Thirty-Three and a Third

Posted by: Tony on Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Wham, bam and whaddyaknow, the season is a third over (not counting the Emerald/Rose Bowl).  We have a newly-opened quarterback competition, uncertainty over the health of our star running back, a promising stable of young (or at least unfamiliar) wide receivers who have yet to assert themselves, and myriad other nagging questions.  In other words, today is exactly the same as the day before the season started except we know (1) Cal isn’t going to win the national title; and (2) U$C probably isn’t either.  To be honest, for this point in the season, I’m pretty happy with where we’re at. 

I’m a little surprised by the melancholy that’s affected the fanbase in the wake of the severe rout of CSU.  Yes it was “uninspiring.”  But the late 90’s Bear in me finds it difficult to be anything other than pleased with a 42-7 rout of anybody.  And I get that people are spooked by the injuries to Best, Davis and Guarnero.  Obviously injuries can’t be overlooked because, as I noted in my very first post on this site, they’re often outcome-determinative for the success of a season.  But they’re also an inevitable part of a game where the object is to run into other players and knock them down.  And while we’ve taken our first big hits of the season, I don’t think we’re really any more banged up than any team might expect after four games.

For a little perspective, look at the injury situation four games into last season (i.e. while Cal was flying undefeated and yet to play its marque game at Oregon).  Forsett was hobbled with a bruised thigh; Desean was rendered mortal by a sprained thumb, and the defense was going without the spine-crushing services of Zack Follett (remember that stinger?), Matt Malele and (this is familiar) Rulan Davis.  In an effort to avoid jinxing us, I will refrain from explicating other injuries to key players that may or may not have arisen in that fifth game against Oregon.  Let’s just say the injury situation sucks, but it could be far worse.*

I’m also surprised that, at this point in the season, Tedford is reopening QB competion.  Suprised not because Riley has proven inconsistent (inconsistency is the hallmark of inexperience); and not because Longshore has proven occasionally brilliant (Longshore is a talented QB with smarts and experience and has been playing in low-pressure situations); but rather surprised because it’s totally uncharacteristic for Tedford to flip-flop on QB’s.  He’s always been a “pick your guy and stick with him” coach (and not just last year).  But wouldn’t it be ironic if the lessons of last season led Tedford to go against his singular guiding principle and yank Riley in favor of Longshore?  I’m not saying it would be good (after those two picks against MSU I figured Nate’d, rightly, never start again), but certainly interesting. 

So that’s my take for now.  It will all be rendered irrelevant by whatever happens against ASU.  As the old rule of thumb goes, you can’t even start to judge a season until it’s five-twelths over.   Go Bears, let’s beat those Devils! 

I should note that my opinion on the injury situation would be a good deal more pessimistic if Best’s dislocated elbow should prove to be more debilitating than it presently appears.  Given the characteristically pithy press release and last season’s lack of transparency regarding injuries, I think we all have a right to keep one eye open on this one.  For now I’m going to take “no broken bones, no surgery” at face value. 

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