Got an email from Dan today, “I’m doing terrible. Downloaded video of the Cal game last night, and watched it this morning.” which pretty much describes everyone’s reaction to the game.
Where do we begin? I started my research by looking at the comments to the article on the game at SFGate.com. The most popular comments were, shall we say, incendiary. And frankly I don’t blame them. This game was the illegitimate child of the horrific last-play loss to the Dawgs at the end of the 2010 season, which capped one of the worst slides of a Cal team since the one begun by the “Why didn’t he throw the ball away” Riley game against the Large Brown Rodents in 2007.
Preparation: the Other Dawgs appeared to be playing their 5th or 6th game of the season; Cal seemed to have just come off Spring Scrimmage. Timing was terrible, blocking???? The Pistol offense which is half-cocked even when it is running well, looked like some masterpiece crafted by da Vinci against Cal’s defense which appeared to have practiced against some other offensive scheme. Which now makes three defensive collapses against Pistol offenses.
Offense: Cal’s offense appeared confused – and apparently was confused. And I have a hard time taking the no-huddle spread seriously when, 90% of the time, instead of going up to the line and running the play, the team stares at the sideline for 5-10-15 seconds getting some sort of guidance. The Quacks run their spread at two speeds: supersonic and hypersonic. We ran our spread at bicycle speeds. Every time they looked at the sideline you could hear the crowd groan, “Just run the %@#$# play!” When the offense did accidentally find some sort of rhythm, it looked pretty good and the quick strike capability of the talent is there. This is a team that could average 2-3 minutes per scoring drive. But it’s like that Dodge Charger muscle car you found in your grandpa’s barn in Sonora – it could go really fast, but it’s gonna take a lot of work to get there.
Coaching: see Preparation. Also, I’m going to give the Ted a break on the double-secret Maynard probation thing. The fact is that one week of practice was not going to turn Alan Bridgford into Peyton Manning so the extra reps might have helped a little, but probably not a lot. The real question is whether there was some other punishment that made sense during the 3 months between the infraction and the game. Among the suggestions in our section of the stadium were working with one of the construction crews that lifts heavy things for a few days, performing community service, or being made to stand in front of the team and apologize for, say, 3 weeks. Yes, it is only a game, but to do this for the opening game after a $321M renovation???
Venue: Enough about the game, how was the stadium? I’ve read various positive and negative comments, but overall the stadium renovation is a qualified success. The aisles could be a bit wider, and the flow in and out of the stadium area is still somewhat constricted, but definitely a more comfortable environment. Yes, the East side is still in the dark ages and it will be a while (if ever) before that is addressed, but the structure is (we are told) safe and is going to reach its 100th birthday.