The Bears were beaten and embarrassed yesterday. The question is why? They certainly have the talent to have beaten the ducks - they have done so 4 of the last 5 meetings, with virtually the same cast coming back on both sides. It is not just a question of do they always lose a big one. Tedford teams have won plenty of big ones, including two years ago in Eugene, in a matchup similar to yesterday.
Basically, the Bears read their clippings, and fell apart when the Ducks did not roll over. They simply gave up in the middle of the second quarter. Really, they gave up after two three and outs in the first quarter.
Here is the deal: Tedford changed this year. He has a new philosophy - embrace the expectations. They were highly ranked. They knew they should win. So when they were not, they did not know what to do. In the early years, they were the underdogs. In the later JT years, they have started to read the clippings. And have had two dramatic failures.
This was a dog fight, and we were the big stupid lab who ran home after the scrappy street dog beat the crap out of us. The Bears collapsed because they thought they were too good to lose - and everyone else did as well - at least those close to Berkeley. Some in the National press and in SEC territory picked the Bears to collapse. They were right. These Bears have not had a collapse like this. Hopefully this can turn into a good thing. The alternative is too hard to imagine (well, actually, it is not that hard to imagine - we already lived it 10 years ago).
Oregon, on the other hand, was written off after a bad loss and a stupid player trashed their reputation. Their QB was dragged around in the mud. They could have had a huge blowout loss and no one would have thought too much about it. They decided that they were not going to roll over. They had the will of the underdog. And that is why we did not survive.
The only question now is can the Bears toughen up. Give SC a good game - even win it, as they can - and they are back in the hunt for a tough Pac 10 Championship. I think the Bears can and will do it. I do not believe that this is the team that will totally fold on the season. It could happen. Kevin Riley may be too fragile. Maybe that is why Tedford put Sweeney in - he is tired of the headcase QB. He trusts a guy from Fresno. Who knows (although he did not look good when he was in). In any event, Riley is the man, and he needs to step up. If he does not, JT need a quick hook, and to move on without mercy.
As far as it goes, I do believe there were some basic tactical errors yesterday that really killed the Bears. First, when you get the ball on the Oregon 20 - just run it up the gut. You need to establish the run game. The first play after a turnover, you try to make a big splash. But when you fail, you now have to pass. And when the line is passblocking on the first play - they look like a bunch of wussies. They needed to get the big hits in RIGHT NOW. Run up the middle, up the side, etc. Establish that you are not going to get pushed around. Do not put the game into an unproven QBs hands at Autzen, in a super loud stadium. From the first play, the Bears were on their heels. We went to the air far too much, and let them get out of hand. Yes, Best only had 55 yards on 16 carries - but if you ran 10 times in a row to start the game, he would have had 100 yards by then. When you only run in totally obvious running downs, it is difficult to run. It is not too complicated. So they have 8 in the box - you are afraid of that? He has faced that his whole career. Very bad play calling and frankly just chasing the score. Put a TD or two on the board in the first half and the game is 100% different.
Second, defensively - last year we attacked. This year, we tried to contain. Dumb and dumber. Masoli needs to be hit about 10 to 15 times before he falls apart. We were never in the backfield. We need 5 or 6 guys in the backfield all day long. He can not throw under pressure. But we gave him all day. And they have a young line, but it is not too hard to contain three guys with 6 blockers. Poor play calling on the defensive side.
Basically, we decided to play finese football this game, and got our clocks cleaned. Play this way against SC, and the score will be a lot worse. Come at them hard - a freshman QB, poor running game, etc, and we will do OK. Obviously this is the worst coached game of the JT era.