Let me start by saying, Thursday night was one of the most miserable experiences I have had at a CAL football game, and that includes a lot of games coached by Gilby and Holmoe and Roger Theder. The atmosphere was hideously flat thanks to the determined efforts of CAL’s Sales and Marketing to destroy everything great about the CAL football experience; I fear they have almost completed their project. As I posted previously, in my many years of attending professional and college sporting events, never have I seen the home team so abdicate the home field by allowing the visitors to have the best seats in the house. This picture I took disgusts me and should get people in marketing fired. This is what our team had to stare at the entire game. CAL Sales and Marketing, you should be deeply ashamed.
So before I get into the game stuff, I get why many of you want to fire Tedford. So to preempt that, and to show this is not a full throttled defense of him as a coach, this is what I have said repeatedly this year:
I've said this before, but I do not believe Tedford is owed anything more than to be treated fairly, as we all should be. That means if for some reason (and I don't think this will happen) we were to absolutely tank this season, then Sandy would be absolutely in her right to make a change. We cannot afford to have a depressed and apathetic fan base next year... or for the next 15 years!
After the jump my thoughts from the game on why I see more than a little hope.
I realize these sites and we as fans in general tend to be binary on these things, but I believe we need to look at the bigger picture in addition to assessing the present moment.
As bad as the game felt in person, for some reason I went back and watched it again. Despite the title of this post, I am not a masochist… I can’t remember the last time I went back and watched a loss like that. But here’s the thing, I am glad I did, because it was not nearly as bad as it was in real time and there are some real signs of hope. That's right, you read that correctly.
I know I’ll get some howls for this, but there was actually a lot there to like. The first interception was simply awful. Terrible. Soul crushing. Actually, after that, I was saying Tedford needed to bench him and bring in Brigford. But I am glad Tedford is the coach and I'm not because Tedford didn’t do that and the guy was 25 of 43 for 300+ yards and he made some very nice passes and got out of trouble a couple of times. I also counted 5 totally dropped passes… I’m not talking about passes a receiver had to leap for or dive for, but balls that hit them in the hands or numbers. Balls that even the commentators said they absolutely must catch. (and yes, they made some great catches, but receivers are supposed to do that). I am hoping Tedford sees what everyone else seems to see and designs more plays to take advantage of his mobility.
The TD. A great designed play. More of that please. And yes, we would have all liked to have seen that at Washington.
Here’s the thing. We all knew this wasn’t going to be a great year coming in so what we need to do is get Maynard experience. Next year is where we reap the dividends.
I think this guy has the chance to be a great talent, but he needs to be coached to worry about making the plays first and then waaaaay down the list he can do is yapping thing. (I hate that stuff and always have, even when Treggs the Elder was doing it at CAL when I was a student). Not sure why this isn’t getting more attention, but Keenan Allen absolutely cost his team a TD because he inexcusably didn’t keep focus and wandered out of bounds on what should have been a TD. Yes, he made a great move after the catch to be in that position, but once you are you have to not screw up and make no mistake about it, that was a screw up. He wasn’t forced out… he wasn’t avoiding a defender. He just sort of lost track of where he was and wandered out. Further, after we scored our TD Keenan (I could be wrong on this) earned a 15 yard penalty for doing a “throat slash” thing, which of course completely changed the dynamic of the ensuing kickoff. I think he has lots of talent, but he needs to understand results and team come first (I may be treating him too harshly in this regard but those plays I saw on the field are things that drive me nuts).
Special Teams play
Almost all of it was sound. The blocked extra point was just a good play by the defense (a 6’7 guy at that). The punts were decent. The coverage was good. Field goals were good. GT even kicked one to the end zone… BUT… how can we call for another fair catch inside the 10. Everyone is fully justified in being upset at that.
I thought for the most part defense played lights out, particularly the position they were put in by the short fields. Once again (last year being the notable exception) against USC we shut down, for the most part, their star players.
It felt way worse in real time. I was absolutely stewing in my seat and throughout was suggesting that Tedford has indeed lost it (8 straight losses to USC will do that to me) and may be time to go. When I was able to get back and reflect more on it, I remembered what our expectations were going into the year. Tedford has shown much more aggressiveness this year. I think, with exceptions, the team is playing well. But there are glaring, key let downs that earn the justifiable wrath of many people, including me. I know you may not see it from what I post on here, but I’m not the most fun person to be with when CAL is losing like we did Thursday night.
Most of us thought we would be 6-6 or 7-5 going into the year. We’re pretty much on track for that. But we all know there are 7-5 seasons, and then there are 7-5 seasons!!! 2003 was one such year because it included wins over SC and Stanfurd. That is a GOOD 7-5 season!!!
Finally, there are so many example of coaches, including our men’s basketball coach, who had average stints over their first ten years not achieving as much as Tedford did, who then went on to great things.
From this point out I’m not going to argue with anyone who thinks Tedford should be fired, because I understand where you’re coming from and your annoyance. And as I’ve said above, if we tank, I’ll probably be there with you. But if we don’t, and is we finish as expected, I think this year could be building for a great year next year.
Thursday night sucked. No two ways about. But I’d like to see what happens now and I really do have hope for the very near future.