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More Cal vs. USC Reflections: Here Come the Negatives

Seven sacks of Zach Maynard were among the many negatives from Saturday's loss to USC

Harry How - Getty Images

Yesterday, your CGB leadership asked what positives could be drawn from Cal's 27-9 loss at USC last Saturday. And what do you know: we came up with some. Kind of. Today's reflections focus on a question much more easy to answer: what are the negatives we drew from the Cal vs. USC game?

Oh, boy. Here we go.

atomsaareenough: A strong sense of resignation.

Berkelium97: Playcalling, red zone offense, playcalling in the red zone, pass protection, Maynard's ability to read the field, Alex Logan, tight end fragility, check-with-mes with 15 seconds left on the playclock.

TwistNHook: There were many negatives from this game. Too many to count, almost. If I had to pick one, I think the disparity in rushing offense seemed very severe to me. 77 to 296. Some of that stems from Cal being down and having to throw throw throw. But I suspect that USC was playing D to contain the running game and force Maynard to beat them.

Ohio Bear: Where to start? Red zone failure. Poor decision making at the QB position. Missing open receivers. Giving up nearly 300 yards rushing. Giving up 7 sacks. Not being able to beat a USC team that was not playing that great and was ripe for the picking. Feeling like I wasted 3+ hours of my life watching that.

norcalnick: This is what I wrote when I previewed USC's defense vs. Cal's offense:

There are zero excuses for not scoring points. If Robert Woods goes nuts and Cal loses a shoot-out, fine. But if this team gets held to 17 points or less again . . . I don't know what I'll do. I'm worried it will be something rash. We know this team has talent. We know they're capable of executing. We know that USC's defense has been mediocre for more than a year now. I'm not asking for 45 points - I just want to see enough points that a win is a reasonable prospect.

They couldn't do it. They couldn't score more than 17 friggin' points AGAIN. It's flabbergasting. It's so easy to score more than 17 points on a fluke. One good special teams return. One key turnover that gives the offense great field position. One big play when a fast guy gets behind the defense.

It takes a special combination of futility, failure and plain bad luck to fail so completely on one side of the ball every year against USC like this.

Oh, and the defense allowed 488 yards despite USC dropping a number of potentially huge pass plays, so don't look for solace there.


It takes a special combination of futility, failure and plain bad luck to fail so completely on one side of the ball every year against USC like this.

Wile E. Coyote, Nick. Wile E. Coyote.

Ohio Bear: Speaking of things we wrote before, I said this on the Q&A with Conquest Chronicles in response to the question of whether the Ohio State game changed my view of how good Cal is:

To paraphrase Dennis Green, we are what I thought we were. After the first two games, I thought this team was much worse than I thought. The performances against Nevada and Southern Utah were uninspiring and mistake-filled. Against Ohio State, Cal played much better and was competitive against a highly talented team, but just fell short. I thought that's what Cal could be before the season started, so I suppose that means I'm back to where I started on my view of how good we are.

Another negative I take from this game is that I feel like an idjut. Saturday's game against USC made me feel like the Ohio State game was a mirage against a team that isn't quite as good as its ranking. Plain and simple, Cal just isn't a good football team. Yeah, I know, I know. We were "competitive" in the game against USC, too. But I felt like Cal was in the game because USC kept Cal in it with its own inability to finish (until the 4th quarter). Cal did little to nothing to show me that we could actually take the game by the throat and win it. A good team would have done that.

LeonPowe: Negatives - There's a million things, but I think there's one thing and that's our o-line play. If Maynard isn't always running for his life, he improves. If Isi, or CJA or Bigs gets a slightly longer hole or lane, we can run more and rely less on ZM to try to win. If we can grind out long drives, we can keep the defense off the field longer. People have said there's no magic fix, but I think there is - and its the offensive line. If we fix that - everything else will work out.

JahvidKnowsBest (aka "The Intern"): Maynard took a step back from Ohio State. He missed so many open receivers. Keenan Allen should have had 2 touchdowns, Bryce Treggs should have had one as well. Keenan Allen repeatedly beat Robey one on one but was overthrown almost every time. Also, line play was dismal, Maynard was on his back way too much.

solarise: The shockingly poor OL play. I thought we were dominated the entire afternoon. Morgan Engslin looked like the reincarnation of Clay Matthews out there.

Vincent S: I don't know what happened on that play where Zach Maynard slowly jogged out of bounds for a loss of 2 yards. At first, I thought the play had been blown dead. The body language spoke volumes of how he felt on that play. I hope Maynard realizes that while he may feel a certain way inside, his duty as a senior leader is to inspire the team, no matter the circumstances.

(So there you have it. Negatives. Lots of them. We could have gone on and on and on, but we wanted to save something for our readers. So all you negative nancys out there, what else you got? Let us know in the comments.)