After a quick peruse of BearInsider it’s quite apparent that Longshore isn’t loved. And it’s not like I can deny that Longshore didn’t have a great game. He definitely missed some open receivers. But as for those two INTs, those weren’t so much a bad pass as they were bad pass protection.
Here’s the situation on Longshore’s 1st interception:
4th Quarter, 15:00 left
Cal’s 38 1st and 10 11 personnel under-center, ace-slot
Longshore is under center. Stevens and Jordan split right, with THA1 and Hawk split left. Hawkins is in the slot with THA1 at split end. Longshore drops back to pass - appears to be a 5 step drop. Before Longshore completes his drop, the ASU nose tackle shot the A-gap (gap between Mack and De La Puente) and is coming down on Longshore hard. Forsett is in pass protection, he sees this and attempts to pick up the block. Longshore completes his drop and attempts to side step a little bit to his left. At this very same moment, the ASU right defensive end hits Gibson (our left tackle) with a spin move and shoots past Gibson coming hard at Longshore from the outside. Longshore has nowhere to run and with two ASU defenders in his face, he does not step into his throw. Longshore throws off of his back foot and the ball is intercepted. [ANALYSIS] A lot of fans are just going to throw this down as 100% Longshore’s fault but that is naive. Yes, Longshore should have just taken a sack. Yes, he could have tried to step into the throw despite a pending hit. But what caused this interception was the lack of pass blocking and ASU’s defensive pressure. It appears as if there is either a blocking breakdown between Mack (the center) and De La Puente (the left guard) or De La Punte gets beat. I’m not sure which it is because I don’t know the play and the pass blocking scheme. Either way, an ASU defensive lineman is in Longshore’s face as Longshore is STILL doing his dropback. Gibson provided better protection but the ASU DE gets by him with a spin move which cuts off Longshore’s escape to the outside. Longshore sees that THA1 is open and tries to get the ball to him but he can’t. Interception.
Here’s the situation for Longshore’s 2nd interception:
4th Quarter 11:38 left
Cal’s 36 2nd and 8 12 personnel shotgun, ace formation, twin-WRs right
Longshore is in the shotgun. Stevens is at the end of the OL to the left and Morrah is at the end of the OL to the right. Hawk and THA1 are split right in twins. Forsett is to Longshore’s left. The ball is snapped. ASU rushes only their front four and drops seven into coverage. Cal runs a max-protect pass play, Stevens and Forsett stay in to block. Morrah along with THA1 and Hawk go out. All the reads are on the right side of the field. Longshore feels the pressure from ASU’s left defensive end, throws the ball and is intercepted. [ANALYSIS] What goes wrong here is that Longshore drops back too far and doesn’t step back up into the pocket despite the OL maintaining a good pocket. Keep in mind that Longshore is in the shotgun. After the snap he drops back slightly - approximately three yards. ASU’s left defensive end across from Cal’s right tackle (Tepper) sees that Longshore drops back, and speed rushes to the outside. The DE knows that unless Longshore steps up into the pocket that he can get pressure on Longshore. This is exactly what happens. Longshore doesn’t step up into the pocket depsite a large 5 yard cushion the rest of the OL has provided. The defensive end gets around Tepper (who is only mildly at fault here if at all) and hits Longshore just after he throws but appears to put just enough pressure on Longshore to make Longshore throw before he’s ready. Longshore probably should have stepped up into the pocket, taken the sack, or thrown the ball away. On this particular play, Longshore is almost entirely at fault. But WHY Longshore doesn’t step up into the pocket is the offensive line’s fault. Longshore was hesitant to step up into the pocket because of all the defensive pressure that ASU had been getting on him throughout the game. Longshore had been hit many times earlier and those hits left lasting memories in Longshore’s mind. Consistent defensive pressure will usually make ANY quarterback hesitant to step up into his pockets and his throws for fear of getting hit. Yes, great QBs will step up into the pocket and their throws despite oncoming hits but that doesn’t make immunize the OL of fault for not adequately protecting the quarterback.
Anyways, the point of this post is to just help fans realize that there was more to those interceptions than just a bad throw. I’m certainly not saying Longshore shouldn’t bear any fault, or that fans don’t have any reason to be critical of him. Fans certainly have that right and a good reason to be critical of him. Longshore did miss some open receivers throughout this game. But if fans wish to be a credible and intelligent critics, then I must say that simply relying on the fact that Longshore threw two INTs as reasoning for their conclusion that Longshore sucks, is short-sighted and ignorant of everything else that happens out on the field. I’m seeing too many fans ream Longshore over his bad throws without a mention of at least the pressure he was under for some of those throws. I implore you, Cal fans, to remember that passing the football doesn’t start with the quarterback, but with the offensive line.