Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best News

Good news on Jahvid Best. It looks like it will be a few weeks off, and then back in action. No serious damage.

I think the Bears will do fine without him, but it is exciting to see him on kick returns. I also think our passing game will suffer a bit...not good news.

Vareen is almost an equal in the backfield, and Slocum could offer a change of pace. I think that this will open up some more pass catching opportunities for the tight end and the fullback. I would love to see Will T get a pass and run over some DBs.

The Bears need to get some game going down the middle of the field. Maybe Riley can not see over the linemen but that needs to open up some. We focus too much on the outside passing.

Also, shovel passes, middle screens, and all sorts of other junk need to be added to the playbook. This ASU game is critical to our young Bears if we want a chance of National Respect and Ranking. If we win, I see us in the top 25. Lose, and it is over for us - we would have to win the final 7 to get back to the top 25.


QB Talk

It looks like Nate and Kevin will get equal reps this week, and it will be a game time decision as to which one starts.

i think this is great. First of all, I think Kevin will start, and Nate will go in later, after we are up by 28. I do think that this change really puts Kevin's feet to the fire.

Starting at QB is a lot more work and a lot more prep time than being #2. Hopefully this will open up Kevin's eyes to the fact that if he wants to start at QB for the Bears, it is a full time job. You need to be a student of the game. Nate is that, and he has done that for years. Kevin is new at it.

There is the rule of 10,000 hours. Essentially, that means that to become expert at something, you have to really have dedicated about 10,000 hours to perfecting that practice. In other words, if you are a cook, or an attorney, or a sales guy, it is after about 5 years where you really feel like you know what you are doing. Or if you are working 80 hours per week, 2 1/2 years.

These guys play about 20 hours per week in High School for about 15 weeks per year. That is 300 hours x 4. Maybe they played pop warner, maybe pickup games. Let's give them 2000 hours before they get to college.

Nate has been working probably about 1500 hours per year on his game at Cal. So he is now at about 8000 hours. Riley, on the other hand, is probably about 5000 hours. That is a huge gap. It is why 5th year seniors in the Pac 10 do well, and others need more practice. On top of that, studies and other responsibilities are more difficult.

I would say that providing any way for Kevin Riley to focus and put the time in this year is a huge positive for him. it is just practice - he has the tools to get it done eventually.

But if he does not, Nate is there, and he will be fine.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nate Longshore

Jeff Tedford took Kevin Riley out and replaced him with Nate Longshore during the second half of today's game, i am not sure if that was a replacement due to poor performace (third straight game of poor performance). Kevin Riley's is playing much worse this year than Nate did last year during our losing streak. We are lucky that we have only one loss at this time - we have more of a team effort which is supporting the team.

It will be interesting to see what JT does. He needs his guys to play better. This is the reason why he did not play Kevin Riley last year, and I think this whole scenario is sort of a vindication of his thought process last year. I do think that eventually Kevin Riley will be a better QB than Nate Longshore. But so far, he has not shown that he is.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

SC - Wow!

USC got their head's handed to them by the Beavers once again.

USC, I think, is a great team. Unfortunately for the Trojans, Oregon State always has something special for them in Corvallis. This is the second time in a row where the Beavers have won there against SC.

Which is weird for Cal fans, because since Tedford has been here, it is almost the opposite. We only win in Corvallis, and lose at home against the Beavers.

Oregon State once again proves that Mike Riley is one of the best football coaches in the College game. I think he does more with less than almost anyone. Granted - he will take almost anyone. But they end up with a good team year in and year out. Inevitably, it is a slow start, and ends up at 8-4 or 9-3 each year. That is because he develops mediocre talent and they improve throughout the year. Lots of JC transfers, lots of other transfers (just landed a new QB from Virginia, who was kicked off the team for drinking related issues).

To be honest, if Oregon State get's past Utah next week, it will be something. They all of a sudden will have the inside track to the Pac 10 title. They get all of the toughest opponents remaining at home (Cal, Oregon and ASU). They will have to travel to Washington and Arizona, both of which can be tough for the Beavers. And it will improve the Pac 10 overall conference position. i think it really is critical for Cal and Oregon State to win this weekend for Pac 10 strength of schedule and computer rankings. Utah is a top 15 team, or else they will be by next week. Oregon State knocking off two top 15 teams will definitely vault them into the top 25. If Oregon, Cal and Arizona State can keep up (as well as SC) I could see 4 or 5 top 25 teams from the Pac 10 by the end of the year.

This is actually great for Cal. It takes SC out of the running for the NCG (most likely). If SC loses once more, which I could see, this is a great opportunity for the Bears to finally end the Trojan streak as Pac 10 dominators. I think Cal is in the best position as second in the Pac 10, and now, the leader has made a critical mistake. Let's see if the Bears can capitalize on it.

And as we do, let's all remember that Oregon State started the Cal nosedive last year on the famous Kevin Riley brain cramp. Imagine if we both go into the Oregon State game with Pac 10 leadership riding on it, and Riley has to go into Corvallis to get revenge on the Beavers for last year. That could be a crazy game.

But first, Colorado State.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

AP Poll Analysis

Here are some interesting facts about the AP poll and the teams ahead of us:

This is the list of teams ranked ahead of us with one loss, who have played teams with a worse won -loss record than the Bears have played:

East Carolina
Ohio State
Fresno State
Georgia Tech
Michigan State (we beat them, but that doesn't seem to matter to the pollsters).
North Carolina
Florida State

Here is the list of teams with one loss that their opponents have a better record than our opponents:

West Virginia

Our one loss is to a 3-1 Maryland team. I am not saying that they are a tremendous team, but they are not crap, as everyone has been led to believe. i think they win three or four more games, make a bowl, and end up with 7 or 8 wins. Not too shabby. If that is our let-down loss for the year, I can live with that. They may make even more noise in an ACC division that is not so great.

All of this will take care of itself as the year rolls on. The Maryland loss will not look so bad (it already does not) and the rest of the Pac 10 will shake out with three terrible teams (who lose everything), two really bad teams (who beat the terrible teams but no one else) and I think three teams who beat everyone else except the top two (ASU, Oregon and Arizona), and then Cal, who loses to USC. If that were the scenario, Cal and SC would have beaten three 8 win Pac 10 teams, and would have the resume to make the big games. Including what I believe will be a decent Michigan State team, the Bears will have beaten about half of their opponents who have winning seasons - in other words, bowl bound teams. And lost to two bowl bound teams - Maryland and USC.

The only issue is to get the Media off the Pac 10 bashing - that could be hard this year with the crappy out of conference showing. Last year, the Pac 10 got lost of big props for playing a tough out of conference schedule, and doing well. This year, we got creamed on our out of conference schedule. Oh well.


Cal and the Polls and all that stuff

News Flash - College Football Expert and all around smart guy Jerry Palm of CollegeBCS.com is predicting at this point that the Bears will be the Rose Bowl candidate in the Pac 10.

I assume these are his assumptions:

1) USC wins out
2) Cal wins out except at USC, since Oregon and ASU are at Cal and they look like crap, and they are the best of the rest.

If that happens, it is almost an impossibility for the Bears not to be in the Rose Bowl.

Here are my assumptions. We win this weekend and next, and we are in the top 20 after our Bye week. Then, Oregon at home - top 15. USC loss, top 23. Slowly creep back up to top 15 with out final games. We need to be 14 or better to get in. At 10 - 2, we definitely will be. 9-3 could be very tough. But doable. Depends on the computers this week.

I will say one thing. If we do win out, except for USC, we will be favored in every game.


Cal at Colorado State

Colorado State, as we all remember, can be a difficult team. Last year, we had a great first quarter run for a touchdown, a few good drives, and thought we had the ball game put away. And then, they kept coming at us. And that was a team that only won a few games last year.

We need to do two things this week. 1) We fans need to be loud. 2) The teams needs to come out hard and play hard all game long. We need another Washington State type of game, where we keep going, and the other team is demoralized. Because we need to get back on the map, and we need to get ready for ASU.

It should be remembered that the Bears are young. That means that they probably play better at home. It also means they probably play with more emotion and with more momentum. Kevin Riley as I said in an earlier post seems to need to have a fire lit behind him. I think some home cooking could be useful for him.

One thing that I have not seen a lot written about is the Bears continuing inability to play on grass fields. If I am correct, we have only won twice in the Tedford Era on grass fields - one Holiday Bowl and one Armed Forces Bowl. And those are situations. In both the Rose Bowl and the Coliseum, we have not won with JT. We have not won at the other Holiday Bowl extravaganza - in fact we looked kinda slow against Texas Tech.

This is a situation where it is very different to play on a different surface - Cal practices and plays at Memorial - it is very comfortable for them. But grass at Berkeley is scarce, and they do not get the opportunity to play on grass that often, and it does make a difference.

Frankly, the Bears should have a grass field. And a separate practice field. And an indoor practice field. Like Penn State. The issue is they need to be comfortable in multiple situations. The SAHPC is not going to solve this issue.

I think that the Bears should build a huge building up on Strawberry Canyon, on the Rugby Field. Grass on top, turn inside. Also, bright lights for evening intramurals and Rugby games. About 20 rows of stands on each side. That would solve the issue about the turf, and really piss off the NIMBYs. Take that.

But seriously, there needs to be some sort of drills run on grass before the team goes off to these places. JT like the business trip aspect of the travels, but frankly, when I go on a business I am not running for my life because a huge Defensive End is trying to end me. Maybe I would arrive a bit earlier if that was the case.

And the whole thing about young guys needing less sleep - that is patent bull. When you are growing, working out and cramming 24/7 like these guys are, sleep is critical. Messing with the cycle can cause significant issues. As we have seen time and again.

So, let's stick to the home cooking for a bit. Next time we go back east for a huge game, like Ohio State - lets make sure we get there early, and prepare. Nothing like being in Maryland or Tennessee to see the Bears fall completely apart because they just were not ready for the trip. For many of these guys, this is probably the first time they have been east of Arizona.

I guess all of this is why I think we will do fine this week - we are at home, with a beatable opponent. The Bears are wanting to do some damage to make up for what they know to be a bad loss - a game they should have won. Not that Maryland is terrible - they are like the Ben Braun led bears hoops team - every once in a while you see something great, but then...So it is not as terrible as it seems to have lost to them.

But we need the prescriptive win this weekend to help salve the wounds. Otherwise, it could be a long year. And these Colorado State Rams are better than last year.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday Evening Recap

Cal opponents Maryland and Michigan State looked good today in victory against directional U and Notre Dame respectively. Otherwise, the Pac 10 continues to look poor, with Oregon losing to Boise State (and continuing their QB troubles) and ASU lost to a decent Georgia team, with only four yards of rushing total.

SC was Idle, as were the Bears.

Four top 25 teams lost this week, and Fresno State almost lost to Toledo on the road, but the rockets went for two in the second OT and missed, giving Fresno the game gift wrapped.

It looks like Cal is going to move up a bit in the computer rankings, and should get more than the 7 total votes in the human pools after last week. There are currently 28 undefeated teams (many are second tier teams that will not move up), and 5 teams in the top 25 with loses. 4 other teams lost this week. The question is what are the one loss teams that are decent - and Cal is a decent one loss team at this point, with us having played one of the tougher non-conference schedules. Our current ranking for schedule is somewhere in the lower teens.

I doubt that the Bears move back into the top 25 this week, but if we play well the next two weeks, i think we can make the top 25 with a 4-1 record, coming in right around 20. Many of the teams currently above us will start to play each other, knocking each other off. There are 5 SEC teams in the top 10. They all play each other many times. They will have two or three losses each.

The ones that we have to be concerned about are the BYU and the Boise States of the world. BYU and Utah play each other. I was hoping that Utah would lose today, but they came back to win in the end against Air Force. I am hoping that Air Force or some other team catches BYU down. They look good. In fact, I could see BYU getting into the top 4 this year if they run the table.

Boise State and plays Fresno State. I think Fresno wins. East Carolina loses today ruining their BCS chances.

In any event, generally the other team loses take care of themselves. If we end up 10-2, I think we have a strong shot at a BCS game. Especially if SC is taken by the NCG.

Here is how it could play out. BYU goes to Fiesta, against Oklahoma. Georgia and USC against each other in National Championship game. Cal vs Wisconsin at the Rose, Clemson vs South Florida at the Orange, and LSU at Missouri in the Sugar. I think that is a strong possibility if the Bears only lose to SC, in a strong showing at the Coliseum.

We would have to make the top 14, but I think that our computers would get us there (depending on how Maryland and Michigan State continue to do). In any event, we are not out of it - if we have a decent season, there is still hope to get to a BCS game. I do not think the Bears have a shot at the NCG, regardless of whether or not we win out, just based on the weakness of the Pac 10 schedule.

I do think every Pac 10 game is winnable for the Bears. In fact, I think they will be favored in each game after next weekend, except for SC. We shall see.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pac 10 Blues

The terrible showing of the Pac 10 over the weekend makes the difficult issue of conference comparison a bit more difficult. The first two weeks of the season, the Pac 10 did relatively well. Then, it all came crashing down.

Overall, the Pac 10 this year is 5-5 against major college teams (BCS Teams). For comparison, here are the other major conferences: ACC - 4-6; Big 12 - 5-3; Big East 2-5; Big 10 5-5; SEC 4-2. In addition, the Mountain West is 6-3 against the majors. So it is clear that overall, the Pac 10 is sort of middle of the road this year in terms of the overall conference strength. But the other critical aspect is that we are 0-5 against the Mountain West conference. So if we included the Mountain West against the Pac 10 we are 5-10 against. Of course, the mountain west has only played Pac 10 out of conference, and generally has played the lower half of the conference (yes, including UCLA). But UNVL beating Arizona State in OT os an eye opener.

The MWC does not get a lot of opportunities to play other conferences. They have only two games against the Big 12, both of which they lost, and San Diego State played Notre Dame, and lost in OT. So for the major college football BCS division, it seems like the Pac 10 is the big opportunity for the MWC to make some noise. And they do a good job.

I think if the MWC wanted to really move to a top tier flight, as a year in and year out BCS participant, they should poach on the WAC. They should target Boise State, Fresno State, and Nevada, and have a 12 team conference, with a conference Championship game. I believe that they would have two or three in the top 25 each year, and they would be a major conference. It would not be the Pac 10, but over time they could really develop a market for their programs. And, I think the Pac 10 would have somewhat of a difficult time recruiting. Already, the folks from Eastern Washington are going to Boise, and not Washington or Washington State. If there were alternatives relatively local for kids to move to a BCS conference, there could be big consequences.

In addition, the Mountain West could have some pretty good Bowl game tie-ins. An annual BCS game at the Fiesta Bowl would be nice for them against the Big 12. The Las Vegas Bowl all of a sudden would be a much bigger deal - maybe a New Years day bowl - MTW against the Pac 10 second place teams. Or maybe that is a Bay Area bowl game on New Years Day for the second place teams in both conferences. It would be nice to have the Holiday Bowl not be our only other real bowl opportunity.

In any event, I think it is concern, but also possibly a positive that the Mountain West is doing so well. At the end of the day, losing to a decent conference like the MWC is not so bad as Ohio State playing all the crappy Ohio schools in the MAC.

I do think that the poor showing of UCLA in particular has something to do with BYUs familiarity of Norm Chows offense. Clearly they are familiar with his coaching philosophies as he was offensive coordinator there for something like 25 years. If that is what BYU did to them, I can only wait until Pete Carroll gets a hold of UCLA.

Breaking down the rest of the Pac 10 loses, the only one that really strikes me as odd is the loss of ASU to UNLV. Mostly because UNLV is not a good team. And it was at ASU. But it could be that ASU is just no that good. I think that is probably the case, and should not have been ranked as a top 25 team from the start of the season.

I do think that the Washington teams are in for a long season - both of them. Neither are any good.

We all know the legions of reasons why Cal lost - bottom line - they were not ready to play the game. But that does not mean they are going to blow the season. I think at the end of the day, the top three in the conference are going to be Cal, Oregon and USC - most likely SC going away with it. But they could lose one or two like they do when distracted, and then Oregon or Cal could sneak in there and get a share or a Pac 10 title. Even with USC going to the Championship game.

ASU, Oregon State and Arizona I think will be the second tier, and probably the bowl eligible teams. And lagging the Pac will be UCLA, the Washington schools, and Stanfurd. In some sort of order of futility.

At the end of the day, I am still positive on the Bears. i think they clearly have the talent, young though it is. They need seasoning and they need toughness. Hopefully they can be pushed into it in the weeks ahead.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Maryland Destroys the Bears, and all hope fades...

They say you should not post when you are emotional, but...

Getting beat by Maryland, a team which is a decent team most years, would not be so bad. Except that they are not that good this year, and they totally dominated the Bears in every aspect of the game. Sacks like never before seen. Kevin Riley looked TERRIBLE. The game was made respectable when the Terps pulled in and allowed the Bears to make a few big plays by playing prevent defense late in the 4th quarter, but we did not have a touchdown until 6 minutes left in the game.

Our offensive and defensive lines were dominated. Our vaunted rushing attached netted 38 yards on 23 carries - 1.7 yards per carry. When the lone bright spot is your punter, that is a problem.

To be clear - this is not a good football team that we lost to today. They are probably not going to go to a bowl. They will probably finish in the bottom half of the ACC, the worst BCS conference around. They would be an average WAC team.

What the offense needed, frankly, was Nate Longshore. Yes, I am bringing that out. It has been clear to me that Riley does not have what it takes to lead a team in the regular season. So far, in games that he has started, he is 2-2. One win was probably against the worst team the Bears have ever faced, Washington State last week. Even in that game, the Bears struggled until Longshore came in during passing situations. In the other win, Riley looked pretty bad until Nate came in (and blew it to say the least). But Riley needed something to get him in the game.

I know, I know, Kevin Riley is god. But it is one thing to have all of the physical talents, and the playmaking ability - which he does have. It is quite another to put it together on game day, week in and week out when the team is counting on you. You frankly do not have that down yet as a sophomore. Teams who win National Championships do it with senior QBs. Not sophomores. This is a game that a workman like Bear team should dominate. And he is not workman-like. He has an eqo, and an expectation that he is the guy. Now that he has won the job, I think he needs a kick in the ass to get him going. We should have put Nate in the game, and let him play a bit. That seems to fire Kevin up. He needs to know that playing lousy is not OK. We have a very good QB waiting in the wings. For all the Nate Haters who think I am crazy - look at the first quarter Riley stats of all the games that he has played. Oregon State last year - put us in the hole, and it got away. Maryland this year - same thing. WSU - lousy play in the first half. He came off the bench to show the world what he was made of in Texas last year with Air Force, but we are not asking for superman. We are asking for steady, dominating performances.

We can not afford to let this malise creep into the team. These guys need to start better.

It is a young team. They need senior leadership to step up, and they also need to stop reading the press clippings. I think JT knows that and I hope he does something about it the next two weeks. Everything should be opened up for competition again.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008


The trees are down, the protest is over, and no one but the protesters really cared (and the media who tried to make something big of this).

Now, in a few short weeks (or 8), the bulldozers and excavations will begin, and the new building will start to go up. It will be two and a half years of construction, lasting until the beginning of the 2011 season. Instead of the 2009 season.

I wonder what would happen if there is an earthquake, and Tedford is injured in the football office in the stadium. Do you think he has a right to sue the protesters and the City of Berkeley? In essence, what this entire thing has done is delayed the inevitable for two years, and endangered the lives of the folks who work in and around the stadium. This has been the most crass form of self-interested protest I have ever seen in Berkeley. These folks are the ones who failed to make MTV's Big Brother, and decided that this was the next best thing. It makes my skin crawl.

But it is on it's way.


The Bears leave on FRIDAY for a game Saturday morning at 9:00 AM pacific time. I hope JT is getting those boys up early this week. That is going to be one hell of a early morning start for them. The weather also may be a concern, with rain possible. At least it will be warm - in the 70's. The rain may break up some of the humidity. In any event, if the Bears can keep their footing, they should do well.

They are playing in Byrd Stadium, which has a capacity of about 50,000 fans (they are going through a renovation soon to increase it to 60,000 or so, with luxury boxes, etc). It is only about 10 miles from downtown Washington DC, and I think it is the only real Division 1 program close. So it should have some decent local representation. But DC is a pro sports town, and the Maryland football team has not always been a powerhouse. There are also a lot of other smaller colleges locally (Georgetown, George Washington, etc) which are mostly basketball schools. College hoops is much more important there than football.

But Maryland has had some decent success under Ralph Friedgen. This year has not gone quite as well as they have hoped, but they have found a way to stitch together a number of 10 win seasons over the past 6 years. Of course, they are playing in the ACC - the worst college football conference in the BCS. So that may not be the accomplishment that it once may have been, when Miami and Florida State were at their peak.

The Bears have crawled into the top 25 this week, and have made some headway into some of the media folks conscience. For example, Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated has the Bears breaking into the SI.com top 15 at number 18. Others in the national media have started to notice Jahvid Best's numbers. That can and will help to propel the Bears up the BCS ladder. We are looking for a top 12 finish and a 10-2 record or better to be considered for a BCS game.

Speaking of rankings, Sagarin's pure points predictor, which is the best at determining - over a longer period of time that the Bears have been playing this season - the victor of a particular game, has the Bears at number 4, tied with Oklahoma, and behind USC, Florida and LSU. He has us essentially at a 22 point differential with Maryland, which would be reduced by 3.5 due to the Maryland home game. So looking at an 18.5 point differential. Vegas has us at 14.5 - essentially giving us a touchdown discount for the trip back east. Maybe it's time to bet the house...

I do think that the Bears SHOULD cover the spread this week. It will be a good test for Riley to play on another coast, against a different kind of crowd. I think there is also safety in this trip. It is a trip where, if all else fails, we just put the ball into the fullbacks hands and run it right up their gut. Let's face it - Maryland has a pathetic run defense, and we should just go straight at them, eat the clock, and get out of there.

Another interesting thing about this week is that in the Massey computer program poll, we dropped from 40 to 66, which moved our average on the computers to 22, from 17 last week. So, even though we increased four places on the human polls, we dropped in the computers and we are therefore still at number 22. Interestingly about Massey - Ohio State is number 115. So I am not really thinking it is doing it's job this early in the season. If we win again on the road against a BCS team (and most of the computers add a huge plus on the away game victory) we should have a good increase, even if we do not move that far in the Human polls. I can not see a victory against maryland propel us very far up. A loss, of course, would be a disaster. We simply need to get though this game with a W and move on.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Washington State Recap

Well, that was some game. It was really unbelievable.

When I said that we should clobber them, I did mean it. I just did not think it would happen. i guess I was thinking about last year, and all the crap that went down, and the bad vibes and all that stuff. Let's face it - the trees, the implosion, the Longshore issue...all that garbage hanging over the Bears for the 10 months sure sucked some of the life out of things.

I think this game washed all of that away. They are not perfect - they in fact made plenty of mistakes and there is still plenty of work to be done. But it is clear that they can play up to their potential, and play with the abandonment of the early years of Tedford.

in 2002, when we went to the Insight Bowl, and we won 52 to 49 against Virginia Tech, that was such a huge game for Cal. We went in, we let loose, and we won in a shootout against a top team. Maybe not that year, but a top team. After the game - much later - we were at a Denny's or something like that for a sop up the booze pre-bedtime meal and Ryan Gutierrez was there with his big, extended family. Ryan was the defensive player of the game. They were having a blast, but you could tell it was a very special thing - they were proud and really excited. We chatted with the family a bit, and it was clear that they loved Tedford, they loved what he had done to the program, and what a great time they were having as a team. That was the building block for the next year, when we should have been at the Rose.

Well, this feels like that. All the old crap is floating away, and the Bears are on a mission. The trees are cut down, the team is on a roll, the rankings are starting, and the QB issue is resolved. And yes, Longshore did look good. Which is good.

There were issues at the game, but I am not going to go into that too much now. Tedford said the right thing - the offense needs work. And it does. We still do not have great receivers working in synch with the QBs. But that will come soon, I think. Hopefully before ASU. It would be hard to fault our defense - any time you hold a team under 200 yards it is a good day. So good job Bob Gregory and crew. The biggest issue I see is the special teams, the kick game, and returns. We need to work on that as well. And the offensive line needs to work a bit on pass protection - it seemed like there was some pressure on the QB that was either Riley holding the ball too long or else not getting the protection that he needed. Longshore did not seem to have that problem, frankly.

But this was a great win. Good job, and


Friday, September 5, 2008

Cal vs Washington State

Just a few notes -

The Bears should clobber WSU. We have the talent, the coaching, etc. But they do have the location.

WSU lost to Oklahoma State by a bunch the other day, but that game was played in Seattle, not in eastern Washington. This is the first real home game for the Cougars. And Oklahoma State is a good team. At least, it is coached by a man...

This is also the first home game for the new coach, and I am sure that the fans will be supportive. They know the hand he was dealt. The Bears need to come out strong and put out any fires right away to make sure that this game does not get into a situation where there could be a miracle finish, which often happens against us at the Palouse.

Washington State is playing 13 games this year again, as they are going to Hawaii at the end of the season. I guess that will be their bowl game. They would have to win 7 to be bowl eligible, which is doable for them but unlikely. Their next two games are at Baylor and Portland State, so they have something to look forward to after this weekend.

WSU was held to 196 yards vs Oklahoma State. Jahvid Best had a total of 277 all purpose yards. Interesting. So clearly, the focus is going to be on stopping the Bear rushing attack. I think that teams that do that early in the season have a great opportunity to get burned by Riley and the maturing receiver group. So I think this will be an interesting game - first to see what WSU is up to, and second to see if the young Riley can handle a tough crowd.

If Riley starts to fall apart up there (which I doubt) and JT puts Nate in, and he does well. I do not think there is a controversy. Riley is the guy, from here on out (unless he gets hurt). When Rodger's came out of the USC game, after getting rattled, there was no doubt that he would be going back in the next game, and not Reggie Roberson. That is the same type of situation we have here now. Riley is the guy. But this will be a big test for him and the rest of this young team. I look forward to watching.

GO Bears!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

BCS Update

Just a few quick numbers...

The Bears are currently ranked 22 in the BCS standings, with the computer rankings averaging 17 and the two polls averaging 27.5, I use the AP poll as a substitute for the Harris Poll, since all the Harris people do is copy the AP. In any event, the voters are lagging the computers based on one weeks data. Sagarin has Cal at 10 in his ELO CHESS model, which is what they use for the BCS rankings (although 28 on his predictor Model, which I think is the most accurate).

Anyway, just 15 more to go...

i predict that we will be comfortably in the top 15 if we can win the next three games in the human and computer polls (not really going out on a limb there). Then, if we can take care of business against Arizona State and Arizona, we will be top 10. Oregon, UCLA, top 7. Then, SC. BOOM - number 3 (SC at 6, by the by). What will suck will be our last game loss, saving Ty Willingham's job, putting SC back into the NCG, and relegating us to the ROSE BOWL!!!

Anyhow, sounds good now.


And the Trees will come down...

i think we should wait until the Stanfurd game, and let everyone take a swing with an ax on that day...

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Student Athlete High Performance Center is finally cleared to go ahead - the injunction is lifted, the University has the green light to go, and, even if a further appeal is filed, by the time it is adjudicated, the building will have been built.

Today, the California Court of Appeals ruled that there was no injunction in place and therefore no automatic extension of the injunction for 20 days when the oaks protesters appealed.

I think three items had to influence the judges. First, the ruling by Judge Miller was so comprehensively in favor of the University that there was very little chance that an appeal would actually be won. Second, that the City of Berkeley, as well as a number of other plaintiffs, had dropped out, and that the only people still fighting the fight were the NIMBYs and the Tree protesters. And the Tree protestors have already been ruled against twice. And the NIMBY's are arguing clearly about something they do not care about - the safety of the Stadium. The city of Berkeley was a somewhat reasonable opponent, and would have some standing with the court. But when this became a situation of some neighbors of the University arguing about the States right to operate it's own property, it became clear to the judges that eventually it would be dismissed, and these guys were just wasting everyones time and money. And of course, finally, all of these guys know they are paid by the state, which by the way, still does not have a budget, and these judges soon will be without a paycheck, and to have these idiots causing the University to spend an additional million or so a month just must not have set well.

Anyway, who cares. The deal is done. Let's move on. There will be a little dust-up, and someone will be hurt, and the University will have to sue the individual (and, lets be fair, their parents for raising such a spoiled little brat) and that will be that.

Go Bears!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nate Longshore

I want to say here and now that I have a supporter of Nate Longshore, at least in the sense that I think it stinks the way the posters on the boards have been dogging Nate. He is a good QB, and I do think that he will end up on an NFL team somewhere next season. Yes, Tedford should ahve played Riley more, but as I go back and look at the games last year, there was never really a point where it would have made sense, unless you just gave him the UCLA call and went from there.

I also believe that Kevin Riley is a great talent, and will also end up on an NFL: team, and probably do great things. It is probably the one time when having your dad as your football coach turns you into a better player instead of a head case (in fact, I think that there is probably something there with Tedford, but who knows).

In any event, Longshore clearly was pressing on the two stupid throws that he made, and for JT, that was enough for him. It is hard when you are told for three years by your coach that experience, managing the huddle, managing the game, was the most important aspect of the game and that you were the best at it. And then, the week before your senior year, the same coach comes to you and says, well, yes, you are the better game manager, and you are the more experienced, but he is just a better play-maker. Oh yeah - I will put you in for a series or two and see how you do in real competition.

Instead of Nate being Nate, he tried to be Riley. And of course failed at the end by trying to throw into quadruple coverage. You could see the frantic look as he went to his third progression and no one was open. He had a few yards in front of him, and he should have run. Oh well.

Tedford should not have put Nate in that position, although I will say this. Riley did not look good until after the Longshore expedition. Then, he seemed to get his but kicked a bit. In other words, against MSU, Riley was trying to be too much like Nate and Nate was trying to be too much like Riley. And frankly, what we need is both doing what they do. And we need both this season. Nate is not going to be a come from behind 35 points kind of guy. He is a game manager, and generally does not lose his cool. But he needs players who are also somewhat professional out there, and, the Cal players maybe are not there yet. I bet he does better in the pros- frankly.

Riley is a rally the troops kind of guy. I actually think he will do better if Nate is looking over his shoulder, to kick him in the ass. Which is why I am a bit worried about JT taking the Longshore experiment off the shelf. I think he needs to keep pressure on KR to keep him going. He came on in the fall practice when Nate looked to be moving ahead near the end of the camp. He came on near the end of the OSU game and when we were down big in the Air force game. And he came on after Nate went in this weekend. I am not going to say he is a slacker, but maybe he is a guy who needs to be pushed. So Nate having the crappy game I think is bad for Cal.

Furthermore, we need to get Nate back up and running for his own sake. We need a capable backup who is not a head case if something happens to Riley. Last year, if Riley was ready, he could have taken the team onward, and we would have been fine. Maybe not national champs, but certainly Holiday bowl material. So no more complaints when Tedford puts in Longshore to get his head back on. In fact, it could be sooner than you think. Let's see what happens when Riley starts in a hostile environment. Maybe Nate comes in to save the day this time (God I hope not).

Back in Business

I decided to start posting again, mostly since school is back in and my kids are back at school, so I have a bit of time.

I want to apologize for not explaining my absence, except that I never really left. i just did not find anything compelling enough to comment on during the dog days of summer. I knew, for example, that the decision on Longshore was going to come during the season. Both he and Riley would play, at least the first game or two. Well, it looks like that is sewn up for Kevin. I will have a further post on that later, but suffice it to say that I think Nate Longshore is a good QB, and probably will get a look in the NFL. And I think he will play again for the Bears this year.

I also want to say that the whole tree sitter thing is wearing on me, and I was not about to participate in the breathless anticipation of the law suit finality, and the eventual dragging out of the final stages. We have a long way to go, and we will eventually get there. Unlike most college football fans, I think long term - I remember the Joe Kapp years (and had a hell of a good time at Cal games during those years).

So I just stopped posting until I found a subject that interested me in posting about. Of course, the first game of the season is just that subject, and so, a little late, I want to talk about the Bears, this time in the history of the Cal football team, and the rest of the season.

First, I want to take us back to the Tom Holmoe years. And I want to take us back to the years of hope in the Tom Holmoe years. Yikes!! you say...but it is true. The first two years of TH were years of hope, but slowly diminishing. We had a decent defense, and the offense was OK, and Gilbey was gone. Gilbey was TH, but better, but we didn't know it yet. Our excitement with Marriucci, and with the inevitable collapse a year or three away, the struggle to get to .500 was seen as likely. We were going to be a power!

If you remember, someone back then said that Cal was a sleeping giant in football - maybe Sports Illustrated, or someone with respectable credentials. We all clung to that hope, and TH seemed like the upstanding guy who could get us there... maybe. He had a superbowl ring or two, and the 49ers were the team of the decade.

But year after year it went downhill again. Tom was a good guy, and it is hard to get rid of a good guy, but enough was enough.

Let's remember what we were dying and hoping for...to get to .500. Maybe a winning season.

Come Tedford and we see how petty and small that made us. Cal really was a sleeping giant. We just needed to be woken up.

So as we boo Longshore because we all could have done much better, and we complain about how crappy we looked against a top 40 team when the game was never really in doubt, and it was clear who was the much better team, I think that we should all feel good that our biggest letdown so far is that we played half of last year with an injured QB who for better or worse was unable to lead the team. JT made the right call in the way that he handled the situation this year, and I for one think that this is going to be a great year for Cal football.

First, we have the weapons to win every game we plan. The Pac 10 has gotten tougher, but then again, we have as well. And frankly, I think we have gotten seriously deep. We have fast athletes at almost every position, except for perhaps kicker, and there is no one in the conference, save perhaps USC, who has as deep a program as we have right now. Because, for the past 6 years, we have been the second best recruiter in the Pac 10, and the best talent developer. I do not see that changing.

While we had a significant loss last year in recruiting ranking, actually, it is clear that we signed a bunch of guys who can come in right away and help.

Clearly our biggest weakness is in the wide receiver ranks, where we have no experience at all to speak of. And that showed on Saturday. Also, our kickers need help experience wise. That could be a big issue in a big game. But overall, I believe that we are a truly talented team with tremendous upside this year.

Defensively, our new system is going to work better, even with the bend but don't break issue. That is because when we play BBDB, we have faster guys out there on the edge getting inside to the QB, putting pressure on. So it may not be a 7 drop, but on a 6 drop and 5 rush situation, it is going to be hard for the QB to get a lot of time. And while we may give up a bit more on the initial surge in pure rushing down, we have the players to close quickly and make a stop. Defensively, I think our biggest issue is the other corner - and if Hagan continues to improve as much as he did during the MSU game, we are going to be fine.

Offensively, our wideouts need to catch the ball. It is not an issue of getting open - at least for Boateng. He was open plenty, and dropped the ball. If he learns how to catch, he is going to be a very rich man. He is big, fast and strong, and has the instincts needed to get open. He just needs to catch, and I think that will come with time. We have a good possession receiver in Young, and hopefully another strong threat in Calvin once he is healthy.

The game looked a little like we were a bit unexperienced. And we are. But we are going to be just fine come December. So here is my yearly prediction: End of season, Cal ranked 5th in the country, 11-1, beats USC, and loses to ASU at home. Shares the Pac 10 title with SC (ugh). SC goes to the National Championship game, and we get the Rose Bowl. OK - I may be smoking a little bit, but let's face it - we have a favorable schedule this year, I think we will be favored in every game, except the SC and ASU game. Oregon will have no QB's left by the time we get there, and UCLA is in for a treat at memorial (let me be perfectly clear on this - there is no college coach that should be hated more than Neuheisel, and for UCLA to take that scum is a travesty to clear and good thinking people everywhere). The place should be rocking for that one.

And here is one more thing: these guys are pissed off and want to do something about last year. I know Alex Mack does, and Follett, and Rulon Davis. We are going to be tough this year.

I said it last year after the first game: National Champs. A little pre-mature. And I may be this year as well. But in true Cal tinted glasses, I do think that the Bears have a great shot this year at getting the Pac 10 title and getting into the Rose Bowl...and look out 2010. These quys will all be seniors then. Yikes!!