Saturday, September 13, 2008

Signal give-away almost got Best killed

On the big hit Barnes laid on Best, it sure seemed like Maryland saw the signal and went right at him.  There is no way a corner can close that fast on that play once the QB throws it.  He knew that ball was going to Best.  Now maybe he just read it as a tendency rather than recognizing the signal.  But we've seen that hand signal before, and it is almost always a slip (hand down?) or a bubble (hand up?) screen.  If I can figure it out, you can bet opposing coaches have.

Aside from almost laying up our #1 offensive player for the rest of the season with a broken rib, this "tell" really raises the bigger issue of predictability, especially in Cal's short pass game.  On virtually every screen, of every variety, Maryland had a guy waiting.  That is not luck, not on screens.  That is recognition, plain and simple, either by signal, by formation, or by play development.  Cal needs to do something about this, because without those short passes, it is at the mercy of its run game to keep its offense balanced and keep the defensive linemen honest. Tedford uses the short pass as part of its run game essentially, as a way to supplement the run.  

We noticed this a bit in goal line the last two seasons, as well as in sideline routes.  Defenses always seem to know what we're doing in those situations.   This needs to change pretty quickly.  Maybe the emergence of the receiver corps will open these passes up a bit.  

More thoughts to come... 


Anonymous said...

great blog read it almost daily...please continue in spite of lack of comments!

SDGoldenBear said...

Thanks Anonymous - My post game analysis will be up later today. I like to let the dust settle a bit, and re-watch the game, before breaking it down. I appreciate the loyal readership.

Anonymous said...

yeah, agreed here too. this blog is amazing. excellent insights. One thing I can't figure out is why Tedford seems to emphasize always needing to "out-physical" the other team. Last year we saw it when we couldn't make tough yards in the red-zone, but we would continually go up the gut and continually get stuffed. This year the whole world knew Maryland would sell out everything to try to stop Best. You'd think it almost mandatory that Cal's first ten to fifteen plays on offense would therefore be throwing downfield and using Best as a decoy or on wheel routes out of the backfield or something. But, no, we go straight up the gut with him again. It seems stubborn--like we're trying to play fair-and-square or something. It's as if Tedford thinks that if we can't push you off the ball and run for tough yards when you know it's coming then we don't deserve to win.

Then again, it's the same thing with our lack of aggressiveness on third down or other general predictability on defense. For me the hallmark of that is Gregory insisting on his corners staying on one side of the field. At least tell the media you might switch it up (or do it now and then) just so that the offense can't always see the same stuff they've prepared for. We gain nothing by always telling the media we'll play them straight up and then playing straight up. Other than a once or twice a game corner blitz, and Follett coming from the blind-side, our defense is constantly waiting for the other team to make a mistake. Consequently if the other team doesn't make mistakes and we make a few it's tough to win, even if our talent is better.

Anyway, as I said, the blog is awesome. I read it every day.

SDGoldenBear said...

Thanks Anonymous, appreciate the feedback. I do agree that there is a tendency to try and pound the ball inside the red zone. Sometimes it works great, like when we have done the direct snap. But most times it does not. Our most success at the goal line has been runs off the edge, roll-outs, and quick passes.

I also love the idea of using Best as a decoy. We did that on the first TD pass vs Wazzu. The result: double team on Best, Young wide open. Your idea is a good one.

I also agree regarding Gregory's predictability. I think his general scheme is adequate, but only if the players are doing their jobs. Obviously, they don't always. It's a bit of a fine line though. You can't constantly mix things up or the players will start to play inconsistently. They need repetition. But I do think there is a need for some more variety.

The corner blitz was pretty cool, the way they dropped the DE into coverage, Follett came up to fill at the last minute, and the corner came in unblocked.

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