The first in (hopefully) a 13 part series, this is a quick summary of a few keys to the game.
That was intense. I thought we had it sewed up with Hagan's second interception, but apparently he didn't actually catch it. It looked great in person and on the video screen, so there must have been some camera angle I was missing. In any case, it did add a lot of drama to the last 3 minutes of the game (I had visions of UW '06 at the very end), but with Nate Longshore's help we were able to pull it out. At least that's how I remember it.
1) Run Defense.
I was quite worried that MSU was going to be able to overpower us at the line of scrimmage and allow Ringer to run wild. The lack of depth at nose tackle as the game approached (Kane and Hill were both banged up) compounded my fears. But starting on the very first drive, the Cal defense showed how stout it would be against Ringer throughout the game. I haven't seen any stats, but I doubt Ringer got 100 yards and I'd bet his yards per carry average is between 3 and 4. For a defense that just moved to a base 3-4 (with banged up nose tackles) to play this well against a Doak Walker candidate in Ringer is phenomenal. Not surprisingly, with Ringer unable to get on track for much of the game, MSU struggled to move the ball. Our defense essentially held them scoreless for the first 3 quarters of the game, with the only points coming on the (horrible, horrible) pick 6 and the bad snap recovered deep in our territory.
2)Sean Young and Cameron Morrah.
We didn't get much out of our receivers, with the giant exceptions of Sean Young and Cameron Morrah. Calvin played only a limited amount and I don't recall a pass thrown his way. I do recall a couple of passes thrown to Nyan Boateng and those didn't work out too well. Young and Morrah caught everything, including a bomb down the sideline (Young) and a critical adjustment on 3rd and long in the 4th quarter (Morrah). Seeing Sean Young perform so well is especially sweet, considering he's been in the program for 6 years and this is his first real action. I hope he stays healthy, because it looks like he'll play a much larger role than many of us were anticipating.
Cal was able to control the ball for much of the game, thanks to Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen. And I think Jeff Tedford knew something this spring when he said we'd like Vereen. Uh, yes.
He made a huge throw to Sean Young in the 3rd quarter, when MSU had pulled to within 3. He made an even bigger throw to Cameron Morrah on 3rd and 13 in the 4th with an MSU defender dragging him down. Frankly, after that throw and the pass to Stevens in the OSU game last year, I'm getting a little greedy and am starting to expect at least one of these per game. But most importantly, no turnovers. No delay of games. No procedure penalties. He played within himself for the entire game and out of body in a few crucial moments - what more can you ask for from a quarterback?
But these are just my views. What are your views on the game? Use this as an open thread for immediate post-game reaction. Don't forget, we have a lot of content coming up, such as HydroTech's views and TwistNHook's photos. So, keep it locked here for all your Cal v. MSU analysis!