Thursday, November 4, 2010

OSU Thoughts

Again, not a lot of time this week, so I'll keep it short.

1. This team, particularly the defense, is mentally weak.
And they were last year too.

I watched USC scrap and claw against Ore this weekend, even after Oregon broke their back with big play after big play. And I saw the Cal defense play that way vs. Arizona this year.

In contrast, that same Cal defense curled fetal and played scared less than halfway into the first quarter of the USC and OSU games this year, and the USC and Ore games last year.

When this defense gets popped in the mouth early, they wilt too easily, and they don't recover until the game is out of reach.

I keep saying that it is about leaders on the team, and it is to a large extent. I see no one on the field or sidelines firing anyone up. I see no James Betheas out there with this group.

But that's also a personal pride thing, down to each player, and I don't see that from all the players. I see it from a few, but not from most of them. I see guys not fighting through blocks, standing flat-footed, playing scared, guessing tentatively -- all signs they've given up, even if only a little. To me that is just sad. Why are you playing this game, that you sacrifice so much to play, if you are going to go out there and mail it in?

2. Tedford needs to re-insert himself into the offense, or scrap it (next season) and go with a new one. Tedford’s offenses used to perform with laser precision, few mistakes, and guys were putting a hat on a hat on every play. And when it was run that way, it worked well. In contrast, versus OSU, there were unblocked defenders everywhere, the OL was missing blocks and committing penalties (Marshall needs a serious look by Tedford), and play after play was executed without heart or confidence.

Tedford was right to try and delegate back in 2008. But the experiment has obviously failed. I am not a huge Ludwig fan, but I think he is a serviceable assistant OC if Tedford's offense stays in place. Same for Cignetti.

Otherwise, Tedford needs to pick a different offense and let someone else run with it. Because while both Cignetti and Ludwig are/were decent game planners and play callers, the offenses have slipped significantly in on-field precision and performance since 2008 started, something that never used to be a problem. That suggests his offense does not function adequately when someone else is running it.

3. Panda-Gas is not impressing. I still think this group is mentally weak (remember they looked just about this bad under Gregory last year), but there are still some schematic things that look off about this defense, especially at LB, that suggest Pendergast is not putting these players in the best spots. I think Pendergast needs to figure out this defense’s identity and go with it. Either pressure all game and take your chances, or go with 2 DL and keep everything in front of you. Because he seems to choose wrong when he switches up game plans week to week.

Personally, I don’t think this defensive personnel group has the instincts to play read-and-react. They need to be pressuring all game long, and the corners and safeties need to know that they are going to be tested. The team has speed on defense, and Pendergast needs to use it. What's the worst that can happen -- we get down 42-0 at half? At least they’ll go out swinging.

And at some point, allowing a game to get out of reach in the first quarter multiple times, is a reflection of the DC.

4. It's time to bench some starters, even some "untouchables." When guys don't show up or play like chipmunks more than just occasionally, even after getting blown out repeatedly and embarrassed on film, the only way to light a fire under them is to bench them. And it's time to bench some guys.

And again, what's the worst that can happen if you play the backups?

With that, my changes this week are:

Rigsbee at LT, Schwartz to RT.
Galas at center.
MSG at RG.
Mullins at ILB (with Mohamed rotating).
Wilkerson at OLB (replacing Price/Browner permanently)
Hagan as nickel on every third down, dropping either a LB or DL off.

It's march or die in the desert.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your point regarding the offense. Tedford needs to go back to being the OC or scrap his entire offense and consider bringing in a spread guy and really turning over the offense to him this time.

I would also like to see those changes at OL. Might as well start getting the younger guys some reps at OL.

Marshall, Daft, and Ludwig should all be shown the door at the end of the season. Pendergast deserves one more season to prove himself.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely.

Richard Hourula said...

I don't mind so much that the team is 4-4, what bothers me is the way they just up and quit. This is a pattern that developed last season. Last year's Big Game was the one time the Bears fell behind and fought back. In other recent instances they get knocked down and don't pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again. From the standpoint of either a fan or a player it is the single worst thing you can say about a team. Period. If it doesn't reflect on the coaching staff I don't know what does.

Anonymous said...

Great analysis as usual and one i completely agree with. He should make dramatic changes. Like you say--we've got nothing to lose. How can we get Tedford to read your comments? Tedford is a good person, but i question his ability to fire up the team. At this point the only thing he should concentrate on is this: The Bear Will Not Quit!! I hope he at least fires them up for the Big Game. If he doesn't think he can then get Joe Kapp to give the pregame speech. We need to win it to salvage this season.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Tedford reads your blog. if he doesn't, he should!

Anonymous said...

he doesn't

oldblue said...

Bring Joe Kapp back just to teach this team how not to quit. Make him part of the coaching staff so he can work with them in practice from the spirit standpoint. He'd probably do it gratis.

Jacob said...

I have a theory regarding the 2010 Cal Golden Bears and incredible difference between how they play at home and how they play on the road. Nice and simple:

The team needs to be fired up in order to play well. For defense all they need is to be fired up once and playing in front of their home crowd will do that. For offense they need to be fired up twice. The home crowd fires them up once, and then the fired up defense plays well which fires up the offense twice.

Playing against the #1 team in the nation seems to have acted as a third fired up. Hopefully the bonfire rally will act as the first part, playing against Stanfurd the second, and then playing in front of a filled stadium will be the third.


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