People might remember about a decade or so ago, Hydro and I started a discussion about playcalling versus USC. I contended that Coach Tedford tries to keep it close and win the game in the 4th quarter rather than going for it early. Hydro disagreed somewhat. Take a look at the link above if you've forgotten what that was all about. The discussion was based off this article from Smart Football.
We continue this discussion, now turning our attention to the run/pass balance.
Hydro: In the 2008 Cal vs. USC game, Cal attempted 31 passes for a 4.5 yard average. Cal rushed the ball 20 times for a 3.0 yard average (excluding negative rush yards from QB sacks on pass plays). In terms of achieving an equilibrium of pass attempt yardage and rush attempt yardage, Cal did pretty well. Perhaps a few more passes would have been statistically beneficial but otherwise I think the run/pass ratio was fairly acceptable. Had Cal's pass attempt average been something like 5.5 yards per attempt, and Cal's rush average been around 2.0 yards per attempt, then yes, I would say Cal should pass more.
Hydro: As for mixing up plays to keep USC on their heels, I think Cal attempts to do that. That gets hard when you're facing longer conversion downs like 3rd and 15 and 2nd and 12 or whatever.
One of the ancient strategies of warfare is when you're a weaker opponent, you have to appear strong in order to prevent the other side from trying to crush you from the outset. It's a sign of the respect that Carroll has for Tedford that he and USC's coordinators usually design the most conservative gameplans for our matchups. They know Cal is strong enough to topple them if they make mistakes whereas they have leeway with others. Carroll has no such compunction against other coaches like Bellotti or Erickson.
So I'm not certain if we need totally unconventional plays, like what the Furd did in their upset, because that's totally out of our character; we're not a huge underdog and probably won't be for some time. What we need are plays that are conventional in the style of offense we run but also unconventional in terms when and where we run them. If that makes sense.
What do you guys think?
Should Cal go for a run/pass balance to beat a superior opponent in USC?
Yes, they should do the same thing they do in every game (10 votes)
Yes, but they should be a little bit more deceptive (39 votes)
No, they should go with whatever works, running or passing (52 votes)
No, they should do something completely ridiculous (13 votes)
114 total votes