Tears Fall From the Heavens–Report Card, Cal-USC
Quarterback: F. If the weather had been a little less wet, Longshore would have thrown four picks in this game. If Lavelle doesn’t rein in that overthrow, Nate doesn’t have a TD pass either. Pretty much a mess, and Nate’s close to Section Eight at this point. The Steve McNair-Brian Billick parallels are uncanny.
Although it seemed his ankle was healthier, I still don’t see that fluid motion that he exhibited against Oregon and Tennessee. He doesn’t shift his ankle or step into his throws, he just lets that back ankle sit there, and hopes that what he has in his arm is enough. Newsflash: It isn’t. Too many overthrows and underthrows–watching him step back in the pocket was an exhibition in nausea. Pepto Bismol anyone?
I do recall some decent deep throws to Hawkins and Jackson strung in between all the crap. Other than that, shitshow #2.
Running back: A. Longshore’s troubles marred a fantastic performance by Forsett. 209 all-purpose yards, starting with that beautiful draw run for the touchdown. The goal-line situation is frustrating, but I guess I’ll have to get used to it. Jahvid Best wasn’t terribly missed after leaving the game early, although his speed definitely could have been a boost on a slippery turf.
EDIT: Receivers: C. With what they got, they did plenty. Should really be an A+++ considering the comical throws I saw in this game. Jackson and Jordan had some important grabs to set up possible scores, and the Hawk was great again. However, I’m pretty certain there was miscommunication on particular routes, because Longshore threw passes that were definitely in curious positions. I’ll take a look at the tape this offseason, but I don’t think this was ALL on Nate.
If the Bears had won, Hawkins’s improbable end zone catch would have gone down in Cal lore. As it is, it’s another positive footnote in a disappointing finish to the season.
Run blocking: B+. Best blocking of the year since September. Putting 200 yards on the ground against USC’s defense is quite an accomplishment, and the D-linemen weren’t able to get much penetration on the line of scrimmage. Sadly, all for naught.
Pass protection: A-. I believe Longshore was sacked once with the Bears driving late in the 1st half which led to some questionable coaching. Otherwise, a few hurries and knockdowns, but untouched. Pressure has never been an issue for a stout Cal O-line, making Longshore’s recent outings all the more frustrating.
Run defense: F+. Question: How do you lose a game after giving up 200 yards on the ground? Answer: By giving up 239, that’s how! What a fiasco. Chauncey Washington ran all over this shell of a defensive line, which had three solo and five assist tackles. THREE! Because of that ineptitude, the linebackers had to play close up, allowing for Washington to break out on two/three critical runs. That clinching TD made it look like the Bears had never heard of off-tackle running. On 3rd and short, USC was five for five, including a 36 yard TD scamper by Washington. Excuse me while I puke.
(The + is for Decoud’s forced fumble near the goal-line. Nearly forgot about it.)
Pass rush: D-. Would you like to roll out right, Mr. Booty? How about left? Or maybe you can just stand there for eternity while you look for your target. Tell you what, here’s a nine yard scramble for the first down, because we’re playing schemes, not players! Why should our linebackers make a play on the quarterback when they can sit in their zone and wait for the players to come for them. Football is chess my friends, not checkers!
Pass defense: C. On three critical first down conversions (including the one to pretty much seal the game), Booty had an open receiver on his left side. I don’t know how the Bears let this happen twice, much less on the clinching play. For the rest of the game, Booty was only 11 for 20, but he didn’t make many mistakes, and some of them were critical first downs. Secondary also had to do plenty of double duty, watching the run with the D-line disintegrating in front of them. A yeoman effort.
Special teams: C-. Kickoff coverage was atrocious, and set up 10 USC points after getting the ball at midfield (the second kickoff technically set up a fumble, but then Nate got picked and set up a field goal). Same ol’ same ol’ for everyone else–Larson started crappily before picking it up, Kay converted his chip shot, Hawkins gave us average field position, and Jackson got one opportunity to run that was called back on a penalty.
Coaching: C+. I was actually rather impressed with the playcalling, which was definitely out-of-the-box for most of the game. The 3rd and 8 draw play for the Forsett TD was a thing of beauty. No shitty wide receiver screens that I can remember. Hawkins direct snapping also worked pretty well, as did his flip reverse from Best. USC was pretty much fooled by the trickery.
Nevertheless, I have to dock Tedford for sticking with Longshore when he did have an out (the knockdown early in the 2nd quarter), for the 2nd and 25 draw play at the end of the 1st half (HUH?), and running up the gut three straight times again in the red zone–I think we’re zero for four now? If you’re not confident with Longshore near the end zone due to his mobility/throwing mechanics, he should not be starting.
Do not get me started with Gregory. I would probably go on until the wee hours of the morning.
Overall: C+. Strong effort by our offensive weapons and offensive line marred by ineffective quarterback play and atrocious run defense. What’s frustrating about this one is that we had plenty of opportunities to win, but for the fourth week in five could never come through. USC made mistakes, we made more mistakes. Everytime we looked to climb back in it, we messed it up. Story of our season.
Which is probably why seats were emptying by the third quarter and “Fight On” became louder than anything else in the stadium. Everyone else was already admitting defeat. Either that or the rain. Ah, screw it, it was the rain.
And finally, just for fun (and to appease the “Hate SC” crowd)…
USC fans: Fail. Your lives suck. Your band is obnoxious. Your Song Girls waggle. And your “fans” who show up to gameday are pimply-faced elitist douchebags who retain no social life outside of pissing off opposing fanbases like “Cal was my safety!” and “El Paso has plenty of Mexican hookers”. Your girls are vapid social whores who wear Uggs. OJ Mayo is a strutting poser who can’t even beat Mercer with all his mad skills; he’ll have fun getting destroyed by UCLA the next two years before he leaves you for the NBA. I hope the next time there are wildfires in Southern California, it burns down your worthless campus, your craptastic stadium, and your bandwagoning poser asshole fans.
Our fans might suffer more, but when the glory comes, we will enjoy it just as much as you whine about 10-2. We drive the economy; you drive up prostitution and drug trade. You aid the terrorists. You are the enemy. Your reckoning is coming. Go Bears.
(Yeah, I’m a sore loser. I hate losing to USC.)
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