In a common theme among post-Poinsettia Bowl articles, Gary Peterson asks how Tedford is going to address the problems that emerged over the course of the season.
What's the plan after a season in which the program revealed concerning cracks and fissures never before apparent on his watch?
For starters, none of Tedford's other Cal teams scored as few points as this one did. Only twice in his first seven seasons did the Bears fail to score double digits in a game. This year it happened on consecutive Saturdays.
The concern: Offense is Tedford's forte. Yet there were times this season when his team looked lost.
Oddly enough, with the addition of explosive talents such as DeSean Jackson and Jahvid Best in recent years, the Bears' offense has become more combustible but less reliable. Thus, what happened in the Big Game last month — Cal controlling the ball by dominating the line of scrimmage — became the exception. More often, it seemed the Bears were flipping matches at a gas can, waiting for a big bang that never came.
Then there's the sixth-place finish in the Pac-10's year of parity. Only one of Tedford's Cal teams has finished lower.
The concern: Since Tedford's arrival, Cal has measured itself against conference kingpin USC. The Bears still can't get over on the Trojans — now it appears they've been surpassed by the Oregon schools, Arizona and, most painfully for them, Stanford.
Most concerning was the nature of Cal's defeats this season. During a nine-game stretch, Tedford experienced the three most lopsided losses he has known, plus another that tied for fifth on his Bottom Five list. The Poinsettia Bowl did not make the cut, but it was representative of the trend; after taking a 14-0 lead, Cal was outscored 37-13 over the final three quarters.
The concern: These were games in which the Bears were overwhelmed, unable or ill-equipped to handle what their opponents threw at them. That kind of failure transcends scheme, or play-calling, or injuries, or an opposing quarterback with a hot hand. On a basic level it suggests a deficiency in recruiting, preparation or both.
If you want to pull back further, the picture becomes even more stark. Before that infamous home game against Oregon State two seasons ago, Tedford was 48-20 at Cal. He and the program had achieved national relevance. The team was ranked third, seemingly on its way to No. 1.
Then quarterback Kevin Riley took off on his fateful run, delivering the Bears to a 34-game stretch in which they are 19-15.
In the end, it doesn't matter what others think of Cal. Tedford has created expectations here. The question of whether or not he can return to that standard of success is framing the 2010 season even as we speak.
We have slim pickings today, with a couple of previews of the Cal-Utah Valley matchup and this week's rankings after the jump.
- Cal should use tonight's matchup against Utah Valley and tomorrow's matchup against either Furman or UCSB as a momentum-builder heading into conference play. Farudo posts his scouting report of Utah Valley.
While not getting any love from the humans, Cal gets ranked 12th by CollegeRPI.com and 20th by the Sagarin rankings. Tonight's opponent Utah Valley is 330th and 299th in those rankings, respectively.