Game Day Preview: Large Brown Rodents & Pac-1x

First a few words on the Quacks game.  A very brave performance for almost 3 quarters by the Bears with a couple of special service medals to Alan Bridgford and the O-line.  Its really too bad that under Tedford’s system, the #2 and #3 QBs get so little preparation when it has become so common for teams at this stage in the season to be playing their backup QBs.  And we get the worst ever loss of the Tedford era….

So why be optimistic about this season ending match against the Giant Water Rats?   Well, I think it is obvious by now that this is Tedford’s last game coaching the Bears and the same is probably true for most of the staff.  Word on the street is that this was the “extra year” that Tedford got to show he could turn the program around and that didn’t exactly work out.  Sure, there were injuries, but again show me a team without injuries at this point in the season.  And who keeps their #1 players in games that are out of reach and gets them injured two weeks in a row.  Someone has to be responsible, and if not Tedford, then who.

Bridgford gets another start and has a lot to prove going into next year’s QB battle.  Together with what was supposed to be the best ground attack in the Pac-1x, the elements are there for an inspired upset.  The Large Brown Rodents are frankly in chaos now.  2 losses in the past 3 games has the team questioning everything.  And they can’t help but look ahead to their matchup with the Quacks so ESPN has them on Upset Watch, too.  Mannion will be back at QB – or will he – and for how long?  When your QB is constantly looking over his shoulder, it usually doesn’t end well.   It’s a Toss-up – with the weather playing a major factor – heavy rain could turn it into a ground game contest and Cal has a huge edge there.

$C and LA-State play for the Adams division title and ‘furd and the Quacks play for the Norris division and we’re faced with the awesome possibility of a repeat of last year’s exciting Quacks-Baby Bears Pac-1x championship – yawn.   How fUCLA rescued their train wreck of a season to get this far is simply baffling?  And, of course, how $C managed to turn their championship/Heisman trophy season into a train wreck is also baffling.   But not as baffling as how some pundits think ‘furd has a chance against the Quacks.  Seriously.  These guys need to be tested for hallucinogens.  While Cal demonstrated a valid defensive strategy to put up against the Quacks, I think the Quacks demonstrated that they can adjust and out maneuver a dedicated opponent.  The line is Quacks by 21 and I’ll be surprised if it is that close.  For the Adams division, I’ll go with the home team, completing the meltdown of $C.  In the end, they blame it on the horse.

The rest of the Pac-1x has a couple of teams staggering into Bowl games – Dawgs potentially finish on a 5-game winning streak with Colo and Wa-State victims 4 & 5.  Oooots playing their hearts out to become bowl eligible against ‘zona and Colo.  And likewise with A-State taking on Wa-State to become bowl eligible.  Depressing to say the least.

Basketball season looks good…

Pairing Wine with Duck

November 10, 2012

Today’s game is not likely to be a pretty one. But the meal beforehand can and should be.

If you are feasting on Oregon duck, you will be happy to know that duck pairs well with many different wines. I especially like intowine.com’s recommendations.

Their site features six different recommendations. Depending on how you prepare the duck, you can go with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Tempranillo on the milder side or Syrah and Zinfandel on the heavier side. And of course you can always enjoy a sparkling wine with duck.

My wish for today is that the game is as wonderful a surprise as the incredible duck that is served before the game.

Cheers to a WINEderful ducky upset!

Game Day Preview: Quacks & Pac-1x

Again we will skip the Game Day Review as that game was truly for the Dawgs.   We left at the end of the third quarter – the sight of the truly awful Cal offense was really making us sick.  And seeing Maynard turned into a pretzel would not have been the highlight of my season.

Instead, here are some interesting stats.

On Google, searching for “Tedford hot seat” yields about 28,700 results.

The Lakers fire their coach after losing 4 games – Cal waits over 20 games.

At this point in the season, it is no longer if but when.  And the good news is that the pundits has Cal as one of the easiest programs to rebuild because of the facilities, reputation, weather, and conference.  There are about a dozen excellent candidates out there, and that doesn’t include the handful of coaches who aren’t on the market yet because they haven’t gotten their pink slips.  Most interesting candidate is Sonny Dykes, coach of high-scoring LA Tech (not to be confused with LA State) and of course someone familiar with the Bay Area from playing San Jose State.  You have to figure that the right coach for the Pac-1x is a guy who can crank 50 points a game out of an offense.  And word on the street is that Chip Kelly will be moving on to the NFL after this season, win, lose or draw.

As for the Quacks, one would like to see a repeat of the miracle game of 2010 that we should have won, but that’s just not going to happen.  And I hope that Kenjon Barner isn’t going to join a long list of running backs setting their career highs against the Bears as that would mean something like 400 yards.  Let’s hope it stays competitive for a quarter.

‘furd takes on the Large Brown Rodents in the “did you get the number of the guy who’s playing quarterback?” bowl where some Hogan guy will probably face off against some Vaz guy.  Expect the other QBs to be back in the game in the 4th quarter as both coaches question their own tactics in a tightly contested game with at least one INT per quarter.  Toss-up.

A-state visits the really bad Olympic stadium in a last ditch effort to save their season – and a chance to put a stake in the heart of $C’s.  Both teams are mathematically in the running for the Adams division title, but fUCLA is in the driver’s seat.

Other games (like the Cal game) are lopsided match-ups, although a revived Oooots squad could take down those Dawgs in awful cable company field in Raintown.

Pairing Wine with Halloween Candy

How many of you will be munching on Halloween candy while watching the Bears beat the Huskies tonight? We did a little bit of wine and candy pairing on Halloween, and here’s what we came up with.

The wines:

  • Muscat
  • Chardonnay
  • Merlot

The candy:

  • Heath Bar
  • Almond Joy
  • Payday
  • Butterfinger
  • Reeses
  • Whoppers

The results:

  • Heath Bar & Whoppers with Muscat
  • Almond Joy, Payday & Butterfinger with Chardonnay
  • Reeses & Whoppers with all 3 wines

Please share your wine and candy pairings with us here!

Cheers and GO BEARS!

Game Day Preview: Dawgs & Pac-1x

Oh, did we skip the Game Day Review for UU?  Enough said….

What I thought was one of the worst games in Cal History against ‘furd the previous week was clearly exceeded by this performance against a truly terrible UU squad.  And that’s all I can bear to say.  And in the post-game show, they actually had the audacity to name the Special Teams coach the “coach of the game” or whatever the hell it is.  Seriously.  After two 100-yard kick returns in one game?

And now we hear that Tedford wasted Keenan Allen on an on-side kick with a minute to go.  You put your MVP in that situation – kickoffs identified by the NFL no less as the most dangerous play in the game!

Anyway, back to the problem at hand.  A UDub team that is at once awful and great, frequently at the same time.  Two wins against (admittedly flawed) top-10 teams sprinkled among 4 losses, although the losses came against teams with a total record of 26-5.  Cal’s 6 losses against teams with a 35-15 record (it looked better before laying the egg in Utah).  So both teams have played very tough schedules, but the difference being that the Dawgs came up with a couple of W’s amidst what is turning out for them to be a very disappointing season with QB Price having a Maynard-esque season after his imitation of Cam Newton last year.  Price has lost almost everything this year, his long ball, his accuracy, his running, and he himself admitted to a crisis of confidence.

And of course the one solution to a crisis of confidence is to put the Bears defense up against you.  I’m trying to find the words to describe it – sponge, foam, sea spray, something like that.  Just enough to slow you down, but not enough to trip you or cause any sense of unease as your run 30, 50, 80, 100 yards down the field.  Expect Price to look like Cam Newton, again.

As for Cal…  expect another 20-30 runs into the middle of the line for a loss of 1.  Maybe a short pass or two.  And another 5-6-7 sacks.  Unless lightning strikes.  Maybe we see Bigelow for one play.  Maybe we see Maynard hit from all four directions on the same play like a pinball.  It is just too painful to watch.  We’re told that the line is decimated.  Other teams have lost O-lineman without a complete collapse.  The problem at Cal seems to be that too much emphasis is put on the first-string and the backup players don’t get enough practice or playing time to be able to step in when the inevitable injury strikes.  If you plan your season based on everything going right in College football, you are going to be disappointed every year – because it just doesn’t work out that way.

Cal is (I still don’t believe it) favored by 4.  Dawgs by 24 and I’m home in bed by the beginning of the 4th quarter after a first half so terrible that a fan wearing a goalie mask carrying an axe is seen leaving the stadium, unable to bear the brutality he just witnessed.

As far as the Tosh Lupoi revenge angle, everyone needs to get over that.  Heck, we’ll be stealing a coach and a coaching staff from another team in a couple of weeks….

A quick spin around the Pac-1x.  Quacks at $C.  If $C figures out how to play defense again after their collapse against ‘zona, then maybe they have a chance.  Who am I kidding?   Quacks by 42.  Or 49.  And after the game they’ll drop another 2 spots in the BCS…

The Adams Division has 3 teams with 2 losses ($C, A-State, and the ‘cats), and a leader is going to emerge this weekend with A-State taking on the Large Brown Rodents, fresh from their “pick a quarterback, any quarterback” loss to the Dawgs, in the stadium built by cole slaw.  Both teams burned last week look for redemption and to keep alive their Rose Bowl hopes.

Likewise with the ‘cats taking on LA-State in the very same Rose Bowl.  I call both games a toss-up since each team has fatal flaws that could be picked on, and they are games that may be decided by well-executed game plans and game-time coaching decisions.   That would seem to favor Riley and RichRod but we’ll see.

The other two games aren’t fit for human consumption…

 

Go Gian… uh… Go Bears!!

As most of the Bay Area turns its attention to Game 3 of the World Series in what used to be called the Motor City, the Bears might have a sense that some of the support they’ve enjoyed might be on the wane.

One thing about Cal Football that never changes, year after year:  When Cal fans — even life-long, die-hard, Old Blues — start to give up on the team, somehow they rally, play over their heads, and surprise the bejeezus out of all of us.

So the question is, which team shows up today?  Which coach shows up today??

Last week, in the Big Game, Stanfurd dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.  As Coach Tedford persisted in “establishing the run”, it became clear that running the ball between the tackles was not going to work.  As Cal’s OL got completely handled by Stanfurd’s DL, there was nowhere for the guys with the ball to go.

Given that situation, all I could think was “Why aren’t they running wide?  Why aren’t we testing Stanfurd’s weakness — speed and pursuit — by running sweeps?  Why not use the Fastest Running Back in the Pac-n to make that DL run from sideline to sideline?

Oh well.  Big Game is in the past.  (And I know this because I woke up on Thursday morning, feeling like I needed to make stuffing and put a turkey in the oven.)  Bottom line:  Guessing about who’s going to show up — team-wise and coach-wise — is nearly impossible.

We’ll see if Coach Tedford learned anything about how to deal with a good DL from last week’s experience;  if not, it could be a long evening for the Bears (and their non-SF-Giants fans).

[ No runs for the Giants in the 1st; Tigers coming to bat….]

Game Day Preview: Ooots & Pac-1x

OK, just how bad are the Ooots – almost as bad as Cal right now.  Working with their 3rd quarterback of the season, coach Whittingham has had that “can we just get this nightmare season over with” expression on his face for the last few games as UU has looked almost helpless as they actually were in position to upset teams like $C and the Large Brown Rodents.

Quote of the week goes to him:

“We just haven’t made the pivotal, momentum-changing plays in games,” he said. “The majority of them have gone against us.”

What else is new when you’re 0-4 in conference.  But they’ve got two good players who could control the game.

RB White IV has been an underperformer all season and yet they keep handing the ball to him as part of the “can we just get this season over with” strategy.  Both Anderson and Sofele have more yards, TDs, etc, but given the way this season is going, expect White IV to have his season high, let’s call it 164 yards and 3 TDs with a long run of 71 yards (his season long is 29).

But the real problem is that we’re facing a Star on defense.  Star Lotulelei, the 325 pound defensive tackle from Tonga, has also been an underperformer all season.  Everyone acknowledges that he’s going to be playing on Sunday, but with UU he’s just another guy with again less than flashy stats.  That is, until he faces the team that has allowed more sacks and negative yardage plays than anyone on the planet.  If I were Maynard, I might come down with the flu and a 106 fever just so I can stay home.  Star was the main reason why the Oooots almost took $C.  Worst case: 6 sacks and 5 TFLs.  Things get so bad that Tedford routinely punts on 3rd down to give Maynard time to recover  from the hits.

We’re favored by 1 or 2 and I even called it Cal by 1 in my season preview – this was always a trap game.  Weather won’t be a factor.   Sounds really stupid, but game comes down to blocking (Star) and tackling (White IV).  If the team does those two things, we win, and probably win big.  Otherwise, another painful game to watch, and apparently even the Pac-1x network tried to get out of showing this one…

Going around the Pac-1x, two critical games start separating out the contenders in the Adams division as $C face the ‘cats and LA-State face the ‘ils – both in ‘zona.  Winners are put in the drivers seat – losers start figuring out which Car Parts Bowl looks best in December.   I like the home teams in both games.  $C just isn’t $C this year.  And LA-State is vulnerable (understatement).

In the Norris Division, upset pick of the week has the Dawgs making a game of it ‘gainst those pesky Giant Water Rats in Really Awful Cable Company field in Raintown.  Way too many variables in this one including rain, a field that is really unfamiliar to the Rodents, and the whole question of who the heck is the QB this week.  Riley dishes out the best BS in the Pac-1x, and the fact is that Vaz looked terrible against the Ooots and Mannion would be back in there if he were on crutches.  Question is whether he really is ready.  Expect Dawgs to blitz early and often.

‘furd hosts the WaZombies, and the Quacks hosts CU (as in CU Later).   If you need cheering up, compare how we’re doing to WaZoo and CU.   Small probability ‘furd might let their guard down – very small.  For Quacks, tune up for probably the 4 toughest games this season for anyone – @ $C, @ Cal, ‘furd, and @ Rodents.   OK, 3 of the toughest games…

Cal Game Day Review: The Big Game

Short and to the point.

The Worst Big Game I’ve Ever Seen or Followed in 35 years of following these games.

Based on my reading of both books on the history of Cal Football – definitely ranking up there as one of the Worst Big Games in the 115 game history.

I know much has been written about how much better ‘furd was, they are bigger, and better trained, and had fewer injuries, and all that.  And the thing is that the coaches would have known all this before the game and should have come up with schemes meant to neutralize ‘furd, in the same way that Reno did it to us with a smaller, less talented squad.  And in the same way that the Dawgs did it to ‘furd with what is turning out to be quite a mediocre UDub squad.

So this is a failure of coaching at every level and demands a housecleaning on the same scale and proportion as the demolition and reconstruction of Memorial Stadium.

Plus watching the Giants in the post season has been a lesson in what a team can do with small ball, facing adversity at every turn, and just playing better and smarter against incredible opposition.  And Bochy is out managing Leyland who looks pretty much helpless as he looks on at what he thought was an unstoppable line-up.

We’re just not seeing it here at Cal and a 3-9 season is now looking much more probable than 6-6 as UU has looked much more credible against tough opposition in the last few games (although to be frank, they stink too).  More on that in this week’s preview.

 

Lateral Wine for the Play’s 30th Anniversary

Oct. 20, 2012

Happy Big Game Day!!! Happy 30th anniversary of The Play!!!

I was looking for a wine that would be appropriate for commemorating The Play, and I cam across something WINEderful:

Lateral Wine!!!

Is that amazing or what? According to the website, this is a combination of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from “Napa Valley’s select organic vineyards.”

They say that Lateral has earned a cult following for being the finest Bordeaux-style blend at its price point.

I think for us Golden Bears, the name alone earns it a cult following.

Whether you drink Lateral Wine, Golden Bear Wine or wine from any of the many Cal-influenced wineries, I hope you enjoy an incredible Big Game.

GO BEARS!!!

Tight Ends!

It’s way too late, so I’ll be brief.

Today’s Big Game is very ‘winnable’ for Cal.  The formula:

  • stuff Stanfurd’s power running game
  • leave Steve Williams and Kameron Jackson in single coverage on Stanfurd’s WRs (if they have any)
  • on 3rd and long, cover the tight ends!!

The Bears have a spotty history when it comes to covering TEs.  They’ll stop a couple of plays cold — and then give up 15 yards to a wide-open TE, and move the chains.

Stopping the run is definitely the key for the Bears.

That, and protecting Zach Maynard — or giving him enough time to make something happen.

Cal wins this one by 3.

GO BEARS!