Cal-MSU Quick Reactions
Our contributor Tony has spent the entire summer enjoying the New York art scene and enjoying many purchased fruity margaritas at tapas restaurants. Neither of these reports have been confirmed, only assumed. He’s back for the season, and he filed this early report of the game.
Perhaps I should say quick “slightly impared” reactions. Needless to say, it was a great game. In fact, it was a better game than any of us wanted it to be. I would have been happy, for instance, if Cal had put the game away early in the third quarter rather than extremely late in the fourth. Anyway, here’s some shorthand for my thoughts during the game:
Cal D = Great
Although it’s been a widely held assumption that Cal’s defense would be a strength this year, I was eager to see the Cal D in action. They did not disappoint, holding MSU to under 100 yards rushing and forcing many third-and-longs (and quite a few third and really longs). Of course, shutting MSU down on those third-and-longs turned out to be a bit more troublesome. But the D kept their intensity up and, for most of the game, only gave up points when disadvantaged by unfavorable field position courtesy of the offense and special teams. Overall, the 3-4 appears to be nails and, with some adjustments, the secondary is promising as well.
Trick Plays = Old School Tedford
I had an uncanny feeling that Tedford would call a trick on the first offensive play from scrimage. Running the halfback pass was vintage. Running it again after if failed the first time was balls. Awesome balls.
Bryan Anger = Nick Harris
Having a transcendent punter really takes me back to my college days. I loved watching those bombs just keep sailing and watching those returners just keep back-peddling. Now, what’s up with our kickoffs?
Kevin Riley = Stud
You can’t argue with 17/24, 202 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. And I’d like to point out that Riley threw another one of those heart-stopping passes with multiple dudes hanging about his waist and legs. As long as he keeps completing them, I say go for it. I’ll promptly change my mind the first time a defender picks one off (as would happen if it were ANY OTHER QB doing such an inherently foolish thing).
Nate Longshore = Cursed
I think we may have just witnessed Nate’s last snaps in a Cal uni outside of garbage time or emergency situations. It’s a horrible thing to write because I sincerely believe Longshore is a great QB, a solid dude, and an excellent leader. And there’s no arguing around what the guy delivered in 2006. But the egg is cracked. Something isn’t right. I just can’t believe, after dwelling all this time on those game-killing picks he threw last season, he came out and threw two bad picks in his first five throws. I’d like to say I think he can turn it around, but I think that window has now, finally, shut.
Jahvid Best = Superstar
Best’s final numbers, while solid, were not mind-blowing. But watching him turn the corner, or turn on the jets in space, I really got the feeling that the hype is for real and this guy is going to put a unique stamp on this program. We’ll need to see some true break-out performances (and likely will see them against weaker defenses), but I’m already sold.
Shane Vereen = Hero
For the first quarter, I was genuinely concerned that Tedford was relying too much on Best, and drifting away from his tried-and-true A/B tailback scheme. The emergence of Vereen soon assuaged those fears. The long touchdown was pure catharsis. And while Best/Vereen offers more shake and shake than shake and bake, I ask: “who doesn’t like more shake?”
New Receivers = Tight End and Tailbacks
So we were all eager to see the new receivers in action, but none of the names we’ve been saying for months registered in a significant way. Instead, our air assault was dominated by Cameron Morrah and intermediate passes to running backs. If it works, I’m all for it. And my hunch is this trend is probably attributable to playcalling more than anything else. But I’d also guess that we won’t get very far into this schedule if the pure WR’s don’t step into the spotlight more.
Pacific Standard = Rockin’ Good Time
I watched the game at the Cal-themed/alum-owned bar Pacific Standard in Brooklyn. The crowd was awesome and, although the ABC feed was blacked out, the staff found a way to get the game on for everyone (anyone know if the game was blocked at MJ Armstrong or any other East Coast alumni venues?). So, for those of you in or around the Big Apple, PS is the place to be. And for those of you wondering, Yellow Fever didn’t appear to be there. Of course, not knowing what Yellow Fever looks like, my report may or may not be accurate on that front.
(Editor’s note: Yellow Fever was at his parent’s house. He is a good boy, and is faithfully fulfilling all the sterotypes media people have about bloggers. Go Yellow Fever!)
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