Friday, September 10, 2010

Colorado Quick Preview

Not much time for a preview this week, so I'll get right to it. This game is about the Cal defense. The offense certainly still has a lot to prove, notably at OL and WR. But this is not USC's defense Cal is facing, it's early, Cal is healthy, and it has a senior QB. Cal is going to get its points and its yards, at least enough to win the game if the defense doesn't give it away.

In contrast, Colorado under Hawkins has been miserable offensively. They've had athletes, but the coaching, the discipline, the schemes, and the QB play have been awful. They are flying a bit high right now after looking pretty good offensively last week, with some new faces who have a lot of athleticism. And if the defense gives them life early, make no mistake, Colorado has the horses to get something going.

But they are still a vulnerable team offensively, even more so on the road. They've got a lame duck coach, an offensive system that can't possibly have made believers out of the players the past four years, a QB in his first season as a starter, and they are a mistake and penalty prone team. All it will take is some stagnating drives and blown up plays to bring them back to earth and allow doubt and frustration to start creeping in.

They're Million Dollar Baby and the Cal defense is Clint Eastwood. Just gently dab their dry lips, whisper sweet nothings in their ear, slowly slip the syringe into their IV and say goodnight.

As for their offensive scheme, I know Tedford downplayed the amount of concepts Kiesau imported from the Cal system when he went to Colorado, but from what I saw in clips I've watched, I'd say there is more than occasional overlap. They ran a number of things that remind me of the basic Tedford staples, both in the run blocking schemes and route combinations. And we all know how key (1) the run game and (2) sophisticated, poised QB play are in Tedford's offense. It is not a gimmick offense.

From what I've seen, Colorado's run game can be shut down. With Hansen being a "first option or run" QB, Cal needs to key on the run and make Hansen beat them. Not a revolutionary concept for sure, but I think perhaps too much is being made of Colorado's WR speed and Hansen's mobility. If the run game grinds to a halt, and Colorado gets in long yardage, the pressure packages and Cal's speed will do their thing. That is what I will be watching for - taking Colorado out of their short and medium yardage packages early, and forcing their hand.

And with Cal's athletes on defense, to me, this is all about attitude, not scheme. If they come into the game ready to smother the life out of Colorado's offense, and come at them in waves, the defense will control the game. If they come in with a "read and react," "contain" mentality, it's anyone's ballgame. I will be curious to see what mindset Pendergast has instilled them with.

I still don't know what to expect from this defense, but if I had to predict, I think they'll give up a few big pass plays, but will generally make the Colorado offense look ugly, and that will be the deciding factor in Cal's favor.


Kodiak said...

Thanks for taking the time to get this up. I was really curious to hear how you saw this one.

Go Bears!

Bear with Fangs said...

Brief, but good stuff as always.

You're really cutting it close with getting these previews in these days! Great to read the preview in time though.

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