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2011 Cal vs. Presbyterian Post-Game Thoughts

(1)  An unfortunately ugly smashing of a cupcake to make Tedford the winningest head coach in Cal Football history.  I'm glad we won.  That's the most important thing to take away from this game.  Cal is now 3-0 and is sitting pretty to make make bowl eligibility seemingly quite easily.  But will it be easy?  I'm not so sure it will be based on how things are looking right now.  This win was ugly.  And man, it would have been even uglier if Presbyterian was even 1/4th as talented as San Jose State.  This Cal team did not look good.  There's really no other way to say it.  Don't let the score fool you, Cal had plenty going wrong today. 

(2)  The Receiver Drops Must Stop.  I think that there actually *might* have only been three or four drops today.  That's not a lot of drops in the grand scheme of things.  But what is concerning is that those drops were EASY drops.  Those receivers were unguarded.  Those were uncontested catches.  The Bears just dropped 'em.  It was lack of concentration.  It was guys turning their head to look up the field before they caught the ball.  These are the basic fundamentals of football which our guys are messing up.  Ironically, our guys also made some of the tougher passes thrown their way.  Why is it that it seems our guys drop the easy ones and catch the tough ones?  That won't last forever, and it won't fly throughout the season.  In closer games, we're going to need our players to catch those easy passes.  Cal only got away with it this game since we were playing Presbyterian and they were just about as good as your local high school team. 

(3)  Cal's Penalty Spree Must Stop.  Cal had 10 penalties against themselves for 94 yards.  Not good!  Not much more to say about that but if Cal keeps shooting itself in the foot like this it will lose a game here or there.

(4)  Cal Special Teams Must Improve.  It's being quite ridiculous how ... bad ... it's becoming.  We have PAT protection problems (not against Presbyterian, but in the first two games).  We have kickoff coverage problems.  We have kickoff kicking depth problems.  We have punt protection problems.  The rugby styled punting doesn't seem to be what Anger is comfortable doing.  The list of our ST problems is extensive.  I sort of hate saying this but... I think this year's special teams might be one of the worst we've seen yet on a Tedford era Cal team -- and that even includes a few bad years under former Cal Special Teams Coach, Coach Alamar. 

What's up with Tavecchio's kickoffs?  Against Fresno State he seemed to be doing fine, except for the fact that the wind was putting his kickoffs short.  Against Colorado I think he had a few kickoffs land drastically short despite the thin air (although a few did go into the endzone too).  And now against Presbyterian we saw some complete knuckleballs and extremely short kickoffs.  I'm pretty sure Presbyterian didn't have a kick returner whom the Cal coaches thought was so dangerous that they couldn't kick to him; hence those short kickoffs and knuckleball kickoffs weren't on purpose.  So if they weren't on purpose... then they were on accident?  God, I hope not.  Maybe it was the fact that Tavecchio was kicking off from the dirt?  I wouldn't think so... but I'm just throwing things out there.  I'm hoping there is some reason to explain why the kickoffs took a nose dive this game aside from the fact that perhaps we're entering a kickoff slump. 

Update: Georgio's whack kickoffs were due to him being unable to properly plant from the dirt on the field.

And what's up with one lone Presbyterian defender penetrating our punt shield to block Anger's punt?  It was only one Presbyterian defender.  The punt shield seemed to be shuffling to their left, and the lone defender snuck around the outside of Cal TE #80 Miller to get a hand on the ball.  It looked like Miller wasn't quite expecting the Presbyterian defender to put so much effort into actually trying to get by him and block the punt. All that Presbyterian defender needed was a little shove outward and he probably would have missed Anger.  And then... to top it off... Anger seemed inexcusably slow to begin his pursuit of the Presbyterian defender whom had recovered the punt.  I'm not sure what happened there. 

Here's what the Presbyterian defender had to say about the play:

"It was supposed to be a middle return and I had one of the end wings. So I ran down and got a good start off of the ball. The (protection) wall went to the right and the punter didn't go inside the wall, so I just told myself, `I'm going to keep going.' I ran straight at it and looked for it, saw it still rolling around, so I picked it up and ran it in."

If that's true, then that's all on Anger.

On the positive side, Cal RB #5 B. Bigelow returned a kickoff for a touchdown.   Also, Cal tipped a Presby punt too.

(5)  Interesting Note: Cal is using a modified PAT Protection Formation.  You can see it below.


What's new about this punt protection scheme?  Cal is putting both of its TE wing blockers to Tavecchio's kicking leg side (his left side). 

I'm not exactly sure if this is something permanent or if Cal ST Coach Genyk is only doing this to protect against certain block attempts from Presbyterian.  I guess we'll have our answer next week when we see Cal play Washington. 

Why would Genyk want to put both TE wing blockers to Tavecchio's kicking leg side?  Because when defenses try to block PATs, aside from the middle rush, it's easier to block PATs from the kicking leg side rather than the non-kicking leg side.  When trying to block PATs from the non-kicking leg side, you run the risk of hitting the kicker and drawing a roughing the kicker penalty.

You'll also note that the offensive line is straighter on the non-kicking side (Cal's right side) and the offensive line curves back more to the kicking side (Cal's left side).  Why is this so?  This requires defenders to go through Cal's wing blockers to get the ideal angle for a block.  If defenders choose to go around the wing defenders on the kicking side (Cal's left side) they are going to end up too far up the field to block the kick.  On the other side of the formation, even though there are no wing blockers, because the Cal offensive line has lengthened its sideline-to-sideline formation by not curving it backwards, it also requires Presbyterian defenders to either go through Cal blockers if they want to take the ideal angle to block the kick, or go around the blockers which is a longer distance to cover in a short amount of time.  Either way, defenders don't exactly have a great way to block the kick.  Nevertheless, it is still concerning to see that outside defender from the non-kicking side of Tavecchio (his right side) fly in unblocked. 

(6)  Maynard made a couple of nice throws.  So, aside from the pick-6, and aside from the fact that this was against Presbyterian, I think Maynard had some really nice throws.  He seems to have a real knack for hitting stuff down the field in the seams (between zone defenders).  The TD pass to Cal WR #1 M. Jones comes to mind.  Maynard also seems to do a really good job lofting up floaters to WRs on post or seam routes down the middle  and letting those guys go up to get them.  I think I said this after the Fresno State game, but I think Maynard's best balls are actually his medium  range balls (and sometimes his deep balls too).  He just has an uncanny knack for throwing them just right. 

Unfortunately, that pick-6 was... not so great.  Without the benefit of a game video to see what exactly happened, I think the Presbyterian defender just got a great jump on the ball.  If my sight and memory serves me correct, Cal seemed to be running a "levels" pattern out of trips to the outside. 

Here's what Tedford had to say about Maynard's interception:

He got fooled on the interception, thought it was zone and it was man.

And here's what Presbyterian's defender had to say about the interception:

"We were in a cover-three look and I was coming down. I saw the quarterback looking down. I was basically staring him down so I just broke on the ball, caught it and ran it in."

So putting this all together, the defender was an underneath zone of the Cover 3, was already coming towards the LOS and towards the  intended Cal WR (Cal WR #11 M. Calvin), and thus was in perfect position to just jump up and pick off the ball.

Also, Maynard missed a few throws early on too.  I think in the first quarter there was a play where he should have hit Sofele in the flat.  Presby was playing zone defense leaving Sofele uncovered.   But instead, Maynard threw the ball to a down field WR who was covered.  In another instance in the first quarter, Maynard didn't see a wide open WR streaking down the field on a post which could have been a touchdown.

(7)  Pretty good defense.  So while the offense and special teams were having issues today, thank God the defense came through.  Presbyterian only had 48 total yards of offense -- as they should have.  It would have been a little nicer to see more pressure on the Presby QBs, but we did get some pressure and a few sacks.  Cal was doing a nice job mixing up its coverages with zone and man. 

I also would like to say that Cal is actually doing a pretty good job disguising its coverages too.  When I've re-watched the past two games, and a few times Cal lines up on defense showing obvious man coverage, only to unveil a zone defense after the snap.  This is good stuff.  It can be confusing for QBs.

(8)  Backup QB Bridgford.  It was nice to see him getting some playing time and throwing a few passes.  I know it's a small sample size for any of us to draw a conclusion from, but if I had to ... I would say that Tedford has the QB depth chart correct.  Maynard throws better balls.  Bridgford isn't bad, but he wasn't throwing with the same accuracy and and touch that Maynard was.  As for Bridgford's running ability, I think there were two plays where Bridgford had to run.  One was a scramble and the other was a designed QB draw.  After seeing those two plays, I thought it was quite obvious how Bridgford doesn't quite have the same foot speed as Maynard and thus the Cal offense was a little more limited than it normally is under Maynard's command.

(9)  This is a 6-6 team.  Okay, after pumping a little sunshine last week, I'm back to doom and gloom.  If Cal had played this poorly against Colorado last week, we lose.  If Cal continues to play this poorly throughout the rest of the season, we could be in a tough fight to even hit 6 wins.  The penalties have to stop.  Special teams has to improve.  The dropped passes have to stop.  QB play still has to improve.

Cal should have won this game 105-0.  Yeah, you read that right.  105-0.  Cal should have scored a touchdown on every freakin' possession.  Cal had 15 possessions (I'm not counting Cal's last possession in the 4th quarter since there was probably not enough time left on the clock to score anyways).

Cal should have scored even with the second and third team in.  Presbyterian should not have scored a single touchdown.

I know what you're thinking:  Hydrotech is crazy.  105-0???  That's a ridiculous score to expect.  It's even more ridiculous to say such a thing when Cal won 63-12.  Can anything satisfy HydroTech? 

Nah.  It's not ridiculous.  Presbyterian was outmatched by Cal to epic proportions.  I don't expect perfection.  But when Cal is so obviously more talented and skilled than Presbyterian, I think it's ridiculous that Cal didn't win by more.  What's ridiculous are these inexcusable uncontested receiver drops.  What's ridiculous is one defender penetrating our punt protection shield to not only block a punt, but also return it for a touchdown.  What's ridiculous is that Cal actually HAD to punt.  What's ridiculous are these poor kickoffs and mediocre kickoff return coverages.  And may I remind you, this was against Presbyterian!!!  This type of performance will not win games for Cal once Pac-12 play comes around... oh yeah, that's in a week!

The way I see it now, after seeing this game... Cal finishes 6-6.  And I'm looking at those WSU and OSU games as "toss-up" games now too.

@Wash - L
@Ore - L
U$C - L
Utah - L
@Furd - L
@ASU - L

I was feeling confident about Cal's prospects for this season after last week's overtime win against Colorado, but now, I'm feeling big time bearish on the Bears.  I'm very concerned about how the rest of this season might play out.

(10)  Respect to Presbyterian for showing up and never quitting.  I have to admit, I actually felt sorry for them.  They knew Cal was faster, stronger, and bigger.  Yet Presbyterian players kept playing.  I have to hand it to them, it's hard to do.  It's always hard for a lot of these cupcakes to mentally and emotionally fight to the end when they're getting beat down so bad.

What makes me happy is that Presbyterian had a chance to do some sightseeing on this trip so it wasn't just a beat-down business trip.

Presbyterian Coach Harold Nichols had this to say:

"I have to give some credit to the California Highway Patrol because they did a really good job yesterday of taking us around and showing us San Francisco. We had a little bit of time yesterday (Friday) after we worked out. We saw some of the local sights here which was a really good experience for our kids. So there was some educational value to it to, other than just football. So hats off to those guys at the California Highway Patrol. They did a great job."

And Presbyterian Cornerback Justin Bethel had this to say about the trip too:

"This is my first trip, it's (also) my first time flying. California is a beautiful place. I saw the Golden Gate Bridge and now have it as a background on my phone now."

It's nice to hear that college football is giving people the opportunity to travel and see the world.