Arizona State at Cal Torrent & Highlights

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, October 6th, 2008

Torrent for downloading here.

Highlights here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.

Cal – Arizona State Report Card

Posted by: Avinash on Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Quarterback: Feels like we haven’t discussed this topic enough, eh? Longshore did enough to win the game, but he didn’t do enough to distinguish himself from Kevin Riley. On one hand, the Cal quarterback kept things simple with swing dumps and screens early. On the other, Nate floated a few passes that took some adjustment by the receivers to get and underthrew a few others.

Although he started steady and solid, again his efficiency dropped quarter by quarter, drive by drive. By the 4th quarter the Cal offense was stagnant, and to Longshore’s credit he did not screw it up by any means (probably because Cignetti put the clamps down).

The interception makes more sense watching it on TV, as the designed screen play seemed to break apart as Vereen ran into a waiting defensive end. But it reinforces prior notions about Longshore that we already knew coming in, that he is interception prone if the designed play breaks down. All you can do is shrug and hope both quarterbacks keep on working toward getting better, although you have to wonder if either will actually gain the true starting spot.

Grade: B

Running back: Shane Vereen had some nice runs today, but obviously slowed down by the end. He also got plenty of screen passes early, and one could argue that taking the full mantle from Jahvid Best really faitgued him after the first half.

I was puzzled by the absence of Tracy Slocum, who didn’t touch the ball once (nor touch the field once, at least from what I saw). I have my suspicions though, and it might have something to do with this. It would have been interesting if Tedford would have used the redshirt freshman Deboskie in relief, but thankfully Vereen was effective enough.

EDIT: Slocum did return one kick though. The mystery deepens.

Grade: B+

Receivers: LayRelle Cunningham had a few more drops. One touchdown pass was just out of another receiver’s hands. But the old guard (Nyan Boateng, Cunningham and Cameron Morrah) all stepped up and made solid contributions, making some good catches and making some of Longshore’s less-desireable throws look better. Two of the touchdown passes required some adjustment by Boateng and Morrah, but they eventually found the seams.

Grade: B+

Run blocking: I grow more worried about the offensive line every week. The injuries to Guarnero and Tepper are going to take their toll as the season winds on. Mitchell Schwartz and Alex Mack are the only two reliable guys out there. The jury’s still out on Boskovich (first start, probably had his highs and lows), but Norris Malele and Chet Teofilio have not been up to the task.

A majority of the penetration in yesterday’s game came from not only the guard areas but the right side, as Arizona State kept on finding holes to plug Vereen in. The ebb is worrisome, and a good Pac-10 defense will exploit those mistakes and freeze the defense in their track. Yesterday’s performance was acceptable given the 10-17 point lead. It won’t be acceptable in future conference games.

Grade: C+

Pass Protection: Same concern. Arizona State only sacked Longshore once (who showed some nice evasive manuevers in avoiding going down), but they forced him out of the pocket enough to make him uncomfortable for much of the second half. Unlike many of the skill positions, the offensive line cannot make many more adjustments. It’s pancake or be pancaked.

Grade: C+

Run defense: You can never be unhappy with allowing only 2.2 yards per carry. Tyson Alualu forced a huge fumble. Derrick Hill and Mike Mohamed fared well in making tackles, and Cameron Jordan was everywhere (more on him in the next section). Only a few rushes went over 10 yards and the majority were under five. It’ll be interesting if the loss of Davis eventually affects them long-term; they’re off to a good start so far.

Grade: A

Pass rush: Exit Rulon Davis, enter Cameron Jordan. I thought we’d miss Davis a lot, but you could hardly tell the way Jordan was making Rudy Carpenter his personal hugbuddy. Add in Follett pain training Carpenter and you can’t be happier with the way the Bears took advantage of the Sun Devil offensive line…without much of a pass rush.

Grade: A- (for some missed sacks and broken tackles, much due to Carpenter’s tendency to bail out of the pocket rather than looking for a throw).

Pass defense: Am I actually gushing about a Bob Gregory pass defense? Forget Allotti’s overhyped Duck defensive backs; Darian Hagan and Syd’Quan Thompson are emerging as the class of the Pac-10. The Squid’s in a class of his own, breaking up four passes, including a few routes that would have like been touchdowns. Chris Conte was the victim of an iffy PI call, but he made up for it with a huge interception on an excellent read of Rudy Carpenter’s throw.  Sean Cattouse saved a Carpenter touchdown in much the same way. Only one bad read by Thompson kept the defense from posting a passing shutout on the scoring front.

(EDIT: The Bear Will Not Quit has a nice comment that elucidates what happens on the first Arizona State touchdown: “Iit wasn’t a lapse by Syd that led to the TD. It was Cattouse at safety. They were in zone, and Syd stayed with the guy till he went deep, at which point Cattouse was supposed to pick him up. He reacted terribly late, and then took a bad angle. The main camera angle didn’t pick it up, but on a couple replays you could see it.”

The good performance this week probably means Willie Tuitama and Sonny Lubick will drive me nuts next time around. I’m scared to death of going back to Tucson.

Grade: A

Special teams: I definitely deserved Blue Hen Bear’s wrath for ignoring this: Bryan Anger is going to be special. His 72 yard boom effectively ended the game, because it pinned Rudy deep and he could do nothing with it. Two and a half crucial minutes past and the window Arizona State needed to succeed became too narrow for them to squeeze through.

As for coverage, I have nothing much to say about them. That’s a good thing.

Grade: B+

Coaching: Frank Cignetti’s playcalling tendencies were charted long before the season started, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised by the sterilized second half offense. Play conservative, run the most predictable sets, and score. I won’t gripe today since it didn’t cost us anything. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this play it safe strategy cost us in the future.

Grade: B-

Overall: You have to be impressed with the way the Bears defense smothered Rudy Carpenter in one of his worst performances since the 2006 season. For the first time in several seasons I feel fairly comfortable with the defense on the field (fairly, not totally), although it remains to be seen how well they fare the deeper they run into conference play.

But the offense is now nearly at the halfway point of 2008, and we STILL have (1) no solid picture of who our quarterback will be, (2) a beaten up offensive line that will only get tested further, and (3) inexperienced receivers dropping balls, running several bad, routes, etc.. They’ve had solid quarters, solid halves, but no solid games.

A win’s a win. But how much has Cal proven by going 4-1 considering the quality of their opponents? Arizona State is looking like a shell of their 2007 success and only Michigan State can be considered a true quality victory insofar. They’ve still got a ways to go before they’ve proven anything, and more hiccups along the road are to be expected.

Grade: B

Submit your grades in the comments.

Arizona State – California Liveblog

Posted by: Avinash on Saturday, October 4th, 2008

(For finding people to watch the game with in the bars or online, click here and read this post for updates heading into gametime. For a preview of the game, click here.)

As usual, activities will kick off about 15 minutes before the game gets going on television. Feel free to ask questions during the game, make comments about the way the Golden Bears are playing by typing in below, submit links or tips during the game about what’s going on, and feel free to add your opinions. Also, be willing to be happy. Thoughtful commenters will be rewarded with auto-publishing of their comments (anything you say is now etched in stone!).

Click Here if you’re having trouble viewing the liveblog below. It’ll pop up and you can comment away!

Watching Cal-Arizona State Online or In The Bars

Posted by: Avinash on Saturday, October 4th, 2008
Broadcast info here.
So I found most of the possible locations for viewing Cal football and put them on the Google Map here for Bears fans, so I decided to do it for every Pac-10 team. Oregon, Oregon St., Washington, Wazzu, USC, UCLA, ASU, Arizona all are mapped out. Except for the ‘Furd, because everyone knows they don’t have fans.
I cannot verify these are the current locations for this week’s games; you’ll have to call the bar or contact your local alum officials to make sure the game is going on.

However, these aren’t all the locations, there are also meetups by our team’s opponents being organized. I’ve included the locations to Arizona State meetups in case you can’t make it or are nowhere close to the Cal meetups. So you should have almost all the official places to watch the game at your disposal.

As for watching online, there should be a few streams available. It’ll be available on ESPN360 for sure, if you have the proper cable/satellite package–there should be at least one online stream by at least one Cal fan out there. I’ll have the link to the feed posted on the liveblog page and probably here too.
Liveblog starts at 3:15 PM EST/12:15 PM PST, kickoff is just after the bottom of the hour. Seeya then.

Stake Your Place: Arizona State Preview

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, October 3rd, 2008

From a yardage standpoint, Cal looked on even terms with the Sun Devils last season (359 to 363). The Bears defense also came up big early, garnerng an early fumble return for a touchdown and two sacks and maintaining strong pressure on Carpenter through the first half. Even the running game was less than sparkling, as the unsteady run defense gave up only 2.7 yards per carry even as Arizona State took over the game.

It didn’t matter though, because the Sun Devils made up for the promising start with time, time, time. Arizona State held the ball for 37 minutes , including 12 minutes in the fourth quarter to rush the Bears out of the desert. Arizona State converted nearly half of their third down conversions, and both of their fourth down conversions, both of which resulted in touchdowns on their respective drive. Just like Oregon State, those conversions made all the difference.

Injuries, penalties, and those aforementioned late turnovers in turn allowed Arizona State to just run out the ball on Cal’s Rose Bowl hopes and placed themselves in a position to dominate the Pac-10. So what comes next?

Bears Wih Fangs has the following:

Veteran senior Rudy Carpenter is throwing his way into ASU records books, and is the obvious focal point on the Sun Devil offense. However, this is mostly attributed to ASU’s struggling rushing game, which currently ranks 110th out of 119 teams in Division 1 Ball.

The return of RB Keegan Herring figures to help (please no pitches to the outside, our defense doesn’t like that), especially when Bears fans remember the way Keegan contributed in ripping Cal a new one on the ground in last year’ win. But how much Herring will matter remains to be seen, with ASU’s patchwork offensive line that features a plethora of young green talent.

It’s a good thing they have Herring back, because Arizona State’s rushing game can best be described as turgid. Against UNLV, the eighth worst rushing defense in the country, they managed a glorious 3.64 yards per carry. It bottomed out against Georgia at home, managing a superb 19 carry, 4 yard performance.

Keegan Herring has been out of the lineup, but his stats from last season don’t seem to indicate he’s capable of dominant stretches as opposed to schizophrenic play.

Although Herring did spectacular things against UCLA and Oregon, he was stuck in the mud against USC and laid eggs against Colorado and Washington State. Against Cal he was right at average, doing no more, no less.  We should see a steady diet of Herring and Nance, but they averaged only 4 yards per carry in last year’s games. They should be watched, but they shouldn’t be the focal point given how strong our run defense has looked this season (currently 1st in the Pac-10).

The key is as always Carpenter, who has either played average or above average against the defenses he faces. It was the trend last year, and it continued into this season (including the Georgia game).

Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Riley’s Special Visitor

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, October 3rd, 2008

MIKE RILEY: (after Oregon State scores the touchdown with under two minutes left) OOH, I LIKE OUR CHANCES. Proud of our bunch of boys. Two top ten teams down in a row. We just keep on crashing the party.

Lyle Moveao: “We did it coach! 3-2 Baby, we rocking up the Pac-10!”

Mike Riley: What a darn nice fellow that Lyle boy is. I knew he’d be something someday. Yep, everything’s looking up now. Maybe we got a shot at bigger things…

(Thunder and lightning pound inside Riley’s head)

Riley: Gee golly Jeepers, who in the malarkey could be coming now?

Photo by Timothy K. Hamilton

God: WHO DARES TRY TO DISTURB MY CHOSEN PEOPLE???

Riley: Oh gosh, God? Is that you?

God: (sighs) No, it’s Sarah Palin. OF COURSE IT’S GOD.

Riley: Oh noes, what’s have I done Lord? Why have you come for me now?

God: Thoust can do what thee want within thy smoking heathens and they drug addict witch doctors in thou pagan woods. But thou art in THE COUNTRY OF GOD now Mike. Thou doesn’t mess with God’s people here and get away with it.

Riley: What do I gotta do?

God: Thou don’t have to do anything. In fact, that’s exactly what God wants thee to tell thy genius DC over here. Do nothing. Play the prevent. Prevent time from running off the clock.

Riley: (mesmerized) Sounds fantastic, my Lord.

God: Then when thoust give up the inevitable score in about thirty seconds, sit on your hands and get a monumental three and out. One for the ages. A run out of bounds and two passes will do the trick, doesn’t thou think?

Riley: Mmm…going through the motions. I can manage that. I’m very good at that.

God: Excellent. The chosen ones will take care of the rest. Now thou can go back to winning 7 to 8 games on the West Coast. Just don’t mess with us here, k?

Riley: Mmmk, okie dokie.

God: Good Mike, I’m glad thou came to thy senses. That spawn of Satan Neuweasel fellow took a little bit longer to convince. Had to threaten him with frogs in the mouth. Most unpleasant. His reckoning was swift and painful. He isn’t messing with God’s servant in the Pac-10.

Riley: Your servant? Who could that…

God: Oops, gotta go. Hey, you’d better watch the game, looks like they’re lining up for the kick. *poof*

Riley: What a nice guy. I just wish…wait…why is the game tied? And what is going…

(Utah fans rush the field, gates to The Promised Land open, everyone in Ute red gets sucked into the portal and into the light, while darkness rushes over the befuddled and disheleved Oregon State coaching staff and players as the celebration and noise dissipates into the ether.)

Riley: Uh….anyone there?

Lyle: Coach, why the hell did you make me pass the ball?

Riley: Shut your yapper and find a match.

Wanted: Will Kick For Food

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

This Craiglist jobs ad was removed for undisclosed reasons from the sfbay area site. Although no one has been able to ascertain the identity of the poster and Craig Newmark has refused our phone calls, we have received exclusive copy of this  Can you figure it out?

A football team in the Bay Area desires your services immediately. Need a college scholarship? Are dirt poor and/or a soccer bum? Harbor resentment toward your absent father and have channelled that energy into kicking people in the face an ancient martial arts discipline? We’ll be happy to fund you full-ride. You don’t even have to attend classes, you just need to be able to bend your leg up straight and through.

Function: Must be able to kick. Bonus if you can do it in a straight line. For example, if you were to attempt to kick the ball on a 160 foot wide football field, your attempts would not put Cal fans in the stands in physical danger. The trajectory should not be enough to take anyone’s head off.

This matter is urgent, so the moment you reply and show some evidence of good form via picture, YouTube or 200 word essay, we’ll send a free taxi to your house. We’ll drive you straight to the stadium, provide you with a uniform. For every field goal you nail you get additional pizza money. Sweet deal eh?

[youtube 75bDmEugcxk]

Just email us back at iluvpetealamar at gmail dot com and we’ll fill you in on all the details! Get ready to ballstomp!

Warning: Hair gel disapproved of. Scientifically unproven, but via correlation and speculation, apparently inhibits ability of kicker to nail anything above chip shot range.

Double warning: Looking like the lovechild of Will Leitch will not aid your cause.

Thirty-Three and a Third

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Nation of Upsets: Week 5 Blogpoll

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, October 1st, 2008
Rank Team Delta
1 LSU 1
2 Oklahoma 3
3 Alabama 9
4 Penn State 4
5 Texas 1
6 Missouri 1
7 South Florida 3
8 Texas Tech 1
9 Utah 2
10 Brigham Young 3
11 Southern Cal 10
12 Auburn 2
13 Florida 10
14 Georgia 10
15 Vanderbilt
16 Ohio State 1
17 Kansas 3
18 Boise State 1
19 Oregon 3
20 Oklahoma State 3
21 Connecticut 5
22 Northwestern 4
23 Ball State 3
24 Kentucky 2
25 Virginia Tech 1
Dropped Out: Wake Forest (#16), Wisconsin (#18), TCU (#21), Illinois (#24), East Carolina (#25).

And this is the part of the story when things got interesting. IT IS ON!

I have indigestion writing it, but LSU is back at #1. Although they have neither the most talented team that remains undefeated–that honor goes to Oklahoma–nor the most impressive victories on the schedule–that honor clearly goes to Alabama–they are about second in each category. Oklahoma pasted TCU, which was totally predictable and I couldn’t give a damn because it’s Oklahoma and Bob Stoops runs Oklahoma and he can go eat a dick.

By résumé alone, ‘Bama remains perched at the top of the college football world. You could argue how much that Clemson win was worth, but there’s no debate as to how decisive that Georgia detonation was. But I can’t be totally sold on a team that was struggling to win six games a year ago, a team that lost to UL-Monroe at home all but seven games ago, a team that wasn’t even ranked in the top 25 of Phil Steele’s rankings. One could argue that Nick Saban is a psychological genius, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost an upset or two as the season wears on and someone exploits upon the team’s inexperience.

The other team that looked mighty impressive was Penn State, which dueled Juice Williams until halftime before pulling away. Give credit to JoePa. Unlike that redneck Bowden, whose time at the top of a lopsided conference has come and gone, Paterno endures. This would mark the fifth decade (1968-77, 1978-87, …, 2008-?) where he contends for a major bowl bid. Truly remarkable.

You could argue plenty of ways as to who had the most embarrassing weekend: USC for looking flat for a half against the Beavers and not being able to catch up; Florida, for being totally Nutted in the Swamp by a markedly less talented team; or Georgia, who were blacked out for a half before placing impressive garbage points late. I just docked them each ten spots from last week’s polls and moved on. We could put odds at -10000 that they’ll be back in the top 10 in three weeks.

And I do hate to toot my horn, but I did say Ole Miss had top-25 worthy talent to begin the season. I am AWESOME!

Utah and BYU move up by default because they are undefeated and you’re not…South Florida, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma State wrap up the patsies on their schedule and move onto rugged competition…Ohio State begins its long climb back to national relevance…Oregon got to beatup the worst team on Earth…the ACC is on the cusp of irrelvance this season, with the winner of the rat race likely to face a solid beating at a midmajor to further black-eye the conference…but Virginia Tech saves them from being wiped off the planet after winning in Corn Nation…

And finally it’s time to acknowledge the work of those who remain among the unbeaten. UConn, Northwestern and Ball State and Kentucky have squeezed their way through pretty easy scheduling. Donald Brown is a fantasy god who continues to rake up impressive stats–one of these days it’ll end and I’ll be very sad. Northwestern this year is looking like Virginia last year, winning thrillers against Ohio (16-8) and Duke (24-20).  Hell, that’s Duke’s only loss, a statement that should make the entire establishment shudder.

Although I expect none of these teams to last in the big picture, 5-0’s still 5-0. A college football team that can win five games deserves to be ranked over the Wake Forests and the Virginia Tech’s of the world. And nothing gives me more delight than seeing FOX and the BCS commissioners shriek in horror at the thought of Ball State playing the ACC champ in the Orange Bowl.

All is content with the world right now. Which only means chaos is on the horizon.

(Thanks again to MgoBlog for setting this all up; you can view ballots by voter and ballots by team here)

Cal – Arizona State Broadcast Info. & Distribution Map

Posted by: Avinash on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

ESPN on ABC, 3:30 PM EST/12:30 PM PST
Announcers: Eric Collins, Rod Gilmore

The game will not be broadcast in High Definition. It would should be available on ESPN 360 if your cable provider allows it. For those of you outside the East Coast, I’ll try to find information for how to watch the game as we move closer to gametime.