All About the Bears (Plus UCLA Torrent)

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, October 26th, 2007

I’m not disdaining coverage of Cal because of the awful defeats of the last two weeks, but more because I’ve been trying to dissect the losses over and over. What exactly went wrong? How did we blow these games?

Eventually you just sort of let everything ebb away. It’s fruitless to try and analyze every nook and cranny to figure out why you lost. Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture and realize, “This isn’t such a big deal. We’re still 5-2. Our destiny is still in our hands.” True, we might need a little help, but again, I’m not overtly concerned.

In truth (I’m sure I’ve said this a thousand times), I didn’t really think this team was ready to handle success in this bizarre roulette of “Who’s #1?”. The bizarre jump in the rankings ended up hurting the Bears on the field, and it showed with all the mental errors and mistakes the past two weeks. Although the thoughts were primarily to get to the Rose Bowl (for the record I have no idea why I’m calling them kids–I sound like Gandalf the Grey), only the most diehard of Cal fans thought we’d be competing for the title. In fact, even that first goal seemed pretty lofty, since we all knew Oregon would be a juggernaut, the Rose Bowl would give us difficulty, and ASU and OSU would trouble us. Add in the loss of Marshawn and the suspect defense.

In the end, many of us just got swept up along with everyone else in the rankings game while ignoring the gameplay. I wasn’t nearly as devastated by the two losses as I was after the Arizona game, albeit probably a little panicky that we just blew #1. I knew this team was flawed. We let crappy teams back into our games. We gave up 31 to a Tennessee team with no receiving playmakers. We squeaked by our biggest challenger despite giving up 500 yards. The flaws were there. Eventually they all added up.

So we’re at 5-2. Not exactly the way we expected it, but I’d say right on par with where we thought we’d be at the start of the season. The fall wasn’t exactly graceful, but this Cal team has shown very rare flashes of greatness. Hopefully their best will be good enough to run the table, because they can afford no more mistakes between here and December if they want to keep those flickering BCS hopes alight.

Although I still wish we had passed more in the 4th quarter…

Anyway, here’s Tedford’s interview. Listening to him speak always has a calming effect on me. It should be his press interviews, pancakes, chamomile tea and honey in both before bed. Always a good way to calm the frayed nerves.

The Cal-UCLA torrent is up. Of course, I can’t imagine why any regular Cal fan would subject themselves to this horror again. I’ll be looking at it of course; one because I’m analyzing every game, and two because I enjoy watching my eyes burn in my sockets.

One Cal player delves deep into the soul after the jump.

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Virginia Tech-Boston College, Live

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, October 25th, 2007

I will be watching and documenting most of the game at my sister sports site, Get Up Eight Times. Follow the action here.

Time to enter Sandman folks.

[youtube 5h1EW5z1wdc]

EDIT: Well, that was shitty. Anyone who followed the live action above knows how awesome my night was, so you’ll be spared the histrionics here.

Thoughts? Well, Matt Ryan pulled through and puts himself at the forefront of the Heisman race, since everyone in the SEC continues to kill each other. Which is fine, since 80 percent of players who win the Heisman go on to flounder in the NFL, especially considering how long it took him to step into his passes. He did remind me of Brett Favre with that ridiculous for those last three minutes; he also reminded me of Rob Johnson for the first fifty-seven. So don’t take too much from this.

An astounding three minutes of play negated 57 minutes of dominance by Virginia Tech, proving (1) the ACC is really turgid, and (2) Virginia Tech will end up in their usual two-tier bowl and lose, again. So much for the college football gods being kind to Tech. I guess this is what happens when you stand by a dog-killer.

I was not impressed by BC’s offensive line, and that “#1 run defense” was undeniably exposed against an inept Hokie ground game. If Boston College somehow manages to go undefeated, they will get crushed in the title game by whatever defense they face. Here’s hoping they end up in the Orange Bowl and get crushed there.

And It Begins Again (Action Jackson Preview, Week 9)

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

autzen100

Other than the obviously important matchup (7 PM PST on FSN, available in HD if you’re not aware), it is looking like the most pivotal week of the year for the big fish left in the pond.

Here is the TV Coverage (including coverage maps for the ABC local games)
And Announcing Coverage, for those who care. I guess those clones of Keith Jackson haven’t been mass-produced yet, because I seriously don’t know who half of these stiffs are.

(Just for the record, I’ve been kind of shell-shocked from these last two weeks, so I should get back to Golden Bear football next week. I’m barely able to register coherent thoughts about the Golden Bears right now. I feel like I’m waking up drunk and falling asleep stoned. Don’t worry, either I’ll be too numb next week or back to business, so everything should be back to normal. Consider this post filler.)

Thursday–For all the marbles in the Darned Tooting ACC (All PST)
#
2 Boston College at #8 Virginia Tech, 4:45, ESPN: Very big game. I might actually watch it all. That would be a first time for an ACC showdown. Ever. (Also, writeups like these make me want to burn down Chestnut Hill.)
Side-dish: Air Force at New Mexico, 6:00, Versus: The Poinsettia Bowl might be at stake.

Friday–This Night Be WAC

Boise State at Fresno State, 6:00, ESPN: A showdown between the teams most likely to knock off Hawaii. Unfortunately, they have to go to the island to do that.

Saturday–Pac-10 Marathon!
Last week was the SEC’s twelve hour tailgate–here we go with the Pac-10.
#9 USC at #5 Oregon, 12:00, FSN: Oregon’s offense versus USC’s star defenders. The Ducks look a little too overwhelming this time around; is Dennis Dixon the Pac-10’s Vince Young? Of course, no one in USC seems terribly frightened. I guess endless national titles will do that to you.
UCLA at Wazzu, 3:30, FSN: I just have a feeling I’ll be embarrassed after watching this one.
#18 Cal at #7 ASU, 7:00, FSN: We’ll know very soon if the Sun Devils are contenders or just ready to become the latest upset victim. I can’t believe I’d be saying this even three days ago. But hey, at least they want to wear our colors.

Not broadcasted,
Arizona at Washington, 12:00: Probably for everyone’s good.
Stanford at Oregon State, 3:30: We’ll know a lot more about these two teams. I wouldn’t be surprised if they both go to bowls. Yes, even the ‘Furd.

Anyone watching this weekend? It’s always more fun to group up with people.

Onto the main events outside of the Left Coast.

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Topics: Pac-10, Previews, Sports | Comments Off on And It Begins Again (Action Jackson Preview, Week 9)

Ask the Readers: Who’s Your #1?

Posted by: Avinash on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

California UCLA Football

This is one of those wishful thinking posts. But well…yeah. You know. Everything looks pretty bad for Golden Bear football, which descended from paradise to inferno in about a week and a half. From #1 to “Tedford’s sucking it up.” Not a pleasant fluctuation, but the indignation is pretty amusing.

But there is a #1 out there, somewhere. Let’s separate the wheat from the chaff. I think we’re lying somewhere in the husk. So I ask the question…Who’s your #1? Vote in the poll in the sidebar and leave thoughts in the comments.

I decided to analyze this question. For far too long.

Undefeated…for how much longer?: There are five undefeateds left in Divison I, and I have zero confidence that any of them are the best team in the land. Arizona State, Boston College and Hawaii were all off, Ohio State had to fend off Michigan State 24-17 after taking a 24-0 lead early, and Kansas (yes, Kansas) survived a tough road trip to Boulder, 19-14 over Colorado. If Cal played any of those teams this week, I’m certain we could beat three of them, and moderately confident we could hold our own against the other two. And we’re ranked 20th. Shows how bizarre this season has been.

The one-loss ponies. LSU, Oregon, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Oklahoma, South Florida, Missouri, USC are all in this house. The Trojans might have the most embarrassing loss of the year, yet a win at Autzen this year puts them back in the driver’s seat for the Rose Bowl. Oregon could very well take control of the Pac-10 in the next two weeks despite having no defense. Although LSU has the most impressive wins, it’s hard for me to see them running the table into the first week of December. Not with that maniac in control. I don’t know how this Oklahoma team can be any good. The rest of the teams probably make the BCS queasy–if Virginia-Virginia Tech ends up deciding who plays in New Orleans, expect a leap in NCAA suicide rates.

The dark horses. All the SEC East, which is looking more like everyone will ravage each other, resulting in the finest 8-4 teams to ever grace the earth. Add in Michigan, Penn St., Texas, Cal *sigh*, UCLA, etc. who need approximately 20 losses ahead of them to hope for a chance at #1. It’s funny, because most of these two-loss teams would throttle the undefeateds. But since Cal gets ASU, Penn St. gets Ohio St., BC gets Va. Tech and Kansas gets Texas A&M…we could very well be down to Colt Brennan’s Hawaii.

And there’s a scenario that makes any college football purist retch.

If I had a Blogpoll, here’s what my ballot would look like (without the prettiness of MGOBlog’s design). And I’m ranking this in terms of “I’m confident #1 will beat #2 right now”, not “I’m #1 because I beat Akron, Youngstown State and Kent State by a combined 50 some points.” Jump for it.

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Topics: College Football, Sports | Comments Off on Ask the Readers: Who’s Your #1?

Quick Hits, Cal-UCLA (Report Card)

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, October 22nd, 2007

calucla

The loss is still pretty numb to me. I just watched as much sports as possible, from Les Miles being a bonehead and having it pay off (ugh) to watching the Red Sox score 100 runs this weekend. I just thought that these past two weeks were a return to the mean, because this Cal team never struck me the way past teams did. I was confident in them, but never completely sure they could pull through week-by-week, if that makes sense. Somewhere along the line the flaws would show.

Then I read this little snippet, and slowly it dawned on me:

“There is another type of parity involved in some games — parity of coaching. We have been outcoached in every game but Cal.”

We were outcoached by the laughingstock of our league, and it’s been the ONLY TIME THIS YEAR that he’s done that to anyone! It’s painful, but it’s true. One thing’s for sure–I’m on the Fire Dorrell bandwagon now. I don’t think I can survive another loss to his sorry ass. Watching them blow a game to Wazzu or Arizona the next two weeks will make this loss all the more embarrassing.

So let’s go through this, Tightwad style (sorry Tightwad if you’re reading this, I know I’m going to butcher it).

Quarterback play: B-. This was a B until the pick-six, which is kind of sad (I’m discounting the last INT; the game was for all practical purposes over). Very efficient game from Longshore for three quarters, although he did throw a huge pick in UCLA territory that was a little behind Hawkins in the 3rd. But I was very confident with him in the pocket. It makes the ending that much more exasperating.

Running game: D-. We got mauled. Plain and simple. The UCLA D-line pushed through our O-line with ease, allowing the linebackers to penetrate and ruthlessly pursue Justin off tackle, in between tackles, anywhere. The fact that Tedford stubbornly stuck with the run makes poor Forsett look that much worse. We should not have been running that much in the 4th quarter and played clock management–we were only up by two, not seven or ten!

Almost all drives that were run-heavy led to punts. We were stopped at the goal-line, at midfield, in our own territory, whereever. Forsett is not a power-runner; he does not wear on the defense as time goes on. If he wasn’t getting going by the 4th quarter, he wasn’t getting going at all. Surprisingly few touches for Jahvid Best, whose speed might have been something for UCLA to reckon with. Even if he did have another costly fumble (which was a collective error between Longshore, Best and the O-line for the easy penetration), at least it provides another option.

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Action Jackson Recap (College Football, Week 8)

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Sometimes the best way to get rid of negative feelings is to think outward. As in, looking at the rest of the grand college football landscape. Very exciting times outside of the Rose Bowl.

stewartoregon Pac-10: Oregon 55, Washington 34–If only Washington was more than Jake Locker. As it is, they put together valiant two to three quarter performances before completely falling apart.
Of worth noting: Ducks defense is about even with ours in terms of putridity. But Bellotti seems to have grasped that, and has no reservations about running up the score. It’s hard to lose games when you can rush for 460 yards on the ground, with Jonathan Stewart accounting for 254 and 2 TDs.

USC 38, Notre Dame 0–It meant nothing, it is nothing. It just makes our UCLA loss all the more ghastly and inexplicable. Moving on.

Stanford 21, Arizona 20–After watching two minutes of this game for therapy reasons, I turned it off for fear of going blind. Arizona outgained Stanford by 100 yards and made them punt seven times, forced four fumbles but only recovered one, had a turnover differential of +1, actually ran the ball…and somehow still lost. No matter how many Pac-10 teams he knocks out of the BCS race in November, start the death watch for Mike Stoops (fun note: he said a missed field goal in the 3rd quarter was pretty much “the game”, nice of you to throw your kicker way under the bus)–he is gonnne.

Off are OSU after beating us, ASU getting ready for a brutal four week stretch (Cal, at Oregon, at UCLA, USC), and Wazzu busy trying to lure Mike Price and his stripper back to Pullman.

mikeprice

“ROLL TIDE ROLL!”

Speaking of Tide…let’s move to the conference of football after the jump.

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Topics: College Football, Pac-10, Sports | Comments Off on Action Jackson Recap (College Football, Week 8)

Well, That Wasn’t Fun

Posted by: Avinash on Saturday, October 20th, 2007

I do find the whole experience of being #1 for 2 hours very enjoyable in retrospect, since we could be out of the rankings by next Sunday. I don’t know why people are so keen on us going to the Rose Bowl. That place seems to bring out the worst in us. At least you only need a BART ride to get to the Emerald Bowl.

I can’t say I was surprised. The defense had been teetering like a house of cards for the past two games, and this time it fell apart (there were individual standouts, but the collective effort was gone). The playcalling was…questionable. Very questionable–so conservative it made Pat Robertson blush. I love Tedford, but two runs on 1st and 10 at the UCLA 35 when our field goal kicker looks more shaky than Byung-Hyun Kim?

Last week left me disgusted and bitter; this week just leaves me cold. All the doubters were right–place the Bears against a physical ground game and a fast defense, and they will be exposed. Oregon State opened the seal, UCLA busted it open. And now comes the most talented of the bunch, ASU next week. This year went from magical to moribund in the span of a week. It makes me sad…but this team never dominated like the 2004 team, or overawed me like the 2006 team. That we even got to hypothetically hold #1 was overachieving.

And yes, I know my coping mechanism might seem pretty dopey. I know most of you want Tedford and Gregory sacked right now, Longshore benched for Riley, and that the Big Game is all but lost. But I’ve retreated into far many dark corners in the past to be angry anymore. You just have to keep on hoping next year is the year, hope the players and coaches learn from this, make the adjustments for next week and the long-term. And there’s plenty of time for that.Now, to satiate my cold heart over a lost season, I’m going to watch that mess of a Stanford-Arizona game in a battle for last place. Sometimes the best way to heal new wounds is to realize that you could be much worse off.

The Bears Are Roaring, The Baby Bears Are Moaning (Cal-UCLA Preview)

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, October 19th, 2007

KevinRileyTenacity

Unless I make a 100% recovery, I won’t be writing too much this weekend–my body is still battling for its constitutional right to be healthy (that is a right, isn’t it?). I’ll be monitoring the games as best as I can, and give you my thoughts on Monday. I know this is literally the worst time in the world for me to be sick, and I apologize to all my readers, but there’s really nothing I can do but rest and watch games prostrate on the futon. Utterly craptastic. Let’s point some big middle fingers at my stomach shall we?

Let’s get to the game.

Longshore’s ankle refuses to heal, meaning Kevin Riley will probably be behind center on Saturday again. If he does get the start, hopefully the jitters that plagued his first twenty minutes on the field will be behind him for his first road start. Robert Jordan and Cameron Morrah should be back to full strength. Our defensive injuries seem to be taking a little longer.

Sadly, it looks like Tom Schneider’s season (and Bears career) is over. He’s petitioning for a sixth year of eligibility, but it’s not likely he’ll be allowed to return since he’s only been injured for one year. Jordan Kay will be in the role the rest of the season.

Despite the loss last week, Cal players are getting plenty of dap for their first half season performances. Alex Mack is one of the semifinalists for the Rotary Lombardi award, and is also in the Sporting News All-American college lineup with Desean.

Turning to UCLA, Bruin Roar has his partisan but lighthearted fark manips. All pretty funny and misleading, but I have an addition that I certainly think he’ll enjoy (my first photoshop creation, pardon the crudeness). Speaking of “Kal-Aid”…

tedforddorrell

Thoughts and previews around the Net after we jump.

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Topics: Blogs, Cal Football, Sports | Comments Off on The Bears Are Roaring, The Baby Bears Are Moaning (Cal-UCLA Preview)

Ask the Readers: How Do You Cope With Defeat?

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, October 18th, 2007

calsuccess

Apparently, I do it by writing seven unbelievably rambling posts in the wee hours of the night following said defeat, to quell any feelings of depression and angst. How about you?

Some responses from a place that knows how to cope best, The Bear Insider. Lots of humor, sage wisdom, and sanguine waxing about what lies ahead.


I turned off the TV, got up and went to clean out the garage, which I’d been putting off for weeks. I’m gonna build my own little brewery down there so I don’t have to do it in the kitchen, and the place is a friggin pigsty. Was, anyways. It was incredibly therapeutic…

I hate to say it, but being a Cal football fan has made me pretty good at dealing with defeat. We’ve had some saddening setbacks in our program’s history. At first, I’m usually in disbelief or in a state of utter depression. Last night, I was shocked by the loss. It was like I had been punched in the stomach. To be honest though, I was pretty cool about it all around. I commended Riley’s effort and began to break down the loss and what it means for us at the stadium. I kind of worked things out in my head about what we will have to do to get a Rose Bowl this season after this loss, and what the team needs to work on to win out.

After the initial blow, I recovered reasonably quickly, though I was still kind of depressed all night (I never turned on ESPN, I couldn’t stomach it). By now I’m still let down, but I’m feeling pretty good about the rest of our season. The sun is still shining bright, and while we are no longer #2 in the nation, we’re still in the top 10, if we win out we go to the Rose Bowl, we have a great coach, a strong team, a great QB who willdeerhunter rise into the starting position in a few years, and lots to look forward too…

Drank a bottle of not very good wine and yelled a lot in a motel in Batesville Mississippi. I was already not in good humor because Ole Miss had been beaten by Sabins hired refs, and for my Bears to lose just added to the angst. The only good news was that some Bama folks in the room next to mine started knocking on the walls and telling me to shut up. I’m 66 years old and I havn’t pulled a stunt like that in years. I wasn’t pi–ed at the Bears, just the football gods…

I dressed up in my Bobby D costume, and had someone dressed up in a Beavers mascot costume continually slap me in the face screaming “Mau! Mau!” as I screamed back “THREE BULLETS, THREE BULLETS!”…

5 slices of pizza, 3 chocolate chip cookies & silence…

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Battling For January–Inside the Pac-10, Part II

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Part I here.

osuwin“Not a worry in the world.”
Oregon State (4-3, 2-2 in the Pac-10)

Feisty win by the Beavers. That being said, it’s hard for me to see them passing any one of the top four contenders on this list, because smarter defensive coordinators will remember that pressuring Canfield will lead him to lunge the ball into triple coverage. I see them winning three of their last five and punching a ticket to San Francisco or Vegas and being perfectly happy with it; if they’re lucky one of the top four above them will self-destruct and they could make it to San Diego.

Must be a calmer experience to have modest expectations; even if you fail at meeting them, it can’t feel too bad.

“The time is now.”
USC (5-1, 3-1 in the Pac-10)
And literally, it’s now for this team to put up or fall out. At Notre Dame, at Oregon, Oregon State, at Cal, at ASU, UCLA to finish. They’ve looked terrible the past three weeks against the dregs of the Pac-10. I talked about chemistry, and it showed all throughout that Arizona game when the Wildcats looked better for fifty minutes of the sixty (in terms of debuts for QBs of the future, Riley>>>Sanchez).

TrojansAssI really don’t know what to make of this team. On one hand, their O-line faces continual decimation and teams with virtually no pass rush blow by the remnants. On the other, after the Stanford loss, no one really fears the Trojans anymore–they’re deeply vulnerable, and Arizona nitpicked at their talent for three quarters before finally folding. (Oh, I guess that’s trouble on both hands.) You have a feeling if this is ever a time for USC to go down, this will be it.

Of course this is probably the point in the story where they crush Notre Dame by 48 and set up a death match in Autzen, squeak out a win, annihilate the Beavers, and take us to the wire at Cal. You’d prefer if the Trojans die before you face them, but somehow you just know they won’t.

California (5-1, 2-1 in the Pac-10)
calflagDespite the loss, the Bears still have destiny in their hands. Win out and we’re BCS bound. But that’s always easy enough to say–our last three opportunities at that elusive goal (OSU last week, at Arizona last year, at USC in 2004) have slipped away. Will we bounce back and show the fortitude of the ’04 team that would end up getting hosed, or let everything fade away like we did last year?

The offense will now be tested with some veteran defenses in UCLA and ASU, plus the always looming threat of USC two weeks after, trap games with the Washington schools bookending that important matchup, and then two weeks to prepare for the Biggest Game. The defense always worries me, considering its ability to allow any offense to rack up 400 yards. I never feel like we’ve won until we hit 38. Never. Add in that the Longshore ankle looks like it’ll be a recurring problem, and the offensive line did have trouble last week against a fast OSU defense. Expect two big battles forthcoming on the road. Should go without saying wins are imperative.

newduckOregon (5-1, 2-1 in the Pac-10)
70 percent of the time, in that sort of close game, Oregon beats Cal. There were really fluky turnovers (especially the batting at the line of scrimmage and the airmail to Felder), and even then the Bears couldn’t close the deal (seven points off three turnovers?). I just felt lucky to get out of Autzen with the W. Not to mention this team also has the advantage of USC AND ASU coming up to their house to decide matters. Talk about the cards lining up in your favor.

That being said, the injuries to Colvin and Johnson deeply wound their offensive firepower. Don’t be fooled by the 53 they lit up on Wazzu–that’s a weekly occurrence for the Cougars on the road. They’ve only played one defense that’s allowed under 380 yards this year, and that was the shellshocked Michigan team they battered around at the Big House. As Cal proved last week, good defense can capably hold good offense at bay.

dennisericksonArizona State (7-0, 4-0 in the Pac-10)
Slow starts, fast finishes. Pretty much the way you can describe this Sun Devil team, who has fallen behind Colorado 14-0, Oregon State 19-0, Washington State 17-14, Washington 17-10, before rallying to outscore these teams by a combined 120-19. And yeah, half of those teams might suck, but you’d have to be up 31 at halftime for me to even be remotely comfortable against the Sun Devils; once the pitchforks start blazing, the fire doesn’t stop burning.

But again…the moment the faithful in Tempe picked up their schedules, they pencilled in six wins by this point. They were expected to beat almost everyone, top to bottom. Wazzu took them to the wire in Pullman (ASU never looked right at all in that game), and Oregon State was in control of their game before Canfield started airmailing gifts to the ASU defense. Everyone knew the test would be the end of the road, and that’s where it stands. (Sidenote: Alcoholic offenses? Probably be on the rise again.)

In other words, they’re like Cal last Saturday–sitting in the driver’s seat of the Pac-10, just waiting to be knocked off. Don’t you love college football, a sport where the only week you want to be on top is the last?

Share your thoughts on the second half of the Pac-10 season. Who’s going to be BCS-bound? Who will take the conference? Vote in the sidebar and voice in the comments.

Here are the big matchups left, right after the jump.

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Topics: Cal Football, Pac-10, Sports | Comments Off on Battling For January–Inside the Pac-10, Part II