Sunday, December 03, 2006


QB - C- Longshore had another unimpressive outing. Cal's offensive struggles started when teams began cheating the run and daring Longshore to beat them. Nate didn't turn the ball over, but could have on three separate occasions - any one of those could have lost the game for the Bears. He didn't read blitzes very well, and his mechanics were all over the place.

RB - We're giving out split grades. Marshawn Lynch gets a D+. Maybe it was injury, but Marshawn didn't look like he wanted to be out there in the biggest (if not most important) game of the year. Lynch dropped a pass and put the ball on the ground, and he danced to the outside on far too many carries. Justin Forsett gets an A-, because he ran north and south in the fourth quarter and helped the Bears ice the game. This was his best effort of the season - he gets the offensive game ball because no one else deserves it.

WR - C A middling effort; the receivers dropped a number of catchable passes, but DeSean did a nice job of route-running. Hawkins' TD catch redeemed several drops. Stevens was a non-factor, unfortunately (see Coaching, below)

Pass Blocking - C- For the first time in a long time, Cal struggled to pick up the blitz. Stanford had two sacks and numerous pressures; an unacceptable amount considering the talent differential.

Run Blocking - D+ They get the plus for the fourth quarter, when Cal finally opened holes in the Stanford 3-4. Before that, Cal's O-line was handled by an undersized, sparsely talented group of Cardinal defenders. In one of the game's key matchups, Cal could not block Okwo or Maynor on a consistent basis. The run game is officially a Big Problem, and we struggle to imagine how the Bears will run the ball against Texas A&M, which is a hell of a lot better than Stanford.

Pass Rush - B+ Cal blitzed a lot, but also got pressure on a few occasions from its basic four-man rush. In the first half Ostrander made great reads and Stanford's receivers came back to the football. In the second half, the Bears were a second quicker, and Ostrander tried to force big plays instead of dumping off. Four sacks is a good total, but in context not all that impressive - everyone gets at least that many against Stanford's line.

Run Defense - C A team that had averaged 2.1 yards per carry averaged 3, and Stanford's run game controlled the 1st half of play. Some Bears brought their best to the Big Game - notably LB Zack Follett (your Defensive POtG) and DT Brandon Mebane. Others, like MLB Desmond Bishop, struggled to shed blocks and get a helmet on Stanford's backs. For the second consecutive game, our D has made a true freshman RB look better than he is (though both Gable and Gerhart will eventually be terrific players).

Pass Defense - C- Daymeion Hughes had much more trouble with freshman wideout Richard Sherman than he should have. Syd'Quan played a nice game - it's gratifying to see how much he has progressed since the horror-show in Week 1. Moore's TD was a push-off, but it's still unacceptable to get beat by a receiver with one good wheel (and complain to the ref before said receiver enters the end zone).

Special Teams - B Thank God for Tom Schneider - his 4 FGs were the difference in the game. Andrew Larson only punted three times, but netted 45.7 per kick. On the minus side, Cal's return game was non-existent and the Bears allowed a long kick return in the 2nd quarter that set up a Cardinal score.

Coaching - D
We don't have problems with Tedford's decision to kick in the 4th quarter - it was a reasonable FG attempt and would have put the Bears up by two scores. We do have a problem with Cal treating the Big Game like a non-conference tilt with Minnesota. The intensity was not there, and that goes back to preparation by the coaching staff.

With respect to the offensive scheme, Mike Dunbar got schooled by A.J. Christoff, which is frankly hard to do. We've been pulling our punches a bit with respect to Coach Dunbar, who has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks for his play-calling. We'll jump on his back here, because we had exactly two smart play-calls for the blitz in the entire game - a bubble screen pass to DeSean, and the swing pass to Marshawn in the 1st half. Where was the quick hitter to the TE?

Overall - D+ Yes, we're giving Cal a D+ for a Big Game win. They deserve it for failing to play with any intensity in a rivalry game. Stanford was a horribly over-matched team, and Cal let them dominate large portions of the game. If T.C. Ostrander doesn't turn back into a pumpkin in the 2nd half, we might be talking about the biggest upset in Big Game history. As it is, we're left to discuss the least inspiring Cal victory in the recent history of the rivalry.


At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Cathy said...

Sounds about right, the grading. Although the D+ cumulative may be a little low. Despite the wanting aspects you described, when it comes down to it, Cal was still willing and able to grind it out. Though they weren't as intense as they needed to be when they began the game, they never checked out of it. Particular props to the defense, who in the second quarter raced onto the field when they needed to go back on and got the crowd going, even at moments where everyone might have been demoralized.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Tightwad said...

Cal's play deserved a C-, but their intensity brought it down. We were trying to make the point that if we play like that against A&M, the Bears will lose by three touchdowns. Were you at the game? Interested to know if the crowd seemed more lively than it did on TV.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Cathy said...

Yeah, I was there. Crowd was somewhat more lively, but not very, and *they were booing* the Bears when they left the field at the half.

On the other hand, there were only about 4 wedges of the stadium with $tanfurd fans. Everything else was blue and gold.

It wasn't really an intense game, and there was nothing really big to get behind, other than the final W. Although there was a great play, which unfortunately got called back, where some Cal offense runner was getting shut down but was still standing, so he lateraled back to another who ran with it for a gain.

Always a nice thing to see that kind of thing, especially on Big Game day.

At 9:14 AM, Blogger T. said...

The crowd should also get a C-/D+. It was terrible. Especially after I know how the home crowd was for UCLA and Oregon this year.

At 10:00 AM, Anonymous SoCal Oski said...

From the perspective of an Old Blue, I can honestly say that this Big Game was the worst effort by a Cal side I have ever seen ... and that is going back to 1892.

And I mean on the part of the coaches.

Yes, the good guys won. But it should have been by 40. Even during the Gibly & Holmoe years you would at least see some intensity and passion in the play calling and strategy. I am not sure if this is just a matter of acclimation between Dunbar and Teford or what, but the result was awful.

Cal had definitely get their shit together in a big way, and try and remember how to dominate like they did against Oregon and ASU, or it will be yet another embarrassing loss to a 2nd tier team of Texasholes in San Diego.

Go Bears.

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