Report Card, Cal-UW
Quarterback: B. After the horrors of last week, Nate turned in his most solid performance since Oregon on Saturday, seemingly putting to rest any speculation on whether that ankle was fully healed. Although Washington is not USC, 20-28 for 3 scores and 1 INT against any defense is supremely efficient. He did throw the pick early that gave the Huskies a huge cushion TD though, and as the game wore on he did miss on a few crucial passes (underthrowing Jordan on a sure TD that instead turned into the field goal). That delay of game near the end just made me sigh–although I was reassured by Nate’s overall performance, he still hasn’t proven he can lead a team back.
Running back: B+. What hasn’t been said about Forsett? Guy’s a horse, and played strong through the 3rd quarter before finally getting plowed over by a well-rested Washington D. Montgomery again didn’t show much (didn’t have time to show much), but we really missed Best today–drives stalled everytime Justin tired out, and the Bears didn’t have that solid second option to spell him.
Receivers: B-. Lavelle Hawkins might be a fine NFL receiver one day, and certainly had his fair share of good catches, but only if he learns how to catch with his hands. All those incomplete attempts at body catches (I think 3 in all), plus his crucial fumble late really cost the Bears. Jordan stepped up huge with that huge catch on Longshore’s underthrow when Jackson went out (DeSean himself did what he could against the Husky secondary), and Stevens and Morrah had nice route on their scores.
Run blocking: B-. 104 yards up the middle in the first half is impressive, but again the goal-line blocking was lacking and the o-line slowly eroded the later the game went.
Pass protection: B-. Way way too many offensive line errors in the 4th quarter negated the solid play before that. Penetration to grab Forsett on screens, personal foul penalties, holding penalties. There were no sacks, but mental miscues abounded.
Running Defense: Zero. Really hard to the top the F performance against USC, but I was proven wrong again.
Pass rush: B+. Impressive against some pretty bad protection, as Bonnell only had a few opportunities to make the Bears pay. No wonder Locker gets banged up all the time. Washington only threw the ball 19 times, so three sacks is really good for that number of throws. Still angry about that intentional grounding call.
Pass defense: D. With less throws, there were less scoring issues, but there were some abominable lapses. These last few weeks have been real tough on poor Chris Conte, who was abused on that 3rd and 25 play. That Reese TD wasn’t much fun either, although I’m not sure if that was Conte on the coverage.
Special teams: D-. What the hell? This used to be the best special teams in the Pac-10; now we’re botching extra point snaps, fumbling punt returns, allowing 50 yard scampers on punt returns down the sideline. Only another fantastic day by Larsen and decent returns by Hawkins saves this from an outright failure.
Coaching: D. Playcalling was conventional, methodical and did have some good sparks (that 3rd and long draw play set up the Bears for a late TD score in the 1st half was a typical example). But there’s no fire left in this team. Mental errors abounded in the penalty and turnover department. That Bears team that showed up in Seattle seemed more interested in wanting the season to end, as evidenced by Jackson’s quick departure–I’m not suggesting that he wasn’t seriously hurt, but I never like it when players leave on such perfunctory “excuse injuries”, as I like to call them.
Lots of players were just going through the motions, probably realizing how close they came to playing for something big–and now don’t really feel like they’re playing for anything at all. Tedford’s inability to read into his player’s emotions certainly has caused great consternation, and he admitted himself before the game that he wasn’t doing a very good job. The defensive collapse has also been mind-boggling, even for bend-not-break; Bob Gregory has some major explaining to do this offseason.
Overall: D. Your team has huge issues when you lose to one of the worst teams in the Pac-10 without the backup quarterback having to do anything. Although the USC loss was a collective issue of offensive woes and defensive temerity, this defeat reeked of uninspired football play. If the Big Game is like this, prepare to surrender the Axe.
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