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Cal Football Roundtable: A Look Back at the Offense

Now that the strong emotions from our disappointing finish have receded from a roiling boil to more of a seething simmer, let's take a look back at the offense. Taking the season as a whole, how did we do? Was this what you expected to see with Tedford resuming hands-on control? Did he really use "less complexity, more creativity" in adapting his hybrid pro-style/spread attack? What went wrong? What went right? Relative to expectations for the offense, would you consider this past season to be a success?

Berkelium97: Schematically, I was pleased with what Tedford had done to the offense by the end of the season. It took the triumvirate of offensive coordinators several games to tailor the offense to the skills and deficiencies of our players, mainly by transitioning Zach from playmaker to game-manager.

Berkelium97: At Pac-12 Media Day Tedford described his ideal offense as one that is diverse and efficient. While our efficiency varied from game to game, our offense was clearly diverse. Opposing coaches emphasized how difficult it was to plan for this offense. Tedford threw the kitchen sink and then some at opponents this year. Our running game used traditional I-(or offset I) formations and occasionally zone read to run up the middle. Or we could bounce outside with a variety of sweeps, more zone reads, and a few reverses per game. By the time our running game was at full strength, it took an exceptional front seven to slow it down (as we saw against Texas and, to a lesser extent, in the Big Game).

The passing offense was just as diverse. At times we would split Jones and Allen on either side of the line and use playaction to get the defense to bite on the run. Other times we would line up five receivers in a spread formation. We didn't just pass to Allen and Jones (though it felt like it at times). While our RBs were less involved in the passing offense than they had been when we had Vereen, TEs were much more involved--a welcome change. Our TEs caught 36 passes this season, the most since 2004 when they also had 36 receptions.

While our offense was exceptionally diverse, it was not always efficient. The ASU game was the only time we saw both the passing offense and running offense executing well and we put up a season-high (not counting Presbyterian) 47 points. Often we were stuck with the passing game stalling while the running game picked up the slack, or vice versa. Then there was the Texas game, when neither was able to do anything on offense.

Though we lose some valuable pieces of the offense, I am pleased with the foundation Tedford has laid. We have the makings of an excellent offense; we simply need to improve our execution in both facets of the game.

Kodiak: Going into the season, the big questions marks on offense were quarterback, Oline, playcalling/scheme, and some were worried about our tailback.

As a bit of surprise, it was at tailback that I think most would agree things went better than expected. Isi Sofele and CJ Anderson developed into a nice tandem with contrasting styles. In Coach Gould we trust, yet again! The one disappointment I have here is that despite deciding not to blueshirt Brendan Bigelow, we weren't able to use his speed for a few snaps a game on offense.

Oline gives me mixed feelings. I'd like to say that they were better than last year. But the repeated penalties and the sweet-mother-of-god-awful snaps are hard to forget. My mild sense of disappointment in our line play is probably due to unreasonable expectations associated with Coach M's return. I suppose I was hoping that we had plenty of talent which had been gimped by our previous coach. In fairness, we had a natural right tackle(Schwartz) playing out of position on the left, and a guard (MSG) proving to be very out of position at the right tackle. And, many of the breakdowns in pass protection or run blocking were actually due to the tight ends. I thought the coaching staff did a good job of switching gears when it was apparent that our double TE set was exactly suited for power football and using more spread formations with Calvin hybrid TE/big WR. It was also a good strategy to use our more mobile lineman pulling and attacking on the edges more frequently instead of trying to bulldoze straight ahead.
Amazingly, we stayed pretty healthy on the line. I'd have to give credit to Coach Blasquez here.

Quarterback gets a lot of heat and it's hard for me to pile on Maynard here. In the grand scheme of things, he looked like a guy starting in the Pac-12 for the first time. He definitely had some rough-to-awful games, but he was a much better quarterback in the 2nd half of the season. Although I give Coach Tedford credit for sticking with Maynard, I do wonder if more snaps for Allen Bridgford would have been helpful. At the very least, I'd feel less worried that one wrong read out of the pistol could lead to a concussion and doom.

I don't think that Tedford ever really went away from his love of the chess match to "less complexity." The adaption of check-with-me plays was an interesting wrinkle to take pressure away from the players from having to make their own reads. Where Tedford showed something new to me was how he changed the offense after the ucla game. I think that low-point was a bit of a wake-up call. Previously, it almost seemed like he had a pre-conceived notion of how a hybrid offense should look, and he would call plays based on the best way to attack the opposing defense. After that game, he focused more on his own players' strengths. Even if it became a "we-only-roll-left" offense, he was creative in mixing in different formations and looks so that teams (with one notable exception) still couldn't shut it down.

TwistNHook: I like CJ Anderson.

Yes, that is the hard hitting analysis, you've come to expect from CGB!