(Written by Ken Crawford)
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.)