TwistNHook: What I was really encouraged by was the preparation and execution. Although there were some dropped passes in there, overall the team looked significantly more prepared than in prior weeks. Penalties were cut down (and were mostly on that one CJ Anderson TD drive as frustrating as that drive was). The reality is that I had anticipated getting blown out in Columbus on national TV. In the past, Cal has shown up to big games like this and laid an egg. Whether it is against Oregon or USC or whatever. Independent of any of the smaller positives to come out of this game, the bigger picture of being prepared and executing really well (and almost knocking off the Buckeyes on the road!) was very encouraging to me.
unclesam22:I agree with Twist that it was a huge positive that Cal came out prepared and disciplined. Even in light of tOSU committing dumb penalties and the refs calling phantom penalties and not calling blatant offenses, we still kept it together and managed to remain competive until the very end. On national TV no less, which we all admit has been our kryptonite in recent years. One of the other positives that I saw was the variety in play calling that I felt wasn't there in the first few games. There were a few throws to the FB out of the backfield, Maynard and Allen had the double pass, and it generally seemed like we kept tOSU's defense on their heels, especially in the third quarter. Plus, Maynard looked like he could play shortstop for the A's as he was field all those groundball snaps and never once did it seem to break his rhythm or concentration. I really felt like Maynard was locked in and totally focused.
VincentS: I woke up fulling expecting another blowout on national TV. I was pleasantly surprised. The team I saw on TV on Saturday looked solid. Some of the most noteworthy positives:
- Drastic reduction of penalties, which directly led to...
- Improved ability to sustain long drives.
- Maynard sharing the wealth. I believe 8 different players caught passes yesterday. That's the sort of balance that keeps defenses from keying in on only one or two receivers. Suddenly, defenses can't just triple Keenan; Harper, Powe, Treggs, Sofele, Anderson, and whichever TE's happen to be healthy every week are all good options as well.
- The establishment of a solid running game. Despite our awful pass protection, our stable of running backs proved up to the task. Tedford's teams always are at their most potent when they have a solid running game going. I noted an improvement in the running game against Southern Utah, but that was against an FCS front. Ohio State has a front seven much more representative of the talent we'll be up against in conference play. In my opinion, the running backs and offensive line have demonstrated that they are up to the task.
- Improved coverage of a running quarterback. Despite one awful blown containment, we might've just ended Braxton Miller's Heisman hopes.
- Composure. Walking into one of the legendary grounds of college football and 105,000 hostile fans, holding our own (we arguably outplayed Ohio State)? That takes guts. I don't know who was responsible for "getting our team ready", but they did a great job.
- Lastly, BIGELOW. Enough said.
(There are many more positives, these are just a few that stuck out the most)
Ohio Bear: The biggest positive I drew from the game is that it restored some semblance of hope for the rest of the season. Cal went into Ohio Stadium and went toe-to-toe with the 12th-ranked team in the country. Who among us thought that would be possible the way that Cal played the first two games of the season? I sure as hell didn't. I was as discouraged about the state of Cal football as anyone after the Nevada and Southern Utah games.
Sure, maybe Ohio State was a little overranked at # 12. And maybe they helped us out with their poor tackling and with their inability to take advantage of some things I thought they could take advantage of offensively. But Cal took advantage of those things and had a chance to win. As a matter of fact, we'll look back at this game all season and think of it as a game we should have won.
We looked like a competent, credible football team! That's more than we were able to say after the first two weeks, and it's a huge relief. We didn't kill ourselves in the penalty department (non-phantom edition, anyway), We didn't make a lot of stupid mental errors. We played hard and were mostly disciplined, and we were able to let our talent shine through a little bit against a high quality opponent.
So, my main takeaway is, at least we know this team is capable of playing well. It's capable of improving from week to week. If the truth is that we're not a good team, then it's foolish and unrealistic to expect victories. Well, this game proves we don't suck. This is a team that should definitely be competitive in every game it plays, and we should expect to achieve a bowl game at the end of the season, even with this rough start. So, if we fall flat on our faces as the season progresses, it's not because we're incapable, it's because something has gone badly wrong.
Berkelium97:Toughness. I fully expected the team to fold once down 20-7 only 18 minutes into the game. I was expecting a 45-10 loss and a long, long week until USC.
Instead I was pleasantly surprised. Guys continued to execute, played hard, and put us in a position to win the game.
I am very impressed with how Maynard handles these tough situations. We were down 13 in front of 105k fans against a college football blueblood. Yet Maynard continued to deliver (for the most part) good-looking passes to help move us down the field. It's been a while since we've had a QB who doesn't fold in these kinds of situations. Kevin Riley struggled in these environments and Nate Longshore had a bad habit of throwing pick-sixes. Despite taking sack after sack, Maynard never seemed to lose his composure.
NorCalNick: The biggest positives was that we were able to move the ball against a team with an excellent defensive line, despite our offensive line injuries. I quite simply was expecting a replay of the Texas game, when our offensive line was so overwhelmed that nothing was going to work.
I'm still not confident about the offensive line, but I think we have so much talent at the skill positions and enough play-calling creativity that this team can put up yards and points against legit defenses even without above average line play.