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Cal-Utah Poinsettia Bowl Report Card

Who wants to read about demands for Tedford's firing?  Who wants to see comparisons of Tedford to George W. Bush?

Well, if that's your thing, I've got the goods!  I know it took me a while to get this all together.  But would *you* really want to rush into this one?  This was like spelunking deep into the most tortured parts of Cal's fans psyches.  Without a rope.  Or a belayor.  Or whatever one uses to spelunk.

Long story short, CalX had a short story long.  It was the longest comment I think we've ever had and was a surprising oasis of calm amongst the rage.  It's not particularly indicative of the entirety of the graders' thoughts, but it is indicative of my thoughts.  And I'm me, so I get to do what I want here.  So, before you get ready for reading the blog equivalent of being repeatedly punched in the face, check out this bad boy:


CalX - This isn't really about this game so much as a screed on Tedford in general (I'm also kinda drunk still).  After this "disappointing" season, I suspect there will be people calling for a coaching change to "take us to the next level."  I actually suspected that this would happen 3-4 years into his tenure, when things were going well.

Before anyone calls for a coaching change, people should ask themselves: what exactly is the "next level"?  Can we realistically expect Cal to be a top 10 team year after year, in the same class as USC, Florida, OSU and Texas?  If Urban Meyer were to become Cal's head coach, would you really expect the results to be radically different?

We're in a hyper-competitive conference which has been dominated by one of college football's greatest dynasties for the last 8 years.  At least for the next few years, we have some of the worst facilities among BCS schools, while also boasting some of the highest academic standards. 

Plus, I strongly believe in football karma.  Schools who discard above average coaches for a grass-is-greener-coach are tempting the football gods.  A prime example of this is Michigan, who discarded a consistent bowl-bound coach for the flavor of the year, who has thus far been a complete train-wreck.  Ditto for Notre Dame.  There are already ridiculous calls for Jim Tressel's head.  I'm just waiting for the time, 4-5 years from now, when Urban Meyer and Nick Saban are facing calls for their jobs.  For me, after having lived through 4 years of the Holmoecaust, any game above .500 is gravy.

In any case, I think this "train-wreck" of a season can be at least partially attributed to the lack of quality offensive line coaching.  Of all the personnel we lost over the last year, losing our o-line coach was by far the biggest blow.

All of this is my way of saying: please strongly think about what you're saying before calling for Tedford's job.  Can we really do better?  Do we really want to tempt the football gods?  Isn't there something about dancing with the girl who brung you?  Isn't there something to be said about reciprocal loyalty?  For my money, Tedford can pull a Joe Paterno/Bobby Bowden, stay for 40 years and run the program into the ground.  I think he's already earned that.





JrBear - Nervously refreshing ESPN ScoreCenter on my iPhone while out with the girlfriend.

BornOnThePlay - I actually thought about going to this game.  An ex-dormmate of mine lives in downtown SD and I was really close to flying down, if flights to San Diego were cheaper I might have gone.  Thank God I didn't, instead I watched the game drinking more and more as the game progressed to numb the pain of seeing a Callapse.  I started cooking burgers during the 2nd half and wasn't paying too close attention to the game, not that there was anything to watch.

AznPursuit - rushed home to watch the game.  after the pick 6 thought, "blowout".  i'm sorry for offending you oh great juju.

Ososdeoro - Cleaned up house so people taking care of cats won't think we are candidates for "Hoarders"; found 17 more cats (just kidding!); did last minute Christmas shopping because to UPS "2nd Day Air" is a guideline instead of a commitment; watched game while wrapping presents; went to Oakland Airport to get rental car (if you get special pricing thru priceline, don't expect to be able to do anything like change airports, fyi, no biggie to us); packed. Curiously, I wasn't much into the game. Happy at the beginning, but still suspicious. Easy to withdraw emotionally when the roof caved in. Simply too busy to care about this particular group of players this year.

Kodiak - Finished with the office holiday party and made it home.  Found out the dvr malfunctioned, so didn't get the first half.  It might have been more merciful if I had missed out on the whole thing.

ajay - debated long and hard whether to watch the game at all, considering the level disappointment that could occur. long and hard. decided to be a trooper, a true fan. Urgh, I make myself sick sometimes




grinandbearit - I'm done sticking up for him. Sure, we could stand to protect him better, but he's inaccurate even on simple throws. I don't care if the no-huddle offense eats up less clock. Riley works better in the no-huddle.

Open competition in camp again next year.


JrBear - Kevin Riley, though not similar in play style, IS S. Carolina's Stephen Garcia.   Both of them have the skills and charisma to play well, but have a serious lack of seriousness and concentration.  Spring and summer should be used to discipline Riley (and the recievers) into a mean, lean, SENIOR passing machine.

BornOnThePlay - Are Sweeny and Mansion that bad that when Riley is having a crappy game that Tedford won't put them in for a drive or two?  I am what's the worse that can happen multiple 3 and out? a pick six?  Wait that's what happened when Reilly was in.  Even during the 1st quarter it was Shane that really carried the team.

Rocky63215 - Kevin Riley I believe needs to mature for his senior season. He needs to stop worrying about the team trailing and just execute the game plan. Another thing Riley needs to learn is how to throw the ball away instead of taking a sack or when to run to get some yards.

Ososdeoro - Cut to the Broadway audition director: "thank you for your time. NEXT!"

Highwireact - I gave a "D", but that may be too generous.  While the WRs and TE dropped some of his passes, this was one of the games this year where he was just off - made poor throws and poor decisions.  I don't know how much of this is his responsibility, but it seems like he has trouble adjusting the team pre-snap, so he can be in a position to handle jail break blitzes and the like.  Once he gets rattled it also seems like he goes to his drop off receivers too quickly (either that or the other receivers simply can't get open).  Also seems like he has forgotten how to move around in (or out) of the pocket to avoid pressure.

Kodiak - I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see next year going any better with Riley as our starting QB.  He's not showing signs of improvement and even seems to be regressing in terms of his decision-making.  Classic Riley moment was the overthrow of wide-open Holley on a key third down.  I don't care about how strong his arm is or how talented he is or what a beautiful deep ball he throws.  Give me some guy with the stones to complete bread and butter basic throws when it counts.

ajay - Any glimmer of hope I had that Riley could eventually be a good qb, is officially gone. That overthrow to Holly is what we are going to get when the game is on the line, every time. You just can't teach that stuff; you can practice it all you want, but at game speed, when it comes time to make that pass, it's gotta be instinct, and Riley's instincts aren't the best.

This opinion might be based on the entire season, but screw it. I'm tired of this crap. I want a qb I can put my trust in, someone who, when he throws, doesn't make me hold my breath in fear. That too much to ask?

jaikass - Failure.







Ososdeoro - I have none, which is sad considering we needed a consistent running game to win. I have issues with overusing Vereen considering his obvious injuries, but that isn't on Vereen or, or.....did anyone else even get a carry?

Highwireact - Running game was fine, except too many attempts running against 9 in the box.

Kodiak - Shane played hard.  The poor guy really didn't have much of a chance considering the constant barrage of run blitzes and nine in the box.

DrBeeper  - Vereen is awesome, it's as simple as that.  Despite piss-poor blocking, and no passing threat, SV was still by-far our most dangerous weapon.

prd74 - I have no complaints on the job that was done by the running backs this year.

sec119 - Vereen is my only reason for optimism next year.  He makes bad o-line blocking look ingenious for getting all the defenders in the backfield, from where they won't be able to catch up with him.

ajay - Shane was playing hurt for most of the game, and still did amazingly well. Had a great year, hopefully we don't have to give him ridiculous carries game in and game out to win.

DeBo didn't play too well this game, which brought the grade down a little, but that's one game. He had an impressive year in general as a 3rd string, so I'm happy yet again w/ our rb corps.

jaikass - Poor soul was injured. Bless his heart.





grinandbearit - Bad Tucker showed up tonight. At least twice, he dropped passes that hit him in the hands. The announcers were saying that he got crushed by the DBs, but one of them went threw his hands before he got hit and the other one was in his hands and he dropped it once he got hit in the left shoulder pad. People get hit going over the middle. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that they should hang on to some of these.

BornOnThePlay - Okay guys I have a great idea...catch the fucking ball.  Just a thought.  Jones seemed to catch the ball every now and then.  Miller did his job okay.  Granted Riley wasn't performing but at least try to hang on to the ball if it comes your way.

Ososdeoro - No separation, dropsies....this crowd sure wasn't going to win it for us.

DrBeeper - Awful.  Get rid of the whole bunch and start over again.  Dropped passes, lazy route running, and bad field awareness when the protection breaks down.  Boateng does less with obvious talent than anyone I've seen in a good long while.

sec119 - When the normally sure-handed Anthony Miller has a case of the dropsies, you know the game is going badly.  But he did have that incredible one-handed sideline grab.

ajay - Catch the ball. Marvin stepped up more this year, and we've seen improvements, but it's still frustrating. Part of it is on the qb not getting the ball in a place to take advantage of the wr's momentum, but sometimes, you just gotta make the catch.

jaikass - Failure.


Run Blocking




BornOnThePlay - 1st quarter great.  The rest of the game crap.

AznPursuit - mmm i LOVE watching vereen get stopped in the backfield time after time after turns me on SO MUCH.  i'm such a masochist.

Ososdeoro - Dismal. It's amazing how much of a difference the loss of one person makes.

Highwireact - Had trouble when Utah stacked the box, but otherwise was so-so.

Prd74 - Another problem area that is masked by the job being done by the RBs.

ajay - started out great (espn showed us some good highlights), but didn't do so hot later on (according to tepper)

jaikass - Failure.



Pass Protection



BornOnThePlay - 1st quarter great.  The rest of the game crap. 

AznPursuit - did riley sleep with the olines' girlfriends?

Ososdeoro - Dismal. It's amazing how much of a difference the loss of one person makes.

Highwireact - Pathetic.  They didn't just get manhandled physically - but they again made numerous mental mistakes, frequently leaving rushers completely unblocked.

sec119 - Utah looked like a more physical team in the trenches, and the pressure on Riley indicated that.

ajay - Ridiculous at times, although some of it can fall on Riley for not getting the ball out quicker. But just looking at the o-line, it looked like the pocket collapsed quickly against the Utes, so I guess it wasn't too great.

jaikass - Failure.



Run Defense



BornOnThePlay - 1st quarter great.  The rest of the game crap. 

Ososodeoro - It was acceptable until we were trying to get back into the game.

prd74 - I think our run defense ran out of gas from being on the field too much.

sec119 - This part of the game was ok, but it's all a matter of context; Utah didn't really need to run the ball.

jaikass - Failure.


Pass Rush

I recognize at least one CGB regular in this photo:




BornOnThePlay - 1st quarter great.  The rest of the game crap. 

Rocky63215 - Needs to be more aggressive, get after the quarterback, and do not give them all day to throw.

DrBeeper - The run D did a very respectable job keeping the Utes bottled up on the ground.  Then again, with this pass-D, why should any team even attempt to run?

DrBeeper - Nothing to speak of in pass rush.  Although, when every receiver is completely uncovered on every route, it's not terribly tough to get passes off quickly with no worries about the rush.

sec119 - Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan looked to be putting in a lot of great individual effort, but that wasn't enough to result in sacks and serious QB pressure.

jaikass - Failure.



Pass Defense




JrBear - Yes, the main weakness of the Cover 2 is that it leaves a big hole in the middle for a tight end.  However that hole should not lead to 30 yard gains to the tight end each time.

BornOnThePlay - 1st quarter great, that pick six was great.  The rest of the game crap.  We just seemed to watch the ball fly by.  Our defense made a true freshman qb look like a 5th year senior.

AznPursuit - on the play where the prophet got burned, i saw 4 middle linebackers having a bonfire in the middle of the field.  i think they were playing hacky sack.

Rocky63215 - Just horrendous! Cornerbacks next year need to step up their game whether it's on the short screen passes to tackle better or to keep track of the wide receiver.

Highwireact - As the announcers said, how can receivers be that open when you are only rushing three.  I can't believe that are players are all that bad... it has to be the coaching/game planning.  What good does it do having three LBs 10 yards off the line of scrimmage in the middle of the field when there isn't a single receiver in that zone, until the RB slips out toward the end of the play.  It just seems like the Bears play defense one way - and the players are always given the same assignment... it works well against some teams (Stanford/Arizona), but fails against others where the coaches see how to exploit the holes.

ajay  - Let a freshman have a great day. Syd even got beat for a touchdown really badly (ball in the air forever, and he completely missed it), except that they had 5 in the backfield, so it was called back. But when your best corner is doing that, that doesn't bode well for the rest of your pass D

jaikass - Failure.



Special Teams




JrBear - ALALAALALAALALAAMMMAMARRRRRR.  Directly responsible for a touchdown and crappy field position.

BornOnThePlay - ALAMAAAAARRR!!!!!   The beginning of the end was the long kick return after are pick 6.  That stopped our momentum.  I really feel if our defense had better position we could had stopped that drive.  It wasn't just kicking the tipped punt was terrible too.  Though there were a few kick returns where we stopped them flat.

CoolingFan - After Eddie Young's pick 6, Cal had all the momentum. Then the poor kickoff coverage let Utah bounce back right away. Every special team, including the punt unit, had a poor game today.

Highwireact - Long kick return, blocked punt, fair catch kick interference, poor execution on our kick off returns.  Same as always.  You have to wonder what would have happened if Cal had stuffed the Utah return after the second TD.  That long return pumped Utah up and completely changed the momentum in the game.

jaikass - Failure.







grinandbearit-  I've been struggling with this all year, but I feel like we are very poorly coached because we seem to be bad at making adjustments and our players just seem lost out there. The garbage time drive in which we scored our final TD was an example. Riley got us into the redzone, and he ran over towards the sideline and just seemed unsure of what was happening next. In the end, you see him running towards the ref and calling a timeout. There just seemed to be a lot of confusion, but two-minute drills are a staple of practices (or should be), and there shouldn't be a ton of indecision here.

One other thing: maybe the coaches should try using the no-huddle more often since we seem ineffective without it against a mediocre or better defense. Who cares if we're not controlling the clock as much since we just keep on putting our defense right back on the field anyway?

JrBear - After watching "The U," let me say that I would not mind if we stopping doing things "the right way" and started going hyphy.

BornOnThePlay - You guys really don't like making adjustments do you?  Just stick with a game plan and hope it fucking works?  After the 1st quarter the Utes coaches realized their guys were getting beat up front and changed to a hurry up offense which the Cal coaches never seemed to account for.

Ososdeoro - Other than the 2004 Holiday Bowl, has a defense ever been this ill-prepared to face its opponent? Nobody did anything right (with the usual one or two exceptions) and it's all on coaching.

Highwireact - Under Tedford the team has traditionally been prepared and rarely been soundly beaten.  This year, we were thrashed in all 5 of our losses - with the team appearing demoralized, and not ready to play.  And the coaching mistakes have been getting worse - it seems like the staff has very poor awareness of game situations.  Look I love Tedford and I respect what he has done for the program both from an on-field and off the field standpoint.  However, the game management at the end was simply atrocious for a team being led by an 8th year head coach.

We wasted two timeouts in the 2nd half - the first after a big positive play to get to the Utah 26 in the 3rd quarter - which not only wasted the time out, but interrupted the flow of the drive (Cal did score a TD on the drive).  The second was the ridiculous time out for the two point conversion.  And Tedford said he was looking at his chart or something to determine what to do - if that is the case, where the hell is his head.  Prior to that drive starting, everyone on the Cal sideline and in the booth should have been on the same page, that they needed to score a TD and get the 2 point conversion.... and they should have already known what they were going to call for the conversion.

DrBeeper - Completely abysmal.  It's the last game of the season, and we're completely unable to move the ball - is that really the right time to stay so conservative?  For my money, we should have switched permanently to the wildbear formation starting in the 3rd qtr.  I'm starting to really question Tedfords ability to win without having elite athletes all over the field.

ajay - Before you are quick to judge the following statement, please read all the way through.

We need to fire Tedford. Let's start with recruits. The one thing I have noticed about our recent 5 star recruits is that they came to Cal because they wanted to stay close to home (Marshawn, Jahvid) or they wanted to stick it to SC (DeSean). Now obviously, a team isn't made up of 5 star recruits; it's a mix, and Oregon State seems to do fine with their recruits. So it comes down to getting the most out of your team, which lies squarely on the shoulders of Tedford. Teams like Oregon, OSU, even the 'furd steadily improve over time, and make it up the ranks. They win big games, they show up when the time comes. We recruit the talent to be able to do this, and now it's all about getting them to execute, and Tedford isn't doing that.

Sometimes, even if the change won't improve us by much, or anything at all, change is necessary. A new infusion of plays, excitement, a different way of thinking could all provide a spark, and potentially bring us to new heights. It may bring a coach who quits tolerating bad qb decisions, multiple WR drops, sloppy open field tackling. It can also backfire and bring us to lows, but if you're trying to win, you've gotta take a couple of risks.

I just think we've maximized what we're going to see out of the Tedford era, and I'd like to stop torturing myself with "what if" questions as I usher in the alumnus era of my life.

jaikass - Failure.






grinandbearit - 1) MSG, get well soon.
2) could someone figure out how to defend the pass with 8 guys in coverage?
3) either use the no-huddle more with Riley or bench him for someone who's more accurate.

Oh well, better luck next year. Let's erase the memories of 2007-2009 and come back fresh. Go Bears.

Shajee R - Shoot me now.

BornOnThePlay - The reverse of the 2007 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.  Great 1st quarter, crappy 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarter.

AznPursuit  - this is the first time this season where i didn't finish watching a losing game.  i was so disgusted with our up and down play that after the pick 6 i said, "F it, i'm done."


Ososdeoro - A head coach is only as good as his assistants. Tedford has some outstanding leadership qualities, and I think even reasonable motivational qualities, but he obviously still has to learn how to hold his assistants accountable for their responsibilities. Even more urgent is the need for him to better evaluate his hires. Alamar simply cannot be here next year. I question whether Gregory has the ability to deal with anything other than a standard offense (yes, we've done well against Oregon a couple times, but not at other times). And as much as I'd like Ludwig to succeed, he hasn't shown the flexibility required when it became clear we had a sieve for an offensive line.

Highwireact - The last time I felt this bad heading into an offseason, was in 2000.  Hopefully that's just the bad feelings from this game and season talking and by the end of spring practice the hope for the future of Cal football will have returned.

DrBeeper - We suck.

prd74 - Most disappointing team in the Tedford era.  Cal football 2009 = George W. Bush's 2nd term.

sec119 - I wish Tepper hadn't made that comment about bowl losses leaving bad vegetable tastes behind, since I happen to like vegetables.  This loss tastes like what twogirlsonecup looks like, except it's twoshittyhalvesonebowl.

ajay - Disappointed with this year of Cal football. We did not capitalize on the talent we had, and we may not have this good of a defense (on paper) for a long time.

Oh yeah, the game. Fail. Summarizes it pretty succinctly, no?

jaikass - Failure.