CGB Report Card: Grading Cal's Performance Against Minnesota

Thanks to the 55 people who submitted grades!

rocksanddirt, rurata, GoldBlooded, HolmoePhobe, rollonubears, SanMateoBear, katster, BleedinBlue, yorzepol, Bears and Ephs, Swamphunter, markdash, beastmode, kodiak, pyunny, VandyImport, JakeDanHarry, Nor-Cal Scott, California Pete, Oaktown123, berkeleychris, BTown85, LEastCoastBears, socalbear, sf49giants, GBB4188, a2bear, CALumbus Bear, Berkelium97, BeastMode, 1988goldenbear, cruidzoid, JerrotWillard45, since1997, nolekdt, CALFANZ, Dexter1715, MoDog, ohsooso, LetUsHavePeace, sec119, rollonyoubearsdad, dchu, drbeeper, Ohio Bear, goldenbeers04, bearlysane, msubeav, royrules22, tonyser, solarise, Norcalnick, highwireact, CaliforniaCMB, forestbear

Here are the final tabulated and averaged grades.

Quarterback: 3.106 (B)
Running back: 3.617 (A-)
Receivers: 3.290 (B+)
Run blocking: 2.917 (B)
Pass protection: 3.164 (B)
Run defense: 3.994 (A)
Pass rush: 3.349 (B+)
Pass defense: 2.427 (C+)
Special teams: 1.148 (D)
Coaching: 2.997 (B)
Overall: 3.075 (B)

Before we get to the comments, here's one interesting angle to tackle about the Minnesota game, expressed by the ever astute California Pete.

When Cal’s offense bogged down, was it b/c of poor play calling—in particular, the dreaded repeated "run up the middle"?

Drive #1 (end of 2nd quarter): 3 runs, 5 yards. Punt.
Looks bad, but in the situation, with Cal on top 21-7, backed up on their 7 with just over two minutes left in the half, I don’t mind the conservative play calling. The strategy backfired, as Minnesota still scored before halftime to get back into the game. But I blame this on Anger and the defense, who simply did not do their jobs, not the offense.

Drive #2 (10 minutes left, 3rd quarter): 3 runs, 9 yards. Punt.
Cal has just got the ball back on a fumble, which was a nice response by the defense following the punt miscue. Maybe something creative on 1st or 2nd down would have been nice, but Best nonetheless gets six yards on two runs to set up a very manageable 3rd and 4. QB draw by Riley on third down comes up a yard short. Maybe this is a series to criticize the play calling. But again, in a game that suddenly has been beset by turnovers, I don’t really fault Ludwig for wanting to reestablish the running game and consume some clock. They just fell a yard short.

Drive #3 (6 minutes left, 3rd quarter): two passes, one run, eight yards. Punt.
After a three-and-out by the Gophers, Cal gets the ball back in good field position. Following an incomplete pass on first down—not a "run up the middle"—a screen pass on second down sets up third and short. But a handoff to Vereen gains no yards. I will never have a problem with running the ball on 3rd and 2. The Bears just need to execute better, and to get their fullbacks healthy.

Drive #4 (30 seconds left, 3rd quarter): four passes, one penalty, minus five yards. Punt.
Minnesota has just tied the game, and Cal’s offense stalls again. But please note, this was emphatically not a case of "running up the middle". Instead, a holding penalty and some missed throws killed this series.

The next two times the Bears get the ball, they score touchdowns to win the game. Yes, the offense failed to produce on these four consecutive series, but I see no obvious reason why play calling is the culprit. And each series it seemed to be something different. A missed throw. A penalty. A failure to pick up a couple of yards on third and short. But then Riley connects on third and long the next series, and the offense is running smoothly again. Football’s a funny game; one play here, another there, and everything seems to change.

So in addition to the report card recap, ponder this in the comments. Was the Bears offense stagnating due to playcalling, execution, or just plain bad luck?

Alright, commenter awards and best of the comments after the jump!

Most people agreed about the run defense, with a standard deviation of 0.229.

For the third week in a row, people disagreed about the special teams the most, SD of 0.822. I guess they were disagreeing about their level of hatred for the special teams.

The Old Blue Award

And this week it goes to...Berkelium97??? WHA??? And by a wide margin too!

Commenter/alias name Average Score
Berkelium97 2.167
markdash 2.371
Nor-Cal Scott 2.545
rollonubears (T-4th) 2.636
BleedinBlue (T-4th) 2.636

 

I double-checked, and yep, low marks all around. The Folletariat apparently wanted to Pain Train their team's performance in Minneapolis.

Run blocking (C): The holes simply weren't there for much of the game. The running game looked rather pedestrian because of this.  Edge/outside blocking was good when we elected to run those plays.

Pass defense (D-): Hagan was terrible.  I'm not sure why, but Gregory refused to keep a man anchored to Decker.  Because of this, Decker exploited the seams in the zone and helped move his team down the field.  He would cut across the field behind the linebackers and easily pick up a first down.  I don't understand why we didn't go man or at least stick to zone with a safety following Decker around.  Thankfully, this is probably one of the best, most complete passing games we'll see all season.  It's tough to defend a team like this with an experienced QB and a top receiver.

Special Teams (F): This unit nearly cost us the game.  Cal had 50% more yardage, yet the score didn't reflect it because kickoffs were so awful.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw D'Amato come in and nail one into the endzone, but on his next kick, he only made it to the 18.  I don't think Giorgio made it past the 10 once.  Even Anger had a case of the Giorgios and wasn't punting as effectively as he does at home.  Letting teams start from the 40 on average is not going to work in conference play.

All very reasonable points. Still, Berkelium, don't grow old on us already!

 

The Golden Sunglasses Award

Commenter/alias name Average score
beastmode 3.518
LEastCoastBears 3.424
bearlysane 3.394
nolekdt 3.364
JerrotWillard45 (T-5th) 3.333
Oaktown123 (T-5th) 3.333
Swamphunter (T-5th) 3.333

 

No, it's not our BeastMode (who also submitted a report card), but another beastmode sporting golden bling. While he did submit direct numbers rather than grades (which probably skewed his data a little bit higher than everyone else), his comments clearly indict him as a total homer. Which we always love; what's a fanbase without its enthusiastic homers? This isn't cricket! We need PASSION!

Quarterback (3.7): Riley made big plays late.  Riley did not turn the ball over, though he did put the ball on the ground once.  Though he missed some of his receivers, he hit them when it mattered most.  The ball he threw to JR late was _beautiful_.  I had him around a B, but the fourth quarter, the win, and the 0 turnovers through three games bump him up.  It's such a nice change of pace from Longshore's hyper-talented buffoonery.

Running Back (4): Jahvid Best will win the Heisman trophy this year barring injury.  Dude had FIVE RUSHING TDs.  Though you point out in your post-game that Cal kept pounding it up the middle, in my estimation they _have_ to do that to keep the D honest.  In past games I've seen the opposing D run more DE contain plains and zone coverages where the CBs stay in the flat.  This sort of set-up is designed to keep Jahvid from breaking it to the outside, and Tedford has been smart to run him up the middle.  While we do see Jahvid get tackled right around the line on this runs up the middle, all of his 60+ yard runs occur against these defenses as well, because on the off-chance he does get a great front or squeeze through a hole, the D is often so out of position that by the time he's through the first 10 yards there's no catching him.  He didn't have any "home runs" today, but his third TD could have gone for infinite yards.  I'd be remiss to not mention that all the pounding inside really set up Jahvid's 4th and 5th TDs at the goal line, where first down they tried to go up the middle and failed, but second or third (don't remember exactly) they were able to have him deke to the inside and race to the corner.  All day baby!

Shane was a nice change of pace back, but not much to note on his performance.

Overall (3.7): The offense was great throughout, and if not for Hagan, we could win this game 42-10.  Tedford's got us rolling now, and I really think this is our year.  It's great to see a noticeable change in the team persona in a familiar situation.  Tough road game, early?  They come back to tie?  No problem in 2009!  Resiliency baby!

The Steven Chu Award (Most Rational Bear)

Commenter name/alias Standard deviation
CALFANZ 0.7426
rollonyoubearsdad 0.8124
katster 0.8172
berkeleychris 0.8555
solarise 0.9013

 

CALFANZ submitted his grades and went on his way; like normal, functional people, he probably had better things to do with his beautiful Saturday. So let's draw upon rollonyoubearsdad's observations for reasonable insight into Saturday's game.

QB (B-): Impressive leadership in the 4th quarter; questionable accuracy on passes.

RB (A-): What else can be said...

WR (B+): Improving and pleasantly surprised by the receptions of poorly thrown balls.

Run blocking (B-): Let's use the strengths of the o-line...

Pass protection (B+): Well done..

Run defense (A): The Bears' bright spot!

Pass rush (B+): (no comments)

Pass defense (C): Blown coverage and Pac 10 teams will capitalize on this unless it improves.

Special teams (D): This is the Bears's weakness and unless we get kick-offs to go further than to the 20 we will loose a game!

Coaching (B): The play calling in the first quarter was excellent.

Overall (B-): Great to see the character of this team it brought them to a victory.

Simple, direct, to the point. Wish all Cal victories could be like that. Alas.

 

***

Now, the best of the comments. I hope I got to everybody, sorry if I missed some good ones!

Quarterback

LetUsHavePeace (A-): Riley is better than neurotic Bears fans (the ones who remind me of the people who go to Cubs games) think.  He is still learning how to control his throws, but his ball, even when it is high, no longer sails; and his reads are solid.  He only made 2 bad throws, and, without the drops, the game would not have been close.

kodiak (B+): 2nd coming of Rodgers, Kevin Riley ain't.  But, he executed the 1st half offense very well.  All of the drives in the 3rd quarter were killed by execution errors.  Penalties.  Drops.  What-thuh playcalls.  Can't really put that on him.

Yeah, he misses a throw here and there...almost always high.  Not sure if that's mechanical, nerves, or if he's aiming instead of throwing.  Didn't make too many boneheaded decisions except for a notable force into double coverage in the 3rd quarter.  But, can you imagine how '08 could have been with this version of Riley?

The biggest deal for me is that he came through when it really mattered.  3rd and 15 to Ross could have been a season-changing moment.  Maybe from here, the confidence kicks in and we see a guy who can wins games, not just manage them.

SanMateoBear (B): Some really good throws, especially that last drive (3rd and 16 to Ross!).  But during the 3rd quarter, Kevin looked pretty lost, and had some overthrows that could have been picked.  Seemed to stare down receivers at times, didn't see wide open Boateng in the 2nd quarter...  But, showed leadership and brought the Bears through in the 4th quarter.

goldenbeers04 (B-): The short passing game out of the backfield and on the flats inflated Riley's completion percentage, as his accuracy clearly struggled at times.  Minnesota's defense basically played the run all day and they're secondary is unremarkable, so a stronger quarterback performance in this Cal offense would have put up some big numbers.  Also, at times Riley appeared to hang in the pocket a little too long and he hesitated to take open running lanes.  That said, Riley did a good job of managing the offense and showed he can make a clutch throw or two when the game is in doubt.

dchu (B-): Riley's inconsistency was maddening.  There were a handful of beautiful throws and his numbers weren't bad, but he got bailed out by receivers on several occasions and made some terribly questionable decisions (at least two should-be picks undone by stone hands on the Minnesota side).  He nearly got Skyler Curran killed on an errant throw that Curran had to adjust to over the middle in the third (which was especially disconcerting because I was sitting behind Curran's family, including his grandmother, in the stands).

Running backs

goldenbeers04 (A-): Jahvid Best effectively carried Cal to victory over Minnesota on Saturday.  This was somewhat ironic, though not unexpected, as Tedford appeared to be making a statement about Cal's depth and versatility by giving Vareen and Sofele the first two carries of the game, along with some nifty play calling.  That strategy changed quickly, however, once Best got his number called and put the kibosh on any notion that his talent isn't head and shoulders above any other player on the team, let alone any other running back in the country.

So, while it would be absurd to criticize a tailback who carried his team with 131 rushing yards and an Al Bundy besting 5 touchdowns, Best is not without a couple areas to improve on for next week.  Namely, there were some missed opportunities to improvise and bounce it outside when there was traffic between the tackles, and it surely would've been nice if he eluded a few of the ankle tackles that prevented a 200 yard performance.

On the running backs not named Best, they were not very relevant in the Minnesota game.  Vareen was measured in his touches after the first drive, which should provide some motivation going into next week.

HolmoePhobe (B+): The 5 TDs is a little misleading, as three of them were from the 2 yard line. Best played well but seemed to be getting caught at the line a little too much. Not sure how much of that was play-calling/blocking.

yorzepol (A+): What can you say about 5 freaking touchdowns. A+ (not an A++++ because CGB wouldn't let me, damn you Avinash!) (Note: You're free to put in as many ++++s as you want, it's just going to be averaged in as a 4.333..., not a 5.8 or whatever.)

Nor-Cal Scott (A-): Best was awesome.  Your comments about Ludwigs play calling was so obvious to us sitting on the couch here in Cali.  Sending Best & Vereen in between the tackles was ridiculous, get those speedsters outside!  Seemed like our guys had trouble making cuts on that turf?  Curious to hear what the players thought of it.

VandyImport (A): Jahvid Best - seriously, what's left to say?  If he played at U$C he would be ESPN's Heisman winner already.

Other backs - I like Vereen inside better than Jahvid, I think.  I fault the playcalling more than the backs for the lack of efficacy up the middle.

 

Receivers

msubeav (A): The receivers really played hard. It was noticeable in their effort on the field..you could see it. You don't rush for 5 touchdowns if the receivers are not blocking well. They caught the ball well, and seemed to run good routes. I thought a solid effort by this group.

solarise (B+): Cal WRs blocked well. Verran Tucker caught a beautifully thrown pass from Riley in stride. Anthony Miller made another incredible play on an overthrown ball. Clearly our TEs could be outlets in the passing scheme. Hopefully Spencer Ladner is not seriously injured.

cruidzoid (B+): great catches by some receivers, a few drops here and there.  my roommate and I were watching as they were trying to convert the 3rd and 15 on the final drive and massively screaming when he got 20 yards on it

GoldBlooded (B): They made bittersweet lemonade from the lemons they got. Marvin was double covered or locked down for much of the game. JRoss looked good. Maybe next time Riley will give them some sugar. Verran had that great bomb early.

berkeleychris (B): Nyan will be sorely missed, but Ross filled in to make some big plays.  Overall it just seems like the WRs aren't showing up.  Where's our go-to Decker-like receiver?  Somebody needs to step up.

 

Run Blocking

JerrottWillard45 (B+): It's a mix of A and C, really. 5 TDs has a lot to do with the O-line, so full props. Couldn't have won the game without you - But if you want an A from me, we get some more 1st downs during that middle stretch. We get more successful plays on 1st down. 2nd and long too much today.

katster (B+): That block by Tepper wasn't a hold. :P

Other than that, it kinda ties into the run game.  There were more tackles in the backfield than last game, and I'm wondering if it might have been the line whiffing on a few blocks.

Ohio Bear (B): I'm not a film-breakdown guy, but it just seemed like we had too many lost yards.  I'm happy with our short yardage performance, however.

BleedinBlue (B-): Run blocking was great during the first 2 drives. Heck, that's all I can remember us doing. Cal also put a lot of players into motion prior to the snap during these drives and I'm wondering if it caught the Gopher defense off guard. Regardless, the line's ability to open up holes disappeared in the second half as Minnesota defenders regularly penetrated and caught our running backs behind or at the LOS.

drbeeper (C-): we could not deal with the blitz package(s), and the shift to 3-4 by Minn seemed to confuse the O-line (especially on the patented trap blocking)

Pass Protection

norcalnick (A-): Minnesota tried a number of blitzes and rarely succeeded.  Two sacks are actually more than usual, but at least one was just as much Riley's fault for staying in the pocket longer than he should - they weren't jailbreak sacks where the QB had no chance.

BleedinBlue (B-); Social psychology teaches that we remember negatives the best, and this case is no different. The series where Riley was caught and sacked multiple times by the Gopher defense stands out and he had multiple close calls with defenders.

rurata (B+): They did a pretty good job of protecting Riley.  I remember Kevin getting sacked, but it might have been a cover sack.

markdash (C): Two sacks allowed is fine, but Riley was pressured on numerous other occasions. Tepper was called for two critical penalties on passing plays, one of which was bullshit, but the other legitimate.

SanMateoBear (C+): Riley seemed to have Gophers in his face most pass plays, even though it didn't look like Minnesota did much blitzing.

Run Defense

VandyImport (A++++): P.W.N.E.D.

Seriously, everybody in the stadium knew Minnesota couldn't run the ball by the 3rd quarter.  That kind of stopping is going to pay dividends in a big way down the stretch.

Berkelium97 (A+): Once again run defense was excellent.  While running is a weakness for Minnesota, you have to respect a 1.8ypc average on 21 carries.  The run defense is now 2.03ypc over the three games.  Excellent.  This is crucial heading into Eugene next week.

Bears and Ephs (A+): Shut them down, sign of a strong Gregory defense. Thompson and the DBs were great in preventing Minnesota's backs from getting outside.

CALumbus Bear (A): Perhaps the best showing by any unit in the game.  Take THAT, Big Ten smash-mouth football! 

beastmode (4): Any time your opponent rushes for under 40 yards on over 20 carries, you're doing your job really well.  Part of the reason for this is that Minnesota was playing serious catch-up from the 2nd quarter on, but besides three ~ 10 yard rushing plays, the run D didn't give up ANYTHING.  Did I mention the D line did most of this on their own?  There were as few as 5 in the box at times and they still got the job done.  A lot of this is circumstantial, but I'm looking forward to them shutting down McKnight / Johnson and making some douchey, inexperienced QB (not) beat them.

Pass Rush

1988goldenbear (B): Does anyone else think we have long stretches where we put ZERO pressure on the QB?  Toward the end we got a big push with 3 guys vs. 5 guys, so it isn't all bad.

sec119 (A-): For the most part, Weber had consistent pressure on him and a few sacks to boot.  On a couple of plays that the pass rush couldn't bring him down, Weber conspicuously managed to create something out of nothing.

rocksanddirt (B+): TACKLE HEEM

ohsooso (B+): The grass is always greener. I would have graded a bit worse than this until I went on the Minnesota board and they were complaining about Weber NEVER having any time to throw.

kodiak (B+): For most of the game, we were getting pressure on their QB.  He made some good plays.  And he got bailed out more than once by their stud WR.  Yeah, there were some missed tackles that shoulda coulda woulda been sacks, but there were also drives that King Tyce just ended.

There were a few times when we just didn't get any push and their QB had a lot of time.  Not sure if the backups were in, or they were just tired. 

Even so, it was pretty impressive in the 4th when our 3 man rush was getting through.  I would see their big beefy lineman watch helplessly as the Cal lineman ran by them and think "Moooooooooo!"

Pass Defense

ohsooso (B-): Hagen was awful. Minnesota got a few first downs with the patented dump over the middle (although it was satisfying to see them complete one on 3rd and 17 or something). Everyone else turned in a decent game and the linebackers got involved. Decker is such a talent. Nice to see our defense go all USC-like and make their skill players pay dearly for their successes. And without Decker the Gopher passing game was worthless.

royrules22 (B-): Syd did an admirable job but Hagan was the weak link. It reminded me of the second half of the Colorado St game in 2007 and Conte in 2007. Could it be a sophomore slump for Hagan. God I hope not.

One good thing is that I noticed the LBers step in the 4th Q. They defended a screen pass!

Oh yea The Prophet is back!

SanMateoBear (B+): Got burned a few times, but Decker is a stud.  Reminds me of Geoff McArthur - he's going to get a lot of catches no matter who the opponent is.  The PI call against us was completely bogus.

berkeleychris (C): Look, Decker is a true beast.  Like, a complete monster.  But he's ALL they have.  Are you telling me we can't shut down just one receiver?  Decker is probably the most talented receiver we'll see all year, but our woes covering him portend bad things.

Hagan got burned bad and should probably ride the pine for a while.  Just awful game for him.

drbeeper (C+): Hagen had a brutal game, and it feels like our zone spacing is off.  That said, this was the best WR we'll see all year.  I'm also not terribly excited about having Syd on the inside/slot in our nickel packages.

msubeav (C+): I really didn't think it was a horrible performance. Decker is by far the best WR Cal will face this year (Unless they face Julio Jones in the Rose Bowl).  However, Hagan must stop the trash talking and convert the excitement into his teammates. His talk is going to cost Cal some yardage this year if it continues. Syd'Quan was honestly stellar in this game. Pass breakups and run support were really good. Decker will make most secondaries this year have B grades.

Special Teams

highwireact (C-): All but one of the kickoffs were poor - the coverage was poor, the punting and punt return coverage were not great either.  The punt returns were terrble - not just the constant fair catches, and the fumble... but on one of the fair catches one of the blockers almost knocked into Syd as he was catching the ball.

dchu (D): The only thing I have to say about kick-offs is that when D'Amato pooched that last kick-off, they had the worst starting field position that they'd had all day.  Oof.

I am worried about field goals.  I rewatched the kick on TV and the telecast doesn't even remotely do justice to how pathetic an attempt that was.  It not only sailed FAR right, but it also fell a good 15-20 yards short of the END ZONE.  I was hoping that it was tipped or that there was a bad snap, but everything looked clean to me.

Kick returns went well, but I've noticed (as some people in the comments have) that Syd wasn't returning punts.  A few times the fair catch signals were absolutely valid, but at times he definitely had a chance for a few yards.  I very much doubt that's him worrying about his health for the pros, my guess would be that Tedford has noticed our punt return protection doesn't look that great and he is emphasizing ball security.

For good reason, given the lack of wherewithal on that INEXCUSABLE turnover on a Minnesota punt.  Granted, it was a weird bounce, but that absolutely should not happen to a team with this much talent.

And finally, Anger was very inconsistent (for him).  He only had one physically "WOW" punt (the 70 yarder I believe) and he also pinned one from midfield inside the 5.  But he also had a few other opportunities to absolutely uncork it deep in Cal territory and those were a bit underwhelming.  If it wasn't Bryan Anger, I wouldn't be too concerned, but knowing what he's capable of, it was a concern.

This definitively showed me that we need to replace Alamar.  We've never been a great team on kick return coverage, but this year we've seen a break down in almost every single facet of special teams except kick off returns.  I gave him a pass on last year because of the poor kicking, but this is just comical.

LEastCoastBears (C): Kickoff is still a problem. TO is costly. Thompson needs to attempt to bring back a few more punts. Anger was a bit inconsistent. Sofele needs to learn the halo rule.

BTown85 (D): I didn't grade lower because Anger's punts were good and I LIKED Isi's well-timed hit, but most of our kick-offs were between the 10 and 20, and our kick-off coverage BIT !!!!!!  The missed field goal wasn't all that close, etc.

Dexter1715 (F): I agree, special teams is going to lose us a game pretty soon if we're not careful.

We had 1 kickoff inside the 10, terrible KO coverage, terrible punt coverage, and that field goal attempt wasn't much of an attempt at anything.

I sincerely think we need a new special teams coach - it's time.

Coaching

MoDog (B-): The offense sputtered pretty dramatically for about five straight drives where Cal went three and out and they didn't use Best much. Gregory didn't game plan well enough for Decker. I do like how they featured Best around the goal line on national television, though. 

sec119 (B+): Cal dominated the first quarter, then Minnesota adjusted a little.  Then came halftime, and Minnesota adjusted a lot.  But by the fourth quarter, we were back to our winning ways.  Yay coaching.  This isn't a A grade, though, due to lack of discipline on defense. 

solarise (B-): Ludwig's playcalling got Cal off to a fast start on the road. The team took some lumps in the 3rd qt and didn't adjust to MN bringing pressure until the 4th. It's curious that playcalling wasn't even and became predicable in the 3rd as Cal leaned on running plays on 1st and 2nd down. Tedford encouraging Sofele after the big penalty was a welcoming sight. I'd like to see Tedford and Ludwig bring back screen passes into the Cal offense.

BeastMode (B-): I would give this game a lower grade but for the fact that Cal got the proverbial monkey off its back and finally won on the road.  i applaud Tedford for changing things up a bit.  The first drive was a thing of beauty and I really like the formations and setup plays from Ludwig.

However, this game should've never been tied.  It was for two reasons: (1) Special teams; and (2) Not spying Decker with Syd.  I'm sick and tired of the excuses for special teams.  The players change and the result doesn't.  It's hard not to point the finger at Alamar for failing to recruit and develop a kicker that actually knows how to kick the ball off.  I'd also note that best was woefully underutilized in the 3rd quarter.  I like Shane Vereen, but there is a definite dropoff between the two.

JerrottWillard (B): Or is it a super sneaky A?

Kudos for keeping the guys calm after a blowout. For flying Thursday. For getting the guys to come out FAST.

But where's the halftime adjustment to get us moving after half? Took until the 4th quarter...

And what's up with so much Best up the middle? Did Ludwig briefly get possessed by the spirit of Keith Gilbertson? Send the FB up there!

The sneaky thought is if it was a ploy to set our Pac-10 foes off the scent. Knowing we could beat  Minnesota with all those 0-2 yard gains, we toughened ourselves up - felt what it's like to try to move a 325 DT off the line, and faced real challenges.

We challenged the passing game to step up...and it did?

Genius? Or just conservatism? Or a let down?

F for not going for it on the first 4th down over the 50. F F F. Grrrrr....but lots of the rest was better.

Did you notice that in the other 2 games when we won the toss we deferred? That's what great coaches do...thank God we're there now.

kodiak (B): For the sake of fairness, I'm not counting special teams in this coaching evaluation.  That would be a lower than an F, lower than a Z.  In fact, we'd have to invent a brand new letter just to define the epic badness of our special teams coach.  Maybe we could borrow that weird symbol that Prince decided to use as a name.  It's appropriate.  It's ugly, a failure, and you really have no idea why it's still around.

Playcalling in the 1st half was masterful.  I think the D was generally solid, too.  Without special teams screw-ups, it's not a close game.

I worry a little about halftime adjustments.  They won the coaching battle scheme-wise and with playcalling on both sides of the ball in the 3rd.  At least we got our act together in the 4th...started using our huge speed advantage to attack the edges on offense.  I can see what some of those Oregon and Utah posters were talking about when they complained about how Ludwig can sometimes get stubborn about running it up the middle.

I'm not sure if it was scheme, execution, or just "damn he's good" that let Decker keep getting open.  I think Gregory preferred to play base defense without selling out to cover one guy...kind of like how doubling in bball usually ends up as an open jumper.  But, I did see a switch to Syd with man on Decker at least once in the 2nd half.  My suspicion is that our safeties won't grade out too well on film.

In a big picture-sense, the team was clearly ready to play.  And, when things got tight in the 4th, they rallied and made the plays they needed to on both offense and defense.  This is a team that hasn't had a lot of success in big games, especially on the road, so it's a step in the right direction.

Overall

California Pete (B+): Room for improvement, to be sure, but I think this was the Bears' most impressive game to date. I know it was tied in the 4th quarter, but this still felt like an easy win, on the road, against a quality opponent. And facing some adversity but nonetheless making plays in the 4th quarter to win the game--that's a huge step for this team. We can all find things to pick on, but this is a really good Bears team, capable of developing into one of the "Best" ever.

Swamphunter (B): It would have been a B+ had we not have lost the lead and had given the Gophers a chance to get ahead of us.

A road win is what the team needed and they earned it. It was not pretty and some fans are lashing out irrationally as a result, but when the tempers cool down they will look back and note that the Bears pulled out a win while getting out of the Twin Cities alive.

pyunny (B-): We had a strong showing in the beginning of the game.  Then our passing game became inconsistent, our zone defense didn't do great against the pass, and we had our clump of 3 and outs.  Our place kicking was horrendous.  Still our run D was solid, our D-line gave consistent pressure, and our RBs did a good job of carrying our team.  Overall a fair but moderately disappointing performance by our golden bears.

royrules22 (B+): Copied from a comment I posted:

I’m generally HAPPY with the game. Were there flaws exposed? YES. Could we have done better? YES.

But I’m happy for one reason: We faced adversity ON THE ROAD and pulled away with a win. This wasn’t a clutch McKnight-style drive against OSU, it was just a Cal team saying "enough is enough" against a opponent that’s beneath them in talent and just getting it done.

yorzepol (B-): Cal looks like a top 15 team but I think we might be overrated at #8.  If we can improve the Special Teams before Oregon, and get decent Kickoff coverage by U$C, we might have a chance.

katster (B): In the end, I can't give them an A, as this game was sloppy.  But this Bears teams showed heart in finding a way to a victory.  I don't know if we can say that this was a good game, but most other Cal teams I've seen would have folded, and this one didn't.  This will be good for us in the future.  On to Eugene!

Ohio Bear (B+): I'll take a 14-point win on the road any day, and twice on Sunday.  But the way we seemed to dominate this game, we should not have been in a tie game in the 4th Q.  We have to put teams away sooner.

Gameday Experiences

rocksanddirt: I'm sick.  my nose is running, my head hurts, i watched it on 360, which was ok.  goodnight.

HolmoePhobe: If my Phd student roommate asks me any more questions about football, I might just stab him.

rollonubears: I lost my voice by screaming at the TV in frustration. My dad was worried about me.

SanMateoBear: I wish!  ESPN coverage was horrible - have they cut expenses by getting rid of instant replay machines? 

katster: Watched on TV and had Ken Crawford and Jason Snell's commentary up in a web window.  Watching that comment section was fun.

BleedinBlue: Not cool experience: holding my bladder for the whole second half because I didn't want to miss a thing. I think the adrenaline from watching our O tank in the second half helped. That rush just wore off, so, TIME TO GO PEE.

Swamphunter: Was watching at home. After the BS Pass Interference call, I got up in a huff to try and go to the bathroom but rammed my foot into the lower left leg of the nearby coffee table.

Ouchie.

I was afraid for a couple minutes there that I had broken my second through fourth toes on my right foot. Luckily the pain and swelling had subdued at the moment of this comment. Tylenol also played a major factor in helping the foot feel better.

beastmode: I've been studying like a maniac for my qualifying exam, and haven't watched many sports recently.  After a tough week, it was nice to get up, have a cup of coffee, lie back down immediately on the couch, and yell at the TV for few hours.  So no, no cool experiences.

kodiak: Interestingly enough, my 3-month old daughter threw a massive crying fit during the less-than-stellar 3rd quarter.  When Cal turned things around and seized control in the 4th, she settled down and drifted into peaceful slumber. 

Nor-Cal Scott: Watched at home in the peace and quiet of my home with my 17yo son.  We are looking forward to the USC game! 

California Pete: I had to watch the game on tape delay, but it was because I spent the morning judging beer. And it's the first day of Oktoberfest! Go Beers!!

Oaktown123: I watched at home in Minnseota. I want to go to Berkeley. Any advice, if any? I am in 9th grade, thanks.

CALumbus Bear: I received a package that morning, and to my great pleasure it was a JT-autographed football!  Late birthday present from the wife FTW!! 

Berkelium97: Big thanks to norcalnick for keeping everyone sane and reasonable during the open threads.

BeastMode: I got drunk.

JerrotWillard45: I blame myself for our letdown in the middle - I was thinking about T-shirt designs for U$C after we went up 14-0. That's LOOKING AHEAD, and it's not allowed.

Our next game is Oregon. Focus.

2nd - I nearly lost my mind when I realized I was not taping ESPN, but ABC, which was showing "You are so Raven". My DVR was schizo today...I missed Best's 2nd and 4th touchdowns - while taping 99% of the game. That's what I miss? 2 TDs!?!? How about 2 failed 3rd down conversions!

PLEASE post the torrent soon, so I can watch the whole.

dchu: I'm currently a grad student at the UMN.  I sat with a few other Bear alum friends (from school and from elsewhere in the midwest) in the stands near the Bear families, which was a really cool experience.  It reminded me that most of the guys on the fields are just kids. 

Various notes: Trevor Guyton's dad is HUGE.  Mama Holley has a 33 jersey marked "MAMA HOLLEY" which is rad.  I started a "WHOSE DOMICILE!" chant with my friends and Skyler Curran's grandma told me I was a good cheerleader, which was equally rad.

TCF Stadium is nice, although Minnesota purposely split up the Bears fans (I think to keep them from making too much noise), and placed the majority of them in such a place that we couldn't see the massive jumbotron.  Not cool.  The place got LOUD, which bodes well for our boys' ability to deal with hostile crowds (they'll need it next week).

Also, Minnesotan are too nice.  The students are assholes, but I'm sure that holds true anywhere.  The alumni were genuine sweethearts and it made it impossible to talk trash.  A handful of comments I heard:
- "You guys go and beat SC now."
- "Great game!"
- "Great finish!"

WHAT?!

In all, fantastic experience.

drbeeper: The new UM stadium was a joy - hopefully the travelling UC administrators took away many good upgrade ideas.


In the end, we got tested and passed the test with a W.  Go bears!!!

royrules22: I traveled to Minneapolis. I liked their stadium a lot. I still think Cal can get louder but they had some sustained cheers. I hate the Minnesota spell out cheer. Their fans were really gracious.

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