(1) Well, that sucked. Excuse me if these thoughts are a little short but I'm not exactly thrilled to be revisiting this game in memory or in words. Boy, that game was tough to watch. Certainly not the most hurtful Cal Football game I've ever seen but still tough to watch. It's been a while since the Cal offense has seemed so inept. For a while it almost felt like watching us go up against an NFL defense because we weren't getting any yards. Half way through the game when it became apparent that we were probably going to lose the game, my biggest wish was only that we just score one freakin' touchdown. Just one. Somehow. Whether it be on offense or defense or special teams, I didn't care. I just wanted to see SOME sort of TD on the board to make it look like we weren't completely getting manhandled in that game... but nope. We were getting manhandled.
(2) Offense was Terrible. I don't think I need to regurgitate the statistics because you all have probably heard them many times already. We couldn't get anything going on the ground. No holes for the RBs to hit. No great push. Lack of production on rushing plays left the offense in passing situations. Passing was pretty bad too. Maynard wasn't having his best game. Turnovers. Geez. We looked really out of sync out there. It was like we hadn't practiced in a week or something.
Since we were having such a hard time running the ball, I guess I would have liked to see more passing. After all, I think (statistically) Stanfurd was one of the best run defenses we had seen all year. I mean, I understand the desire to establish the run. Tedford has always liked to do that. It makes sense. A run game sets up playaction and down-field passing. Hell, I even think a lot of Cal fans would prefer that this team be a run-first team so that Maynard doesn't have to pass the ball too much. But unfortunately, Big Game was just one of those games where Cal couldn't run, Cal probably should have tried to pass a little more, and just forgotten about trying to establish the run.
(3) Turnovers. Bigelow's fumble. Allen's fumble. And then Maynard's interception. The one which really hurt us the most was Allen's fumble. That gave Furd the ball at our 20 yardline. That's at least a guaranteed field goal or a touchdown... and they went on to get a touchdown.
Erase that Allen's fumble, and say that Furd never scores, the game is only 14-3. Things aren't quite so bad -- at least score-wise.
(4) Defense Is Good But Not Good. If you look at the stat line it's hard to praise the defense. Cal allowed 475 yards of offense. Ouch! But then if you told me that the team that had 475 yards of offense only had 21 points, I would have found that weird. I would have expected them to have more points.
Keep in mind, 7 of Furd's points came off an easy 20 yard touchdown off of Allen's fumble. So basically, if it weren't for offensive follies, the Cal defense only allowed 14 points. Not bad!
But then the Cal defense was also allowing 5.5 yards per rush. Bad!
But yet the Cal defense kept Furd's pass completions to just 51.6%. Good!
But yet the Cal defense allowed that pesky tight end to get behind them on playaction! Bad!
But then the Cal defense also forced two turnovers (fumble and interception). Good!
But then the Cal defense hardly got any pass pressure on the QB! Bad!
But then the Cal defense didn't allow any more scoring in the second half. Good!
It's a little weird how good yet bad the defense was. Cal defensive Coordinator Clancy Pendergast was trying to get pressure on Nunes (Furd QB). He blitzed the living daylights out of the Furd offense. I saw a corner blitz. Safety blitz. Linebackers blitzing but NOTHING was getting through. You do have to give Furd some credit for picking up the blitzes so well.
But then there was that ONE brain fart by someone (I haven't reviewed the tape so I don't know who), but somebody got caught peeking into the backfield on that patented Furd playaction out of a run formation and the TE got behind the secondary for a huge gain. That one brain fart basically set Furd up for an easy touchdown. If that brain fart doesn't happen, maybe Furd doesn't score, and the game is only 7-3 (if the Allen fumble doesn't happen too).
Bottom line, this game could have been so so so close. It could have been a 7-3 game if just two huge errors didn't happen (Allen fumble and the TE-OMG play). I guess that's why I found it so frustrating. Yeah, sure, our offense was sucking. But despite the offense sucking, we could have been right there with Stanfurd, or beating them (if perhaps Bigelow hadn't gotten tripped up on that one kick return where he was one defender away from taking it to the hizouse).
(4) The Game Started Off Well Enough. Cal's defense forced a turnover. The Cal crowd was getting into it. And that's when Cal really needed a score.
But instead, Cal goes three-and-out with a sack/fumble on the 3rd down. Follies galore. At that point, I think we all had that collective "oh my god, here we go again..." feeling. We had this golden opportunity to score points early after forcing a turnover. But instead, the offense loses five yards on a Treggs end-around (I'm not really criticizing that playcall but obviously the results sucked), and then gets sack/fumbled on third down. Could things go any worse?!?! Well, yes they can, but that sequence of events for a first drive of the game was pretty sad.
(5) No Home Field Advantage. What really killed this supposed home field advantage was the lack of scoring by the Cal offense. The crowd needed SOMETHING to get them energized and instill some hope that the game could be won. The offense needed a touchdown. But without a touchdown, the crowd grew frustrated. There were some boos. The noise level on defense slowly died down throughout the game. And then eventually Cal wasn't playing a home game with home field advantage, but it was as if Big Game was at some neutral play site with few Cal fans in attendance.
(6) Another Golden Opportunity Lost. Prior to this game I felt like this game was totally winnable. And it was. Like I said before, we gave Furd 7 points off of a fumble, and one blown coverage leads to an easy score. Otherwise this is a game where our defense holds Furd to 7 points and we just need 10 points to win the game. But we can only get 3. Another game slips right out of our grasp.
First it was the Nevada game. Then it was the Ohio State game. The Arizona State game was winnable if we just hadn't shat the bed so bad on offense. And then this game was totally winnable too. Sigh. This team could have been a 7-1 team. I know... that's all what ifs and when the team loses you all hate when I play the what if game. I'm not trying to sugar coat things or anything but to me, when I look back at everything that has happened this season, I just see missed opportunities and player mistakes which have thrown games which would have been otherwise been winnable. (The only real unwinnable game being the USC game.)
(7) Still Going to Try and Stay Positive. I'm not a big negative doom and gloom guy. Yeah, the team isn't good this year, but I'm still going to keep hoping that a win against Utah will happen. It's certainly do-able. Maybe the team who showed up against Ohio State, and to an extent the UCLA game, will show up next week and we can eek out a W in Provo.
Anyway. I have no other great words of wisdom for this game. Just try to not let it piss you off too much. As much as we all love Cal and its sports teams, there are probably more important things in life to worry about like your family, job, mortgage, golf game, etc. Go think about that, and try to not think so much about this last Big Game.