Well, in case you missed it, spring ball has started! For now, we can only direct you to Okane’s blog for spring ball updates. Eventually, CBKWit will begin attending spring practices. Right now he’s on a very long and well deserved vacation in some exotic location after his breaking of the Ben Braun firing to ESPN, FoxSports, CBS Sportsline, SF Chronicle, Sandy Barbour, and the rest of the world. Yes, I swear to BEAST MODE LYNCH himself, that CBKWit told Sandy Barbour that she had fired Ben Braun before she even did the deed. Amazing. And actually, FoxSports, in respect to CBKWit for telling them that Ben Braun had been fired, even put CBKWit’s name on their banner (see for yourself, see the big "CBK"?). You see, CBKWit is deeper than Deep Throat. He’s like in the esophagus. He’s in the Marianas Trench. He’s like that machine that drills to the center of the Earth in the movie The Core. Oh yeah. CBKWit is in deep. Thoroughly entrenched with the Cal administration. CBKWit, are you Sandy Barbour???
With spring ball here, I’d like to dispel a few of the biggest myths from the 2007 season in our attempt to move forward. I’ve had plenty of time to peruse various Cal sports forums on the internet and have heard quite a few myths thrown around as truth.
With that, let’s dig in…
Myth #5: DBs must always turn to look for the ball.
I’ve harped on this many times, but it’s not a display of one’s incompetence if a defensive back does not turn to locate the ball. Below is an explanation that I’ve provided before:
I’d just like to say that it’s not really a big deal that defensive backs don’t "look for" or locate the ball. It doesn’t mean they suck or are clueless. Correct me if I’m wrong, but non-contact face guarding is perfectly legal in college football. Granted, if non-incidental contact occurs between the DB and WR while the ball is in the air, then there is a much greater chance for a pass interference penalty than if the DB were looking for the ball. In fact, believe it or not, but some cutting edge DB coaches (or unusual, depends on how you look at it) teach their DBs NOT to look at the ball but to just play the ball through the receiver. Meaning that they teach the DBs to perfectly time a swat at the WR’s hands as the ball is caught, or face guard. Many DBs will look for the ball through the WR’s eyes, meaning the DB will watch the WR’s eyes. When the WR looks up, and his eyes get big, the DB knows the ball is near. At that moment the DB can either just defend without looking for the ball, time a good swat at the WR’s hands, or turn and attempt to locate the ball last-second and defend it.
And in some instances, it’s completely irrelevant or useless for the DB to turn and locate the ball. If the DB isn’t even in position to swat the ball, why slow yourself down and disorientate your upper body to just see the ball fly over your head? In some situations, it’s just more efficient to forget the ball, concentrate on the WR, and try to make a swat or at least a tackle. Also, let’s keep in mind that the defensive play can dictate the circumstances in which a DB locates the ball. When playing zone, the defensive players are facing forward and towards the QB. Locating the ball is easy and pretty much mandatory. But when the defensive player is playing man, he might have his back to the LOS and the QB. Locating the ball is harder, sometimes not as efficient, and has a lower requirement.
Myth #4: Longshore is at fault for Cal’s 0-21 start in the Bell Helicopter Bowl Game versus Air Force.
I’ve seen a few Cal fans continuously tote around this notion. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty poor argument with a lot of holes in it.
First off, how can Longshore be at fault for Air Force scoring 21 points on our defense? He can’t really. A small argument can be made that he is slightly but indirectly responsible for the defense giving up 21 early points. How so? Because if Longshore doesn’t make a throw, then the offense comes off the field and the defense comes back onto the field without adequate rest. But that argument is still a stretch. Let’s be honest here. Longshore isn’t responsible for Cal’s 0-21 start. Longshore, if anything, is responsible for the zero offensive points. But even that statement is unfair because it attributes responsibility for fault to Longshore for a lot of things behind his control.
To wit, Longshore threw 3 incompletions (he was 5/8 on the day). One of the incompletions was a drop by Desa. So negating that drop, Longshore was 6/8. The second incompletion was a slightly overthrown pass to Stevens due to premature defensive pressure from spotty OL blocking. Sure great QBs will make that throw more often than not, but I don’t think Tedford would attribute more fault to Longshore than the OL for the failure of that play. We’ll say the OL was 60% at fault and Longshore was 40% at fault. Essentially, we’ll say that pass doesn’t really count, thus Lonshore was 6/7 on the day (or I suppose we could say it [roughly] half counts, in which case Longshore was 6.5/8 on the day. Thus Longshore isn’t unfairly penalized for an incompletion for mitigating circumstances, nor is he fully relieved of fault because of those mitigating circumstances). The final incompletion was a deep pass to Cunningham that was fairly broken up by the defensive back. So Longshore was 6/7 on the day (or 6.5/8 on the day, if you prefer).
How is that a bad performance? It’s not. Longshore isn’t at fault for Cal’s 0-21 start. Longshore isn’t really responsible for Cal’s zero offensive points scored.
Plain and simple, the Cal offense as a whole didn’t play that well to start the game. But blanket statements that Longshore is responsible for the 0-21 start in the bowl game is wholly inaccurate.
Myth #3: Coach Daft called the plays for the Bell Helicopter Bowl Game
I will admit I don’t have any inside information to refute this myth. But I’m pretty sure this is merely fan speculation based upon the fact that our offense went from scoring an average of like 14 points the 6 games prior to the bowl game, and then during the bowl game we explode for 42 points. Most fans who believe this myth seem to believe that someone else was behind the wheel of the offensive playcalling. Have we forgotten that Tedford is a great playcaller too? Have we forgot that he called plays from 2002-2004? I don’t think Daft called the plays for the bowl game. Besides, if he did such a great job for the bowl game, how come he didn’t get hired for the OC job this year? You’d think he’d at least get some consideration but I never heard from those "in the know" that Daft was ever considered.
Furthermore, I’ve looked at the game and the playcalling. It’s typical Tedford. Nothing really jumps out at me that somebody else was calling plays. Also, if you watch the game on TV, Tedford still has his big dinner table sized playcall sheet. He’s still looking at it, still marking plays he’s called, etc. Remember last year when Tedford wasn’t calling plays? His playcall sheet was smaller. Significantly smaller (although still much bigger than any other coach in the nation).
Myth #2: Bob Gregory needs to be fired.
I know I’m going to have a lot of people disagree with me no matter what I say, so I’ll keep it short. Gregory has gotten more conservative over the past few years. But put aside your Berkeley liberalism and realize for one second that conservative isn’t always a bad thing. I believe last year’s defensive was a conservative BBDB defense was due to the fact that we didn’t have the secondary defenders to adequate cover receivers while blitzing. I covered this in my Tedford Talk Translated post.
Here is the relevant paragraph:
I think Cal’s defense in 2006 was a good example of a defense where we could blitz because we had the secondary defenders to adequately cover WRs without help. Namely Daymeion Hughes and his uncanny ability to intercept North Korean nuclear missles. With Dante, he essentially completely took 1 WR, and sometimes half a field, away from the offense. Because of that ability, the defense could blitz more without too much added fear of deep completions. But in 2007, Cal only had Syd’Quan Thompson, Brandon Hampton, and Chris Conte. All three have their strengths and weaknesses, but unfortunately all are a little more hit-and-miss when it comes to island defending (playing defense on an island by themselves). Because of their slightly spottier coverage skills (and I mean, most people do have spottier coverage skills when compared to Daymeion Hughes), I think Gregory was less inclined to blitz. I think that Gregory felt that the risk of blitzing outweighed the benefits.
Myth #1: Longshore is at fault for all his INTs/Longshore is utterly incompetent in the 4th Quarter/Longshore sucks/Longshore couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn/Longshore is responsible for the recession/Longshore is responsible for the Holocaust/Longshore is responsible for President Bush/Longshore is responsible for your erectile dysfunction/Longshore is responsible for (insert your current problem here)
Yeah, so how many interceptions did Longshore throw this year? The answer is 13. Let me ask you another question, how many did Longshore throw last year? The answer is 13. Longshore threw just as many INTs this year as last year. In fact, his completion percentage was 60.2% and 59.9% respectively for 2006 and 2007. His completion percentage is only .3% different. But yet his QB rating was 18.5 points lower in 2007 than 2006. Why? Shorter yards per completion! Why? Because teams double (and sometimes triple-teamed) Desean Jackson!
Essentially, Longshore had no more faults this year than last year. So why does every Cal fan and their grandmother hate Longshore? The plain and simple fact that QBs get more fault when things go wrong, and the mistakes they make are more visible than other positions. Everyone sees the QB throw the ball. People don’t always see poor OL blocking. People don’t realize how Cal had to pass a lot in the 4th quarter and that’s why Longshore’s 4th quarter stats are down. People forget that sometimes Longshore has to throw the ball up on a prayer even though he knows it has a 95% chance of getting intercepted (see Cal @ Arizona St. from 2007). Speaking of hail mary prayer passes, that INT doesn’t even count. So essentially Longshore only threw 12 INTs in 2007.
And speaking of the Arizona State game, here’s my analysis of two Longshore INTs which explains how poor OL blocking directly and indirectly lead to both of the Longshore INTs.
Finally, Tedford has explicitly stated that the WRs ran wrong routes last year. While he didn’t say how often that happened, I think it can be inferred that it was probably a continuing problem. Afterall, Tedford did fire former WR coach Dan Ferrigno. But I think that comment was also meant to acknowledge that the WR problems also led to incompletions and interceptions, and that Longshore wasn’t as much at fault as it seemed.
Bottom line: the stats show that Longshore played no poorly this year than last year. Why did nobody hate Longshore in 2006? Because we were winning. People were happy. When we lose, fans find any reason to whine and complain. Fans find scape-goats. Longshore was the scape goat for 2007. He got blamed for WR running wrong routes which made Longshore look like he was throwing to the other team. He got blamed for throwing the ball away or throwing INTs when poor OL blocking let defenders get in his face early. He got blamed for being a quarterback - the one position where more blame falls on your shoulders than it should.
A lot went wrong last year, but in all honesty, the QB problems weren’t as big of a problem as it seemed - it just seems that way because we all see what the QB does.