Monday, September 26, 2011

What happened in Washington?

Cal couldn't find the end zone against Washington.
There were a lot of questions following Cal's 31-23 loss to Washington.

Well actually, there weren't a lot of questions, it was mostly one question asked a lot of ways: why was the team's 5'9" running back in at the goal line when there were two bigger options on the bench --  one of which had already scored in a goal line situation in the first half.

Coach Jeff Tedford kind of answered the question in his postgame interview Saturday when someone asked if CJ Anderson would have been the better option, "Would C.J. have scored. I don't know. Its a thought."

So the next question becomes, is Isi Sofele Cal's goal line back going foward.

Tedford (kind of) answers that and a few other questions below.

Media: Might you guys think about putting a bigger back in down in goal line situations or is Isi someone you're going to stick with?

Tedford: With that run, it was an outside zone play, it wasn't so much a downhill play, it had cutback potential, as you saw when we ran blast right up the middle, we put C.J. in on the blast play [in the first half] and C.J. did what he was supposed to do, he plowed over somebody.

On the outside zone play that we ran down there, we just missed the block, a guy came off the blocker or Isi squirts right in there. Isi broke the first tackle, the nose guard, Dom overreached the nose and the nose came behind him and tried to get his legs and he broke that tackle and then the next guy on the edge came off of a block and got back inside and that's the guy he ran into.

Is Tedford to conservative?
There was a big hole there, we just have to sustain our blocks, so that wasn't so much Isi. The plays that we run, we're going to put certain guys in. The blast is downhill and C.J. went in for that. But the outside play that could go in or bounce out, Isi has had the most experience with that play and has a little bit better speed to be able to execute that play, so that's why he was in there.

Media: Does having the bye week make it easier or harder to leave the loss behind?

Tedford: I think both. I don't know which one more. I think the bye week is good for us now to get a little healthy. You can let some of the other things go when you jump right back into an opponent, but we're going to start prepping for Oregon right away, so that's going to force us to get our mind there.

Some years we've gone where we've taken a week and just had the young guys scrimmage and that kind of thing, we're not going to do that.

We're going to take Tuesday and we're going to have a generic practice, fundamental type practice and then Wednesday and Thursday, we're going to start preparing for Oregon. And then Friday and Saturday they're going to have off and then we're going to come back Sunday and resume our week.

Media: Was the Washington loss tough?

Tedford: They're all painful. You wake up in the middle of the night, you have a knot in your stomach and then all through the day. Typically it goes for two days until you get totally submerged in the next team. I don't care if its a win or a loss, by Thursday I could probably not tell you what happened last week because you get so ingrained in what's going on next.

Media: How does Keith Price compare to a guy like Darron Thomas? 

Tedford: Different. Keith is obviously more of a pocket passer and can do things from there and still make things happen with his legs. Darron does a lot of things off play action, not a lot of drop back stuff, but their passing game is generally built on play action stuff, when you're trying to stop the run.

I was very impressed with Keith Price. He's a very accurate thrower and he seems to have a good grasp of what they're trying to get done. I think he has a really good ability to when he extends the play getting outside the pocket and keeping his eyes down the field and make big plays with his arm that way. And that's kind of what his M.O. has been for the season so far.

Media: Will you work more on red zone offense in practice?

Cal had trouble in the red zone.
Tedford: We'll do it the same as we always do, we just missed some throws down there. It was kind of a freak deal. We've got Marvin wide open and the ball slips out of [Zach's] hand. As he's getting ready to throw it, it slips backwards. We got Keenan open twice and he just under throws him, so we just have to execute better.

I've got a lot of confidence [in Zach]. Red zone wise, we've been pretty decent, its just a situation where we have to make plays. On that last one, we have to give the receiver a chance to make a play on the ball, we can't throw it five yards out of bounds because Keenan's got him beat, Keenan's running away from the guy and he'll make a play on it. But all those things are learning experiences.

I thought Zach played his tail off yesterday, I thought he really did a nice job, he played really, really well. There are some plays that are left out there we could make. I know that burns him, I know he has the drive to make those plays and I know he's capable of making those plays.

You think about three minutes and 40 seconds left to play and its fourth and 5 and we're backed up on the 30-yard line and and we decide to go for it and he throws a strike right in there on the post on fourth and 5. He continues to get better and I really believe that his consistency level's going to improve as well.

Breech's Breakdown
What did John think of the game?

I may be in the minority, but I actually thought Tedford coached a pretty good game.

The only two egregious errors I thought he made both came on the final series.

First, there is no reason Isi should have been in for the final four plays. I don't care if Isi's made of lava and eats polar bears, he's not suited to be a goal line back. Although, I will say, in non-goal line situations,  Isi played a solid game.

The other error for me was the play calling on the final four plays. If you're absolutely going to keep Isi in and no one can talk you out of it, fine, but utilize your speed if you're going to do that. Either A. run an option or B. have Maynard run a bootleg and let him decide to throw or run. 

For anyone that thought Tedford got out coached in the second half, I'll throw these stats at you.

The Huskies had 127 second half yards, 70 of which came on one play.

To me, that says, Cal made halftime adjustments and they worked. Tedford acknowledged that the 70-yard TD pass was a product of broken coverage. That TD came on third and 12, so the Bear defense came within one broken coverage of holding Washington to 57 second half yards. For the record, Cal outgained Washington by almost 100 yards in the second half.

Offensively, Cal had five possessions in the second half. On two of them, the Bears had drives of over 80 yards (one led to a field goal, one ended at the 1-yard line). On the other three drives, they punted twice and turned it over on downs.

When they turned it over on downs, they faced a fourth and 3 from the Washington 36. At this point, I felt like most fans were thinking, "Good god, super conservative Tedford is going to punt it FROM THE 36. Coach, kick a field goal or spike it or kneel it, just please don't punt it from the 36."

And he didn't. He went for it. This means Tedford went for it on fourth down twice in the fourth quarter when he absolutely didn't have too. He could have punted in both situations, but he didn't. He made the non-conservative call each time.

Finally, Tedford accepting the holding call in the second quarter was a 50/50 call. Personally, I would have declined and I said as much to the guy sitting next to me. But Tedford was playing field position and you can't knock him for that. He figured there was no way Washington was going to convert a third and 11, which meant 10 yards better field position for the offense.

Even if Tedford declines it, who's to say that Marvin Jones doesn't fumble the punt return and Washington returns it for a touchdown. There's too many moving parts, the "what if" game is almost impossible to play in football, especially in the second quarter of a 14-10 game.

I'll give Tedford a B- for the game, but its one of those B minuses that's closer to a C+.

Finally, I'll end with a stat that should any Cal fans confidence going into the Oregon game: the Ducks defense is ranked 79th in the country, if the Bears get their red zone offense rolling, we might be in for a shootout.  

See you in Eugene everyone.

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(John Breech covers Cal football and basketball for

1 comment:

  1. Great BLog. So happy a former Bear is Still involved in the program.

    Can you help with special teams? ;)