I was thinking about Cal D’s performance on Saturday.
Many people thought that Cal’s defensive showing was terrible to attrocious and that Bob Gregory sucks. I disagree. I’m not saying that the defensive showing was good (because it clearly wasn’t) nor that Gregory is cleared of all blame but just that it wasn’t as bad as it looks.
Let’s look at the facts shall we?
1) UCLA had a kicker that was almost automatic from anywhere inside their 40
- This meant that if Cal was to hold UCLA to 0 points on the drive they’d have to stop the drive somewhere before the UCLA 40.
2) Cal’s ST woes (i.e. ALAMAAAARRR!!) gave UCLA a field position of somewhere around Cal’s 30-40yd line.
- This basically meant that UCLA had about 20-30 yds at the most to go before scoring.
3) Cal’s defensive personnel is less experienced (and arguably less talented) than last years’. Especially the LB corps.
- Mohammed looked good last year because the offenses were too worried about Pain Train and co to focus in on the Prophet.
4) Arguably the best player on the defense, Syd’Quan Thompson, was out for most of the game. His replacement was a RS Frosh Josh Hill (I’m counting Hagan as the other DB) whose experience is limited to getting abused by Oregon and USC.
5) UCLA got away with blatant holding on the Cal d-line. Hasaik was bear-hugging on Franklin’s 74yd run. Alualu was double-held on every down. Yet they were never called. This made the pass-rush almost non-existent.
So in short I think with what he had Gregory did an admirable job. Now he wasn’t perfect (10 MEN ON THE FIELD!?) and he could’ve been a bit more creative (such as the delayed blitz which worked when it was rarely run). But the fact is people were expecting too much out of the defense with the LB corps gone. If we had looked at it without our blue-and-gold glasses we’d have seen that the defense was going to have growing pains.
What do others think? Was Gregory playing it too safe? Or was it, given the circumstances, justifiable?