1. If Cal has a slight lead (perhaps 16-15 or 18-15) going into Oregon's final drive, how do you think the game turns out?
Berkelium97: Cal makes the field goal and has a 16-15 lead which they hold until the end of the game. After kneeling in the victory formation to end the game, Mansion happily throws the ball out the back of his own end zone. Upon further review, his knee wasn't down and Oregon scores 2 points off a safety. Cal loses 16-17.
Kodiak: They miss a FG as time expires. And then the Hayward Fault splits open and swallows the stadium before the officials can signal the end of the game. Because there is no official ending, the NCAA rules that the game is a tie.
yellow fever: From the looks of it, I'm guessing Oregon still wins the game, because they moved into scoring position relatively easily. I can't imagine they would have hurried up their offense any more than usual knowing that they would have wanted to leave as little time left on the clock after scoring whatever they needed to.
HydroTech: See his postgame thoughts.
norcalnick: That's so hard to say, but I'd think Cal would be more likely to hold. Darron Thomas just didn't have a good game, and I doubt that Kelly would have only called zone reads if Oregon was behind. But an Oregon score wouldn't have been very surprising.
atomsareenough: I think we'd have most likely won it. Not 100% guaranteed, mind you, but I think we play with more of an edge, Oregon is on its heels, maybe calls some more passing plays that we'd been stopping. I think we probably win.
TwistNHook: Well, I think we probably still lose, but who knows? Let's say Oregon gets the ball at 9:25 down a few point (and Cal's best case scenario has it up by exactly 1 TD). In real life, they had this drive:
O 1-10 O20 OREGON drive start at 09:25.
O 1-10 O20 [Shotgun], 21-James, L. rush over right tackle for 5 yards to the ORE25
O 2-5 O25 PENALTY CAL offside (76-Hill, Derrick) 5 yards to the ORE30, 1ST DOWN
O 1-10 O30 [Shotgun], 21-James, L. rush up middle for 5 yards to the ORE35 (23-Hill,
O 2-5 O35 [Shotgun], 21-James, L. rush left for loss of 1 yard to the ORE34 (76-Hill,
O 3-6 O34 [Shotgun], 1-Thomas, Darron sideline left pass complete to 24-Barner, Kenjon
for 6 yards to the ORE40, 1ST DOWN ORE, out-of-bounds (17-Conte,
O 1-10 O40 [Shotgun], 24-Barner, Kenjon rush over right tackle for 6 yards to the ORE46
Kendricks (Cal) shaken on play.
O 2-4 O46 [Shotgun], 24-Barner, Kenjon rush over right end for 8 yards to the CAL46,
1ST DOWN ORE (0A-Williams, Steve).
Payne (Cal) injured on play.
O 1-10 C46 [Shotgun], 24-Barner, Kenjon rush over right end for 4 yards to the CAL42,
out-of-bounds (0A-Williams, Steve), PENALTY ORE holding (79-Asper, Mark)
10 yards to the ORE48.
O 1-16 O48 1st and 16.
O 1-16 O48 [Shotgun], 24-Barner, Kenjon rush over right end for 5 yards to the CAL47
(18-Mohamed, Mike;30-Kendricks, Mych).
O 2-11 C47 [Shotgun], 24-Barner, Kenjon rush over right tackle for 5 yards to the CAL42
O 3-6 C42 Timeout Oregon, clock 04:26.
O 3-6 C42 [Shotgun], 1-Thomas, Darron rush up middle for 7 yards to the CAL35, 1ST
DOWN ORE (97-Jordan, Cameron).
O 1-10 C35 [Shotgun], 24-Barner, Kenjon rush over right tackle for 2 yards to the CAL33
(97-Jordan, Cameron;40-Tipoti, Aaron).
O 2-8 C33 [Shotgun], 21-James, L. rush up middle for 4 yards to the CAL29 (0C-Holt,
O 3-4 C29 [Shotgun], 21-James, L. rush up middle for 5 yards to the CAL24, 1ST DOWN
ORE (11-Cattouse, Sean).
O 1-10 C24 [Shotgun], 21-James, L. rush up middle for loss of 1 yard to the CAL25
(92-Guyton, Trevor;76-Hill, Derrick).
O 2-11 C25 Timeout California, clock 01:45.
O 2-11 C25 [Shotgun], 21-James, L. rush over left end for 6 yards to the CAL19
(11-Cattouse, Sean;18-Mohamed, Mike), PENALTY ORE holding declined.
O 3-5 C19 [Shotgun], 21-James, L. rush up middle for 7 yards to the CAL12, 1ST DOWN
ORE (18-Mohamed, Mike).
O 1-10 C12 TM-TEAM rush for loss of 1 yard to the CAL13.
O 2-11 C13 TM-TEAM rush for loss of 2 yards to the CAL15.
O 3-13 C15 End of game, clock 00:00.
--------------- 18 plays, 65 yards, TOP 09:25 ---------------
And a whole lot of "Let's change the call at the line, even though we have had nearly unlimited time to make this play call and, oddly, we've changed the call at the line on the last 17 plays, too!" Ugh, that was annoying.
Anyway, in that situation, Oregon moves the ball down the field at the pace of a snail moving through molasses to see his ex-wife. If they needed to win, they probably don't move at this slow pace. And given that they were able to move the ball in their slow down offense, they probably could have moved it in their normal offense.
That said, it's anybody's ball game. The more aggressive they are, the more likely they make a mistake, like a fumble or some such thing. And if they are more aggressive, they score (potentially) with probably a few minutes left for Cal to potentially do something. So, who knows?
I do have to wonder how Cal fans would have acted if that situation was reversed. Oregon basically played not to lose. With a 2 point advantage. And 9:25 left in the game. That was the most conservative quarter of football I've ever seen. People RAGED against Tedford for something similar in the Big Game with like 3 minutes left. And again in Arizona this year. I mean it is a sight to behold really.
Avinash: We would've won. Instead I'm pouring myself another glass and eyeing this beautiful lady at the bar. She looks pretty. I smile awkwardly at her. She's walking over to me...and I realize that I'm so drunk that she's a guy, and I've been staring at this dude for an hour, and instead of a flirty invitation back, his fist is meeting my jaw.
This is possibly not a true story. But that was what that missed field goal felt like to me.
2. What are your thoughts on the playcall on Cal's 2 point attempt?
Berkelium97: I actually don't even remember the call, but I don't remember thrilled or disappointed with it. The only reason we're asking about it is because it didn't work.
HydroTech: See his postgame thoughts.
CBKWit: One of my friends (and a reader) said we should have run a draw with Mansion, and part of me thinks it would have been a good idea given how far upfield they were sending their defensive ends. Then again, Mansion tripped over his own feet when he tried to take off earlier in the game, so perhaps not. Personally, I would have liked a run of any kind or a misdirection pass (bootleg) rather than what we ran - a straight up pass, jump ball fade. With how poorly we were passing the ball, that seems like a low percentage play to me.
norcalnick: The actual decision to go for two I'm OK with - based on how our offense was playing it's not insane to think that that was our best chance to tie the game (it was) and a point difference doesn't impact a field goal. Considering that Shane was our only functional offensive player for much of the game I think you need to run it - or at least have a way better designed play. Maybe there were other options that Mansion just ignored - I'll have to wait til I see a replay.
Kodiak: Ludwig tried to get cute. This is one of those playcalls were you look like a genius if the D bites on the playfake and your guy is wide open in the endzone. Or, you look like an idiot because the DB stays at home...The DB stayed at home. If it had worked, we all would have talked about how much we loved the call. [Considering their D line is quick, but not huge, my armchair persona would have used that stacked formation with extra linemen as TE's and had Vereen follow them in.
atomsareenough: Absolutely we needed to go for 2 there. It wasn't going to make a difference in a tight, low-scoring game whether we were down by 1 or down by 2, so we might as well go for 2 and potentially tie it. I wish we'd called a better play, though. It looked to me like Mansion had a clear path to the endzone, so maybe he should've scrambled for it. Sigh.
TwistNHook: Well, let's take a closer look at this. Firstly, I do agree that it was important go for 2 in that situation. Oregon had gone for 2 previously and we needed to keep up. You can't bring a knife to a gun fight.
Secondly, let's take a closer look at the playcall itself. A lot of people always like to complain about the play-calling, generally when it is not working. Of course, a lot of outcome bias is inherent in those complaints and I rarely take them seriously.
However, when you are looking at one individual play as compared to many, many plays over the course of the entire game/season, it is much easier to make a critical judgment of the relative merit of the play call.
Now, first Cal has 2 options: Run or Pass. Simple enough. Many people probably wanted a run in that situation. I am reminded of a similar play later in the game (right before the bumbling field goal attempt), where Cal was on the 4 yard line. 3rd and 2. Cal tries smash mouth football there. Oregon sees it all the way and shuts it down. So, I don't think it was as clear cut a "RUN ON THE 2 POINT CONVERSION, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?" situation as one might think.
Oregon was putting like 90% of its D players in the box to force Mansion to beat them. Given how little space the DBs have to cover, its even easier for run D there. Now, I should note that I was on the far side of the field and didn't have the greatest view of the play itself. After the game, Avi told me that it was a play action fade and so I am informed and believe and thereon allege that it was a play action fade. Let's take a closer look at this.
The play action I like. Make them bite on the play action to open up a throw. That is a smart way to use the run-focus D to your advantage.
If it truly was a fade, me no likely. I hate fades in general. I think they are low percentage calls. I think they require a really tall WR (and Marvin Jones can leap, but I think the Oregon DBs are right there with him). And, most importantly, it requires great timing between the QB and the WR. Given that we have a backup QB playing with minimal experience, I just don't know if they have that connection.
So, I like some parts of this play call (if I understand it correctly), but the fade aspect is one that I am not specifically happy with.
Avinash: The play is right here at 3:10.
Oregon vs. California Highlights KVAL (via Videos4KVAL)
IF HE HAD JUST SURVEYED THE FIELD INSTEAD OF LOCKING ONTO HIS RECIEVER HE COULD JUST HAVE RUN THE BALL STRAIGHT UP THE GUT THERE ARE NO LINEBACKERS DOWN THE MIDDLE THEY BAILED OUT WHEN THEY SAW YOU DROP BACK AND WENT TO COVER THE RECEIVERS YOU COULD'VE KEPT IT IN AND RUN IT IN SON OF A....
Whatever, I can't blame Brock for this. I blame Ludwig for this idiotic play.
3. Do you think this game turns out differently if Kevin Riley is starting at QB?
yellow fever: Actually, yes, because Riley was mysteriously a million times more effective at home this year. So would he have been worth three points more (or even more, since I just said Oregon looked like they would have won anyway) than Mansion? I say yes.
Berkelium97: If Brock's receivers could have held onto his catches, it may have turned out differently. Several crucial first downs--a couple of which would bring us into field goal territory--were not converted due to drops. With as narrow of a loss as this was, almost any difference could have tipped the game in our favor. Riley's ability to read the field could have helped us, as Brock tended to lock onto his receivers or throw where the receiver should have been (even if no one was there).
CBKWit: Not really. I don't think Mansion was much worse than Riley had played this year. Our passing game was not significantly worse than any number of games this season.
norcalnick: Yes, but I don't know how. How about that for a cop-out? Riley, as inaccurate as he can be, would have completed more balls than Mansion. But for all of Mansion's struggles he managed to avoid (weather through caution or dumb-luck) any interceptions, and there's no guarantee that Riley does the same thing.
Kodiak: Sure. Instead of blaming Giorgio, Edwards, or Ludwig, we'd be blaming Riley. Some of us would point out that there were key drops. Others would say that's because of poor throws. It's pretty obvious after two games - Riley was a much better QB than Mansion is at this point in their respective careers. Of course that would have made a difference.
atomsareenough: Hard to say. I feel like the lack of success in the passing game was more due to WR drops than bad passes from Mansion. He had about the same number of completely off passes that Riley usually has. Probably we have another touchdown and win the game if Good Riley shows up, but that's not a guarantee. Mansion managed the game pretty well, and didn't make any crucial mistakes. I can't really bring myself to wring my hands too much about whether Riley would've been our saviour.
TwistNHook: That I honestly do not know. None of us do. Mansion didn't throw any picks. He managed the game well enough. But he also threw a lot of balls that indicated he had minimal experience with that WR. Nobody would be in the area at all. He wasn't helped out by the usual dropped balls, which has now become a classic Cal staple. I feel like Riley could have hit some of those WRs better. But also probably would have thrown an interception. I mean Mansion had a couple of balls tipped in the air and potentially coulda been picked. So, who knows?
Avinash: Man, imagine if one-legged Kevin Riley had started at quarterback. That would've been ten times worse than Nate Longshore playing with chipped bones in his ankle.
I think Riley could've won it--the offensive line was playing a lot better, and he definitely would've been able to find more open receivers. He also could've lost it--if the coverage was too tight, then he'd probably throw the ball away a lot, leading to a disgruntled crowd that gets on him too much for struggling against a solid pass defense. It's a flip of the coin really, which is pretty much what Cal-Oregon came down to in the critical stretches.
I do think this guy that was standing next to Riley during the game might've had a chance. He'll just have to settle for a Super Bowl run.