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Trying To Figure Out This Cal Team

The Golden Blogs Roundtable group tries to figure out why Cal looked so good in their win against UCLA last Saturday

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Where was that team???? Why haven't we seen more of that team earlier this year? Did Cal play out of its head or is UCLA not quite as good as we thought?

Ohio Bear: We have seen some of that team we saw Saturday night. The team that committed 10 penalties for 100 yards is the same team we've seen all season. But we did see something we had not seen a lot of: a team that was more crisp on offense and a team that executed the offensive game plan. The Bears still made mistakes; they just made fewer of them than they have been. And more importantly, fewer than UCLA made. Cal played better than it had, but we do owe a lot of this victory to UCLA playing poorly. I still think the Bruins are a good football team, but they just didn't bring it on Saturday night. Perhaps they thought it would be easier than it was.

TwistNHook: I think a little from Column A and a little from Column B. I think that this is a very talented team, but sadly inconsistent. I am no expert on these things (which is why you shoulda tuned out as soon as you saw 'TwistNHook" at the start of this paragraph), but I figure that the coaching was able to finally get the consistent execution out of the players this week. We've seen flashes of greatness out of this team, but never quite at the level we saw on Saturday. For whatever reason, the coaching hasn't been able to get consistent execution from the team for most of this season. Will things be more consistent going forward? I hope so, but don't feel all that great about it. I guess it's my natural state of depression about all things Cal! ;)

NorCalNick: After long, drawn out thought, here's my take on how Cal could look so bad, then so good against UCLA:

1) UCLA is overrated. They played two decent teams. One was a home loss to Oregon State that wasn't as close as the score indicated. The other game was against a Nebraska team that just allowed 63 points to Ohio State.

2) Even though UCLA is overrated, they're not that bad. But they played poorly, and a few bad, bad plays really swung the game. The two first half fumbles that Cal recovered were completely unforced errors. Three of the four Hundley interceptions were either balls thrown deep and up for grabs, or some sort of play miscommunication. So yeah, we got a little lucky. But I think we had a little luck coming our way.

3) The young guys are getting better with experience/good health. When you look at the stats, young players contributing big time jump out at you. Kam Jackson (So.) with 3 picks. Nick Forbes (So.) and Jalen Jefferson (RS Fr.) with 10 tackles each. Richard Rodgers (So.) with a huge game. Avery Sebastian (So.) and Chris McCain (So.) flying all over the field. Brendan Bigelow (So.) jetting past everybody on a screen.

4) College football is weird. So, so weird.

Unclesam22: In a word, yes. It looked like the perfect storm of UCLA being over-confident and under-prepared while Cal came out with a chip on its' shoulder and a point to prove. I don't know if the team really rallied around Tedford or if some of the leaders stepped up and said enough is enough, but they really came to play, which I can't really say about any other game besides tOSU this year. Cal managed to flip the script on UCLA, forcing turnovers and costly mistakes instead of making them, which was huge.

VincentS: In my opinion, there's no concrete answer to this.


- Played its hearts out

- Played up to its level of talent on the field

- Executed more cleanly on offense than in past games

- Had playcalling more suited to its players' strengths than in past games

On the other hand, Cal got very lucky as well. The difference in this game was really UCLA turning the ball over far more than we did, and not handing it off to Franklin as much as they should have. Franklin was often gashing us on the ground for 8 yards at a time, much as ASU's running back did in our game last year (same offensive coordinator); yet, in both games, the playcalling for the opponent including a disturbing (for them) lack of running.

If Cal played UCLA 10 times, I think we see the result we did maybe 2 out of those 10 times at most, with much closer games (toss-ups) the majority of the time.

Avinash: That team has always been there. But they've been so decimated by injuries and NFL losses that they haven't been able to play to their potential. Cal's offensive line hasn't been the same without Summers-Gavin manning the blind side for Maynard (and he was still slow when he came back from injury last week), and they've missed Galas giving push inside. Cal's linebacking corps has missed guys like Wilkerson, Gibson, and Fortt. Cal's defensive line is still a mess (we probably have only two or three healthy guys) and the Bears have been gashed by the run. You can't lose that many guys and expect the team to play 100%.

They've also played one of the fiercest schedules in the country (Sagarin has us ranked 4th in strength of schedule). There's a good chance USC and Ohio State are top ten teams, Arizona State might be really, really good (talk to me in ten days after they play Oregon), and Nevada could win the MWC.

The youngsters seemed to finally put it together last week, and that bodes well for the rest of the year. There's talent on this team, but they're having to learn on the job.

Kodiak: This was the type of game-plan and performance that showed up against tOSU. Where it went the past couple of games is a mystery. On defense, I see a young group growing up. Having Sebastian start is real difference-maker in anchoring that last line of defense. On offense, I'm glad that the coaches went back to what we do well. It almost seems like we out-smarted ourselves against 'sc and ASU. We saw where the defense was vulnerable and completely altered our gameplan for it. Unfortunately, this meant going away from our strengths and asking guys do either make throws that they don't do well or sustain blocks for longer than they can.

If we can build on last week's offense with better execution and fewer penalties, there's a lot to like.