Hello, Bears fans. Quite a game last week, eh? I admit, I did not see that kind of offensive explosion from Colorado coming. So...let me just go ahead and get this out of the way. NOM NOM NOM! Mmm, that crow tastes bitter. Fair to say I underestimated Colorado’s offense, overestimated our defense, and should have given a bit more credence to the home-field advantage at Folsom Field. I don't always eat crow, but when I do...I prefer to wash it down with a frosty mug of WIN. Hey, I'll take it. And to be fair (to myself), I don't even think the great Steve Marshall could have predicted that we would surrender record-breaking performances in passing and receiving, plus not force one turnover or sack. And even though we made Hansen and Richardson look like Montana and Rice, our red zone defense was pretty good. Too many field goals, Buffs. So sorry, but touchdowns are for closers.
Now that we've got that gritty and terrifying road win under our belts, its time to head back to the cozy confines of Berkeley for a well-deserved bye week. Hold on...we don't have a bye week? We're playing who?
Its Presbyterian Blue Hose week, folks. GET! FIRED! UP!
For anyone who doesn't know, Presbyterian College is a small liberal arts school located in Clinton, South Carolina (student body approximately 1200). In a shocking twist, the school is also affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. With regard to athletics, the Blue Hose are in the final season of a four-year transition to move into NCAA Division 1. Once the transition is complete (2012), Presbyterian will be able to compete for the Big South Conference Championship. They've got some work to do to get there though. They were 2-9 in 2010, but the Blue Hose are already halfway to matching last season's win total after taking down the Crusaders of North Greenville 38-21. Before you ask, North Greenville is not the high school that Keenan Allen, Zach Maynard, and co. attended (that was Northern Guilford you dummies! It's not even the right Carolina!).
And just so we're all clear on what a "Blue Hose" is, per the Presby Athletics website:
"A Blue Hose is a fierce Scottish warrior. If you have ever seen the movie Braveheart, you have seen a true Blue Hose."
Looks like I'm cleared to drop some Braveheart quotes in this piece. Nice. If you haven't seen the movie, perhaps you won't find my strategically-placed references amusing...better get on that, because it's a beautiful and brilliant film!
Now that we have that settled, let's talk football! Time to take a look at the Blue Hose offense to see what we can expect on Saturday.
2011 record: 1-1
Week 1: LOSS vs Wofford 28-35
Week 2: WIN vs. North Greenville 38-21
Last Season: 2-9
2010 Offensive Stats:
Passing: 173.4 yards/game
Rushing: 131.5 yards/game
Ryan Singer, Sophomore - 6'4, 180 lbs
Sophomore Ryan Singer essentially split time with Senior QB Brandon Miley in the season-opening loss to the Wofford Terriers. Neither guy's stats were stellar (Singer went 9-18, 121 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT; Miley went 10-18, 88 yards and 1 INT), but Singer appears to be the man after taking all the snaps against North Greenville last week. He went 15-25 for 131 yards, but also added 45 yards on the ground and 1 TD. With the spread formation and occasional read-option plays the Blue Hose run it makes sense to have the more mobile QB at the helm. Nothing real flashy about Singer's game. His accuracy isn't great, but he can move in the pocket and escape pressure when needed. With the way the Presby offense is designed, he doesn't throw a lot of deep passes, and they seem to rely on quick throws out of a four WR shotgun set.
Upside: Ryan Singer... "is 7 feet tall! He'll consume the Cal defense with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse!" Also, mobility.
What to expect:
Singer might go all Kaepernick on us, but I doubt it. Still, it will be good for our defense to see a JV version of the spread early in the season. Assuming the secondary is able to stay with the Presby WRs, it’s doubtful that Singer will be real effective through the air. He does a good job of eluding pressure and keeping plays alive though. We saw what happened when a QB was able to do that last week. Will we be able to bring pressure? Will Pendergast choose to? A quick passing game would negate most blitzes…if the QB makes the right read. It will be interesting to see how effectively Singer reads our defense on read-option too. Will our ends and OLBs maintain their assignments? This should be key to whether Presby can find space in the run game. With the influx of defensive youth I expect to see late in this game, I think it’s fair to anticipate a couple big plays from Singer and the Blue Hose when our guys don’t maintain discipline on assignments. That’s how you learn, though. Fix it this week, and we’ll be better for it.
Lance Byrd, Junior - 5'8, 185 lbs
Byrd is the top returning rusher, and he had a great day last week (20 carries for 163 yards and 1 TD). In a familiar theme, he's small and shifty! He shows good patience and his diminutive stature allows him to almost hide behind the offensive line until he finds a gap. Most of his runs I saw came up the middle off of the read-option. Just like Rodney Stewart and Robbie Rouse before him, Byrd is the guy that makes this offense go. And while he had a great day last Saturday, the going was tougher in week 1 against Wofford (20 carries for 67 yards). That said, he was utilized more in the passing game (3 catches for 16 yards). One interesting play I saw had the four WRs run intermediate routes with Byrd kind of dragging across the middle just behind the defensive line. When the QB dumped the ball to Byrd, each WR was in position to provide a block and some space. They didn't, but they could have! Another back that will get carries is Redshirt Sophomore Seth Moreland. He's about the same size as Byrd, but runs with a little more power and a little less wiggle.
Upside: Experience, receiving
Downside: "Some men are longer than others"...size.
What to expect:
As I alluded to above with Singer, this will be a decent test for our younger guys (and our starters too...maybe) with regard to maintaining discipline. We’ve had some success bottling up two small running backs the previous two weeks, but both FSU and CU showed more of a pro-style offense than Presby will. Some exposure to the spread and read-option will provide a good test. Some mental breakdowns once the starters leave the game are likely, and I think that’s okay. What wouldn’t be okay is if the starters don’t leave the game at all. That means something has gone horribly, HORRIBLY wrong. If we’re getting consistently gashed for 6 yards a carry, watch for it to possibly start raining frogs or for a giant swarm of locusts to blot out the sky. Byrd can make some things happen in space (at least against North Greenville he could), so look for him to play more of a role as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. We’re gonna get tested by opponents on the things Colorado had success with. Bank on that…but don’t bank on Presby having much success actually exposing us. That would be dumb of you.
Michael Ruff, Junior (RS) - 5'8, 175 lbs
Patrick McKoy, Senior - 5'8, 175 lbs
Jeremiah McKie, Freshman - 6'0, 180 lbs
Arthur Williams, Sophomore - 6'3, 210 lbs
Ruff is the main target to keep an eye on with McKoy just behind him. Both guys are undersized but quick. I don't know if they possess the world-class speed that the Fresno State WRs did though (eye roll). Ruff does return kicks as well and may be used in the running game on jet sweep plays. He scored a team-high 6 TDs in 2010, including a 68-yarder on the infamous bounce-pass trick play against Wake Forest in last season's opener. McKoy is the career leader in pass receptions for Presby with 93. He's the elder statesman of this group. Not a lot of thoughts on McKie and Williams as they've only totaled 4 receptions thus far between them, and, well...it's Presbyterian.
Upside: Versatility, quickness
Downside: "God tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he's pretty sure you're fucked"... depth.
What to expect:
Expect to see all four of these guys lined up on every play, because Presby rarely deviates from a 4 WR shotgun set. Lots of short and intermediate routes to help out Singer and the OL. Didn’t see a ton of YAC from these guys in the first two games, so expect a lot of dinking and dunking. If our secondary gives the Hosers a 10-yard cushion, they’ll be stoked. Ruff and McKoy can make plays when they’re given space, so I’d like to see some aggressive coverage from a unit that was embarrassed last week. Throwing the ball a ton is not Presby's game, so a quiet day from the WRs would not be a shock.
Joey Gilkey, Sophomore - 6’2, 240 lbs
Gilkey is mostly a blocker in the Blue Hose offense, but he’s also got two TD catches in the first two weeks of the season. One was a 4-yarder against Wofford that was Presby’s first TD of the year. The other was on a cute little fake field goal last week (North Greenville, you just got HOSED!). He’s only recorded 3 catches for 19 yards in 2 weeks, but his 2 TD catches are the sole scores Presby has tallied through the air this year.
Upside: "I know you can fight, but it’s our wits that make us men"…blocking, trickery.
What to expect:
Depends on whether Presby saw the CU game last week. Will they run Gilkey up the seam at all? Will we fall prey to any trick play shenanigans? Will they even get in the red zone? This is a recurring theme, but I’d anticipate our defense (starters and youngsters alike) to really try to make a statement this week after getting burned so badly up in Boulder. High aggression with some inexperience may equal some missed assignments. Gilkey could be the guy that cashes in if our OLBs or Safeties miss a read.
LT: Tim Fowler, Sophomore (RS) - 6’2, 270 lbs
LG: James Festa, Sophomore (RS) - 6’2, 275 lbs
C: Blake Dowd, Senior - 6’5, 295 lbs
RG: Billy Kaylor, Senior (RS) - 6’4, 279 lbs
RT: Max Travis, Senior - 6’3, 280 lbs
This is the most seasoned group on the Presby offense, and the right side of the line is especially battle-tested. Travis is a preseason all Big South selection, and he’s played in every game since 2008 (he played a mere 8 games that year). He’s a versatile guy who they currently have at RT. RG Billy Kaylor has played in every game since 2008, save one last year. Center Blake Dowd started every game last year too. On the left side, Fowler and Festa got a good amount of playing time last year, but aren’t quite as proven as their three counterparts. This group does a pretty good job up front, specifically in the run game. They aren’t really asked to do a lot in pass protection since the QB typically is getting rid of the ball quickly. My generous assessment? This line reminds me of Nevada; undersized but pretty disciplined in blocking schemes. They’ve surrendered three sacks in two games.
Upside: "Fight? Against that? No! We will run. And we will live"...experience, run blocking
What to expect:
This line saw 3-4 defenses in its first two games, but they were a lot bigger than the defensive linemen of Wofford and NGU. That won’t be the case on Saturday. I’m praying Moala gets extended PT this weekend. This won’t be a total cakewalk for the front 7 though. This group is pretty good. At least, they seemed to be against Wofford and North Greenville. Worth noting that this OL did give up 32 sacks in 2010 and I HOPE we would be the toughest defense they face this year. We should be able to push these guys around. Still, don't be surprised if they have some success if (really when) we start subbing some less experienced guys in.
In the Year of our Lord 2011, patriots of Presbyterian College - starving and outnumbered - charged the fields of AT&T Park. They fought like warrior poets; they fought like Blue Hose, and won their game check…
...by getting their asses kicked so that Cal’s young guys could get some experience before conference play started.
Let’s not make this game something it’s not. Presby does some things well and actually looked a lot better than I expected in the clips I saw. But, come on. It’s a money grab for the school and a fun trip to the West Coast for their players. We’re paying Presbyterian handsomely so we can beat the crap out of them and get some of our guys more PT before we roll into conference play in Seattle next week. And I’m okay with that. This team needs some tuning up. The Hosers will show some things with their spread attack that the defense didn’t see in the first two weeks, and that’s good too. Hell, they’ll likely score at some point. And that’s great for them. My only hope is that nobody gets injured. And if someone does, I hope it's one of them. But not seriously. Prediction: 41-7 Bears