Cal @ Oregon State Post-Game Thoughts

(1) I would have to think, in all likelihood, Riley's career is over.  That's very unfortunate.  It seemed to me, that this year was the year where he really had started to turn things around.  Sure, he wasn't great.  He still had his moments of inconsistency.  But I felt like he was a better QB this year than all of his previous years.  And with such a turnaround, I really would have liked to see him get more opportunities to show us all what he could do. 

I suppose it's possible that Riley could be healthy again for the bowl game -- if we make a bowl game -- but even then, he might be so rusty from sitting out that it would be highly questionable for him to play.  So, it looks like the Mansion Party Yacht era has begun. 

(2) Brock lookin' not too shabby.  He wasn't a world-beater, but he wasn't a joke either.  I can't remember any really horrible throws.  I think he did miss one WR who was wide open, but he didn't turn the ball over.  He seemed willing to scramble when the pocket broke down.  His scrambling opened things up down the field and resulted in Cal's only score of the day at the very end of the game.  Not too bad. 

His inexperience showed at first.  He appeared a little wide-eyed.  He took forever to read the sideline signals. He didn't quite seem as aware of the defense pre-snap as Riley used to be.  But at the same time, I think his inexperience also serves as a benefit too.  Ignorance is bliss.  He hasn't been lit up a lot (and become overly aware of pressure).  He's naive.  His thoughts are streamlined because he hasn't seen a lot of game time yet.  He's playing as a raw, just-do-it kind of player, and not as a seasoned veteran who has seen everything and can sometimes second guess themselves to death.  In a way, he played just like Riley did in 2007: just do it.  Make a decision, and run with it. 

Mansion appears like he's ready to just tuck the ball and run with it when the pocket collapses around him.  Riley on the other hand, was more of the guy who would scramble, but instead of just running for yards, would scramble to keep the ball alive and pass the ball.  Cal could use a QB who is willing to just pick up yards with his feet when things get hairy. 

Can we expect Mansion to really be an adequate enough QB to keep Cal competitive in its final four games?  I don't know.  But I'm going to take the optimistic approach and say it's possible.  Sure he hasn't played a lot, but he is a fourth year player.  It's not like he's a freshman.  The guy has been around college football for a while.

(3) Offensive Line seems to be Cal's biggest problem right now.  As goes the offensive line, so does Cal.  We couldn't run the ball that well.  Surprisingly though, Vereen still had a 4.4 yard average this game.  But it just seemed like, whenever we needed a good gain from our runningbacks, we couldn't get it.  There was either poor blocking, or some sort of penalty which set us back even further. 

Pass blocking wasn't that great either.  And it was the pass blocking which lead to Riley's injury.  Tight end blocking hasn't been looking good either.  Cal QB #10 Mansion got lit up from behind because a tight end apparently missed a block or assignment on a sprint-out play. 

So what's the problem?  Coaching?  Talent?  Both?  Certainly could be both.  I don't know what the coaches are doing so it's hard for me to evaluate their coaching.  But it's obvious that the product that they are putting out is very bad.  As for the talent, I don't think this offensive line is incredibly talented as a whole.  And apparently it's gotten so bad that Tedford is seriously considering shaking up the starting lineup and having some new guys in the rotation.  The fact that the starters are playing so bad right now, and that they are at risk of losing their starting jobs just goes to show how much they must be under-performing in the games.  It also seems to suggest that the coaches are contemplating that the tradeoffs of having inexperienced backups playing outweighs the benefit of having more experienced (and supposedly better) starters playing. 

(4) It would have been nice to see a little more down-field passing.  I mean, I get it.  You have your #2 QB in right now, you don't want him throwing high risk passes down the field, getting intercepted, and shattering his confidence.  But OSU was just daring us to pass.  And all those east-west passes just weren't cutting it because the defenders were so close to the receivers, and within the passing lanes to bat the ball down.  I would have liked to see some more "go"s and seam routes to punish those defenders who were playing the run.  That said, I haven't rewatched the game, and I am not aware of what OSU was doing in the secondary so I can't really be sure that downfield passing was truly an option. 

(5) Let's try to just relax, and enjoy the rest of the season.  I think by now, after getting crushed by Nevada, USC, and now Oregon State, we've all had the optimism beat out of us.  So let's just keep expectations realistic, and not set us up for further pain by creating unrealistic expectations. 

Cal has four games left in the 2010 season.  We're 4-4 overall.  We need three wins to guarantee a bowl, and two wins to become bowl eligible.  Our final four opponents are Washington State, Oregon, Stanfurd, and Washington.  If we can split those final four games, I'd honestly be fairly content with the season considering what we now know about this team.  I'm guessing that our best chances of winning are going to come against the Washington schools, but I wouldn't even say that it is a sure thing that we're going to beat WSU -- the "worst" team in the Pac-10. But if (God, forbid) we lose to WSU, let's not get our panties in a bunch.  We all know it's possible.  We've seen a wide spectrum of performances from this Cal team.  There's always the possibility we could see the Cal from the poor spectrum.  It seems like the media was about right when they thought we were the seventh team in the Pac-10.  We, unfortunately, got our hopes up with our vicious crushing of the mighty Colorado Buffs, and UC Davis Aggies.  We actually thought, we were perhaps maybe the 4th or 5th best team in the Pac-10.  Nope. 

So it is what it is.  We're a crazy team.  Some days we'll kill to a tune of 50ish to 10 or so, and the next week we'll get killed 40ish to 3.  Just try to enjoy the small victories for the rest of the season, even though we ultimately might not get the big victories in the final four matchups.  Football is about enjoying just as much as winning.  I can't understand how so many of us get so pissed about losing games, or a player messing up (and I want to win just as much as all those people too).  But it's life.  Shit happens.  Life happens.  Expect it to happen.  Relax, let's just try to enjoy what's left of this quickly ending college football season.

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