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California Football Moment #5

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#10 - UCLA Goal line stand

#9 - Bryan Anger 72 yard punt

#8 - Shane Vereen TD Run against MSU

#7 - Best Bush Run against Washington.

#6 - Stanford Hook And Ladder


We are going through the Top 10 Cal football moments of 2008.  We are at #5.  We are going slowly.  Now, we are talking about Cal recovering the fumbled punt during the Oregon game.




TwistNHook:  This was a key turning point in the Cal-Oregon game.  Speaking of key turning points, I will now turn the floor over to my non-me compatriots and not talk for a while.  And.................GO!

Avinash:  Perfect moment to encapsulate that Duck game. They committed so many mental errors that they pretty much handed us the game. What was it, twelve-sixteen points off of turnovers, with two drives starting in their red zone? Can't remember the exact number.

You wonder if Bellotti gets the guys a little too ramped up because he's going against Tedford, and their mental focus is a little off.

TwistNHook:  I don't wonder that at all!

Ragnarok:  I thought you were going to not talk for a while.

TwistNHook:  Because you guys were doing such a GREAT job filling this void with your witticisms and in depth insights into Cal football.  You need me, California Golden Blogs. Your guilty conscience may move you to vote Ragnarok, but deep down you long for a cold-hearted TwistNHook to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king. That's why I did this, to save you from yourselves. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a blog to run. 



Also, a Cal football moment to discuss!

Avinash:  Wasn't ragnarok a viking?

Ragnarok:  Look, the voters have a clear choice:  vote for Ragnarök, or the End Times shall be at hand.  I think the voters have made a wise decision.

But back to the subject at hand, it's true the Ducks did give the Bears sixteen points off turnovers in that game, and with a ten-point margin of victory, that basically handed the game to us.  A botched punt led to a safety, and an interception just before the half gave us a short-field touchdown, but this muffed punt really sealed the game for us.

Conditions in that game were so tough that it was a struggle for anyone to move the ball, so giving the other team any kind of short field was just shooting yourself in the foot.  The Ducks did that twice, and we burned 'em both times.  We gave the Ducks a short field just once, fumbling inside our own twenty, and Oregon responded to the gift by tossing an interception.  It's not just about turnovers, folks; it's about capitalizing on them.

HydroTech:  Wasn't it Jarius Byrd that fumbled the kickoff?  That poor guy has been making all types of errors against us year after year.  2006 he got faked out by THA1.  2007 he got faked out by THA1 again.  2008 he fumbles the ball allowing Cal to score.  God, Byrd is so bad, here he is cheating by committing pass interference!  He's the cheatingest cheater who ever cheated!

TwistNHook:  To help put this play into proper context, it is important to look at the play by play.

But, in specific for this play, it is important to look at more than just its specific drive.  The story here starts in the previous quarter:

We start with Oregon marching down the field in the 3rd quarter to score a TD.  The score is 19-16 in Cal's favor.  The following Cal drive occurs:

California at 3:51 ORE CAL
1st and 10 at CAL 30 Nate Longshore sacked by Nick Reed for a loss of 5 yards to the Cal 25. 16 19
2nd and 15 at CAL 25 Nate Longshore pass complete to Jahvid Best for a loss of 4 yards to the Cal 21.    
3rd and 19 at CAL 21 Nate Longshore pass incomplete to Sean Young.    
4th and 19 at CAL 21 Bryan Anger punt for 46 yards, returned by Jamere Holland for a loss of 2 yards to the Oregn 31.    
DRIVE TOTALS: Cal drive: 3 plays -9 yards, 01:42 Cal PUNT

Well, isn't that great!  3 plays.  Negative 9 yards!  Oregon has just marched down the field to put themselves back in the game and Cal responds with negative 9 yards.  Certainly, the nervousness of the fans who hadn't left at halftime was palpable.  Then, Oregon has the following drive:

Oregon at 2:09 ORE CAL
1st and 10 at ORE 31 Jeremiah Johnson rush for 7 yards to the Oregn 38. 16 19
2nd and 3 at ORE 38 Jeremiah Masoli rush for 14 yards to the Oregn 38 out-of-bounds, California penalty 15 yard personal foul accepted for a 1ST down.    
1st and 10 at CAL 33 Jeremiah Johnson rush for 3 yards to the Cal 30.    
2nd and 7 at CAL 30 Jeremiah Masoli rush for 4 yards to the Cal 26.    
3rd and 3 at CAL 26 Jeremiah Masoli rush for 7 yards to the Cal 19 for a 1ST down.    
1st and 10 at CAL 19 Jeremiah Johnson rush for 7 yards to the Cal 12.    
  End of 3rd Quarter

Ok, so that is a fairly good drive there.  They go from the Oregon 38 to the Cal 12 in a matter of plays.  Nervousness at high level there.  Only up by 3.  Cal offense sputtering.  Oregon offense marching.  But here is where the elements came into play in a way that you might not have noticed.  The 3rd quarter ended.  Previously, in the 3rd quarter, Oregon was marching South, while Cal was marching (in the loosest sense of the word) North. 

You might remember, for reasons that I still don't fully understand, that the North portion of the field was TOADS worse than the South.  It was Lake Memorial out there!  So, Oregon goes from a relatively (relatively!) dry part of the field to the middle of the flood. 

We now go to the 4th quarter:

Oregon at 15:00 ORE CAL
2nd and 3 at CAL 12 Jeremiah Johnson rush for 2 yards to the Cal 10. 16 19
3rd and 1 at CAL 10 Oregon penalty 5 yard false start accepted.    
3rd and 6 at CAL 15 Jeremiah Masoli rush for 3 yards to the Cal 12.    
4th and 3 at CAL 12 Matt Evensen 29 yard field goal MISSED.    
DRIVE TOTALS: Oregn drive: 9 plays 57 yards, 03:39 Oregn FGA

Their drive instantly and totally stalls.  Their false start penalty certainly helped the situation right there.  AND THEY MISS THE FIELD GOAL!  Kicking in a lake is difficult.  So, it goes from what could easily be a 23-19 Oregon lead to a 19-19 tie back to a 16-19 Cal lead.  But the story isn't over yet, we haven't even gotten to the key moment that this post is, ostensibly, about that.


Cal has its own drive at this point, which is OK, but stalls.

California at 13:30 ORE CAL
1st and 10 at CAL 20 Jahvid Best rush for 1 yard to the Cal 21. 16 19
2nd and 9 at CAL 21 Nate Longshore pass complete to Shane Vereen for 4 yards to the Cal 25.    
3rd and 5 at CAL 25 Nate Longshore pass complete to Verran Tucker for 14 yards to the Cal 39 out-of-bounds for a 1ST down.    
1st and 10 at CAL 39 Shane Vereen rush for a loss of 1 yard to the Cal 38.    
2nd and 11 at CAL 38 Nate Longshore pass incomplete to Shane Vereen.    
3rd and 11 at CAL 38 Nate Longshore pass complete to Verran Tucker for 7 yards to the Cal 45.

And then, the key punt of the game:

4th and 4 at CAL 45 Bryan Anger punt for 44 yards, returned by Jairus Byrd for no gain, fumbled, recovered by Cal at the Oregn 6.    
1st and Goal at ORE 6 California penalty 0 yard personal foul off-setting accepted, Oregon penalty 0 yard personal foul off-setting, NO PLAY, cloc accepted, no play.    
1st and Goal at ORE 6 Jahvid Best rush for 4 yards to the Oregn 2.    
2nd and Goal at ORE 2 Shane Vereen rush for 2 yards for a TOUCHDOWN. 16 25
  Gior Tavecchio extra point GOOD. 16 26
  Gior Tavecchio kickoff for 57 yards returned by Walter Thurmond for 19 yards to the Cal 30, California penalty 15 yard personal foul accepted.    
DRIVE TOTALS: Cal drive: 2 plays 6 yards, 01:07 Cal TD

So, firstly, yes, it was multi-year goat Jairus Byrd who flubbed the punt.  Secondly, I love Gior Tavecchio.  He's great! 

Thirdly, by putting this moment into its proper context, you can get a stronger feel for how much it turned the game.  Not only did it give 7 points to Cal pretty much, but it came right on the heels of a time when it looked like Oregon was taking over.  Their offense was moving much better than ours and had Cal on its heels.  Certainly, the missed field goal and the false start penalty all worked into the shift of momentum from potentially 23-19 to 26-16.  But the fumbled punt was the key moment when Cal fans started to breath a little bit easier.

Bee Tee Dubya, for fun and potential alcohol poisining, take a look at Oregon's last drive (seen here) and take a drink every time you see the words "Justin Roper" and "Pass "Incomplete."  Try not to die. 

Avinash:  You covered all bases really. Oregon has had great chances to win the last two games against Cal and blown every single opportunity (seven turnovers in the last five quarters). You hope the Ducks will be at a psychological disadvantage when we play them at Autzen, and the Bears will have more confidence now that many of them have experienced victory there.

Ragnarok:  Yeah, it sure seems like Tedford has had Bellotti's number these last few years.  Perhaps Bellotti's getting out of the game now, before it gets even more embarrassing!

When you look back at the 2008 season, you basically see a bunch of wins against mediocre teams, some losses to bowl teams on the road, the Michigan State game, the Emerald Bowl, and this game.  MSU and Miami bookended the season, the formed setting the tone for 2008 (good times ahead!) and the latter setting the tone for 2009 (good times ahead next year!), but I'd say the win over Oregon was the most important on the season.

Lose to the Ducks, and Cal ends up losing at least three in a row (@USC, @OSU), and maybe more after that.  No matter how tough the opponents, a three-game losing streak can sap the confidence of any team, and especially given how 2007 ended, I'm sure we would've all started to say "here it goes again!"  In football, the margin between success and failure is often razor-thin, and if this play doesn't go Cal's way, well, who knows?

TwistNHook:  I agree 100%.  I'm pretty sure Bellotti decided to become the Oregon QB coach, because he hated taking ALL of the blame for losing to Cal year in and year out.

HydroTech:  The fumble was like a gift from God.

TwistNHook:  If Tedford can gift us fumbles like that, why doesn't he do it more often?????