Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Arizona video rewind

Below is a highlight video of the game - from the Arizona perspective. Though painful for some overly emotional fans to watch, these clips are great ways to see what went wrong, man for man, play for play. Personally, I love watching film. As you watch, note the following things:

1. Poor tackling on a few plays was backbreaking. Enough said.

2. On a number of run plays, Cal's defensive players took themselves completely out of the play at the point of attack. Notably, Felder did it twice on runs up the middle, flowing too quickly from backside to the ball side, and leaving a huge gaping hole for a cutback.

Also, on the long run in the second half to the defense's left side, everyone took turns being out of position, tackling poorly, or just plain getting used by a blocker - Conte missed a tackle he should have had, Mohammed got owned by a blocker (in fairness it was a good block), Cattouse looked tentative and got run over by his blocker, and our d-linemen was simply not a factor.

3. On Thomas' big punt return, Cal's punt cover team look lackadaisical and seemed as though they did not respect the returner's speed. I don't know why, since he was all Pac 10 last year and the last year's Pac 10 leading receiver. In any event, I think this body language says less about special teams play and more about the team's mindset going into this game. There is no question there was an "edge" missing in terms of the team's focus and intensity, especially compared with Arizona's. We've seen that before with Tedford's teams on the road. You need that edge every week if you want to win the conference.

4. Just like the pick he threw to Verner last season vs UCLA, Longshore's INT was thrown to the wrong place. That pass must be thrown high and to the receiver's outside shoulder. Versus UCLA last year, it was thrown low and right at the receiver. This one was thrown low and (!) to the inside shoulder. I am frankly surprised Tedford called that play (though it looked like Lonshore may have made that read at the LOS). We were deep in our territory, Longshore has a history of turnovers in late pressure situations, and that play in particular is one where Longhsore struggles. That was truly a head-scratcher.


T said...

Hey SDGldnBear, nice work as always. Pretty much agree with all points in this post.

One thing I thought I'd add given our past conversations on formations and playcalling: Cignetti (or Longshore?) finally called what I have been clamoring for. Right after the Felder pick, we lined up in the standard-I, play-faked, and threw a deep post to Verran Tucker, who was 3 yards clear of single coverage. A perfect play call which should have been a TD, or at least a long catch or PI if underthrown. Sadly Longshore overthrew incomplete.

This changeup play actually paid dividends later as the long Best TD came on a strong-side run out of the standard-I, but Zona was not overplaying it nearly as much after nearly being burned on the aforementioned bomb. So the usual lead play blocking worked much better.

But still, we did not continue to mix it up, and Zona went back to their strategy of bringing the strong safety up to put 8 in the box against the standard-I. I just finished charting the game last night and will try to post on BI later.

T (OneKeg)

SDGoldenBear said...

Dude - great catch on that. That could have been a lethal play call. I definitely think Longshore called the Best TD run at the LOS, recognizing they were playing soft. It seems like the coaches are well aware of the "tendency" re I-formation and are trying to take advantage. Too bad Longshore missed on the throw. That would have been 14 points off of a single play package.

Definitely looking forward to the charting.

Anonymous said...

while you guys are considering the brilliance of the playcalling and longshore generally, one thing this video does is shoot gregory full of holes.

the defense looks totally on their heels over and over, and is a molehill of confusion.

the play that went to Thomas for the TD to make it 24-20 is one of the best examples. Some had assumed, and assumed in print, that this was in response to Gregory's 'aggressiveness.' This was a mistaken assumption made because there was no safety in the middle of the field.

However, we only rushed 3.5 guys (4 guys make toward the qb, but one peels off). Meanwhile two middle (or one middle and one sam) LBs stand around looking confused, apparently both looking to cover a back catching something short or a qb run. Williams (a 5th year senior) ends up covering nobody, just standing around in the middle of the field.

If we get burned for 7 on that play because we're sending 6 or 7 guys so be it. But rushing 4 AND having no safety in the middle of the field is an embarrassing way to play defense against a team like az.

Gregory should have to answer for plays like this. At this point we were still firmly in control of the game. Unfortunately with JT's blind loyalty to Gregory we'll never see anything different. Just more injunctions for the guys to play harder and "make plays." The only coaching tips our defense and special teams coaches seem to provide.

SDGoldenBear said...

Anonymous - I tend to agree that this game was more on the defense than anything else, which is why I said 27 points should have been enough to win. Re-watching the highlights makes it painfully clear how badly a few backbreakers killed our momentum in the second half.

The offense had its problems, but when you go up 24-14 at half and have your punter dropping balls inside the 20 consistently, you should win. Anyone who says otherwise does not believe in defense. You cannot win the Pac 10 if you cannot lock down on defense in the second half, especially on the road. Yes you have to score, but you ain't gonna drop 30+ on everyone. 27 should be enough for your defense to win it. If not, you're not a balanced team.

T said...

Can't say I disagree about the defense upon review, anonymous.

By the way, who said Cignetti's play-calling is "brilliant"? I was noting the play-action bomb out of the standard-I because we almost never use it. In fact that was the ONLY time we have play-actioned to a deep pass out of the standard-I in 70 snaps over 4 games, per my charting on BI. I think that particular call is a good one and we should use it more than we do given the good results it can produce both immediately and down the line. Not brilliant, just common sense - if anything, I'm calling Cignetti into question.

SDGoldenBear said...

Agree T - I have to think we're going to see more of this. As I said in a post on BI, the I-formation can be the Stockton-Malone pick and roll for Cal. If they can keep defenses honest and have success with pass and run out of that package, they can score most of their points switching between run and pass, depending on what the safeties and LBs do.

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