Doldrums and Possibilities: Cal-Wazzu Soliloquy

Posted by: Avinash on Saturday, September 6th, 2008

(Programming note: The liveblog will be up a half hour before gametime; it’ll kick off right around 6:25 EST/3:25 PST with Bears With Fangs cohosting. I’ll be going back and forth between here and CGB discussing the rest of the games tomorrow. I have no news on online streams, but there is an updated bar list for Bears fans throughout the country. If there is an online feed tomorrow, I will post it somewhere where you can see it.)

In some ways, this can be the worst week of the college football season. In other ways, this has the potential to be one of the best.

Week two is when the majority of the top 25 football factories all congregate to face the so-called cupcakes on their schedule. It’s how you get premier noon matchups like Michigan-Miami of Ohio and Ohio State-Ohio. And of all of Cal’s games this season, they’re provided with one of their least attractive ones (albiet in conference). The premier game of the day has one team favored to beat the other by three touchdowns. Looking up and down the schedule, you can’t really say with definity that any of these games will be close.

Partly due to the hangover of opening the football season, partly due to the NFL debuting the same week and college football not wanting their premier matchups scheduled at the same time, Week 2 has never really generated much buzz amongst even the most diehard of college football fans. It’s a transition game between buzz and rivalries, expecations and matchups. After this week, most teams head into their meaty OOC matchups; you can just stare at Week 3’s schedule to let your mouth drool uncontrollably.

Welcome to Pullman. Thank you and please drive through.

Cal’s trip to Pullman will probably generate the least amount of buzz outside of the Ram rematch. Of all the settings in the Pac-10, the Paloouse is the least impressive and least glamorous. Of all the teams. The ‘Furd has madman Harbaugh and the Huskies have the white Dennis Dixon; if I went up to an average Cal fan and asked him to name one Cougar, he’d probably start off with Star Jones or Demi Moore. Most people are assuming victory, perhaps even blowout victory.

However, this week always exudes upset potential.  We’ve already seen South Carolina play its way out of the top 25 against an unheralded Vanderbilt team. The Gamecocks have shown potential every season and have never lived up to it. This time it was special teams and a crappy offense that mortally wounded their BCS hopes, with #2 Georgia looming next week. You can never really tell.

That’s what Cal is going to have to guard against. There is too much possibility for letdown, as Cal slugged their way to an unimpressive win in Fort Collins last season after the emotional high of Tennessee. College teams struggle, especially on the road. The Cougars have been mediocre at best the past three seasons but in the eight times they’ve been underdogs at home, they’ve covered the spread seven times and won outright twice. In the past three seasons they’ve taken ranked teams like UCLA and Oregon in 2005, USC in 2006, and Arizona State in 2007 to the wire.

Cal is not on that same level quite yet, but you’d expect similar problems in Kevin Riley’s first road start, wouldn’t you?

Big teams cannot really win a Week 2 game. They obliterate, they were expected to obliterate; they win close, they underachieved; they lose, they might as well start admiring high school recruiting lists. They must endure it, weather it, mop up, move on. We can only hope the Bears are capable of doing what big teams can do: Endure.

Topics: Cal Football, College Football | Comments Off on Doldrums and Possibilities: Cal-Wazzu Soliloquy

Tearing It Down, Building It Up (Treesitters, Cal-Wazzu Previews)

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, September 5th, 2008

With their days numbered, the hippies can now be seen live. ABC7 has put up a feed of the Oak Grove for Cal fans everywhere to view the carnage. Well, mostly of those two hippies freestyling and yapping at cops, but whatever. If we can’t get the game online, hopefully you’ll be able to watch this. Protest Shooter has done some yeoman work as usual. As usual, there’s a livethread on CGB where you can see things unfold (actually Part I’s over; here’s Part II).

I really have nothing to add. This has been my expression all day.

itsdone

Did you know we have a game tomorrow? Let’s get on to it.

I usually do manage to roundup all the blog stuff, but I forgot to do it last week–too many to track down and too much extracurricular silliness (post Olympic hangover). That’s fixed this weekend. Kinda.

Our announcers are Kevin Calabro and Jason Gesser, who are Fox’s Northwest regional announcers and will probably know nothing about Cal other than their names, treesitters, and quarterback controversy. Exactly what we need.

Whatever. My ears are filled with euphoria right now. Onward with the links!

Blogosphere

The Bear Will Not Quit: Hopped up on whatever liquor they can store in barrels for the winter, the Coug fans await their opponents with a Deliverance-like combination of stealth and caged belligerence. The stealth comes from the fact that no one, least of all opposing teams, pays any mind to what goes on in Pullman until the moment they step off the plane at Pullman-Moscow airport (airport code: PUW – nice one Pullman). Of course even then, Pullman seems like a charming little town. You can almost hear the dirty little kid plucking away at the banjo, watching the unsuspecting, cocky players file onto the bus.

Bears With Fangs: While the running game will be critical to Cal’s success, I’m much more intrigued as to how our passing game will look. With Riley set to play all snaps as the starting quarterback, who will emerge as his go-to targets? Cameron Morrah seems to be the obvious choice after he hauled in 5 passes for 93 yards and a TD last week. Backs Best and Vereen will also get a significant number of catches coming off screens and swing passes. But a number of our wide receivers will have to step up, specifically in the red zone.  WSU’s undersized secondary was abused last weekend on high lobbed passes to 6’2 OSU receiver Dez Bryant. That could prove to be a bright omen to a Cal wide receiving corps. that features all of its wide receivers (minus Sean Young) topping out over the 6 foot mark.

California Golden Blogs: Heard of them haven’t you? They have about 30 articles relating to the game. They’re driving me out of the business.

Coug Center: Last Saturday, the Cougs were facing what was purported to be one of the better offensive lines they were going to see all year long. I expected the defensive line to get shoved around and run all over for three hours — I told anyone who would listen that my over/under for rushing yards by Oklahoma State was 275. To my surprise, the unit of Matt Mullenix, Kevin Kooyman, A’i Ahmu, Matt Eichelberger and Adam Hineline more than held their own. Yes, they gave up 4.1 yards per rush, but that number was inflated somewhat in the fourth quarter as the Cowboys salted the game away against a fatigued defense. If those guys can repeat that performance and be stout at the point of attack — and I do realize Ahmu will miss the first half, so the job is tougher — I think they have a very good chance of limiting Cal’s backs, neither of whom are downhill runners who can make holes for themselves. Both operate best in space, and my goodness, there was a ridiculous amount of space against Michigan State.

Excuse Me For My Voice has their podcast preview.

WSU Football blog has an EA Sports preview, and more: Cal has some young WR’s, and this will be their first shot at starting a game in a hopefully loud, hostile environment. Much like UW this year, Cal has lost their top five WR’s from last year, and this will be the first time on the road that they have to do some heavy lifting. TE Cameron Morrah and Jahvid Best are the leading receivers from last season at 13 catches apiece, but that’s it. So, while I like Kevin Riley at QB as a guy who won’t torpedo their own offense (compared to Nate Longshore), I have a feeling things will be tougher for him this week. And speaking of Riley, did you know this will be just his third-ever start at Cal? And his first-ever start on the road? Yes, he’s been impressive, but he’s never had to get under center in a loud stadium as a starter and make things happen.

Mainstream

Gary Peterson, Contra Costa Times: It’s been an ongoing issue, but it was an open question until Cal football coach Jeff Tedford answered it Tuesday:  Barring any unanticipated developments (injury, a blowout win or loss, the release of incriminating photos), Kevin Riley will pitch a complete game against Washington State on Saturday.  “Kevin’s going to play,” Tedford said at Cal’s weekly football luncheon. “He earned it last week.”  This is both a departure from, and the result of, last Saturday’s season-opening win over Michigan State. Tedford’s plan entering that game was to start Riley, who had outplayed Nate Longshore during an offseason quarterback competition, but find time for Longshore, who had entered the three previous seasons as Cal’s unquestioned starter. It was a bit of an eyebrow-raiser, given that quarterback job-shares almost never work out to anybody’s satisfaction. Either one quarterback outplays the other, which typically leaves the underperformer feeling like he didn’t get a fair shake. Or they both struggle, which creates the impression that neither is up to handling the scrutiny. Or they both play so well that neither can understand why he isn’t playing more.

Matt Kawahara, The Daily Cal (also should be a podcast you can listen to): What the Cougars (0-1) do-and what Cal (1-0) will be faced with starting tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. in Martin Stadium-is an up-tempo, no-huddle offense that frequently shuttles personnel groups on and off of the field and is led by quarterback Gary Rogers. Bears coach Jeff Tedford said that Rogers looks like Drew Bledsoe throwing the football, but that the 6-foot-7 senior is more mobile and can make plays with his legs as well as his arm. Combine that with tailbacks Tardy and Christopher Ivory-who ran for over 1,000 yards between them in 2007-and WSU presents a whole new look for Cal in the Bears’ earliest Pac-10 opener since 1993. “(Tardy) is not the same type of runner as (Michigan State tailback Javon) Ringer was,” Felder said. “He’s more of a slasher, he’s going to look for cutbacks, he’s going to press upfield.”

Ryan Divish, Bellingham Herald: Despite his Cougars giving up a plethora of points in their 39-13 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday, Washington State head coach Paul Wulff still found plenty to be happy about with his defense, even after watching the game film.  “I thought we were OK there,” Wulff said. “Obviously there were some things we could have done better, but our tackling was pretty good.”  Indeed, while other teams around the country clearly looked rusty when it came to making crisp open-field tackles, the Cougs seemed to be moderately efficient.  “We stressed this from the day I got on campus,” Wulff said. “You can talk about it, but we worked on it. Every day we work on it, even on the days we’re not in pads. I think there’s a lot of progress made.” But Wulff was the first to admit that the defense needs to be even better this week, because the California offense is far more talented and explosive than Oklahoma State.

Andrew Kim, Daily Cal: First of all, don’t gamble. It’s a slippery slope. And kind of illegal. Second, let me break it down in a long and convoluted stream of thoughts. One of Washington State’s relative strengths, its receiving corps, just happens to match up against Cal’s relative weakness, the secondary, which struggled most when Michigan State ran a no-huddle offense, which is coincidentally what the Cougars run. It’s kind of like eating candy every meal, but they do it anyway. Ironically, they sort of run an oxymoronic ball-control, hurry-up offense, as their wideouts aren’t exactly DeSean Jacksons out there. Case in point: mustering up just 82 receiving yards, none of the Washington State receivers averaged more than nine per catch. Still, we’re talking money here, and you’d hate to blow your Work Study check like it’s from the government (wait, it is). Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said the Bears won’t move their corners around according to what they see from the offense, meaning Syd’Quan Thompson will remain left and Darian Hagan right no matter what, meaning Wulff will likely line up returning All-Pac-10 performer Brandon Gibson opposite, you guessed it, Hagan.

Nicholas Geranios, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Washington State continues to struggle with depth. The Cougars, already down from loss of scholarships and training camp injuries, will have defensive tackle A’i Ahmu only in the second half. A council of teammates ruled Ahmu must sit out the first half for skipping a court date on a minor-in-possession charge, Wulff said. He turned himself in to police on Wednesday. Senior Adam Hineline will make his first career start in Ahmu’s place. Freshman cornerback Tyrone Justin may start in place of the injured Alfonso Jackson. Senior cornerback Markus Dawes is questionable, after returning to practice following shoulder surgery. Receiver Daniel Blackledge, still recovering from a hamstring injury, will play but won’t start. Freshman Jared Karstetter will start in his place, Wulff said. Left guard Andrew Roxas, who injured his knee in practice Tuesday, will miss three to six weeks. Special teams remain in flux at WSU. The good news is that punter Reid Forrest is expected to play after breaking his ankle in July. But three players are still fighting for the placekicker job, as Wade Penner, Nico Grasu and Patrick Rooney have been inconsistent.

Any thoughts on tomorrow’s game? How do you believe the Cougars will fare against the Golden Bears?

PSA: Watch Cal-Washington State: Online or the Bars

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Another announcement about trying to find the game online. If you want actual Cal discussion, check these Longshore discussions (one on booing, another on Tedford’s judgment) I sprung up at CGB. Straight polling bro.

Right now, unless you live on the West Coast, you probably won’t be watching Cal-Washington State unless you have some expensive satellite. Currently no streamers have. However, if a few people volunteer to stream the game P2P there might be a chance that all the Golden Bears around the world have a chance to watch the game!

I have no experience streaming video and my connection is terrible for streaming to other people, but there is a good guide for streaming a game via Sopcast or TVAnts (to Windows comps only as far as I know). If you have these things you are eligible to stream the game.

I think most of us on the other coasts would be willing to chip in and pay the streamers back how much it costs to buy the tuner card.

Obviously this is a volunteer thing to help out all the Cal fans who cannot afford satellite packages or are scattered across the globe. This is the first time I’m trying this, so you might want to test run on Friday or early Saturday to see if the feeds work.

If anyone says for sure they can do it in the comments and show that the feed they setup is working, we can put it up on this post and everyone with an Internet connection will have a chance to watch Cal-Washington State! Volunteer in the comments.

Here are some bars/parties showing the game around the country.

Boston/New England: The Baseball Tavern (thanks to Cal’s alum New England club for the tip)
NYC: Pacific Standard in Brooklyn (thanks to my NY contributor Tony for the tip) & MJ Armstrong’s in Manhattan
Chicago: Full Shilling (thanks to Bear Insider tip)
Hawaii: The Shack in Waikiki (thanks to the Hawaii alum club)
LA: Two parties in Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach (Look here for details); man does the bar scene stink there.
Philadelphia: Fox & Hound Smokehouse & Tavern (thanks to the Philly club)
Portland: Life of Riley (thanks to the Portland alum; what an appropriate name)
San Diego: Players Sports Bar (hosted by San Diego Alumni club)

If anyone has further bar locations, leave them in the comments and I’ll add them into the main guide.

It Is Done

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, September 4th, 2008


You know what.
Full petition here.

Jubilation reigns.

Week 1 Blogpoll

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008
Rank Team Delta
1 Ohio State
2 Florida 1
3 Southern Cal 1
4 Oklahoma 2
5 LSU 1
6 Texas 1
7 Georgia 2
8 Missouri 10
9 West Virginia 2
10 Oregon 3
11 Penn State 2
12 Texas Tech 2
13 Auburn 3
14 Brigham Young 1
15 Alabama 11
16 South Carolina 5
17 South Florida 3
18 Mississippi 7
19 Utah 7
20 California 2
21 Wake Forest 5
22 Clemson 12
23 Arizona State 3
24 Kansas
25 Wisconsin 8
Dropped Out: Florida State (#8), Tennessee (#12), Miami (Florida) (#19), Boston College (#23).

The biggest contentions:
Why did Wisconsin drop? They beat a pitiful Akron team by 21; it was 17-10 at halftime and not sealed up until late in the 4th qarter. Sure they were missing their star tight end in Travis Beckum, but does it really that big a deal. The Badgers are hopelessly overrated (eleventh in the rankings is insanity), and after one more cupcake next week, they should be exposed against Fresno State, Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State.

Why do Alabama, Missouri, Ole Miss and Utah make such grand leaps? They beat quality teams. Nick Saban wiped out a supposed national title contender, sending the ACC into oblivion for the rest of the season. They jump into the middle of the top 25 and seem to be back where they belong.

Missouri had the most entertaining debut. Their defensive performance is worrisome, although I’m guessing they didn’t gameplan for Juice Williams to throw for over 400 yards and 5 touchdowns. South Carolina was not terribly impressive against a bottom-dwelling NC State team, but no one below them was terribly convincing last week, so they get to jump up.

Although Michigan is in rebuilding mode, they weren’t that much worse than the Utes and could’ve beaten them if Rich-Rod wasn’t running spread options for a quarterback who still isn’t equipped to run the spread. Winning in the Big House always gets some dap though, perhaps more dap than it should.

The surprise is Ole Miss, who had a solid win over a talented Memphis squad. In retrospect I probably jumped them up too much, but I think

Where’s UCLA? Forget that fantastic ending. Did you watch that entire game? The only reason the Bruins won was because somebody had to. Neither team seemed to realize this game counted for something until about 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter. That’s supposed to be rewarded?

Oklahoma won by 55. How do they fall 3 spots? Going into this week, I didn’t realize how freaking bad Chattanooga is. They’ve won 13 games in the past 4 seasons. They were 2-9 in the Southern Conference last season, so they’re the bottom barrel in the bottom of barrels. It was 50-0 at halftime. HALFTIME!!! That isn’t a game, that’s a homicide.

Ohio State at least played a real FBS team like Youngstown State (projected to be a solid Missouri Valley team). Ditto LSU. Ditto West Virginia. Ditto Texas Tech. They get to move up. Bob Stoops’s marauders get to take a step down until Cincinnati.

Georgia moves down to #7? Are you crazy? Dawgs are gonna be national champs!!!
That was a very telling performance by the Dawgs. Their offensive line was supposedly not impressive against an average Georgia Southern team. 45-21 is also not a terribly convincing way to start off a national championship season. So they fall down to #7. They’ll get their chance to jump back up in two weeks.

(Just to note: Dawg Sports does concur with this sentiment. Somewhat.)

Kansas, ASU and Wake Forest aren’t ranked that high:I’m not sold on any of these teams. Kansas might be the benefit of the easiest schedule in history (no Texas Tech, no Oklahoma, no Texas), but you get the feeling they’re not quite as good as last season with Aqib Talib moving on and the offensive line fairly inexperienced. Their matchup at South Florida next Friday will be telling.

Arizona State also had the benefit of an easy schedule last season. Northern Arizona was an okay victory, but like Kansas, they’ll have to prove they can hang with the big boys when Georgia comes to town in three weeks. For now they get Stanford and UNLV, and they will dwell at the bottom of the top 25.

Wake Forest didn’t make my rankings last week. A solid thrashing of Baylor was a good start to being considered the class of the ACC, although now they could probably go ahead and lose to Ole Miss by 3 TDs. Doesn’t it seem like almost half the national champions out there need to pick on little Baylor before they can be considered contenders?

On the fringes: Boston College (21-0 against Kent State is and isn’t impressive, Florida State (did not play, so they don’t deserve to be ranked in any case), Miami (beat up a bad Charleston Southern squad and incurs the Oklahoma Penalty), Nebraska (showed sparks against a likely MAC contender in Western Michigan), UCLA (they get a chance to validate the importance of their victory in two weeks against BYU), Arizona (definitely some murmurs after their win, but they’re only murmurs until they go to UCLA (New Mexico is average and Toledo stinks).

Topics: blogpoll, College Football, Teams | Comments Off on Week 1 Blogpoll

The Pac-10 Report: Week 1

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

For the record, I divided time between USC-Virginia and Oklahoma St.-Washington St., watched the end of Oregon-Washington, and watched most of Oregon St.-Stanford and UCLA-Tennessee. I did not see the Arizona games at all. The Cal recaps are here.

USC 52, Virginia 7: During the past five seasons and including the Virginia game, USC has outscored the big out-of-conference opposition by a 296-92 margin. This includes a 23-0 wipeout in Auburn, twin killings of both Arkansas (obliterated both times) and Nebraska (whom they control every year), and a closely contested game against Virginia Tech.

However, while the media has immediately leapt them back up to #1, it’s worth noting that the Trojans have always done this, and this year were facing perhaps the feeblest ACC opponent one could muster. Virginia was not forecast to be very good this year, with their entire defensive front from last season gone. After only giving up 2.9 rushing ypc last season, they allotted 218 yards on 41 carries to C.J. Gable, Joe McKnight, Allen Bradford, Stafon Johnson, and the entire moltely crew. Mark Sanchez was impressive against a weak Cavalier secondary.

Probably the more telling stat is USC’s defensive numbers, where they suffocated practically all ball movement for four quarters. Virginia’s only score came off of Trojan penalties, reinforcing the notion that USC beats itself more than other teams do. With supposedly a strong ground game to atone for their losses. They could barely run the ball the entire game, with Cedric Peerman picking up 20 yards on one carry and combining with Mikell Simpson for only 30 more yards the rest of the game.

We’ll talk about the Trojans after Ohio State.

(Better recaps: Conquest Chronicles also downplays the significance here, here, and here)

Stanford 36, Oregon State 28: Oregon State had a new quarterback, a new starting tailback, a new front seven, and still managed to take the game to the final play. Lyle Moveao made rookie mistakes, but in no way should Beaver fans be discouraged. Even after throwing a pass into the end zone for game ending scores and what looked like game-ending interceptions, he still managed to bring the Beavers down the field two more times for a touchdown that cut the lead to 8, and came close to another one if the receiver didn’t try to play hero.

As for the Trees, the only thing they should be pleased about on the offensive side of the ball was Toby Gerhart. He averaged 7.7 yards per carry, including two incredible carries on 3rd and long that he converted for 1st downs. Some of that can be attributed to the green Oregon State front seven, which really had no collective experience to stop the running game that was there. On the other hand, Tavita Pritchard was pretty lifeless, going 10-17 for a grand 91 yards. You already know what the Sun Devils defensive strategy will be next week.

Caveat: The Beavers managed to run 37 plays in the 4th quarter and still couldn’t pull it out, with three turnovers (two INTs–one returned for a TD–and another on downs) and a fumble/touchback into the end zone. The disturbing parallels between this game and Cal-Oregon are too noticeable. Wouldn’t put it past the ‘Furd to drop five of their next six.

(Much better recap: Building the Dam)

Oregon 44, Washington 10: Oregon’s defense put on a virtuous performance against Jake Locker, only allowing him to throw 42 percent of his passes into the hands of his receivers (a bare 12 completions in all). He only rushed for 3.6 yards per carry, as the Huskies just got overwhelmed in the second half. They managed two drives of 24 plays to cut the lead to 14-10. They did not enter Oregon territory again until the 4th quarter, when they were down 20.

Like Cal, Oregon was installing new starters all over the offense. Unlike Cal, they committed no mistakes (outside an early Justin Roper interception) that allowed their opponent any breathing room. The backup Jeremiah Masoli came in when Roper had an injury and guided the team home with two decisive 4th quarter drives. But the key was the Oregon defense obliterating a flat Washington team. The Huskies have games with BYU and Oklahoma forthcoming. Ty Willingham might need to start searching for new homes.

(Much better recaps: Addicted to Quack, UWDawgPound)

UCLA 27, Tennessee 24 (OT)

It was a nice win for the Bruins, who’ve needed a reason to feel elated for quite some time. Beating a powerhouse SEC program will do that, even if it’s one dawdling at mediocrity. It was nice to see DeWayne Walker And it was nice seeing a frenetic finish after the usual routs of Week 1.

That being said…well, I’ll let totallyawesome give a totally awesome recap:

We all knew UCLA was going to suck a fat one, but WHO KNEW THE VOLS WOULD SUCK JUST AS HARD! Craft have a craptacular 1st half, with 4 interceptions, could not get pass protection and had a running game that wasn’t going anywhere…

however,

not to be out-sucked, the Vols sank to the occasion and were determined to represent for the SEC (Sucky East Conference). Crompton showed promise as an equally craptacular QB, doing maybe as well as the third stringer from UCLA. Second half was a bit easier on the eyes for both offenses, with Craft completing passes and putting together drives (teh rise of teh Craftsman?), resulting in a late TD in the fourth quarter. The Vols showed resilience, tying it up with a late field goal.

In OT, UCLA’s kicker > Vol’s kicker. Neuheisel made UCLA fans “happy”; Fulmer should lay low for a while.

(Almost as good recaps: Gate 21, Rocky Top Talk, Bruins Nation. For Cal fans’s entertaining liveblog of the game, check CGB here and here)

Arizona 70, Idaho 0: It seems Mike Stoops is taking this bowl talk seriously. The only time I see Arizona play like this is in November when they’re beating the stuffing out of a Pac-10 BCS contender. This isn’t November. This is disorienting.

Of course, the spin immediately began on the victory, that it was Idaho, one of the five worst teams in Division I, a destruction of a feeble opponent that meant nothing in the big picture. Still. USC beat a just as bad Idaho team by 28 last year. Arizona nearly tripled that margin of victory the year thereafter. I mean, 70 points people. That’s a lot of points.

(Better Recap: RauRaur)

Arizona State 30, Northern Arizona 13

It was 30-0 at halftime. Then everyone started partying.

(Better Recap: House of Sparky, Pitchfork Nation)

Oklahoma State 39, Washington State Much Less Than 39

Awful. We’ll talk about the Cougs soon enough, but that was an underwhelming performance.

(Better Recap: CougCenter, WSU Football Blog)

Cal fans only, take notice at these results.

Maryland 14, Delaware 7
Because the LSU-App State game was rescheduled for an earlier time, ESPN managed to squeeze in the ESPNU telecast of Maryland-Delaware. Because Cal is heading to College Park in a few

I know Delaware is supposed to be a good FBS team, but other than a great rushing performance by Da’Rel Scott (191 yards on 26 carries) and the Darrius Heyward-Bay drive, Maryland did nothing that deserved praise. They needed to put three quarterbacks in the game, and they did the smart thing and kept on giving it to Scott to run clock off their absymal performances.  Their promising drives stalled at the worst possible places for their field goal kicker, who missed three kicks from 45+ yards out.

I’m still wary of any East Coast trip we have to make (and I do think Maryland is a better overall team than Michigan State), but my concern has dropped a few notches after this typical ACC boner.

(Better recap: Turtle Waxing)

Colorado 38, Colorado St. 17
Let’s put it this way…the Rams didn’t allow a single Buffalo to run for over 55 yards…and they still got doubled up in terms of rushing yardage.

(Better recap: Ralphie Report–Colorado blog, couldn’t find any Rammers out there)

Anyone with more insights on these Pac-10 games? Leave them in the comments.

Thermopylae This Was Not: Cal-Michigan State Report Card

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, September 1st, 2008

In homage to Tightwad Hill (who started these awesome post-game analyses), the grades have been released for every Golden Bear element of Cal’s victory last Saturday.

Me: EPIC FAIL. First of all, I owe a huge apology to the people who woke up thinking they could watch the Cal game from Tokyo or Paris or whereever. The online feed was broken from the beginning, and scrambling could only get us the audio feeds for Starkey and what not. Sopcast can be unreliable since we never know who’s streaming the game; last year we got lucky and most of the games went uninterrupted.

That being said, ESPN gets a huge fail as well for their ridiculously stupid policy of charging cable companies for 360. Since Comcast didn’t ante up, much of the country (and Cal fans outside the state) was in the black for Cal-Michigan State, and everyone outside the West Coast and the Michigan area got saddled with a typical SEC blowing out ACC game.

You’d at least think they’d have the decency to simulcast it on ESPN2. Instead they were stuck watching a garbage Mississippi State-Louisiana Tech game, which was only interesting to people who are probably in hurricane shelters right now.

We’re going to fix this as quickly as we can. My campaign pledge will be to get all the Cal games that are televised streamed to your laptops across the globe. I’ll start the drive tomorrow.

Quarterbacks: Kevin Riley got off to a slow start, but picked up his stride around the second quarter and was particularly hot after Longshore’s disastrous foray. Perhaps most importantly he had two excellent touchdown passes near the goalline, one on the playfake that froze the defender and left Morrah wide open, and the anticipation of the pass rush that allowed him to dump off to Ta’ufo’ou who walked in untouched. He did not force the issue on too many occasions, although he threw some incredible passes to Young and the terribly impressive

He also displayed some personal leadership by urging the Cal fans to shut their traps. I wasn’t terribly anxious about RIley starting (I felt that he’d perform well given his past game experience), so I’m fairly pleased with what I saw this week.

Grade: A

As for Nate Longshore, we have to give him credit for his psychological acumen. Clearly Cal fans needed to resolve the quarterback controversy with their own eyes, so he threw those two picks to make those fairweathers feel better about themselves. This honorable sacrifice, so when he does get a chance to prove himself next time, his redemption will be all the greater.

In all seriousness, he had one great pass to Morrah. He had one good-looking pass that Otis Wiley anticipated outside of Longsohore’s peripheral vision. And he forced the issue on the second INT. It’s unfair to judge a guy on five passes (it went by terribly quickly), but you have to say one thing–every one of his passes found a receiver (3 receptions and 2 interceptions on 5 passes). His statline will look pretty bad, but I don’t think Tedford’s ready to bench Longshore yet.

Grade: D

Running backs: After the initial unsteadiness, both Best and Vereen picked it up. Best was an all-purpose machine the entire game, and his speed gives potency to the screen game that Cignetti likes to run. Vereen had his big run that broke the game open, although he was kept in check the rest of the game. Can’t be unhappy with 400 total yards though with both players debuting as starters.

Grade: A-

Receivers: Cameron Morrah was a pleasant surprise, making one important catch after another. He caught Longshore’s deep ball, he caught the playfake TD, he caught Riley’s prayer throw. He might be even more of a receiving threat than Stevens because of his cutting abilities.

Sean Young showed that he hadn’t gathered rust sitting on the bench and made solid contributions, including catching the lob fade from Riley late in the 1st half. On the other hand, Nyan Boateng’s hands  seemed like they were encased in carbonite. You have to wonder if saying “Nate Longshore’s my guy” hurt his confidence when Longshore was not given the start, because he couldn’t handle Riley’s throws. Also hard to tell what LayRelle Cunningham is capable of after spending most of the past two seasons on the bench.

Grade: B

After the jump, you can view the offensive line, defense and coaching grades.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cal-MSU Quick Reactions

Posted by: Tony on Sunday, August 31st, 2008

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!)

Cal – Michigan State Liveblog

Posted by: Avinash on Saturday, August 30th, 2008

I’ll be narrating today’s game in a haphazard and hopeless fashion.

If you want to follow the action elsewhere too, you can try the California Golden Blogs open threads, or Dr. Saturday’s live blog at Yahoo Sports. Feel free to ask questions and comment away as the game goes along by clicking on the Submit button. GO BEARS!

PSA: Watch Cal-Michigan State Online

Posted by: Avinash on Saturday, August 30th, 2008

This is pretty much the same post from CGB, but this is mostly a public service announcement, so I’ll repost it here:

For those of you not on the West Coast this weekend, most of you should only have minimal problems watching this game. The majority of the country will get Alabama-Clemson on ABC, but Cal-Michigan State will be simulcast on ESPN Gameplan. So if your ISP pays and provides for ESPN360 (which shows Gameplan for free), you’ll be able to watch it online, smooth sailing. However, if you are one of the misfortunate souls who does not get 360 and is getting the middle finger from Mickey Mouse (because ESPN’s model of ISPs paying for their service is STUPID), you’re going to need some help.

Star-divide

It appears someone is planning to stream the game via Sopcast, although you’ll have to download VLC player. Here are the instructions after you’ve downloaded both programs.

After you’ve read the instructions, you can click onto this post that’ll give you the link to the stream (of course, around the kickoff time tomorrow); it should upload Sopcast and you can guide your way to VLC.

If you’re having troubles, inquire on this thread or in this forum (be respectful; these guys are doing this for free).

Warning: Watching these games online will get more and more complicated as the season goes on, especially with regional games coming up and decreased visibility around the country after the Big Game. So if any Cal fan with a strong Internet connection wants to help out poorer students and alum watch their Bears all season long (I don’t quite have the hardware or the bandwidth necessary to construct a decent stream), the instructions for uploading the stream on Sopcast are here.