Last week I did not post really - it was very hard to figure out what to say. Basically, there are a few things that rumble around in the brain after going through another brutal loss like that:
1) The Bears gave up.
2) The Bears could have won.
3) The Bears need a QB who can hit the side of a barn.
4) The Bears need new coaching.
But those are all immediate thoughts, and many of them are probably incorrect. So on Wednesday I looked at the game again, and saw a lot of positives. A lot more than I thought I would. So I decided that I was putting back on the Rose tinted glasses and needed to take a chill.
Anyway, based on further reflection, here is what I believe at this stage of the season:
1) Oregon is better that we thought at the beginning of the year. They have decent players at a lot of positions, and they have some depth. Defensively, they are pretty good. They could give SC a very tough game in Eugene. This could be the year that they break the spell of the USC dynasty.
2) The rest of the Pac 10 is pretty middle of the road. Oregon State, Arizona, Stanfurd, Arizona State, Washington and UCLA could all see 7-5 seasons. Washington State is the only truly poor team in the conference.
3) Cal is a pretty good team, but a team with a glaring weakness - the passing game. And it is not a receiver issue, or a play calling issue, or a line play issue. It is a QB issue. And for that, Tedford is at fault. It is his job (partially) to develop these young guys that have good talent to become quality division 1 QBs. Kevin Riley is doing a very poor job after the first three games. And it is a matter of confidence. I think he has the physical ability. But he is not mentally tough enough to get the job done, week in and out. He had great games for the first three weeks, number 6 in the country in passing. But the last two games, against tough teams, he folded. He could not hit WIDE OPEN - REALLY REALLY REALLY WIDE OPEN players. And that level of play has impacted the rest of the team. So stacking the box and letting Riley beat you when he can not throw the ball is a disaster for the Bears. Until he can prove that he can throw the Bears will lose against decent opposition. And JT should have done a better job of developing his QBs.
4) But Tedford does not take all the blame - it is also Riley's fault for being a head case. Earn the job. It is not your's just because you were the best QB in Oregon coming out of high school. This is the big time. JT playing someone in front of you is not an excuse to suck when it is your turn. This is your second year of being named the starter. Get over it.
4) The PAC 10 defenses this year are much better than in the past few years. And Pac 10 QB play is much less capable than in the past few years. Having a decent QB on your team this year will give you a huge advantage. Locker, for example, is leading a terrible team to a much improved season. Next year, when Nick Montana takes the field, the Huskies will be dead meat. But for the time being...
5) The Bears had plenty of opportunity to win the game against SC. There were TONS of open men - the play calling was inspired. Even the Wildcat was pretty darn good. The Bears moved the ball fine, but just could not score. It was a very frustrating game. The defense held SC fairly well, considering the time on the field and the constant barrage of three and out for the Bears. Not a stellar defensive gem, but not bad.
6) The Oregon game was a lost cause as soon as we did not finish that first drive. We caved in, and they rose up. It is like they were released from shackles and beat down the man. And, here, there is hope for the Bears. Because we are in the same position that Oregon was at the beginning of the year. Dropped from the standing for losing to Boise State, on the road. Because of a stupid incident after the game. But Boise is now #5 in the country. And Masoli, who, I have to give him credit - is a fighter. And he never gave up and came through against the Bears and has been on a roll ever since. That Boise thing got the Ducks together. They were totally disrespected, and totally written off. Just like Cal is now. I do not think the Bears are the second worst team in the Pac 10. But that is where we currently are ranked according to Ted Miller, of ESPN.
I think at the end of the year, the Bears will win 9 or 10 games. If you looked at the schedule, like many did this summer, and you said that we would have 3 wins and two losses to ORegon and SC, most people would have thought that was reasonable, and that they Bears could still go for 9 or 10 wins. And that would not have been unreasonable. Now, though, because we have two losses to SC and Oregon, we suck.
This game at UCLA is a big game for both teams. UCLA and Cal are similar, in that both were doing well, but have lost the first two conference games. So going down 0-3 in conference is not so good. I think the Bears pull it out. But UCLA has a good defense. They have terrible QBs. So the issue is, do the Bears exorcise the demons of the past 8 years in LA, and take out UCLA, or do we endure another tough week of waiting for the Washington State salve to come to town?