*Prior to the game starting I thought that Cal would come out running the ball. The first play of the game was an aggressive pass play out of a running formation. This surprised me. It looks like Tedford wanted to really take the crowd out of the game with a big play. Unfortunately, the pass was incomplete.
*Immediately after the pass I became immensely frustrated with Longshore. I have been very patient with Longshore’s performance on the road as opposed to some Cal fans, but after that play I was tired, frustrated, and impatient. But then I told myself to calm down and understand that it was just one pass, we still had just under an hour of gametime left, and I was just uptight because of the importance of the game and being a little stressed out from midterms.
*Oregon’s defense really came out pumped up. It was role reversal from last year. Last year our D was on Oregon’s O from the start and this year their D was on our O from the start.
*At first glance, Tedford’s playcalling was excellent. I wrote down my usual notes as I watched the game and upon a glance (I don’t have enough time between my midterms to really break things down right now), it seems to be a very logical gameplan. Lots of motion, lots of rolling of the pocket, lots of max protect, and lots of uncommon plays being called. If you thought the playcalling was vanilla the past two weeks, then the playcalling for this game was rich Godiva dark chocolate. Seriously. It’s not that we ran a bunch of fancy trick plays but we ran a lot of plays that we don’t use very often - such as draws from the weak-I.
*I like how THA1 got so many touches. Obviously it’s critical that you put the ball in your playmaker’s hands, but what really impressed me the most was that we didn’t force it. Or I guess I should say Longshore didn’t force balls to THA1.
*Forsett took some flak from the telecasters about not having a good average in the first half. This criticism, I felt, was unwarranted. That criticism should have been directed more to our offensive line which was being dominated. In the second half, everything turned around. Our OL dominated Oregon’s DL, Forsett had bigger running lanes, and gave Forsett more space to maximize his abilities.
*Forsett really put the team on his shoulders in the second half. He really came through in the clutch. When our offense needed a spark, he (and the OL’s run blocking) was that spark. I felt like Forsett plays with a chip on his shoulder for all that "he’s not an every down back" talk he heard over the off-season.
*Now Longshore. I think his performance should be enough to quiet his critics. Playing on the road is always tough, nevertheless the high expectations of Cal fans are justified considering his abilities, potential, and surrounding talent. So what does Longshore do in the face of the high expectations and criticism? He had about a 66% completion percentage, and didn’t throw a single interception. Not to mention he stuck in the pocket despite getting batted around and injured. And him coming back into the game despite his injury really says something about his toughness.
*I was rather impressed with THA1’s run blocking. He was about as aggressive as he can be without putting his thumb in much further risk and despite being 170 lbs or so. Obviously, I want THA1 to be as physical and dominating as he can be when he run blocks, but I also don’t want him to reinjure himself or injure something else. I think he struck a nice balance between the run-blocking and preserving himself.
*Marcus Ezeff. One of our best defenders in the past few weeks, his personal foul late hit penalty almost cost us the game. I don’t blame him though. That could have gone either way. Judging by Tedford’s reaction, or lack thereof, I don’t think Tedford blamed Ezeff either. That’s just a guy playing snap to whistle and trying to win. Can’t knock a guy for doing that.
*I was fairly happy with the lack of penalties. I think we only had one false start, and one delay of game but other than that I don’t think we had any other penalties that were induced by the crowd. And to be honest, the delay of game penalty might have been on Tedford and not Longshore. You might ask, howso? Well, while Longshore is responsible for managing the huddle and the offense, he’s at the will of Tedford’s timely playcalling. If Tedford doesn’t call a play in a timely manner, it won’t be signaled in with enough time for Longshore to read the signals, look at his wristband, call the play in the huddle, line up on the ball, move any men in motion (if applicable), and snap the ball. This happened last week against Arizona. Tedford didn’t call a play until the playclock was around 10 seconds or so, Van Meter signaled in the play, and by the time the offense broke the huddle there was only 5 seconds or so on the clock and a delay of game resulted. So, I’m just sayin’ not ALL delay of game penalties are the QB’s fault.
*Stat of the game: Oregon turnovers - 4, Cal turnovers - 0. Many of you football fans probably know that the turnover margin is one of the more accurate determinors of who will win the game. I remember hearing that in the NFL, a +3 turnover margin means something like a 75% chance of winning the game. Obviously things are different in college, but a +4 turnover margin should mean a team has a pretty darn good chance at winning. Thank god we had forced those turnovers because if we hadn’t… well, let’s not go there.
*Attacking Dixon. Our Gregory’s defensive philosophy was different from last year. Last year we blitzed Dixon frequently and got him nervous and out of rhythm. This year, we used the BBDB (bent but don’t break) and it worked. Oregon’s 500 yards of offense resulted in 24 points, which isn’t bad. If you want to think that every 80 yards should be a touchdown then Oregon should have had around 42 points or so. Plus, we got an interception from the BBDB courteous of Anthony Felder.
*I was hoping we’d have a few more long and sustained drives. We had 5 three-and-outs. I felt that Tedford was trying to make some long and sustained drives in the first half but things weren’t just clicking. It didn’t seem like he was calling plays for touchdowns so much as he was just calling plays for first downs. Obviously, there were a few plays which were intended big-plays but for the most part, I think we stuck to just aiming for the imaginary yellow line (the LOS) and not the endzone. Nothing wrong with this. It’s just conservative high-probability playcalling.
*Okay, and how about Longshore attempting 43 passes. Or I guess I should say, how about Tedford calling 43 pass plays? I don’t remember any (Jeff Tedford era) Cal quarterbacks attempting so many passes in a long time… if ever. That’s a lot of pass attempts. And actually, in proportion of our 33 rush attempts, we passed more than we ran which is highly unusual of Jeff Tedford.
Those are my thoughts for now. I have to get back to studying for a midterm. I’ll try and put together another mini-analysis later this week.
How could I talk about Ezeff’s personal foul penalty without talking about his game-winning forced fumble? There’s not much I can say about it but AWESOME.
Here’s something interesting to consider. In this interview, Ezeff said he got "picked" on that play. If you don’t know what that means it’s basically like a basketball pick. Setting a pick in basketball is LEGAL whereas "picking" in college football is ILLEGAL. In college football a offensive player can "incidentally" run a route which just so happens to get in the way of a defensive player but the offensive player cannot overtly strive to make physical contact in a blatant attempt to impede the defender’s progress towards the other offensive player. It’s not a very objective penalty - it’s very subjective. Anyways, after reading this I checked out the play on the tivo. The original camera view makes it very hard to see if Ezeff was truly "picked." In the final play Ezeff is in man-coverage covering the slot WR on the bottom side of the TV screen. The two Oregon WRs run a scissors combination route with the outside WR (who is covered by Brandon Hampton) running on an inside slant towards Ezeff. It’s hard to see if the outside Oregon WR invites contact but it’s clear that Ezeff had to run and work his way around the WR. If Oregon had scored the touchdown, but Ezeff truly was picked, AND the refs called the "pick" then wow, that woulda been crazy gift from god touchdown-negative penalty. But that didn’t happen. Oregon didn’t score. We can’t tell if Ezeff was truly "picked" and … yeah. That’s it. Just wanted to talk about that.