Our next match-up in the third round features a couple of gridiron greats for Cal, epic running back coach Ron Gould taking on stellar cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson. Gould has created a stable of running backs that have not only done incredibly well at the collegiate level, but also have gone on to have great success in the NFL. Thompason had a rough start to his Cal career but stuck it out and ended up becoming one of the best Cal football ever produced on the defensive side of the ball.
Gould advanced by handily taking down Desmond Bishop while Thompson took two-thirds of the vote over Ashley Walker. This may well be another close vote so it will be interesting to see how it ends up playing out. The winner will move on to face the winner of the Michelle Granger / Andre Carter vote in the fourth round. This match-up comes out of the Pappy Waldorf Region and you can take a look at the whole bracket here. The full write-ups are after the jump and the voting will end on Friday.
(1) Ron Gould
Ron Gould speaking (via GoldenBlogs)
Entering his 15th year at Cal, Coach Gould has proven himself repeatedly to be one of the best in the business. Cal's ground attack has been one of the consistent strengths of the team for the past decade. When combined with solid line play and competent quarterbacking, the results have been a dominant running game. He's done it with blue chip talent and with little-known prospects that no one else wanted. Here are the running backs that he's sent to the NFL:
Tarik Smith - 7th Round, (Dallas) 1998
Adimchinobe Echemandu - 7th Round, No. 208(Cleveland) 2004
J.J. Arrington - 2nd Round, No. 44(Arizona) 2005
Marshawn Lynch - 1st Round, No. 12(Buffalo) 2007
Justin Forsett - 7th Round, No. 233(Seattle) 2008
Jahvid Best - 1st Round, No.30(Detroit) 2010
Shane Vereen - Projected 3rd round 2011 (Edit: He was chosen in the second round by New England)
And let's not forget Big Game hero Joe Igber, or all the walk-on fullbacks that he developed into solid players: Chris Manderino, (also played 3 years in the NFL), Will Ta'ufo'ou, Byron Storer, and Brian Holley. As good as he is as a position coach in teaching balance, ball security, and fundamentals, he might do his best work and building character.
The hallmark of a Ron Gould-coached back is a complete player who can block as well as run and receive. Players are taught that details matter and learn to maximize their talents instead of solely relying on raw physical gifts. He's been deservedly promoted to Associate Head Coach and this year also carries the title of Running Game Coordinator.
(4) Syd'Quan Thompson
Syd'quan Thompson 2009 Highlights (via HANDSOMElifeOFswing)
My first memories of Syd'Quan Thompson was his performance against Tennessee. Most Cal fans will remember it wasn't good. Tennessee was scoring touchdowns on him. The aftermath of his performance was devastating. People were ripping him left and right saying how bad he sucks and how he shouldn't be playing. But what a lot of those people didn't realize was that Syd's problems against Tennessee were because he was wearing a cast on one of his wrists and he couldn't tackle. The problems weren't that he was blowing coverages. And if my memory serves me correctly, I don't think Tennessee really scored a touchdown over Syd; their touchdowns came from underneath passes where their WRs sort of ran over Syd's one handed attempts to pull them down. In other words, Syd's problems weren't really his coverage abilities. I'm not sure many Cal fans realized that though.
In my eyes, when I saw Syd see his first real reps in practice and on the field in 2006, my opinion was that Syd was a solid practice player. He covered his men well, and was around the ball when it was headed in his direction. He seemed like a solid player with a pretty good chance at being a great CB. A lot of Cal fans thought to the contrary though.
I had no idea Syd'Quan Thompson would be as good as he is today but I got my first hint that he might be this good at the 2006 Cal Football Awards banquet. At that banquet Daymeion Hughes (now Dante Hughes) won one of the defensive player awards.
When he took the stage to accept his award, he went through the usual thanks to family, coaches, and friends. Then he did something a little different. He went on to encourage the younger CBs to keep at it, practice hard, and don't give up. He said they could be as good as him. Then he singled out Syd'Quan Thompson. He said to Syd, in front of the entire banquet, that Syd could be better than him. He said it many times. "Syd, you can be better than me." He said it with conviction. He knew it.
I've talked about this many times before, but when somebody really good at their trade points out that someone else can be just as good or even better, you better listen. Those that are some of the best at their trade know what it takes to become the best, and who has what it comes to be the best. In 2006, Dante Hughes was one of the best CBs in the nation. He knew what it takes to get there, and he saw that Syd'Quan Thompson had it too.