The Bears Are Roaring (Leftovers from Cal-Tennessee)

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, September 3rd, 2007

So I said I’d write up some analytical thoughts…but the Cal football blogosphere seems to already be a thousand steps ahead of me. It makes my job easier to focus on the mundane and the sublime, and turn over the analysis to them. Here are my remaining thoughts, mostly directed toward the inconsqeuential.

The Mic Men stink. Again. They weren’t as bad as last year for one reason–they had a girl. I’m tired of these fools. They don’t get the fans fired up (I swear half the students thought this game was a great place to take their date), they don’t get the student section noticeably fired up. I’ve been at these games for three years. They’re just there. Tedford has to subtly insert messages to them to help get the fans rowdy. Only when that girl took the Mic did any noise get generated. And it was mostly for the wrong reasons. (Don’t even get me started on the stupid chants these guys start up; I’ll get to that in a later column–we have a few weeks until the Pac-10 schedule starts).
–Since the UC will never get rid of Rally Comm (not until our students/alumni/fans learn how to generate proper noise), then I have to suggest changes to the way things are now.
—One immediate improvement would be to make it all chicks (like that awesome Cal girl in the 3rd, oh the puns just come so easy). Of course I’d never let the Cal cheerleaders do anything but wave those pom poms and do whatever it is they do, but get some hotblooded female who loves her wide receiver slants and I’m raring to go.
—Hand it over to that third string football players who are redshirting or can’t play and wants to contribute it in some way. There’s always a Sarunas Jasikevicius to be found. Better yet, send Sarunas over here. He’ll get the crowd hyped up in a hurry.
—Feed them copious amounts of beer before kickoff. Either they will make awesome war-like chants, or get fired. Or both. It’s a no-lose situation.
–You know your fanbase has a lot to learn about football when they start up the Wave in the 4th quarter. I hate the Wave. Every self-respecting sports fan does. I’m a little worried that our success is slowly morphing our fans into a mini-USC base–people who are just there to entertain themselves. This Wave crap didn’t start until last year when we were crushing Oregon. This time it was happening during a still undecided seven point game. This thing is an epidemic. It must be extinguished.
–Whoever was running the music needs to be fired. What the hell is this, a baseball game? Get us music that pumps up. Doesn’t anyone know who Iron Maiden or Europe is anymore?
(Although that Village People bit cracked me up. Add in the Michael Jackson halftime band march and we have all the fodder you could possibly need for the entertainment values of this game. I’m sure Tennessee fans were very amused.)
–By the way, what was up with those Tennessee pom-poms? Did they do that at Neyland last year? Or was it just to give the old alumni who could afford the trip an opportunity to do something?

Now onto real football analysis.

The California Golden Blogs had three summaries, technically four if you count TwistNHook’s photoblog.

: “Our defense could use some work, and for the first half our linebackers outside of Follett didn’t seem to be doing too well in coverage. Our secondary held up much better this time, or maybe it only seemed that way because Ainge never challenged them vertically, but the team defense looked a lot better than it did last year in Neyland, and there’s reason to believe that Follett will be a huge force off the edge pressuring the quarterback. The defensive line was stout early on and may have gotten tired later on because of the no-huddle, but there’s also reason to believe here that facing a more conventional offense, our defensive line could be much better than it was last year.”

: “What to say about DeSean? He is certainly making his way to Marshawn levels of unreasonable man-love. I am sure people are going crazy about his punt return and I can’t blame them. From where I was standing yesterday, that mostly all took place right in front of me and it was sick. Especially the part where he kinda falls backwards to avoid a tackle, regains his balance and then keeps going. He’ll be like Barry Bonds when it comes to punts. We should bring rubber chickens! After everytime Tenn wouldn’t punt to him, many people in the student section would put up what I will delicately describe as the Dealtha O’Neal sign. But it means something else. Cough cough.

But I didn’t even think that was the most impressive thing DeSean did yesterday, although the punt runback (or the DeSean as it should be renamed) was unimaginably impressive. The coolest thing he did was on that end around. I can’t seem to find a video of it, but if I do, I’ll post it. Anyway, when he like just stopped and let those two Tenn players run by him. From my memory, it wasn’t like a crazy Marshawn juke or anything. He just was able to run, stop, and then move on a dime all in the span of 1 second, allowing for the Tenn player’s momentum to carry them past him. I mean he was just like standing there looking at his watch being all ‘Dudes, great talking with you, I got a play to complete, though. Have to talk with you later. Hugs all around, well, ok, on second thought, nix the hugs.'”

Hydrotech: “The atmosphere of today’s game was average. The crowd was loud on critical 3rd downs and 4th downs but other than that, the stadium felt sort of flat. Having a packed stadium against a big time opponent, I was expecting much more. Maybe my expectations were too high. I was expecting the crowd to be just as energetic and loud ALL THE TIME, such as against Oregon last year. In my opinion, and from where I was seated, it seemed like we only reached 2006 Oregon levels when it was 3rd and 4th down. Against Oregon last year, I felt like the crowd managed to stay loud the entire time Oregon was on offense. I had never seen and/or heard a Cal crowd that loud and energetic before. I thought for sure that I’d see the same thing yesterday. I didn’t, and thus I was rather disappointed. Please don’t read this the wrong way. I know a lot of our hardcore readers were out there giving 110%. I’m not talking about you guys. I’m talking about all the other casual fans – such as these two little freshman in front of me (picture here). Apparently their poor little legs got tired. They also were too busy conversing with themselves to even watch half of the game or make any noise. Oh, they also left in the 3rd quarter too. LAME.

And excuse me while I go off on a tangent. Football is not a spectator sport. Real football fans don’t go to games to sit there quietly and watch the game. Football is a participatory sport. Real football fans go to games knowing they are going to lose their voice from screaming and yelling. I hope your throat, like mine, is raw and sore from all the yelling you did during the game. In fact, that’s the official rule. If your voice isn’t hoarse or gone, then you didn’t yell enough. Plain and simple. No excuses.”

The Band Is Out on the Field
: “While the win was big…It isn’t like this season is Tennessee, USC and everyone else.

The Bears have an incredibly difficult schedule. October sends the Bears to both Oregon and to UCLA, places that Tedford is yet to win during his Cal tenure. Colorado State isn’t awful. Arizona beat us last season. Playing at UDub at the end of November might not make for an easy win. Oregon State is very good and always seems to play us tough in Berkeley. Arizona State appears to be much improved (although they sold their souls to do it.) Washington State got beaten at Wisconsin but the game was closer than the final score. The appeared to have the running game they desperately needed last season. And, hell, even Stanford marginally improved.

There is a long way and a lot of tough games standing between the Bears and the BCS.”

Excuse Me For My Voice
Jason Snell: “I’m not sure what the deal was with the Cal defense. Last year it seemed the pattern was: terrible first quarter (or first half), followed by adjustments. Today there were times when the defense didn’t seem to be able to stop Tennessee, and yet they also had an incredible goal-line stand.

It may be that Tennessee isn’t a very good passing team. When Erik Ainge passed, Tennessee’s chances of success seemed to drop. Sometimes he was inaccurate, and other times his receivers just dropped the ball. In the fourth quarter when it was certain that Tennessee wouldn’t be running anymore, all of a sudden the Cal defense looked great. So I’m going to put two and two together and suggest that Tennessee’s running game was really tough to defend, and left Cal’s defense off balance. But by any measure, the performance of the defense in general wasn’t impressive. But they had some incredibly fine moments.”

Ken Crawford: “I heard some criticism of the “Pac-10 football” chant while the Volunteer player was down with a neck injury. After watching the TV coverage, I can understand why there was the misimpression that the chant was in response to him getting knocked down. The chant was surprisingly audible on the TV sounding like it was the whole stadium in unison. The reality was that it was only the east side of the stadium, mostly the student section, the side that didn’t have a good view of the injury both as it happened and as he was being attended to, that was chanting and that they seemed to think we were just in a TV timeout. Also, on the TV coverage, one couldn’t hear very well either of the first 2 standing ovations there were for the young man. They were as resounding and heart felt as the 3rd one that was shown as he was carted off the field. Contrary to how it seemed on TV, I was very proud of my Cal counterparts for how, despite all the animosity in the lead up to the game, we acted in that situation.”

Rose Bowl Before I Die: “While I always liked Forsett, I never fully believed that he could be a big time runner for Cal. Most of his yardage in previous years came after a huge dose of big Marshawn, and it seemed to me that Forsett was capitalizing on worn down defenses or defenses keyed to stopping the more physical style of Lynch. But today’s game proved that Forsett can be the hammer too. Not only did he grind out 163 yards on the ground, he also picked up 49 yards receiving proving that he can be a threat in the passing game as well.

As far as the passing game goes, the Bears seemed mostly content to be patient and take what the defense was giving them. I’m guessing that this was for several reasons. First, because it was the first game of the season, and Tedford was more focused on rhythm and consistency over the home run ball. Second, the Tennessee offense was totally without a big play threat this year; they were the ones playing catch up to Cal and so there wasn’t a need to take unnecessary risks. Finally, the importance of securing this win over Tennessee probably caused Tedford (combined with the first two reasons) to call things a little more conservatively. That being said, Cal still put up big numbers in the passing game today, and that was without getting big TE Craig Stevens any catches. Once this team gets more in rhythm and Tedford decides to open it up, beware.

The superstar freshman streak continues. Jahvid “the Jet” Best blasted onto the scene in tonight’s game; following in the footsteps of Marshawn Lynch and DeSean Jackson. I remember the days when the only big time freshman Cal fans got excited over was Kyle Boller…and he stunk it up until his final year when Tedford came along. Not really about the offense, but DAMN I love hearing that victory chant. Also not strictly offense related, but the new kickoff rules are going to be playing havoc with teams all year. Teams end up at or near midfield with just one first down…kind of crazy, but maybe benefits teams like Cal…especially against defenses like usc…”

Finally, FYI, some information on how you can let your voice be heard on the City Council lawsuit. Try to show up this Tuesday at 5!

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