The Line: Cal (-7) at Washington

Posted by: Avinash on Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

So this is what it’s come down to. From #1 for two hours to mere seven point favorites against the worst team in the Pac-10, most likely without their star quarterback.

Just for the record, Cal’s record against the spread this year? A whopping, awesome 3-7, including five straight downers! (Public % stands for the percentage of bets made for Cal)

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So not only have Bears fans suffered this past month–so have gambling squares everywhere (aka the American people), my friends. The public continues to lock up Cal as one of their big picks of the week (over 60% betting on Cal); they are rewarded with 1-5 bankruptcy. And sportsbooks get to set up another condo in Aruba.

And it looks as if again, the public will be all over this UW line. Excuse me while I go fucking puke.

Tears Fall From the Heavens–Report Card, Cal-USC

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, November 12th, 2007

Quarterback: F. If the weather had been a little less wet, Longshore would have thrown four picks in this game. If Lavelle doesn’t rein in that overthrow, Nate doesn’t have a TD pass either. Pretty much a mess, and Nate’s close to Section Eight at this point. The Steve McNair-Brian Billick parallels are uncanny.

Although it seemed his ankle was healthier, I still don’t see that fluid motion that he exhibited against Oregon and Tennessee. He doesn’t shift his ankle or step into his throws, he just lets that back ankle sit there, and hopes that what he has in his arm is enough. Newsflash: It isn’t. Too many overthrows and underthrows–watching him step back in the pocket was an exhibition in nausea. Pepto Bismol anyone?

I do recall some decent deep throws to Hawkins and Jackson strung in between all the crap. Other than that, shitshow #2.

USC California Football

Running back: A. Longshore’s troubles marred a fantastic performance by Forsett. 209 all-purpose yards, starting with that beautiful draw run for the touchdown. The goal-line situation is frustrating, but I guess I’ll have to get used to it. Jahvid Best wasn’t terribly missed after leaving the game early, although his speed definitely could have been a boost on a slippery turf.

EDIT: Receivers: C. With what they got, they did plenty. Should really be an A+++ considering the comical throws I saw in this game. Jackson and Jordan had some important grabs to set up possible scores, and the Hawk was great again. However, I’m pretty certain there was miscommunication on particular routes, because Longshore threw passes that were definitely in curious positions. I’ll take a look at the tape this offseason, but I don’t think this was ALL on Nate.

If the Bears had won, Hawkins’s improbable end zone catch would have gone down in Cal lore. As it is, it’s another positive footnote in a disappointing finish to the season.

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Why Tedford Sticks With Longshore

Posted by: Avinash on Sunday, November 11th, 2007

natedown

I know most of you are disgusted with Nate, who really did not perform well at all tonight. You know things are going pretty badly for you when the most exciting part of the entire game is seeing you hindered on the field and your backup looking ready and willing to enter the huddle.

That being said, many of you are probably getting a hoot out of our coach’s…uhh, “positive spin” on Longshore’s performance:

I thought Nate played well. Obviously, there were a couple of plays that he’d like to have back. He was making pretty decent reads. He got rid of the ball quick; I don’t know that we got sacked. We stayed out of some long yard situations, which you can’t get in against these guys (USC). It’s a tough game to play as a quarterback when you do have to throw the ball a lot in those conditions. Obviously, you’d like to have a couple back, but I thought he threw some nice balls as well.”

Is Tedford correct? Well, yeah, somewhat. But rain causes slippage, not misdirection. Longshore’s throws were all pretty good spirals. As the game wore on though, it was clear he was underthrowing/overthrowing many of his balls. That ankle is not healed, or Nate’s game lacks finishing touch.

So why does Jeff keep on throwing Nate back into the fire? Why is he so firmly loyal when statistics and performance show that it might be best to make a change? Probably the strongest reason is that Longshore is a junior, and by all indications he is lined up to have the starting job next year. Benching him essentially ends his career at Cal, and I don’t think Tedford wants to start showing he bows to the self-entitled madness of the crowd.

But I think the issue runs deeper. If you’ve seen Tedford’s profile, you’ll know his father abandoned him at an early age. If you know Tedford’s role in this program, it’s that he takes to the athletes like his second family. He does not want to betray them like his father betrayed him, especially the leader in the locker room. It’s why he stuck with Ayoob long after his ineffectiveness was cleared, it’s why he sticks with Longshore now. It is a desirable and admirable approach for a head coach to take, especially in an age of rampant NCAA corruption and coaches throwing players under the bus.

Do I agree with this stance? Not necessarily; I’ve always believed in playing to win, and loyalty can often hinder your judgement. But remember that Tedford was once that kid who struggled to make ends meet, and despite all the odds, he prevailed and ended up fulfilling his Personal Legend. He had to fail many times to get to where he is. Perhaps Cal players and their fans will have to do the same, and should take that lesson to all aspects of their lives. And I’m okay with that.

Tedford probably knows Longshore is struggling, but inside he probably knows that it’s best to learn to fail than endlessly succeed. It gives you the mental buildup to deal with future criticism and helps you to pursue your dreams. Look at Ayoob, working with a high school football team and still coming to every Cal football game. I think Longshore’s future is a little more promising, but I’m pretty sure that the vote of confidence his coach gives him will go a long way.

If you win, good; if you lose, good. You grow more confident from the former, you mature from the latter. The failures of this year will serve us well next year, and as long as Tedford is here, the chance for success is on the horizon. Hopefully Longshore will learn these lessons in the final games and go out on a positive note into next year, and help lead Cal to building the legacy we long hoped for. Go Bears.

(Report card coming tomorrow.)

Now, please leave your rational comments as to why Tedford should not stick with Longshore. Rational, fellas.

The Lights Go Out (USC-Cal Open Thread)

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, November 9th, 2007

memorialprimetime

And so it will be for the California Golden Bears at Memorial in 2007. What looked to once be a showdown for the Pac-10 crown now is looking like a consolation trip to whatever third-tier bowl awaits the two of us. And you can only wonder at what could have been…

You wonder if our greatest chance to usurp the throne passed three years ago, right in front of Geoff McArthur’s stumbling legs. The Pac-10 programs in the desert and in the redwoods only look to get stronger, and Cal’s issues run deeper than recruiting and execution. There is a confidence complex present that didn’t exist before…

You wonder what happens if Longshore doesn’t get his ankle caught on a knockdown, wonder how the rest of October would have gone if he is able to keep that ball going up rather than sinking into Verner’s hands…

You wonder how you can stand watching bend not break for another year, hoping for it to hold up week-by-week but always fearful of the possible collapse that lies ahead…

You can only wonder if Riley’s legs didn’t take off, down the middle, away from #1 and into football oblivion…

You wonder if your head coach will be the one to bring you to glory, or if after enough failures he will eventually leave the hippies, the fairweather fans, the agonizing bureaucracy of the UC behind to reach the top of the mountain. You live in fear until you get there, because every year you have to shoot down the rumors and hope he stays until we make it…

You can only wonder. But there are still games to be played and won. Go Bears.

This Is What Selling Out to Nike Brings You?

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, November 8th, 2007

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In terms of another famous animated duck…I want it! I want it I want it I WANT IT!

daffyduck

Oh. I mean…I’m pretty sure Golden Bear athletes would gladly desire at least 10 percent of these facilities. Other than, you know, female urinals.

You know what? Forget about BP, let’s get Adidas pumping money into here! The Golden Bears and UC Berkeley are all about fair trade. Let’s bring in an environmentally responsible German company to set us straight on global responsibility and fair trade to help upgrade our dogshit facilities.

Come on man, that’s a palace. A palace built by Phil Knight, but a palace nonetheless. Can’t we at least replace the waterhose?

Action Jackson Preview, Week 11

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, November 8th, 2007

This isn’t exactly the highest profile week for college football–the real meat is still a week or two away. College Gameday can’t really find a compelling matchup, so they’re taking a quickie to Williams College and watching them battle Amherst. Lord, even the Division III schools get high end coverage in New England. Sickening.

Here are the battles to look at if you’re staying in front of the boob tube. All times PST.

Thursday
Louisville at #7 West Virginia, 4:30 PM, ESPN. Louisville’s defense has gotten it together after a horrendous start. Anything left in the tank for their most formidable test of the season?

Saturday
On the Left Coast (outside of our rumble)…
#9 Arizona State at UCLA, 12:30 PM, ABC. Perfect time for a UCLA win. You just know this crap will happen. You can see it coming a mile away with Dorrell.

Stanford at Wazzu, 3:30 PM, FSN Bay Area.This will be a nasty game to watch. Stay away.

Washington at Oregon State, 7:15, FSN. Unless you are a Starbucks whore or enjoy wearing sleek orange, I have no idea why you’d be interested in this game.

Elsewhere…

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Breaking Down the Playcalling, Part I

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Sometimes you can just look at the calls.

I’m going to go more in depth into this when the season is over, but for now let’s focus on the simple details of playcalling. In general, to be good at anything, you strive for balance. Balance between how much you work and play, balance between the carbs, proteins and fats you consume, balance between the beautiful women you hang out with and the beautiful women you take home with you–even if it’s zero to zero, it’s still balance.

In football, and in general with the Bears, you hope to start out with balance early and keep it going until the end. So in this article, let’s see if we can start peeling apart what the differences are between September success and October failure.

Today we’ll look at playcalling as a whole. Here, R:P stands for rush-pass ratio. In this case we’ll say that something between 0.8 to 1.2 is about balanced, and anything to the extremes is worth noting.

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There are some stats that immediately stand out from the page. First, you can see that the most dominating of our victories (Tennessee and Arizona) relied primarily on running plays, combined with the other team abandoning the run and going strictly to the pass (we are not counting that Louisiana Tech slopfest). While we didn’t exactly run around the playground with Wazzu, we returned to the balanced attack that was a staple of our five wins.

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Pac-10, Up and Down

Posted by: Avinash on Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

dixonespn

Taking a look at the conference, the Pac-10 has never looked stronger. No one will finish with ten losses this year, and the team that might finish last (UW) has the hardest schedule in all of Divison I. Respectable year for the Pac-10, which probably has asserted itself as at least the second best football conference in the land.

Hopefully, they can get a commissioner with half-a-brain who understands the importance of national TV deals and the insignificance of volleyball ratings. I already have the perfect idea: give it to NBC! Find a way to buy out their ludicrous contract with Notre Dame, and put up a Saturday night broadcast, just like CBS does with the SEC. It’d be a hit, trust me. Call up Marv Albert and Cris Collinsworth to do the game. Or lure Keith Jackson out of retirement; he can do the play-by-play from his home. Wouldn’t mind one bit.

But I dream. No one could possibly be that smart. Onto the Pac-10 rankings…

Rank the Pac-10 in the comments and rank Cal in the poll in the sidebar.

Searching for next year.

Washington St California Football10. Wazzu (3-6, 1-5 in the Pac-10). That Wazzu is dead last in this conference attests to the relative strength of the Pac-10, which is good for overall credibility of the Pac but sobering for the thought of Cal reaching national prominence in the near-future. Alex Brink wasn’t nearly as impressive as I thought he’d be (very erratic for three quarters before gunslinging it for the last quarter), and the Wazzu defense was the beneficiary of three moronic turnovers. It’ll be hard for them to win more than one game without a running attack. That Apple Cup will be a fun battle for next-to-last in the Pac.

9. Stanfurd (3-6, 2-5 in the Pac-10). After signs of life against TCU and Arizona, they’ve fallen back to earth with listless performances against OSU and Washington. Nevertheless, they still have a decent chance for bowl eligibility with gift-wrapped games against Wazzu and Notre Dame coming up. Winning the Big Game might be a chance for the Armed Forces Bowl, something we simply cannot allow.

8. Washington (3-6, 1-5 in the Pac-10). If football was only played up to the first half, the Huskies would be in the top 20 right now, since their biggest deficits up to that point were 3 to USC and 7 to Oregon. In the end, they simply couldn’t overcome the difficulty of their schedule and opponents (it doesn’t get easier with a trip to Beaver Stadium). I am terrified of going to Seattle next week. Jake Locker provides all the tools necessary to give our defense fits.

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Cal-Wazzu and Cal-ASU Torrents

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, November 5th, 2007

Wazzu is available here; ASU is available here. Enjoy. (Special thanks to chicagoaubear from The Bear Insider)

You will need some ISO burning software to view the files, which I guess could be either Nero or one of the freeware options (Active ISO Burner might be one of the better options).

What is a torrent?

Reveal the Contenders–Action Jackson Recap, Week 10

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, November 5th, 2007

Man, this seems familiar.

Up-and-coming Pac-10 contender rebounds from a devastating early season loss. Rebounds to crush the remaining schedule including several clutch home wins going into the stretch run. Loses a hideous trap game at Arizona where everything could go wrong. Are dead men walking going into LA and eventually fall short against the Trojans. Limp into a Holiday Bowl and wonder what could have been.

This was Cal last year. Could it be Oregon this year? I’d have to say if it isn’t going to be us, it might as well be the Ducks. Oregon might finally be the team that usurps the throne from USC, resoundly beating down the previously undefeated Sun Devils 35-23 to place their Pac-10 championship (and national title) hopes firmly in their hands. While they don’t have the greatest defense in the world, they realized something Gregory didn’t–blitzing the hell out of a testosterone-raging Carpenter might make him mistake-prone. Really, really mistake prone. After an effective comeback in the second quarter (albeit a disastrous ending sequence in the 1st half where they botched 40 seconds and a 20 yard chip shot), he fizzled out through the 3rd quarter into most of the 4th.

And Dennis Dixon? Man, he has looked fantastic. Even when he played Cal he only made one real mistake (the pick right to Felder); the rest of the game he exhibited a great deal of confidence and drove Oregon down the field almost at will. Since then he has only grown stronger and smarter, and he quelled any hope of a Sun Devil comeback in that 3rd quarter before going down. The loss of Colvin and Johnson have yet to hurt him, as long as Stewart keeps on churning up yardage. I won’t have any qualms about Oregon in the title game if they win out. None at all. But a tough road trip south to Arizona and UCLA looms before The Civil War.

But that probably means that someone above them has to lose. Who above and below them is competing for it?

At least this week, it’s not going to be the Buckeyes. They just keep on winning, this time 38-17 at home against Wisconsin. The Badgers gave us a smidgen of hope with a 17-10 lead sometime in the third quarter before quickly getting stomped on by Chris Wells. The depressing thought of Ohio State getting smacked around in the title game by whoever they face looms nearer. Please Michigan (who came back from 10 down to take down their hated State rivals, the Spartans), do us all a favor and eviscerate the Buckeyes. We’re putting this in your hands. Especially you Mario Manningham. I mean, holy crap.

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Boston College did oblige though! At least two duds won’t be vying for the title. Good ol’ Bobby Bowden proves he’s always good for one upset, this time taking down Matt Ryan, his Heisman hopes, and his national title chances simultaneously. FSU 24, BC 14. The only time the Tomahawk chop gives me any joy.

LSU. Christ. I’m really rooting for Oregon-LSU, so I guess I’m hoping both win out and Ohio State goes down. It’s a win-win really. Either Oregon beats up LSU and gets that idiot Miles to fess up about the strength of West Coast football, or LSU wins, and Miles goes to Michigan, where he will make about half a dozen Rose Bowl appearances and lose to competently coached Pac-10 teams. That plus he can stop burning holes in the stomaches of the Baton Rouge faithful. LSU 41, Alabama 34 in the Saban Bowl. Another highly entertaining game that LSU should have lost. They’re 3 for 4 in that category. Maybe they should keep this pace up the rest of the year.

Midshipmen and McFadden lie after the jump.

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