Retrospection Evaluation–Colorado State
Instead of talking about the Bears and their consistent underperforming these next two weeks, I’m going to move on for a bit. Let’s talk about teams that are right now worthy of my time and patience. Teams that have shown heart and spirit in the face of defeat. Teams that don’t bow down the moment they fall down. Teams that you can be proud to root for.
Yes, I’m talking about our 2007 opponents!
USC broke down Illinois in about five minutes. ASU got the traditional Pac-10 runnerup bowl walloping. Colorado State might have finished the season 3-9, but they won their last two games! Tennessee took what appeared to be a dead October team and turned them around, only being an errant INT away from going to the Sugar Bowl. UW probably deserves a bowl appearance over us for taking USC, UCLA, Oregon, Hawaii, Ohio State to the wire, and even beating Boise State. Louisiana Tech was a 2 point conversion away from spoiling Hawaii’s perfect season bid. UCLA was typically Dorellian, getting strong efforts against ASU and stuffing a third-rate Oregon team before predictably being outcoached against the Trojans. Arizona upset Oregon. Oregon State toppled us. Stanford beat USC. Hell, even Oregon didn’t completely lose face, putting up a valiant effort in the Civil War before getting stuffed on the most predictable 4th and 1 call ever.
So let’s take a look at what good teams do. We’ll go from the dregs to the Roses, starting with our friends at Fort Collins.End of season: 3-9. Ow. Awful season in the tame Mountain West.
Their wins: They crushed UNLV. UNLV is 2-10. They beat Georgia Southern, who beat Appalachian State. So they might be competitive against Michigan. A shellshocked Michigan. And they beat 5-7 Wyoming at home. So these aren’t exactly the ’95 Rockets.
Their losses: They should have won the Colorado game if Hanie hadn’t decided to ruin his perfect game by throwing a pick at the worst possible time (in OT). They blew a 2 TD halftime lead at Houston. They were picked apart by the backup TCU quarterback. They got Bible belted by BYU and Utah. And of course the Cal loss. There were other defeats (Air Force, San Diego State, New Mexico) too, but it’s the same old slogfest. Let’s move on.
Quarterback: Caleb Hanie can throw completions, damnit! Despite the poor season, the QB managed to finish in the top 20 in passing efficiency. Either he’s used to the Rocky Mountain air or he knows how not to make mistakes. Actually, we might have to compare how Hanie did at home as opposed to his performances on the road.
Annoyingly, his best performance in terms of total yardage was against Cal, when he gunslinged two bombs deep in the game and accounted for one-half of his production. Bravo. He did throw eight picks in a three game stretch, including one in the end zone against San Diego State. He finished the season on a high note (other than the unwinnables with Utah and BYU with 2 INTS total, there were 8 TDs, 1 INT), so he did pick up his game as the season went on. Hanie is a senior though, meaning CSU will be getting fresh blood behind the pocket for next year’s game at Memorial.
Running game: Kyle Bell fell out of grace as his number steadily declined after the Cal game (135, 102, 73, 9), relegated to the second string as Gartrell Johnson III started horsing his way as #1. Johnson didn’t really get the reins until the Air Force game; from there he managed to average over 125 ypg.
Receivers: A haphazard group. Damon Morton seems like their primary option, with Johnny Walker and Luke Roberts rotating the second banana slots. They have decent games every now and then, but nothing that really opens your eyes.
Offensive Line: Despite the good run options with Gartrell Johnson III and Bell, that offensive line can barely hold them. They give up over five tackles for loss per game and three sacks. Makes the playmaker production all that more impressive for Hanie and the running backs.
Pass D: Very impressive in terms of yardage (29th). You have to wonder how much of it has to do with the air in Fort Collins, or the quality of their opponents–only BYU is pass-dependent, and the Mountain West doesn’t have too many gunslingers. Longshore certainly didn’t test them too much with only 149 total yards on two.
Run D: Despite being effective against the pass, Colorado State is 106th against the run. Cal’s lack of a power running game nearly cost us against the Rams, as Forsett was held to a quiet 59 yards. If not for a pair of long running spurts from the speedsters Jackson and Best, the Bears hopes might have flamed up in week two. I’ll go into more detail about every Cal game this offseason, but this is the big sticking point to remember about this Ram games. Don’t neglect the power game.
Special teams: Good kick return game, bad punt return game. Good punting, average field goals. Zoom zoom zoom.
Coaching: After a subpar season, Sonny Lubick is gone. Too bad; he seemed like a nice enough guy. Hopefully the new regime doesn’t improve their defensive woes for next year’s game.
What their performance means to Cal: Most common fans now think we were lucky to escape Oregon, but they should have probably seen the warning signs three weeks earlier, when we traveled into Fort Collins against a Colorado State team that looked friskier for three quarters and roared back to make the score close late. And yes, admittedly two of the touchdowns were in garbage time. But 28 is still 28.
In short, this is a sub-par team that caught us on a down week and nearly handed us our lunches because we couldn’t run the ball down their throats. We used the speed dynamic to our advantage, but still barely scraped it out. Weak pass attack, and defensively we gave up a lot. For those looking for warning signs, they were planted in week two.
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