Bending to Heartbreak (Why Gregory’s System Failed Us)

Posted by: Avinash on Sunday, October 14th, 2007

(Post six of millions)

To be honest, I wasn’t terribly surprised when the defense folded on the two crucial TD drives in the second half. Want to know why?

The teams we’ve played the past few weeks have either been anemic on offense (Arizona, Louisiana Tech, Colorado State), or garnered towards high octane plays (Oregon and Tennessee). Our defense plowed through the weak offensive lines of the former and made the big plays against the latter, and it was enough to pull us through.

Yet we still spotted plenty of points to all our opponents, even rag-tag Arizona, who I’m still not sure has a tailback that understands the idea of off-tackle running. Hell, we were tagged the best “500 yard defense in the country” two weeks ago, that should have sent out the warning signs.

So guess what happens when you do play a conventional offense like Oregon State, that can (A) run the ball with an experienced tailback, and (B) have a QB that doesn’t kill himself with stupid errors? The gaps open up, the defense wears down, and eventually the spoon snaps in two. The Beavers converted six crucial third and fourth down plays on their way to 21 points, all of it capped off by one yard runs. On the biggest plays of the game, Cal’s defensive scheme came up short on a long field (and remember we did hold them to field goals on two of our three turnovers, so it’s not as if our gifts gave away the game on their own).

And I would like to point out to Gregory, that yes, pass-rushes do exist. In military history we call them encirclement maneuvers. Generally when you keep a QB enclosed within the pocket you put more pressure on him to release the ball, which forces more mistakes. Instead, Canfield was able to roll left and right, get out of the pocket, find the open man, get the first down without any serious pressure. (There was that one time he went past the line of scrimmage to pass and set up that field goal, but whatever, that’s griping).

So on the remainder of our schedule, we play one anemic offense (Washington State), one conventional offense with no QB (UCLA), one offense whose only weapon is the QB (UW), one conventional offense with no defense (Stanford), and two big-time conventional offenses with solid defenses (ASU and USC). I think you know who stands out here, and unless things change up I can see two more losses in our future.

Those of you sipping the Rose Bowl wine better not get too tipsy. Because Bob Gregory is still coaching our D, and he will be mightily tested these next few weeks with the most powerful offenses in the Pac-10 coming up.

Topics: Cal Football, Sports

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