Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hats off to the Bears

There were a lot of questions about this team and the coaches going into this game, and while not all were answered, some big ones certainly were. First off, they showed they can stop the run, especially against a power rushing team. They held Ringer and the Spartans to 81 yards rushing on 31 attempts - 2.6 yards per rush. This is frankly ridiculous against a team that runs as well as Michigan State. The front 7 played like men yesterday, plain and simple. Hill played his heart out, Alualu played his usual boringly efficient game (*yawn*), and Davis played like a maniac. The linebackers were all over the place, held their ground against the fatties, and laid the lumber with refreshing repetitiveness. Gregory clearly had these guys ready for the run, and their preparation showed. Without question, this was the most impressive part of the team's performance.

Some other thoughts:

Our punter has an NFL leg. Right now. And he is a true freshman. Funny how years ago, when Cal sucked, Cal fans spoke glowingly (and maybe a little sarcastically) of the punter as the team's most valuable player. In fairness, he really...was...the best player on team then. Now, our punter isn't the MVP (though I think he will end up being the best punter in the country before he graduates), but he absolutely changes the game with his abilities.

My favorite Jim Tressel quote is the that the punt is the most important play in football. Tedford seems to agree. Remember, when he recruited the punter before last, he flew to Australia just to meet the kid's parents. Plus, he not only reserves a scholarship position just for the long snapper (that's right, that's all he does is snap for punts and kicks), but Tedford requires that he spend the entire season in a hermetically sealed bubble wearing protective gloves to shield his precious snappers from the elements. He is released only for games and family holidays (though Tedford slides an electronic ankle bracelet on him to monitor his vital signs whenever he leaves the bubble).

In the words of Marshawn Lynch, "stupid fast."

Coach Tedford
Don't know if you noticed, but when the team was huddling up on the sidelines, Tedford was off to the side. He let his coaches coach the whole game. Great sign. And I could be mistaken, but from where I was sitting, his play card looked smaller. I think having his head in the game instead of buried in the offense is going to make a big difference this season.

Sean Young
Heck of a game for this kid. Looked like the reliable possession receiver we need, and even got open deep.

Cameron Morrah
I've said it before and I'll say it again. He is going to have a breakout season, and I think he can be a dominant, all Pac 10 TE if he is used correctly. He not only played a great game as our leading receiver (5 catches, 93 yards), but he blocked well too. He had a key block on a few big plays, which is a huge part of the blocking schemes in this offense.


While the Bears did a lot of good things, they need to tighten up in a few areas.

Poor zone coverage
Our zone pass coverage was bush league. There were so many seams that they weren't even seams anymore, they were just wide open holes in the zone. MSU WR Dell has 9 catches for 220 yards (5th most by a Spartan WR in history), largely because in zone coverage there was no one around him. Other teams will absolutely go after us here.

Poor man coverage
Our corners seem to have the athleticism to cover, but seemed caught off guard quite a bit when MSU would send guys on a "go" route. This is going to rear its head next week vs WSU and the week after vs Maryland. Both those teams have big, fast receivers, and you can bet they are watching the film of our secondary and licking their chops.

Left side of the o-line
While the run game finally got rolling in the second half, we still had trouble moving the ball on the left side. This will get better, but Teofilo got beat badly a few times.

Wide receivers
Other than Sean Young, our receivers didn't have the impact they need to. Boateng got open, but the kid needs to work on catching it. The rest of the receivers weren't able to break free (though it looked like the coaches weren't really leaning on Riley to make these kinds of plays too much). This position tends to be the slowest to develop, so this was to be expected. But Cal is going to need to stretch the field this season to really open up the offense.
Final stats here


Anonymous said...

Great game, Bears! Not perfect, but what promise you showed!

SJ Cal

Anonymous said...

The team is young and breakdowns are to be expected; likewise the problems with the WR's.
But overall - lots and lots of promise.

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