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A Golden Spotlight on Cal vs. BYU

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Like all of us, I was really hoping for one more game to cover.

And yet here we are.  I had planned to unleash a flurry of system-related jokes along with bad bowling puns.

Instead, it's time to shut down the spotlight for another year.  For those of you expecting spice and snark, I apologize in advance;  it's a little hard to be inspired by an uninspiring loss.

But before we go, let's get to the pictures.  (Speaking of which, my dad's sideline gallery is available here. He did his best to highlight the seniors whenever possible.)

Coach Franklin's mad genius has dreamed up another new look for Cal.  We have two receivers, Powe(#10) and Anderson(#89) inline as tight ends while Rigsbee(#73) is in the backfield as a fullback.  Farley(#59) has taken Rigs' spot at tackle.  BYU looks to be in their base 4-3, with one outside linebacker pointing helpfully at the line, "Hey wuzzat??"

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At the snap, Anderson pins their DE while Farley and Powe head to the second level.  Rigs leads to the strongside while Borrayo also pulls strong.  This is more than just a normal power run.  It's like a Bear Rampage.

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Lasco follows Rigs and Borrayo's lead blocking upfield for a nice gain...

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...which he makes nicer with a shifty sidestep that gains additional yardage.  Establishing the run early really helped to open up our offense later on.

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Now Cal comes out 3x1 with Anderson on the line as a tight end.  The early playcalling has done a nice job of mixing in runs with slants and quick outs to counter their pressure packages and to take advantage of soft zones on the outside.  BYU looks to be in a 4-2-5 nickel.  Here, they send their bottom inside LB and move a safety up to take his spot.  This forces their lone safety to shift more to the middle of the field.

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BYU's OLB comes unblocked off the edge...but Cal is rolling the pocket towards the top.  Anderson runs a cross while the top inside receiver runs an out.  Although Anderson stumbles, he holds the attention of their deep safety.  Cal's bottom outside receiver draws a double team.  BYU looked very prepared to double Cal's solo outside receiver right out of the gates.  Cal's top outside receiver, Lawler(#4), looks to be running a smash-concept corner route...

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...but it's an out and up.  Lawler shows off some improved route-running which leaves the BYU defender lucky to remain clothed.

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And you know the rest.  Touchdown Bears!

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Cal is still in a 3x1, Anderson inline as a tight end.  BYU is in a base 4-3 under front with an OLB on the line threatening blitz.

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At the snap, Goff looks to hand-off while Borrayo pulls towards the strongside.  This run action freezes the LBs and causes the bottom corner to peek into the backfield...

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...bad idea.  Once again, BYU doubles Cal's solo outside receiver at the top.  Because Treggs runs a deep dig, the bottom safety has to stay on him.  Meanwhile KLaw has gotten by the peeking corner.

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And the garbage can drill giveth once again.  Love how the corner immediately throws his arms out and goes "what's your deal?" to the safety.

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In what seems like a weekly occurrence, Mama there goes that man again.  Stephen Anderson just has a knack for getting open....almost as if he moves like a whisper you only say to the wind at midnight.

Cal comes out again in a 3x1 with Mr. Anderson(#89) lined up as a tight end.  BYU has switched things up and gone 3-3-5 after playing the first quarter out of a 4-3 or 4-2-5.

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At the snap, Goff looks to hand off to Lasco and Borrayo pulls.  Because they have to respect Cal's running game, all three LBs come charging towards the line.  But instead, it's a Bear Raid Staple:  "Y-Cross."  The outside go routes draw off the safeties.  That leaves the Y receiver, Anderson(#89) on a deep cross with a linebacker tasked for coverage.

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Joke's on you.  And while we're at it, O'Doull's is awful and contains alcohol anyway.  The BYU linebackers scramble to reverse course...

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...but they're not even close.  A slightly better throw and this one goes to the house.  Coach Franklin must have seen something he liked in the pre-game film.  He didn't call this one until BYU switched up to the 3-3-5.

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Now Cal comes out again with the 3x1, Anderson(#89) inline as a tight end.  BYU is back to a 4-2-5, and look to be in Cover 3 with one safety deep and the other closer to the box.

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No run fake this time, instead Cal's bottom receivers run go routes while Anderson runs a deep post.  Because of his earlier catch, Anderson draws double coverage from both safeties.  Meanwhile, Harper(top outside) runs yet another in route at the sticks.  Goff pumps and the corner bites...only to see Harper smoothly turn his pattern into a go.

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The deep ball is just a little off, but Harper makes a great twisting adjustment.

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And takes it in for a score...Except, of course, that the ref (wearing glasses, no less) two feet away allowed himself to get overruled by the Texas salamander across the field.  'Nuff said here.

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And last, just for fun.  Here's KLaw's third score on a nice back shoulder throw out of the Mega Bone.  It's nice to see Goff just let it go.  Like you can't hold him back anymore.

Moving to the other side of the ball, BYU sets up with their own 3x1 set.  Cal counters with a 4-2-5 nickel and both safeties are deep suggesting Cover 2.  But pre-snap, Cal's nickelback, Coleman(#10), turns and signals to the safety on his side, McClure(#21).

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Pre-snap, BYU motions their receiver inside to set up as a wing.  Cal's DB motions inside to counter.

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At the snap, the wing goes in motion towards the bottom while their QB looks to hand-off.  Cal's linebackers surge forward...

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...but the Cougar QB pulls it back and rolls out towards the bottom.  He sees Coleman sit down in apparent underneath coverage.  Meanwhile, Cal's DE, Johnson(#11), isn't fooled and accelerates through the gap to apply pressure.  The QB lets it fly...

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...and Coleman nicely undercuts the route to make a fantastic leaping interception.  The pre-snap signal looked like it passed off deep coverage on the slot receiver to the safety, McClure(#21), but Coleman did a great job of reading the QB and recognizing the route.  Note that Stef was also in great position to defend the pass.  For his efforts, he is illegally struck in the face at the end of the play.  Strangely, this was uncalled.

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And now, we look at The Best Defensive Series Of The Game.

For Cal. (Man, tough crowd.)

After a tough start, let's give some love to Darius Allensworth for letting the haters hate and shaking it off.  BYU's double-reverse flea flicker fooled our LB's and safeties, but our corners stayed home.(Whew)

DA's last second knock-away sets up a 2nd and long.  BYU comes out with 20 personnel and Cal counters with a base 4-3.  Pre-snap, their bottom wide-out starts in motion behind the backfield.  This is the same motion the Cougars used earlier in the game to confuse our secondary for a deep TD.  For the love of Oski, surely we learned our lesson?

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Sebastian gestures and makes sure our guys know their assignments.  Our slot defender moves up to take the motion receiver.  This leaves our corner on their top outside receiver and Sebastian on their top slot receiver.  At the snap, BYU looks to hand-off.  We rush four while keeping our 2nd level defenders at home.

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As soon as they see that it's a run fake and their backs are staying in protection, our LBs rush on green dog blitzes.  Wilfey(#80) and Downs (#1) come free.  Sebastian reads that their slot receiver is trying to block, and launches himself towards the QB.

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The Cougar slot receiver hits Sebastian in the back and sends him flying.  But Wilfey(#80) takes a great angle to keep outside contain.  Downs (#1) is also hot in pursuit.  The BYU QB has nowhere to throw and nowhere to go.  Cal has both outlet receivers locked down.

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Cornered at last, BYU's lineman pushes Downs in the back right into their QB.

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But it's okay because he immediately puts his hands up.  If only our guys knew how to do that.  It's still a big sack and sets up the ever-so rare 3rd and long.

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BYU is in 20 personnel, possibly max protect.  Cal is in a 4-2-5 nickel, but has both linebackers up on the line threatening blitz.  And at the snap, it's a full-out, Cover-One blitz!  Hurray!  Of course, BYU adjusted in the second half to negate and take advantage of our largely ineffective pressure packages.  But that's okay.  Let the spotlight take you back to a kinder, gentler time.  The 2nd quarter was ours!

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Jefferson(#7) rushes outside and forces their LT to pick him up.  This leaves Johnson(#11) a free run at the QB.  BYU keeps one back in while releasing the other.  However, he's distracted by the rushers at the top and doesn't slide over to pick up Johnson in time.

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Chaos erupts.  Johnson gets a hit on their QB and then BYU's linemen tackle Jefferson from behind.  He still manages to make the tackle...unfortunately, this is just moments before BYU's QB derps one into the arms of Downs.(#1)  So close and yet...

Alas.

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Apologies if I got a little carried away w/ the pictures this week.  I suppose I _really_ didn't want this season to be over.

At this point, the factions have split between "this was still a successful season" and "Dykes will never make that next step."  Head Football writer Nam Le pretty much nailed it with a fair assessment of where we are and the questions that remain moving forward.

I'll put up the short version.  We need:

1)  An effective pass rush

2)  Rebuild the secondary

3)  Improve team discipline to cut down on penalties

4)  Replace two Oline starters while shoring up edge protection

5)  Tighten up on game management and adjustments

6)  Unleash the full Bear Raid;  we still haven't gone full uptempo with run-pass combination plays

For my part, I am thankful to our team for making this an entertaining and interesting year to be a fan.  I salute the graduating seniors and am appreciative of their commitment to sticking through some tough times.  We knew that the rebuild would be a process.  We took it on the chin during the transition year and got in a few shots of our own this year.  'Can't wait to see what the next season brings.

A tip of the cap to my fellow CGB writers and the editorial staff;  it's nice of these young bucks to put up with a cranky old guy.

Most importantly, thank you to all the readers for your time and comments.

Go Bears!