The Bears Are Roaring (Blog Reactions to Arizona)
Jason Snell, Excuse Me For My Voice: “I also didn’t like Mike Stoops very much. He lost it a few times on the sidelines, which didn’t impress me. I really appreciated his playcalling in last year’s Cal-Arizona game, where he boldly went for it on every occasion because he knew he couldn’t win otherwise. And he won, in the game that ended up being the reason Cal didn’t go to the Rose Bowl. Ouch! But this year? Not so much. With 13 minutes to go in the game and trailing by 14, Arizona opted to kick a 32-yard field goal. I found that pretty weak, since it cut the game from two scores to… two scores. But okay, if you’re going to play the incremental-scoring, then why go for it later on 4th and 9 at the 16 when you’re down by 18 again? A field goal in that situation brings you within two scores, and yet Stoops opted to go for it. After a false start penalty, they went for it on 4th and 14.
It just doesn’t make sense, certainly not from a pure strategy perspective. Perhaps it was an emotional decision: Stoops might have figured that a touchdown to make it 45-34 would pump up his team in a way that a field goal to make it 45-30 wouldn’t. But at that point, the Wildcats needed three scores, and Stoops bypassed a short field goal. Dumb. And when they failed on 4th and 14 with four minutes left, that was the end of the game.”
Jonathan Okanes, Bear Talk: “One of the reasons for the offense’s shortcomings in the second half was the absence of running back Justin Forsett, who was forced out earlier with a quad contusion. It’s no coincidence that the moment he came back in the game in the fourth quarter, the Bears put together a scoring drive to ice the game. Forsett rushed five times for 39 yards during the possession, including a 2-yard touchdown run in which he took the snap directly.
I knew Forsett was good, but until Saturday I don’t think I truly realized his value to the Bears. I had got caught up in the depth the Bears have at tailback, especially the playmaking ability of Jahvid Best. But Forsett is the heart and soul of the offense, maybe the entire team. Before Saturday, I thought Lavelle Hawkins was the early-season MVP of the Bears. Now I’d say it’s Forsett.”
Ragnarok, The California Golden Blogs: “My other concern from this game : penalties. I’m always skeptical of Pac-10 officiating, but 14 penalties for 121 yards is entirely unacceptable, and I’m sure Tedford will let his team know that. Too many personal fouls and offsides and other boneheaded penalties kept Arizona in the game for far too long. Make them earn it, guys!
Often, the difference between Pac-10 teams and good WAC teams is not so much the starters as the skill level of the backups. How many times have you seen a big upset fizzle in the 4th quarter, as the underdog’s starters tire and their backups just can’t cut it against top-level competition? Injury problems or not, our backups will play in big games this year, if only to rest the starters, and whether or not there’s any dropoff from the starters’ level of play may well determine whether a late rally succeeds or fails.”
Cal Football Fan: Here are some highlight clips from Versus: Justin Forsett’s first TD, Lavelle Hawkins’ TD reception, an Arizona TD, and Forsett’s second TD. The Versus TV coverage was bad, including a bizarre video outage and then a totally unacceptable twenty-something minute commercial break. They need to get their act together before the Big Game in a couple of months.
The Band Is Out On The Field: “A week after bitching about the offense, I think Coach Tedford came out in the first quarter to personally prove me wrong.
It is hard to imagine, but this team is so good that they scored 28 points in the first quarter, and it was mildly disappointing because they only scored four out of the five times he had the ball.
People seemed to think that the offense had stalled after the first quarter, but I have a hard time thinking that they didn’t just shut it down.
Tedford seems content with milking leads and running the clock out. I think in this particular case, with an much better opponent, on the road, next week, it actually makes a lot of sense.
I also feel that Tedford was making a concerted effort to get in Oregon’s head. He used a direct snap to Forsett, with Longshore split wide, three times. I am the first to admit that I know very little about play-calling, but my guess is that many of the other plays Tedford called had the express purpose of giving the Ducks defensive coordinators a few more things to worry about.”
Ken Crawford (who has an excellent podcast series if you want to check it out), Excuse Me For My Voice: “The referees were every bit as bad as I thought at the end of the game. I don’t know why, but I really suspect that Stoops antics had something to do with it. That’s aggressive speculation on my part that isn’t giving the referees the benefit of the doubt, which I usually try to do, but oh well, those were horrible calls. In every single one of the final calls they did at least one thing wrong, even when I do my best to give them the benefit of the doubt.”
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