defense credit. That front seven is even better than I thought. Either that or the Cal offensive line had the worst effort by a college football team in college football history. I would have trouble sprinting as fast as they got through the line. They were causing havoc everywhere. Every play that started with the ball in the backfield was in trouble. The sweep plays couldn’t even get to the outside to see if perhaps they could turn the corner. It was UG-LY.
To make matters worse, it appears Stanford took a page from Oregon State’s playbook that has been so successful in thwarting Cal. They KNEW they were going to get home to Maynard or the back quickly, so they didn’t need to worry about the long developing plays that could cause them lots of trouble. All they needed was to cover the receivers for the first couple seconds and if somehow the WR’s got behind them or wide open, the play was going to be a sack before that was a problem.
So the linebackers and the secondary very much focused on getting in the throwing lanes that develop in the first couple seconds and they had won. Lot’s of press coverage and other things that defend the quick developing stuff. It was a very good game plan.
But that’s where I end my praise for Stanford and start in on my criticism of the coaching staff, particularly since as I mentioned, we’ve seen this from Oregon State for years.
TEDFORD, THERE ARE WAYS TO BEAT THIS SORT OF GAME PLAN… ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION!?!
Here’s my four-point plan on how to beat the defensive strategy we’re going to see for the rest of the season:
- Change the routes so that they are much quicker developing. Focusing on things like quick slants to the inside, 5-7 yard outs, TE routes right up the gut and sit in a zone hole, etc.
- Pick routes that can be analyzed pre-snap by Maynard, so he knows where he’s going before he’s got 7 guys in his face. He’s just not able to read the field when he’s being harassed all day.
- De-emphasize Isi. I’ve been a big supporter of him for a long time, but what we need right now is not him and frankly, he hasn’t been playing up to the same level he was this time last year.
- Throw/toss to the running backs behind WR screening. This will work particularly well with press coverage because it will be easy for the WR’s to engage the DBs.
I’m not a football genius and I can figure this stuff out. But here’s what ticks me off…
THIS SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN A SURPRISE.
Why is it that a couple times a year Tedford seems completely caught off guard by the adjustments teams are making to him? All of us saw what Stanford’s front seven was going to do to us a MILE away. And Tedford seemingly had no inclination or at best, and if that’s the best it’s terrifying, he had no answer to it.
The routes our WR’s were running were horrible. Lot’s of complex stuff that was slow developing. There must have been 10 different times I looked at the coverage and said “Oh, if WR X is running a quick slant, we’re golden.” But he NEVER was. Not when we were in the redzone when it should be the go-to play call.
I think Tedford out-thinks himself. “Everyone knows the right play here is a quick slant to Keenan, so I’d better not do that.” Take a lesson from Oregon coach… sometimes the reason everyone knows is because IT WORKS, and IT WORKS even when EVERYONE KNOWS. Oregon has something like 4 plays, but they run them with precision. The defense knows what it is up against and they still can’t stop it because it’s fundamentally sound.
I think part of why it ticks me off is because I really want Tedford to succeed. I like the guy and I want him to be successful in Berkeley. I think this game sealed his fate. Yes, if we come back and get bowl eligible, he’ll have saved his job, but I just don’t see it happening. Beating UW and OSU is not like beating UCLA. It won’t be that easy.
Heck, if he doesn’t change things, Utah may be good enough to follow Stanford’s lead and make WSU the last win of the season.
And I’m pretty sure Tedford needs AT LEAST 5 wins to save his job… and that assumes some intangibles that point in Tedford’s favor in the losses that remain.