As we get ready to transition from the end of the Kevin Riley era, and enter the home stretch of our season, we have another CGB Roundtable.
1. Tedford has declared the QB competition closed and that Brock Mansion will start Saturday. Do you agree with this decision?
2. Is Tedford going to have regretted not getting Mansion/Beau Sweeney more experience in our blowouts (Colorado/UCLA/USC/ASU)? I know this is all in hindsight, but do you think this will come back to bite Mansion and/or Sweeney?
3. Added question (not included in the roundtable because I found the quote only late last night): Mansion commented that "People who go to the (NFL) come back and say our offense is one of the most complicated ones in America. There are a few NFL teams that don’t even have the complexity that we have." Do you believe the complexity of the Tedford offense is an issue, and if so how would you fix it?
4. What should be our expectations for the season going forward?
Tedford has declared the QB competition closed and that Brock Mansion will start Saturday. Do you agree with this decision?
atomsareenough: Yes. I also think we need to give Mansion as much of the playbook as he can handle. This is his third year in the system, and he should know the plays. Yeah, it'll be a bit of trial by fire, but I think even though Wazzu isn't the same doormat they've been the past few years, they're very beatable if we can get an early lead and our defense comes to play. If we can get a lead, let's let Mansion throw the ball. He's going to need the reps for when we play Washington, Oregon, and Stanfurd.
TwistNHook: I doubt any of us have sufficient information regarding the relative merits of any of the remaining QBs to pass valid judgment regarding this decision.
atomsareenough: That's fair. We haven't been able to see Sweeney vs. Mansion in practice, so who knows. But if Tedford says he's the guy, then that's good enough for me at this point. I think there's some value in making a firm decision, at least for next week, and trying to instill some confidence in the selection.
ragnarok: The one rationale I can come up with for this decision would be to give Mansion as many reps with the first-team offense as possible. From that standpoint, I kinda like this decision. I also find it unlikely that Tedford is going to learn anything much about Mansion or Sweeney in the coming week that he doesn't already know.
HydroTech: It doesn't really matter what I, or the fans think. But the decision seems fine to me. Tedford knows his QBs better than I do so if he thinks Mansion gives us the best chance to win then so be it.
Berkelium97: I trust Tedford's assessment of these guys and I recognize that Mansion needs as much time as he can get running the first-team offense. I fully agree with the decision. The more Mansion gets running with the 1s and perhaps running some plays well suited to his skills, the better the offense will be this week.
Kodiak: Yes. This is no type for splitting snaps. Pick a guy, make him the guy, and let's go with him. If it's Mansion, he needs as many reps as possible to get himself ready. We need to split the next four games to salvage a bowl season.
Is Tedford going to have regretted not getting Mansion/Sweeney more experience in our blowouts (Colorado/UCLA/USC/ASU)? I know this is all in hindsight, but do you think this will come back to bite Mansion and/or Sweeney?
atomsareenough: It's not hindsight. Not at all. Plenty of us were saying this during the games, as they happened. It's already come back to bite the Bears, as Mansion and Sweeney have almost zero game experience.
TwistNHook: Firstly, the USC blowout is different than the UC Davis, Colorado, UCLA, or ASU blowouts. We were down there, so it makes little sense to put in the backup. That is conceding defeat and not something I would ever want Coach Tedford to do.
Secondly, regarding the other games, I do not believe it would have made much, if any, real difference. This is for three main reasons:
1. It would have cut into time with Riley working with the offense. Although we put up 50+ in many of those games, it was obvious there was still some problems with the offense and it was necessary to continue to get real game reps there. So, putting in the backups sooner defeats the purpose of that.
2. When the backups finally do come in, it is close to the end of the game and you are up big. So, you stop throwing the ball out of respect to the other team. I wouldn't want us to be some USC team acting like assholes out there. You run run run run run run.
3. Even when the QBs do get the opportunities to throw the ball, it is not a large amount of reps. So, whether you increase it by 2 or 3 reps over the course of a few drives in the 4th quarter of a blowout, it's not going to make that big of a deal.
Yes, getting a few more reps would have given them more experience going into these last few games. However, it would be taking reps away from Riley and the first team offense (which is more important at that time) and, much more importantly, running up the score in an arrogant manner.
For the foregoing reasons, I do not believe it would have been a big deal.
atomsareenough: I gotta say, I don't really agree with this. First off, Riley is a senior. He's had several years of game experience, AND he got the majority of the reps in practice. If you've ever seen a marginal utility curve (or a learning curve), you'll suspect that Riley was probably far enough down the curve that the additional reps weren't going to mean a whole heck of a lot. Riley pretty much was who he was at that point. For the backups though, each marginal rep in a game situation could have been quite valuable.
Furthermore, I think there's a lot of gray area between "run, run, run" and "acting like assholes". First off, you've already put in your backup QB, so it's not like you're running up the score with your starting guy. Secondly, if the typical game mix is close to 50% run 50% pass, maybe the backup can do more like 70/30 or something, but he should get a chance to throw the ball. It doesn't have to be long bombs downfield, but I don't see what would be wrong about mixing in some screens, passes to the flats, some slants, etc..., especially if we're up by a few touchdowns late in the game and a pick isn't going to kill us. The bottom line is, you NEVER know when something like this is going to happen to your starter, and it can happen any time, so playing your backups is like an insurance policy. Besides, sometimes your backups might show you something; I believe Jerrod Johnson has now been supplanted by Ryan Tannehill over at Texas A&M, because he got a shot and performed well.
ragnarok: I think it's a little odd that quarterback is almost alone amongst positions in major sports where it seems almost unacceptable to get the backup meaningful playing time, especially given the liberal substitution rules in football (contrasted with baseball or soccer, where once you're out, you're out). Tedford is not alone in relying on his starter, especially when he's got a clear #1, but I'm sure he wishes he had an experienced backup right now (as he did when Reggie Robertson came in to finish off an upset of #3 USC in 2003).
HydroTech: I don't know how somebody could possibly say "no" to this question. But I don't think that it's particularly a big deal. Would one series or two in all those games really have provided that much more experience for Mansion or Sweeney that they'd be substantially better at this time? Doubtful.
Berkelium97: In-game experience would be nice for those two, but I'm not sure how much it would really matter. Will 10 minutes of playing team make a huge difference in their production? Probably not. Experience is definitely important for these guys, but playing garbage time minutes will not likely make them substantially better when they have to play a yet-to-be-decided game against first team defenses.
Kodiak: I may be in the minority here, but I don't think so. I suppose there's something to be said for "real" snaps. But, unless he put them in when the game was still in doubt, it's still garbage time snaps with backups against backups. The pressure and speed is completely different. Don't get me wrong - I would have preferred more of an emphasis on getting backup players time across the board, not just at the QB position. But, the real issue is what type of meaningful snaps are the backups getting during practice? Now that they're using the 2nd teamers to "service" the first teamers instead of the scout team, does that mean that the 2nd teamers aren't as prepared to run our gameplan in case a 1st teamer gets hurt? It seemed very odd to me that they would need simplify the playbook for a redshirt junior. (3 1/2 years in the program) What happened to the backup QB preparing as if he was going to be the starter?
What should be our expectations for the season going forward?
atomsareenough: Low. Quite low. I expect a slightly better-than-even chance to beat Wazzu and maybe, maybe Washington because it's at home. Oregon is going to be an absolute bloodbath. The Big Game will be ugly, and Harbaugh will do his best to embarrass us because he's, well, Jim Harbaugh. Those are my expectations, anyway. So, assuming we're able to beat Washington and Washington State, that leaves us at 6-6, so I guess we'd be bowl eligible, if someone wanted to take us. If we got to a bowl game, at this point I'd be somewhat satisfied with that, given the context of where we are right now.
TwistNHook: Well, before the injury, I thought we'd beat WSU and UW, had a good chance against Stanford and had a chance against Oregon. Now, I wouldn't be totally surprised if we lost out. It'd suck, but I wouldn't be totally surprised. We just don't know what we will get going forward.
If I had to make predictions, I think we will still beat WSU and UW. But it'll be much tighter. As for Oregon, I think that's right out. As for Stanford, I don't know. Maybe I'm optimistically naive, but I still feel like we have a chance. I saw so many shitty Cal teams in my day nearly knock off far superior Stanford teams. In the Big Game, you never know. And its pretty much the season now! And at home, I feel better about the team. And by then Harbaugh will be measuring the drapes in Mike Singletary's office.
So, in conclusion, GO BEARS!
atomsareenough: I think after last year, when the Bears were being written off by most people going into the Big Game, while Stanfurd was riding high and their biggest worry was "hubris", and we served them up a big helping of humble pie, there is absolutely no way that Harbaugh will overlook us this time around. He's an arrogant douchebag, but he's not foolish.
ragnarok: A continuing series of blowouts? Cal's defense has looked good enough vs. UC Davis, Colorado, UCLA, Arizona State and at Arizona to win us at least a couple more games and garner a minor bowl bid; can that defense make a couple more appearances, and can our offense establish enough of a rhythm to put up some points and keep the D off the field a bit? Kevin Riley wasn't the cause of all of Cal's offensive problems, and regardless of whether Mansion or Sweeney is back there going forward, those other issues need to be addressed, and soon.
HydroTech: Realistic expectations. Of our remaining four games, we should aim for a split. I think there's a good chance Cal wins one of its last four, and a fair chance we could win two of the final four. Aiming for six wins at this point in the season, knowing what we know about this team now, is a realistic and reachable goal.
Berkelium97: A win at Wazzu is a must. If we lose this weekend, the season is basically over. Besides that we have a decent chance at winning against UW (unless Locker decides to look like the #1 pick again), and not much hope against Oregon. If the defense shows up and the passing game can take advantage of Stanford's poor defense, we'll have an outside shot at an upset. Expecting two wins in the final four games seems reasonable at this point.
Kodiak: Even with a backup QB, I expect us to play well enough to beat Wazzu. I expect us to lose in a horrible fashion to Oregon. I expect us to be competitive enough against UW that the game could go either way. And, I expect us to have enough pride to show up and give the 'furds a game...even if it's beginning to look like we're sadly overmatched. Sure, there's a real chance we could go 0-4, or 1-3. However, I expect us to go 2-2, and eke our way into a minor bowl. Making it to the post-season would have to be considered a pyrrhic sort of victory...but at least it would help with recruiting and give additional practice time to the players. Let's not kid ourselves - something is very wrong systemically and big changes still need to be made. If we see "more of the same" or "stay the course" after this year, I would be incredibly disappointed.