*Longshore starts. Alright. I’m cool with that. He’s experienced, and he can run the offense. As for his ankle injury, I’m sure Tedford wouldn’t start Longshore unless he didn’t think Longshore couldn’t perform. And throughout the game it didn’t look like it bothered him that much. I don’t think his injury had that much of an impact on his performance.
*I was sure glad to see Desean Jackson get so many catches early in the game. I think Tedford was making a serious effort at getting him the ball and UCLA wasn’t double teaming him as much as other teams. They sure paid for it but I also think that their decision is the right one. When teams double Jackson, Hawkins blows them up. When teams don’t double Jackson, Jackson blows them up. Take your pick.
*One thing that did bother me about THA1 was that he was so concerned with getting a defensive pass interference flag every time he didn’t catch the ball. It seemed like regardless if there was contact and THA1 didn’t catch the ball he was looking to the refs for the hanky. I know there were definitely some instances where they PI-ed him, but geez… Just play the game, do what you can, worry about what you can control.
*Cal’s run defense. Alright, plain and simple it sucked. Surpringly the stats say they only averaged 4.1 yards per carry. I thought it would have been more. Time after time it just seemed like UCLA would do a simple run up the middle, get stopped by the initial pile, then slip out for a 5 yard gain, get stopped, then fall forward for another 1-2 yards. Our run D just couldn’t stop the UCLA backs. Oh, and UCLA rushed the ball 45 times. They shoved the ball down our throats and tired out the D.
*Poor tackling. Lots and lots of "hitting" and not wrapping up the ball carrier. I think we saw a lot of this when trying to tackle the UCLA runningbacks and also in the secondary.
*The defense in general. Well, I thought Gregory would do his usual BBDB but he actually brought heat. Or I should say, he brought heat more often than he normally does. Cal blitzed moreso this game than I can remember in most games this season. Unfortunately our blitzes didn’t get much pressure. Obviously Gregory wanted to try and get Cowen running around early on and put his toughness to the test. I felt that as the game went on, Gregory backed off on the pressure. Towards the end we were rushing just the front four, which is fine but the effectiveness of the D relies heavily on quick pressure by the DL. Needless to say, we didn’t get that much pressure on Cowen.
*Our inability to run the ball. Yeah, we couldn’t run worth crap. Cal had a 2.2 yard rush average. Forsett had a 3 yard average which is sub-par for college football. This inability to run falls on the shoulders of the Cal OL, TEs, and FB. These guys just got out played. Oh, and our shotgun draw plays didn’t work that well. I like the fact that we’re running from shotgun because it keeps our offense balanced based on formations but I also think that UCLA’s D is too fast and smart to get fooled by draws. Similarly, UCLA’s D was all over our screens. Plain and simple, UCLA’s D was pretty well prepared today and played with great awareness. Gotta give props when props are due… UCLA’s D gets my props.
*Our passing game. Since we couldn’t run that well, we had to rely on our passing game which is something we all probably did not want to do considering Longshore’s injury. We saw lots of short and intermediate passing. Methodical and efficient, but hardly the type of offense that fans find exciting and Sportcenter will highlight. It worked well in the first half but then I felt like UCLA’s second half adjustments put the clamps down on it. Oh, lots of outs routes too. Longshore’s pick six was an out route to THA1. Unfortunately, the UCLA DB was playing the ball well, and the throw was behind THA1.
*Turnovers. Once again we lost the turnover battle and the game. Officially we had 4 turnovers and UCLA had 2. I suppose you could say we only had 3 since Longshore’s last INT was sort of a jump ball desperation pass. Nevertheless, the other turnovers are unacceptable. Best’s fumble was a mixture of the OL’s fault for letting a defender come through gap so quickly, Best’s fault for not just catching the ball regardless of whether a defender is coming or not, and Longshore’s fault for putting the ball slightly behind Best. That play was just a very unlucky occurance of multiple mistakes all during one play.
*Field Goal kicking. One of the most overlooked scorers on a football team is the field goal kicker. I think a lot of fans don’t realize the importance of having an excellent kicker. They can seriously make or break the game. In this game, even though we only missed one field goal that field goal would have helped. It would have changed the entire scenario in the 4th quarter. Instead of us trying to make comeback, it would have been UCLA.
*Coaching. As for Gregory, I won’t even go there. Most Cal fans already seem to have an opinion of him. Some hate him, and some are okay with him. But as for Tedford… I think it’s safe to say that the honeymoon is over. For the past 5 years he’s been loved. But now I feel like a growing majority of Cal fans are ready to turn on him. I think their reasoning is that yes, he’s brought our program to a Top-25 team, but we haven’t gotten to that next big plateau - the Rose Bowl or a BCS bowl. I’ve heard other reasons too. He’s too conservative, he plays scared, he doesn’t play to win but plays not to lose, and he can’t win close games. Well, I can’t deny that he’s conservative. But that’s not a bad thing. As for "playing scared", I think people just mistake conservative, and methodical for "scared." And as for "not playing to win but playing not to lose", well, that assumption is natural. Conservative offenses that focus on safe plays are often though of "scared" and "playing not to lose." The same goes for defense. Gregory’s BBDB is more reactive and preventative, thus getting the "playing not to lose" tag as opposed to "playing to win" defenses that blitz 75% of the time. While it appears to be true, make no mistake about it, the coaches are trying to win and there are two ways to go about it. Fans just like the flashier way to win, the riskier way, the deep passes and lots of blitzing kind of way. Does it work? Yeah, it does. Is it infallible? Hell no.
*Finally, I think a growing number of Cal fans are seeing other programs succeed where we haven’t and figure that the solution is whatever they do that we don’t. In most cases the instant solutions that I’ve heard thrown around are slant passes, deep passes, blitzing, and lots of 4th down attempts. Basically being ultra aggressive. This does have its benefits, but also its own drawbacks. Maybe we do need to be more aggressive. But I just ask that before Cal fans demand our coaches to be more aggressive, they at least consider the drawbacks of such a team. Everyone considers the positives but they never seem to consider the negatives.
*For the past two years, the DumpDorrell campaign has picked up steam. After this win, their cause might suffer a bit of a setback. But I fear that this loss might start a new campaign. If we tailspin out of control and lose another 2-3 games this season, I fear we’ll have our own campaign to dump our head coach, the DumpTedford campaign. I believe we’re only a few losses away from an explosion of more and more Cal fans calling for Tedford’s firing. I fear for this day. While I do concede that he’s probably lost some games he shouldn’t have, he’s still a great coach. He may have yet to prove that he’s an excellent coach but he’s great. I don’t think it’s time to turn on him and just hope other Cal fans are reasonable in their criticism and don’t just let their emotions cloud their judgment.