California-Oregon Report Card

Posted by: Avinash on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

More postgame thoughts: Hydrotech at the Golden Blogs, The Bear Will Not Quit, Bears With Fangs, Oski Talk, Ken’s podcast from Excuse Me For My Voice.

Quarterback: To his credit, Riley was looking good out of the blocks after that “whaaa?” interception. Kevin converted all of his remaining third down opportunities into first down, first down, touchdown, first down. Just when it seemed he was ready to make the leap, WHAM. Oh well. Grade: B

Nate Longshore was adequate. 13 for 27 isn’t going to win him any awards, but he accredited himself well through horrid conditions. He could only manage one scoring drive for three points though, which does work against him, but he didn’t make any mistakes (although there were some wince-worthy moments). He’s going to have to do much more at USC if Riley isn’t able to go. Grade: B-

Running backs: Yeah, yeah, the weather conditions sucked, and it wasn’t hard to understand why Best and Vereen struggled. Still, three fumbles kept the Bears from breaking open the game. And although the Jet keeps on showing flashes of the acceleration that could make him a gamechanger on a complete Cal team, his hampered elbow and makeshift O-line won’t give him much of an opportunity to display that talent this season. His one big gallop ended in a fumble. Maddening bursts of potential followed by nothing.  Grade: C+

Receivers: At least one problem seems to be solved (emphasis on ‘seems’). Verran Tucker, Nyan Boateng, and Jeremy Ross seem to be our main options going into the third quarter of the season, as they gashed the hyped Oregon secondary. I’d like to think they have the potential to do the same to the Trojans, but can they hold onto the ball for two weeks in a row? Grade: B

Run blocking: Take away Best’s 50 yard gallop, and Cal rushed for 82 yards on 39 carries, or just over 2 yards per carry. It was obviously a hasty lineup slapped into place, so they get some benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, they move from facing the 8th best rushing defense in the country to the 3rd next week. Grade: C

Pass protection: Fairly good work against one of the strongest pass rushes in the Pac-10. Insert in Donovan Edwards and Justin Cheadle, and they only gave up one sack. Longshore and Riley did experience decent pressure all game, but that was to be expected. They’ll have to step it up a notch for the biggest game of the season and make sure the feared Trojan front seven doesn’t find the holes to knock us out. Grade: B

Run defense: What a surprise, the Ducks gashed us for 200 ground yards again. This seems to happen every season we play them, and it again has to be credited to solid O-line blocking. In the second half Oregon just ran, ran, ran, and our 3-4 couldn’t do much to stop them up front. It took that bailout penalty in the 4th quarter to stop them from taking the lead. Now they move onto face the dragon triad of Gable, Johnson and McKnight.  Grade: C

Pass rush: I was actually a little disappointed because Masoli should’ve been sacked a few more times, considering how effective we’ve been at getting pressure on the quarterback. To beat USC the Bears will need to pressure Sanchez next week with their three man rushes (with the occasional delayed blitz in stride) while having their aggressive corners play on the ball and break up passes in stride (the Bears are much better at breaking up passes than tackling at this stage). The Trojans are pretty good at preventing sacks and Sanchez is pretty good at eluding them, so Zach Follett might have to replicate his otherworldly performance from Saturday. We’ll need Worrell Williams, Mike Mohamed and Cameron Jordan too to replicate their efforts. Grade: B+

Pass defense: 11 for 32 is pretty effective against Masoli. Darian Hagan continues to grow into an outstanding corner, Sean Cattouse is starting to come into his own, and Ezeff and Thompson produced their yeoman work. Unfortunately, all five of our best performances have come at home. Will they get it together on the road against the deepest receiving corps in the Pac-10? Grade: A-

Special teams: Oregon’s special teams bad, Cal’s special teams not bad. That was the point difference in this game; it was a tied game if not for the Duck miscues. Grade: B

Coaching: If we take a lead this week, and Frank Cignetti starts running tailback plunges I’m going to start downing whiskey shots. If Bob Gregory drops seven back into coverage and plays soft defense I will do the same. And please don’t make me begin to think about Alamar. Grade: C+

Overall: Not an aesthetically pleasing game to watch, and like about half the Cal games this season felt terribly gimmicky (although it looked like a lot of fun to watch from in the stands). We are approaching an astonishing level of double digit leads that just disappear in the blink of an eye (Michigan State, Oregon, Arizona). Obviously this team is a work in progress, but we’re eight games into the season. Grade: B-

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