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A Golden Spotlight on Cal vs. Stanford

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Weather concerns aside, long-suffering Cal fans showed up in force and the student section absolutely brought their A-game.

Sad to say, it just wasn't meant to be.  It's hard enough to beat both the Lobsterbacks and their Zebra allies, but the task becomes impossible when you spend the day continually shooting yourself in the foot, knee, and jaw.

Fortunately, we're a well-adjusted fanbase who has spent the subsequent days in civil discourse via social media.  Perhaps instead of spending all the energy arguing about a coaching change that simply will not happen this year, we might send a love letter or three hundred to:  lscott@pac-12.org?

Sordid as was to re-live this one, let's get to the pictures.  For those who want another perspective on the game, feel free to browse my father's photo gallery here.

For this week's New Look, Tony Franklin's mad genius has dreamed up a modified Bone Formation.  With Borrayo and Rigsbee as the up-backs, we shall dub this...The Mega-Bone.  Despite the heavy formation, Stanford only moves one safety near the box and keeps the other in deep centerfield.

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At the snap, Cal's Oline surges straight ahead while Rigs and Borrayo head to the second level.  Lasco goes in motion to the top forcing the Cardinal safety to move towards him.  To throw off the Cardinal linebackers, Rubenzer cleverly puts the snap on the ground.

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Borrayo and Rigs both cut their guys.  Rubenzer has a crease off-tackle and does a great job picking through the scrum to find an opening.

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And for style points, he hits the X button just at the right time and spins away from a would-be tackler for a few extra yards.  It's a big gain for a crucial first down.

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And now let's give some love to that man again.  Seems like every game, Mr. Anderson shows up and makes a huge play.  Cal has 4 WR, but has Anderson (#89) lined up on the line as a tight end.  Stanford has their base 4-3, both safeties deep.

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At the snap, there's tight coverage on all of Cal's receivers.  All of Stanford's linebackers drop into coverage because they know they can get pressure with just their Dline.

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Goff has to step up in the pocket, but he sees Anderson give a subtle inside move then turn back outside to defeat double coverage.  Goff dials up a Hunter Strickland fastball...

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...and what do you know, it's a home run.  Anderson is met by three Furd defenders, but refuses to go down.  He bulls his way forward into the endzone.  It's a minor miracle that he completes the process of the catch while breaking the plane of the goal so that by rule there would be no replay of this obvious score.

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Moving over to the other side of the ball, it's a critical third down and Stanford comes out with 4 WR, 1TB, and goes 3x1 with trips right.  Cal has an atypical Dline alignment, with three in a stacked bunch towards the bottom and a single DE spaced wide as a 7-technique.  Although the Cardinal keep their back in to block, their trips receivers run a smash concept designed to beat zone coverage;  the middle receiver runs a deep corner while the outside receiver runs a short hitch underneath.

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At the snap, both linebackers rush up the middle.  Certain Cal fans rejoice as they notice that we're blitzing!  However, rushing six is ineffective in putting any pressure on Hogan.  It might be because our top defensive end is being dragged to the ground while our bottom defensive end is wrapped in a bear hug.  This, of course, is perfectly legal blocking.  With both linebackers rushing, there's no one left to cover the flat.  Surely Hogan sees this...

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...but the Cardinal receiver left wide open at the sticks is as confused as we are.  Hogan must not approve of the easy class list - he decides to bypass the open receiver in favor of forcing it into double coverage.

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...where Johnny-on-the-spot converted WR Bryce McGovern makes a great diving play to knock the ball away.  With a different outcome, McGovern would go down in legend as a Cal Big Game hero for being the next Bear up.

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With the game still somewhat in doubt, Stanford comes out with 12 personnel.  The backs are in an I-formation while the tight end is lined up as a slot receiver.  Cal looks to be in a base 4-3 with both safeties aligned in a Cover 2 look.

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At the snap, Hogan makes one of the worst ball fakes you'll ever see.  He must have dropped his theater class after the final.  Cal's linebackers aren't fooled by the play-action, they take a couple of steps forward, then immediately drop into coverage.

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Once again, Hogan has all the time in the world.  This time, it's his guard who has our tackle in a totally legal bear hug.  With options all over the field, Hogan rears back his mighty arm and unleashes...

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...a Hogan.  It's a pass so far off-target that our corner has to make a diving catch almost a full five yards away from the "intended" receiver.  Darius White (#6) had Rector locked down already, but makes a great athletic play on the ball to turn from defender into receiver.

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There are no rosy words to gloss over what just happened.  It's beyond disappointing and simply cannot happen again in our rivalry game if the Dykes era is going to continue.  But taking a step back and looking at this season as a whole, we can't afford the wallow.  Our work isn't done yet.  A win doesn't just make us bowl eligible;  it establishes a vital building block for our program's rebirth.

Go Bears!