Unclesam22: The biggest negative was just the inability to finish the game off. It was so close and we were playing so well and yet we had one bad lapse on defense and then couldn't convert on offense and that was the game. However, at least we were in the game til the end, which I think was more than any of us expected and the players all played hard and performed well in a difficult environment, so hopefully that carries over into next week.
VincentS: The question asks for one negative, but I'm going to provide two because I feel so strongly about both.
1. Blown pass coverage. The earlier Ohio State scores were well defended; I don't think there's anything Steve Williams could have done on some of those throws. That last touchdown... I don't think I've ever seen a receiver so wide open (assuming the corner didn't just fall down).
2. Player-fan interactions. See: C.J. Anderson's tweet. I think that there's a few things the team (and Tedford) could improve on, but BI has gotten just a tad ridiculous. When a team member calls the entire board out, and some posters respond by deciding that C.J. Anderson is now their most hated player on the team, I begin to become ashamed of our fanbase. I sincerely hope that the team does not consider B.I. a representative sample of Cal fans. A schism between the team and the fans is not going to help.
OhioBear: Biggest negative: For me, it's the obvious. Placekicking. I'm hoping this is just an instance of Vincenzo D'Amato having a bad day. He's certainly not the first guy in the history of football to miss three field goals in one game. One of the most dependable kickers in Cal history, Doug Brien, once (in)famously missed four field goals in a Big Game. So even good kickers have bad days. But what worries me is that D'Amato might be exactly what we saw out there -- less than dependable.
atomsareenough:I'm with Ohio Bear, clearly the placekicking, which cost us 9 points. Also, I'll note that we did an awful rugby punt which put the Buckeyes near midfield, and I believe it led to a touchdown (though I'm not sure about that).
The defense had a few big lapses as well, notably the classic Cal vulnerability which we never ever seem to fix for some reason which I can't begin to fathom, which is Not Covering The Tight End. There was one long 40yd completion to Stoneburner down the middle in the 1st quarter which set up a Buckeye TD, another short pass to Stoneburner sneaking out completely uncovered along the goalline for another touchdown, and ANOTHER short pass to Stoneburner, who was yet again wide open down the middle, for another key touchdown in the 4th quarter. Arrrrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhh.
The other big lapse was the Devin Smith touchdown which won the game for the Buckeyes. We just let him get behind the secondary, which shouldn't have happened. Most of the first half plays by Miller were just Miller playing very well, and not the Cal defense playing poorly. It would have been nice if Logan had forced Miller inside instead of biting inside and letting Miller bounce to the outside on the long touchdown run, but it might not have made a difference. Overall, I thought the defense wasn't too bad. They forced a lot of 3-and-outs, and we held onto the ball pretty nicely. We outplayed the Buckeyes and should have won.
OhioBear: About covering Stoneburner:
I continually had this thought as I watched the game live, and am wondering how everyone else felt about it. When Stoneburner lined up in the slot position, Cal put Josh Hill on him 1-on-1. It was quite odd looking at that in person: Stoneburner is wayyyyyy bigger than Hill. The physical contrast was stark. It looked and felt like a mismatch to me and I felt as though OSU didn't take enough advantage of that over the course of the game.
Am I wrong on this school of thought?
LeonPowe: He did catch a touch against us
atomsareenough: Two of them, as I noted.
Also, one more big negative which nobody has mentioned, but which bears mentioning: our O-line is still not there yet. I hate to single guys out, but... man, Tyler Rigsbee had a rough day at the office. There were a few plays where he just looked like he was in slow motion compared to the rusher. For a 5th year senior, it didn't really look like he's fully put it together yet. Schwenke's shotgun snaps were low all day as well. They weren't completely awful and unfieldable, but it was an unnecessary addition to Maynard's already tough assignment. Definitely an area which needs to be cleaned up. Tyndall seemed to step up a bit at RT, and I didn't really notice the guards, which is probably a good sign.
OhioBear:Don't know why or how I forgot to mention the shotgun snaps. Those were an issue all day long. It seemed that more of them were low than were good. I am surprised we didn't have more timing snafus on our plays because of it. Maynard did a good job to field the low snaps and avoid having the plays blow up because of them.
Berkelium97: Safety play. I was tempted to put field goal kicking, but we can gameplan around that to an extent (e.g. we can go for more 4th downs up to the 20-30 yard-lines). It's tough to adjust for poor safety play. Michael Lowe, who appeared to be shadowing Miller, let Stoneburner slip right past him for an uncontested TD pass midway through the fourth quarter. Alex Logan made a huge error on Miller's long TD run: he should have forced him inside but he blew the outside containment and allowed him to sprint up the sideline. (sidenote: the TD wasn't entirely Logan's fault. Miller froze up Jefferson and turned a two-yard loss into that TD run). Finally, Logan made another critical error in biting on Miller's run in the game-deciding touchdown. He let Devin Smith slip by and Miller took advantage to the tune of a 72-yard TD pass. I'm sure our safeties will be solid down the road, but these were some tough growing pains.
Going against a USC team whose playaction, pump-fakes, and rollouts have killed us in the past, I hope the safeties can be a bit more disciplined in their play this week and beyond. The issues at safety were a larger problem than field goals in Saturday's game.