California – Colorado State Report Card

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

Quarterbacks: Kevin Riley is a work in progress. Although his pass protection isn’t quite as good as we’d like it to be, and his receivers have dropped some catchable balls (including one touchdown) he’s still underthrowing catchable balls or misreading routes by quite a bit. The rapport with his wideouts isn’t quite there yet.

While I do think that Tedford has slightly restricted his gameplay abilities by forcing him to be a game manager, we have to entertain the possibility that Riley’s freewheeling ways are too much for his developing receiving corps to keep up with. While I expect Kevin to start on Saturday, it’s up in the air as to whether he finishes.

Grade: C

Nate Longshore was the better quarterback on the field on Saturday, and displayed shocking mobility in and outside of the pocket. While his throws weren’t on the mark in those instances, inside the pocket he went 8 for 11 (should have been 9). His audible to Jeremy Ross on the second touchdown was a thing of beauty.

Caveat: His excellent play came in garbage time, so we shouldn’t really put too much stock into this performance as a sign of things to come. Still, you have to be pleased that his horrifying Michigan State start hasn’t affected his management abilities.

Grade: A

Running backs: In the short run, Jahvid Best’s injury does not hurt us too much. Although we’ll miss his playmaking ability against the Sun Devils, Shane Vereen should be able to handle the load for at least a week (with Tracy Slocum spelling him). It was a strong performance from each of the Golden Bear trio, although neither topped 100 yards. They will be facing a real stiff test next week though, so they’ll have to get ready for that.

Caveat: Fumbles=pain.

Grade: B

Receivers: This is shaping up to be the least spectacular year for receivers in the Tedford era. This isn’t meant as a slight at any of the guys involved–Jeremy Ross, Nyan Boateng, Layrelle Cunningham, Verran Tucker, Cameron Morrah, and Sean Young all bring things to the table. But against terrible pass defenses like Colorado State and Washington State, we haven’t mustered much–only Best had more than two catches, and not one receiver topped 30 yards. Whether it’s a mix of disjointed quarterback play or missed routes or dropped balls, we can’t be encouraged heading by what we’ve seen against the easiest opponetns we’ll face.

They did perform much better with Longshore in the game though. So you have to wonder if this is a receiver issue or a quarterback issue. For those who’ve loved Calfor their offensive playmaking ability, you won’t see much this season. We are returning to convention.

Grade: B-

Run blocking: Solid yeoman effort.  Some missed blocks, few good 10-20 yard runs, and everything else sprewn in between. The less I have to say about this, the better.

Grade: B+

Pass protection: The loss of Guarnero hurts more than Best, probabably hurts more than Rulon Davis. The departure of Gibson and the injury to Tepper could cost the Bears in the long-run. Seeing Riley get pressured on more than one occasion even with the shift of Mitchell Schwartz to the left side did not build my confidence.

The Bears will have to rely more heavily on Alex Mack as the season progresses and even if Tepper returns. Pac-10 defenses are too good this season; this group will have to evolve as the season goes along.

Grade: B

Run defense: 2.7 yards per carry always puts a smile to your face. Although the loss of Davis will hurt along with the season-ending injury to Kendrick Payne, Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan have picked up the slack the 3-4. Zack Follett had his best game of the season, getting plenty of penetration into the backfield.

Grade: A

Pass rush: Four sacks is like ten in Bob Gregory’s defense. I’ll take it.

Grade: A

Pass defense: Chris Conte still looks fairly hapless back there, giving up Colorado State’s two hugest passing plays by losing his man in coverage for 98 total yards. Otherwise it was a solid effort against Billy Farris and his backup Kubiak, whose passes went for an average of 3 yards per carry and kept Colorado State from gaining any momentum before the rout was on. It was sweet redemption for Darian Hagan, who got burned at the tail-end of last year’s Colorado State game.

Grade: A-

Special Teams: I’m starting to think I should break up this group into punting and kicking, given that the former category continues its run of astounding success and the latter retains its staggering ineptitude. Anger was excellent, Syd’Quan dazzled thanks in part to excellent special teams blocking, we had another kick block returned for a touchdown, and the kicking continued to perplex. Just another typical week in Pete Alamar’s Special Teams world.

We tried directional kicking three times, and (surprise surprise) three times it boomed out of bounds. Once it didn’t even touch the field of play; Jordan Kay came this close to decapitating a Pac-10 official. Not sure if that’s a net-minus or net-plus. And David Seawright’s line-drive field goal left much to be desired. I never thought that of all the players we were losing from last season, Tom Schneider would be the guy we missed the most. We’re approaching that territory.

Grade: B

Coaching: Tedford was awfully chippy, wasn’t he? Whether he’s trying the Phil Jackson routine or not, it’ll be interesting to see if Riley performs better or worse in practice this week. While I don’t think we’re about to anoint the two-quarterback system utilized by LSU and Florida in their last two title runs, we might be approaching that territory.

The “soft” motivation definitely paid off with more physical play against Colorado State, although the Bears defense didn’t need much to take the Rams out of their game. The bend-don’t-break defense was solid. Bob Gregory deserves some dap for a good gameplan that allowed CSU a few third down conversions but not much scoring. Although we did get lucky with some turnovers.

Grade: B+

Overall: The feel of the game was totally weird. The Bears only had the ball on offense for 24 minutes and ran 26 less plays. They got 21 points from their special teams and defense; they turned the ball over twice. We won by 35, yet it felt like a net loss due to the injuries. We’re about to hit the meat grinder as banged up as any Pac-10 team out there. It’s going to be one heck of a battle for the crown now. Or at least a nice runner-up trophy.

Grade: B

The Longshore-Riley-Mansion Debates: Decision Making

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, September 29th, 2008

After four weeks of action by our football team, we continue the California Golden Bears quarterback debates of 2008.

MODERATOR: After a spirited first round, it’s time for a new topic. Mr. Longshore, for two years you were the starter under Jeff Tedford and ran his West Coast offense with great proficiency. Yet after you struggled through last season’s slide and lost your starting position at the beginning of this season, your name is being circulated back into the quarterback position.

NATE LONGSHORE: Well I’d like to say that although everyone’s been counting me out because they think my time is past, you just can’t get rid of me that quickly. I’m only going away if our team starts playing better without me, so even if I have my detractors I’m ready to keep on playing football whenever I get the chance.

Why has the quarterback competition been reopened? Well, to put it frankly, the hype about Kevin Riley has not matched his performance. He has been off his game and his receivers are not meshing with him, and we cannot tolerate either any longer. Tedford’s tough love is working right now, and this is just another sign that we have to trust our head coach.

MODERATOR: Mr. Riley, your response?

KEVIN RILEY: I respect Mr. Longshore’s trust in Coach Tedford’s ways, and as his current starting quarterback. However, we cannot let ourselves be blinded to trust our leaders. We have to open ourselves up to the input of what the players want, what our fans want. Trusting our leader is what got everyone so riled up last year, so we can’t let ourselves fall prey to these issues again.

Now, although Mr. Longshore has gutted it out many times for our team and been a good soldier, we have to ask ourselves whether his return will do long-term good for the Sturdy Golden Bears. Do you think the fans from Oakland to San Francisco, Los Angeles to New York, all throughout and abroad from these great United States, will stand for anything less than a return to the Cal football tradition they inherited from the Eldest Blues?

MODERATOR: Mr. Longshore, your response?

NATE: It is good for passionate Cal fans to discuss and debate this issue, even if they only address issues at the surface without knowing what’s going on inside.

However, wins are not measured with hope and optimism. They are measured with results, and so far Mr. Riley has not come close to meeting the expectations that his fanbase expected him to meet. Right now our players are in desperate need of leadership through actions rather than words, and all Mr. Riley has shown is that he’s capable of firing up the troops. That is not enough to succeed in the long-run.

MODERATOR: Mr. Riley, your response?

KEVIN: Well, you can’t argue with Nate’s experience. But does the solution he propose of security and stability hold much weight based on a few distinct scatter points? Mr. Longshore’s fourth quarter record speaks for itself, as does his abilities when the team is trailing. He seems to lack the requisite skills to step up in the clutch, something I’ve shown I’m capable of, even if I haven’t done it lately.

History argues that even if my opponent does provide our team with a quick sense of security, they also argue that in the long-run you’ll get more of the same from Cal football, and it’s a past that I think many Golden Bears fans want to turn away from. Our development depends on making sacrifices that will produce long-term success rather than short-term solutions.

Nate Longshore can’t be the solution if he’s been part of the problem to begin with!

NATE: If I may interject–

MODERATOR: Go ahead, Mr. Longshore.

NATE: What my fellow quarterback has said is a cute, but naive way at looking at how the past three games have gone for him. Mr. Riley has shown flashes of the quarterback he could be, but he has a long way to go and it is keeping the offense from meshing as a unit. Many of his throws were air-mailed against Washington State. He threw a ghastly pick against Maryland where him and the receiver didn’t exist on the same page. He has just missed receivers at various points. He is still not ready to assume senior leadership.

KEVIN: Look, Nate…

NATE: You just don’t understand, Mr. Riley. As a leader of our Coach Tedford’s offense for two years, I know all about the importance of reading progressions, finding your man, audibling out and taking it to the hilt.

BROCK MANSION: Can I just interject here?

MODERATOR: Yes, Mr. Mansion, please go ahead.

MANSION: It does not matter who is appointed because we still have a system that rewards bad kickers. Didn’t. Imagine when Cal has a game winning field goal to send…and you have Jordan Kay lining up from 41 yards? How many Cal fans will you kill that day? Why can’t the Bears fix the system before focusing on petty things like quarterback issues? Why are we recruiting from freaking soccer kickers?

Let me be the kicker. Let me have a stand in this fight. I’ll placehold and then swing my body over like I’m on a totem pole and then kick that sucker!

MODERATOR: Um, thank you. We’ll be back after this break.

Cal Torrents & Highlights: Maryland and Colorado State

Posted by: Avinash on Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Maryland 35, Cal 27

Torrent link here.

Highlights: Part I and Part II. Music mashup below.

[vimeo 1736002]


Cal 42, Colorado State 7

Torrent here.

Highlights here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV. Click “watch in high quality” for the best version.

Thanks as always goes to chicagoaubear.

Colorado State – California Liveblog

Posted by: Avinash on Saturday, September 27th, 2008

After two long agonizing weeks, Cal football’s back on! We have two potential online feeds, click here or click here to see if either is working.

No guarantees though, so keep Starkey radio in mind.

We might have guest moderators, we might not, since it’s a home game and practically all the bloggers will be there. Except me, because I’m cheap (will blog for food). Email me if you’re interested in guest-moderating, bonus points if you’ve commented here before and I’ll send you most of the instructions. The rest of you can just come along by for the action.

Click here if you’re having trouble viewing the liveblog below; it’ll pop-up for you!

We go live at 6 PM EST, 3 PM PST. See you on the other side.

A Nonsensical Preview of Cal-Colorado State, With Beaver on the Side

Posted by: Avinash on Saturday, September 27th, 2008

For those looking for stream information, there is none yet. It is not looking good, and you might as well get the All-Access Pass and follow Starkey if you want a 100% chance at following the game. Bar locations are being updated as soon as I can find them (and the map’s open for anyone to edit, so if you have locations go ahead and place your own).

* * *

So much to say about Thursday’s game; for now I’ll just reiterate what Tony mentioned in the aftermath: No one is safe. Didn’t President Bush teach you anything? Mike Riley can own the big bad Red Helmets with two star recruits and a real life football dwarf!

Say all you want about the stupidity of the BCS, but the NFL regular season pales (and I mean absolutely pales now) in comparison to college. We will go over this year after year after year, but you are always guaranteed upsets, where big powers are capable of falling now to even the smallest individual.

First lowly Stanford, now helmetless Jacquizz Rodgers. Is there any greater emobdiment of sport than the feisty little Rodgers? The Beaver O-line played big, and Rodgers played bigger, just refusing to bow to the vaunted USC linemen. He’s like mini-Forsett back there, all heart and grit, proving once again that sports can sometimes come down to a matter of will and desire.

Thursday night was totally worth it. Even if it means the Trojans beat us by 30 in five weeks and probably roll to another Rose Bowl. Vegas is probably setting the odds for that outcome at -400 now.

Cal-CSU preview on the other side.

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Read the rest of this entry »

So Much For The Nine Dwarfs

Posted by: Tony on Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Tonight’s massive upset of U$C by the Beavers was huge not because it was shocking, but rather because it was so predictable.  How predictable?  So predictable that, if not for the demands of my day job, I would have written this post before today’s game even started.  How predictable?  So predictable that my U$C buddy sent me this email last night:

I’m a big believer in patterns in sports.  During this current era of great teams, here is how USC [sic] has fared in Pac-10 road openers.

2002: Lost to Washington State in overtime.
2003: Lost to Cal in overtime.
2004: Trailed a terrible Stanford [sic] team by 11 at the half, did not take the lead until six minutes remained and held on for a three point victory.
2005:  Fell behind 13-0, and still trailed at the half (before pulling ahead for what was eventually a comfortable win over Oregon).
2006:  Needed to bat down a pass at the goal line in the final minute to hang on for a six point win over a terrible Washington State team.
2007:  Played a game so turnover-filled, penalty-filled, and mistake-riddled against a terrible Washington team that we fell from # 1 to # 2 in the rankings, even with a (three point) victory.
So, I’m already getting angry thinking about the mistake-filled and subpar effort against crappy Oregon State tomorrow night.  Give USC [sic] a highly-ranked out of conference foe and we’re golden.  A terrible Pac-10 team on the road?  That spells trouble.

Aside from the obvious effects it has on the Pac-10 race, tonight’s upset was especially welcome for the damage it does to the mythology of U$C and the Nine Dwarfs.  It is true that U$C has won or shared six straight conference championships.  But I think any fan who follows the Pac-10 closely realizes that the story is more complicated than that.  Indeed, U$C only really “dominated” the conference in 2004 and 2005 — when U$C arguably dominated all of college football. 

In 2002, U$C failed to make the Rose Bowl after losing to WSU and needing a massive comeback to beat Cal at home.  In 2003, U$C won a share of the national championship, but fell to Cal in a game that was not as close as the score (or overtime result) would indicate.  In 2006, U$C lost to both OSU and UCLA, shared the conference title with Cal, and would have missed the Rose Bowl had Cal not choked against Arizona.  In 2007, U$C lost at home to a bad Stanfurd team, lost on the road to Oregon, and again split the Pac-10 title and only made the Rose Bowl due to the late-season collapses of the other contenders.

U$C is still probably the cream of the conference.  But the program has been in decline since losing to Texas in the 2005 championship game and now tends to drop a couple in conference play each season.  That may be a mixed bag as far as national perception of our conference goes, but I’d rather see some parity in our league — both in terms of performance and perception.

In the meantime, this gives the dwarfs an opening.  Let’s hope it’s the Bears that step into it.

Bars and Meetups for Watching Cal-Colorado State

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, September 25th, 2008

For some real insight into this week’s Cal-Colorado State game, you’d better check out this live chat. Okanes has been fantastic this year. He’s made my job of non-reporting that much easier.

As of now there are no known online streams of Cal-Colorado State. This will probably be like the Cal-Washington State game; you’ll have to wait it out if you’re overseas or whereever to find where you’re supposed to go.

For those in bigger cities, though, your fairly well-organized alumni are there for you. As of right now, we have official alum meetups for the game occurring in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Boston, DC, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Houston, Denver, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, the OC and Santa Monica. All these locations will be showing the game and can be found here as a blue bubble (the blue pin is representative of past locations; there is no current confirmation that it will be showing this week’s game). Almost all of these meetups in this Google Maps mashup have been confirmed and there should be no hitches watching these games there.

View Larger Map

If there are any locations I missed, this map is open for editing to anyone. So, click here, press the edit button, and go ahead and add in your own locations or provide any updates or further details to current locations!. Please keep it responsible; I don’t want to have to closed this and moderate it.

There’s Gonna Be A Big Future in Plastics

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, September 25th, 2008

“Sandy, let me tell you something. Something that you want to hear.”
“What is it?”

[youtube PSxihhBzCjk]

It’s going to revolutionize everything. Even seismic retrofitting.

It took decades of research, experimentation and head-scratching, but a team of San Francisco engineers says it has found a way to save the beloved landmark in Strawberry Canyon, which straddles the state’s most dangerous earthquake fault.

“I’ll sleep well at night, even if I have season tickets in Section KK,” said David Friedman, lead engineer on the long-awaited Memorial Stadium retrofit project. “We’ve come up with a unique solution to a very unique problem.”

The plan, which is expected to get under way in the next year or two, calls for portions of the stadium to be sliced into blocks that will rest on plastic sheets. When the earth ruptures, the soil will move under the sheets but, engineers hope, will leave the blocks intact. The price tag for the retrofit is estimated at between $150 million and $175 million.

Man, that movie saw the future! Your banks may be burning to the ground, but your plastics will always be in high demand. Ben’s got a huge payday coming.

USC And The Nine Dwarves

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008


Dramatis Personae

Pete Carroll: The fairest in all the land. The most beautiful of all. Few can resist his inherent sweetness and ability to do good. Except the vain, black-hearted, wicked Les Miles.

Jeff Tedford and Mike Riley: Not quite fair, but beloved in their own respective wildernesses. Would break the hearts of their fanbases if they ever left.

Dennis Erickson: The grandfather of the dwarves. Has occasional moments of pondering and reflecting, but is really past his prime. You could argue his best days are probably behind him, the way he stutters and goes about mumbling to refs.

Mike Bellotti: Can get dour, but then realizes at the end of the day he can just retreat into his theme park, and his face just brightens up.

Rick Neuheisel: “Gosh, thanks for the flattery. Really, thanks. Aw, you’re too kind guys. We’ll get it together. Hang in there. Stop guys, it’s too much” *blushing, turning away from the computer after reading the nice people at Bruins Nation*

Mike Stoops: “Growl. Hmph. Growl. GRRRR. THROW BALL. THROW DAMN BALL! ARRRRR….LOSS. Grrrr.”

Ty Willingham: His team’s allergic to winning right now.

Jim Harbaugh: “Me a head coach? Woopie! Wow, did we just beat USC? Woopie! Did I get myself an Axe? Woopie! I’ve won six of sixteen games? Woopie!”

Paul Wulff: Sleptwalk from around 15 minutes into the Cal-Wazzu game. Woke up only to make a quarterback change. Sleptwalk his way through Baylor after flying in to play the game the same day. Woke up only to make a quarterback change. Rinse, repeat.

Will There be Surprises? One Will Have to Watch The Sidelines.

Now Playing, This Fall at a Left Coast stadium near you.

This film is not produced by Tom Hansen, who was busy playing shuffleboard as he prepares for most glorious retirement.

“I have something you treasure, Petie.”

Week 4 Blogpoll

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

Only a few comments on this one, since it was an offweek for Cal and no one probably cares that much.