Eleven Warriors: The 44-30 loss to Northwestern, that maybe wasn't a huge shock. But maybe kind of ekeing out a win over Portland state, how do you feel about that? Where are you on this? We have [Cal's] new offense coming in, is this something that's just taking time to implement?
Vlad Belo: Well, I think so. But you know, the Portland State game really took the wind out of my sails a little bit as a follower of Cal and a guy who follows the program quite closely. Because I came away form the Northwestern game really encouraged by what I saw. Cal went toe-to-toe with what I think is good team, a team that will be good in the Big Ten this year. We were a couple of tipped passes away form winning that game. But then last week, we come in against an FCS opponent and I thought that while our offense continued to click under the Sonny Dykes and Tony Franklin offense, what really concerned me was the play of the defense. I was really taken aback by the way Portland State had their way with Cal a little bit up front, the way they kind of outschemed and outcoached Cal, their offense against Cal's defense in the first half. It took awhile for Cal to adjust to things. I was concerned by the poor tackling. Like I said at the beginning, it took the wind out of my sails a little bit. Right now I'm looking at our team, and while I like what I see offensively, I really fear for what might happen against our defense [by Ohio State], particularly with a lot of the guys we have out that are injured.
Eleven Warriors: What are you hearing from reading the news and following practice and that kind of thing, about Cal's week? Did anyone offer any excuses that they were looking ahead to Ohio State? Or what did they attribute the poor showing [against Portland State] to?
Vlad Belo: Absolutely not. Maybe I haven't read enough, but I have not seen anyone use that as an excuse. What I have kind of heard, and I heard it from Coach Dykes after the game, he just thought that it was -- maybe I'm putting words in his mouth a little bit -- it was just maybe college kids having a letdown from a very emotional opening game against a ranked team and just not being ready to play against an opponent that in the back of their minds they knew is a lesser opponent. And to his credit Coach Dykes acknowledged it was a poor perfomance by the team, they're going to need to get better, and he took some accountability as the head coach that he didn't get his team ready to play. That was part of it. Whether it was subconsciously looking ahead to Ohio State, maybe it was a little bit.
But also, we have to give a lot of credit to Portland State and their coaching staff. Our defensive coordinator, Andy Buh, acknowledged after the game that Portland State ran some formations that they had not run on film the entirety of the 2012 season. So it was like some of the film that the defensive coaching staff had watched was irrelevant. They watched Portland State film from the entire 2012 season and the 2013 opening game, but what do you now; Portland State saved some wrinkles for Cal, the big FBS opponent on their schedule and it took a little while for Cal to adjust. And maybe Portland State had a little more speed than the Bears were looking for. Add that all together and you get a 7-point game.
Eleven Warriors: The passing attack that [Coach Dykes] has implemented has been pretty sick for the first couple of games. I think they're first in the country in passing yards and they're definitely spreading the ball around a lot. How do you see them approaching the Ohio State defense, especially with a cornerback like Bradley Roby?
Vlad Belo: Frankly, I see more of the same. The reason I say that is because Cal, with the exception of a few flashes, mostly on the opening drive against Northwestern, Cal has had trouble running the ball. And even against Portland State, the Bears' offensive line didn't seem to open up the holes that we would've liked to see in the running game. So we've been very pass heavy. And now, you know, the competition steps up with Ohio State, with the talent in the front seven. I know you have talented corners in the secondary and some guys in the defensive backfield, but you know what? What Cal does well right now is throw the ball. And even with a freshman quarterback in Jared Goff, that is what we've done well. And so I see more of the same: I see us just going through the air like we've done in the first couple of weeks because that's what we've done and that's what we've done well. And really, that's the strength of our game right now, the quarterback and wide receiver play.
. . .
Eleven Warriors: How do you see the game kind of unfolding and playing out?
Vlad Belo: I see it as a game where Cal is going to be hard pressed to keep up with Ohio State. If Cal is going win this game, it's going to be because its offense can keep up with the Buckeyes in a shootout type game. Because I really -- especially with the injuries that Cal has right now -- I don't see much hope of Cal slowing down the Ohio State offense. And that doesn't really matter if it's Braxton Miller at quarterback or Kenny Guiton at quarterback, either one of those guys has that potential to really do a lot of damage against the Cal defense. So if Cal is going to stay with Ohio State, it's going to be because Cal has executed this Bear Raid offense, maybe not flawlessly, but up to a pretty high level, meaning execute the offense, Jared Goff the freshman quarterback making the right reads and just playing the up-tempo style that Sonny Dykes wants to play. If Cal can get clicking with the type of style it wants to play, yeah, maybe we can hang with Ohio State for a while. But I really kind of expect Cal to hang around for awhile but Ohio State having too may athletes in the end and Cal's defense just not having the skill to stay with Ohio State for 60 minutes.
Eleven Warriors: I think that both teams will be winners if we can avoid an earthquake during the game.
Vlad Belo: You know we have a major fault that runs right through the middle of the stadium, right?
Eleven Warriors [Johnny]: Absolutely and that terrifies me.
Eleven Warriors [Michael]: Oh man, it's going to be like Bane under the stadium, right?
Vlad Belo: We'll do our best to keep an earthquake from coming through during game day.
Eleven Warriors: That would be ideal.
Well, that was one CGB idjut's take on the game. What is yours? Did I give them any bulletin board material? Did I lull them into a false sense of security? Should I not have promised an earthquake-free day at Memorial Stadium?
Thanks again to Eleven Warriors for having us on.