Friday, November 19, 2010

Big Game preview

I would really rather this game to be about the players. Really, I would. But it is literally impossible not to be distracted by, even consumed with, the ridiculousness of Jim Harbaugh going into the Big Game. His absurdness, his hyperbole, his abnormally large head - he obfuscates all. He is like a huge dirigible bobbing around obnoxiously, eclipsing everything important about this game.

Let's start with the gratuitous pole-smoking about Cal's defense at the presser. To be sure, Cal fans are no stranger to poor-mouthing by their coaches now that Montgomery coaches at Cal. I mean, let's be real here, Monty loves to obliterate his own team at the press conference. He'll talk his team down so badly that by the time he's done with his comments, you get the feeling he's worked himself into yanking scholarships.

But Harbs takes it to another level. Honestly, I don't think I've ever heard a college coach say he was "preparing for an NFL defense" in reference to an opponent. I'd get it if it were a joke about playing a crooked program that pays players (he's actually a big enough prick to say something like that if he were playing, say, some of those old Miami teams). But nope, Harbs was actually talking about how good Cal's defense looked, and comparing them to an NFL defense. No joke, no sarcasm, no qualifiers. Just straight talk from the televangelist of college coaches.

And that's really the point about Harbaugh - his exaggerations are hilarious, awkward, and frankly embarrassing all at the same time, because he actually says this outlandish stuff in the realist mood, as an assertion of fact.

But there’s another thing I’ve noticed about him. He always looks like he’s about one or two clicks away from either bursting out laughing, or alternatively, reaching across the table and tearing a reporter’s eyes out. There’s something frighteningly controlled about the guy.

I could go on with other examples – his flowery man-love superlatives about Marecic and Luck, his use the term “strong-man” as an adjective...and there we are behind the dirigible again. Like I said last year, you guys can keep that clown down on the farm as long as you like.

As for the game, to me the it comes down to one group of matchups: the Cal defensive front vs. the Stanford OL. This is the unit that really makes Stanford tick. Yes Luck is a great QB, but the Stanford OL gives him the short yardage 2d and 3rd downs by run blocking well, the time to throw, and the confidence when he gets in the red zone. This group has been impressive for two years now. Cal was able to match the Stanford OL last year, and in the end, it put pressure on Luck to make plays at critical points in the game.

The question is whether Cal can repeat. If they can, I think they win, especially at home. If you can't run the ball on the road and steady the ship, it's hard to win. And as much visibility as Mohamed and Conte got last week, the DL really dismantled the Ore attack from the inside out, leaving Cal’s speed guys to clean up the mess. Cal has the horses to do the same to Stanford, but I think they need to use 4 DL at least some of the time to be more stout up the middle, with Jordan in a hybrid role.

One last observation. I think Luck is a pretty good passer. Not Brent Musberger salivation-good, just pretty good. But he’s a really underrated runner. Aside from not giving him too much time, if there’s one thing about him that should scare this defense into putting a spy on him, it’s his running ability. If you send the blitz and he gets away, he will use his legs to chew up a huge black hole of yards vacated by the blitz.

The video below of him vs. SC seems like a typical performance. Some pretty good passes, but some great rollouts, bootlegs, and scrambles. A little preview of what to expect tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this game was about the coaches. Specifically, how stanfurd has better coaches than Cal. As well as how Harbaugh is able to coach circles around Tedford and is a better coach than him right now.

This was also about how bad our offensive assistant coaches are. Namely Ludwig, Marshall, and Daft.

Tedford needs to clean house on the offensive side of the ball. He needs to take over as the OC again or hire a young and hungry guy and give the offense to him. This CEO thing is not working for Cal or Tedford.

Mansion has been in the program for four years and he looks no better than a 1st year freshman starting QB.

Anonymous said...

I hate Harbaugh's bloviating as much as anyone, but he somehow manages to talk his player up and get them recognition. He got Toby to NY and nearly the Heisman, and will probably do the same for Luck.

Cal didn't do much to make a counter argument. Luck made a lot of solid to spectacular plays and throws.

abraham said...

i don't about you all but i'd be pretty disheartened if Daft (Wide receivers), Marshall, and possible Ludwig himself, call themselves our coaches next year. i dont think there is any other position on this team that has been victimized by a sever lack of growth and development as the WR position. three years now under Daft this position has been devastated by stagnant growth, mind boggling inconsistency, and general ineptitude. Of course i would love to hear what SD thinks about our WR position since 2007 and his assessment on its apparent futility.

J said...

We have no credible quarterback.


Anonymous said...

Can you please post a season recap or a look forward or something?? I don't think I can stand looking at this post for the next 8 months.

Anonymous said...

Has this bear quit?

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