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Cal vs. USC, at the half

Posted by Steve | November 8, 2008 at 7:43 pm | In Games | 9 Comments

At the half,  Cal trails 10-3.

  • Overall, a decent performance, about as good as can be expected.   Although we aren’t moving the ball on offense at all, at least our defense is playing well.  Keeping USC to only 10 points in the half is a pretty good job.
  • Nate Longshore needs to stop the mental blunders.  As a fan, it’s been painful watching him play.  2 picks that were luckily overturned by penalties (one questionable).  Several balls short-hopped to wide open receivers.  Taking a -14 yard sack instead of throwing the ball away.  These are things you definitely cannot do against USC.  We were lucky to even be on the board at this point, as the scoring drive was kept alive almost exclusively by USC penalties.
  • оптична мрежамебели пловдив

  • Once again, Pac-10 referees prove themselves to be inept.  A USC interception called back by a somewhat questionable roughing the passer call.  Then on the USC TD drive, they failed to review two crucial plays, the first on a pass going over midfield where the receiver clearly stepped out 8 yards behind where they eventually marked the play dead.  Then on the TD itself, the ball clearly was through the receiver’s arms and trapped on the ground.
  • All three timeouts wasted to avoid delay of game penalties.  MANAGE THE CLOCK LONGSHORE.  As a veteran, he should know better.

In the second half, Cal needs to keep up the pressure on defense.  They need to get to QB Mark Sanchez and apply more pressure on him, and force him to throw some picks.  On offense, they need to find a way to hit receivers in stride going down field.  Short screen passes are not working at all, and Longshore isn’t hitting his open receivers.   Until they can prove to be a threat down in the passing game, the running game will suffer, and we can’t depend on USC penalties to keep our drives moving.  If Longshore can’t get it done, Tedford should give Riley a shot, since he’s been cleared by medical staff to play.

Cameron Jordan suspended

Posted by Alex | August 28, 2008 at 2:26 pm | In Defense, Games, Players/Alumni | 3 Comments

DE Cameron Jordan has been suspended for the first game of the season.  He was arrested for drunk driving over the weekend.

This lessens the Bears depth along the DL, with Cameron one of four primary players in rotation at the DE position.  Even though he is not listed as a starter, this will still greatly impact the Bears.  The starters at the DE position are Rulon Davis and Tyson Alualu with Jordan listed as the primary backup.

Armed Forces Bowl: enter Riley

Posted by Eric | January 4, 2008 at 5:37 pm | In Games, Quarterback | 3 Comments
Kevin Riley
Photo: My Bear Territory

QB Kevin Riley entered the game with the Bears looking hopelessly behind, with 0 points to Air Force’s 21. In the face of adversity, the bowl’s MVP played magnificently and led the Bears to a 42-36 victory.

Riley completed 16 of 19 passes for 269 yards while tossing 3 touchdowns and rushing for another, all with no interceptions or mistakes — racking up a stunning 255.54 passer rating.

Some may suggest a quarterback controversy, but I see no such thing. 2008 should be a great season, as the Riley era has begun.

More on Longshore; Armed Forces Ticket Information

Posted by Steve | December 5, 2007 at 8:35 pm | In Games, Quarterback | 9 Comments

EDIT [12/18/2007]: Here’s a quick guide to visiting the Armed Forces Bowl, provided by ESPN Travel.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article today with a more complete interview of Jeff Tedford in regards to Nate Longshore. Apparently, the high ankle sprain suffered by Longshore against Oregon was much worse than just an ordinary ankle sprain:

“I didn’t get that it was a broken ankle, but Nate has talked to me about a little chip in the back of his ankle,” Tedford said. “I don’t know what the definition is for sprained, and I don’t know what the exact explanation has been for the injury, but from Day 1, that’s what it has always been.”

“Nate is not the most mobile guy, but one of his attributes has always been his ability to slide and make people miss and move in the pocket,” Tedford said. “There’s no question that the injury has hindered his ability to step up and move around as much as he could.

“I’ve asked him numerous times about whether his ankle bothers him more in the fourth quarter, and that’s not the case,” Tedford said. “It’s a case of a guy trying to be too perfect and trying too hard to get things done. The ankle has limited his mobility, but it hasn’t done anything down the stretch that hasn’t happened in the first quarter.”

“When you talk about the education of quarterback, it’s much more than X’s and O’s,” Tedford said. “It has to do leadership and handling media and criticism because the position is such a focal point. There’s no question that there has been some adversity there, and I’ve been impressed with how Nate’s been able to handle it.

To me, a chipped bone sounds more like a broken or fractured ankle rather than a sprain. It may not require a cast or surgery, but the affects of it I think would a little worse and take longer to heal correctly. If from Day 1, however, this was the case, why is it just coming out now? If Longshore didn’t tell Tedford the full extent of his injury (which I suspect he did), doesn’t that reflect rather poorly on Longshore? Sure, he wants to win, and wants to be the guy to lead the team to victory. But the coach has to know the status of all his players, to make the best decision for the entire team, not just the player. And if Tedford did know, why did he play him after only 2 weeks of rest? With Tedford saying that the “ability to slide and make people miss and move in the pocket” has been one of Longshore’s key attributes, one would think that a broken ankle would have at least partially sidelined him, especially against stronger pass rushes like UCLA and USC.

In regards to the last quote above… maybe the article pulled it out of context, but to me, the “education of the quarterback” isn’t just about “try, try, and try again.” If this were to have occurred in the NFL, Longshore would have been sidelined for at least a few games to give another QB a chance. Just look at Rex Grossman and the other Bears team. If a QB can’t turn things around after a game or two, which by the time we lost to Washington we could tell Longshore couldn’t, they’ve got to learn how to turn things around on the sideline. Anyway, I appreciate the job that Tedford has done since the Holmoe Era, as well as his concentration on each player’s individual growth and integrity, however this whole season he’s been tip-toeing the line between the good of a single player’s growth, and the possible good of the entire team. As he’s already slated Longshore as the definite starter of the Armed Forces Bowl come December 31st, I guess he still hasn’t crossed that line yet. We can always hope, however, that the month will give Longshore’s ankle enough time to finally fully heal, as well as for him to forget this horrible streak and regain some confidence and run through some more intense pressure drills. Otherwise, we’ll just have to hope that if Longshore shows signs of struggling during the game, Tedford will give in and at least go with some form of two quarterback system (even Stanford used a two quarterback system against us) to give our outgoing seniors (and potential early draft jumpers) a chance to end on a bright spot.

For those of you hardcore fans who are still interested in traveling to Fort Worth, Texas (TCU’s campus) for the Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force (9-3, 6-2 conference) on December 31st, tickets are now on sale through the Cal Bears website. Currently, all season ticket holders can purchase tickets, and on friday, December 7th at noon, tickets will go on sale to the general public. Tickets are $40 each for reserved seating, and there is no limit to how many tickets you can order. Hopefully those fans that have the opportunity will go, and represent our struggling Bears well no matter how they do, and give our seniors a good send-off.

Rock bottom: season Longshored

Posted by Eric | December 2, 2007 at 6:09 pm | In Coaches, Games, Quarterback | 33 Comments

Longshore: Deer In Headlights

Cal loses the Axe and goes down 20-13 to Stanford. Unbelievable.

At least in 2005, the season was mitigated by Tedford’s late decision to pull Joe Ayoob for Steve Levy. The Big Game was secured and we found victory in the Las Vegas Bowl.

2007 has turned out much worse than 2005. Indeed, Nate Longshore has performed as poorly as Ayoob did, but he has not been replaced by a healthy and potentially superior backup quarterback waiting on the bench. Cal’s BCS opportunity this season was “Longshored” away by Tedford’s loyalty — as Tedford became loyal to a fault.

Tedford is still the savior of Cal Football. Nate is still a good kid and a Bear. However, there is NO justification for Longshore playing exclusively in the last six games, especially as he struggled mightily and threw game after game away. You could see that he lacked leadership, confidence, and heart, and the whole team followed — they quit and will continue to quit as long as Tedford stubbornly starts a bum quarterback with zero potential to win games.

Today, Cal accepted a bid to play Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, TX on December 31. If you see #9 under center, expect the Bears to lose.

If Tedford doesn’t make the QB position an open competition come Spring, expect another embarrassing disaster in 2008.

Big Game thread

Posted by Eric | December 1, 2007 at 12:27 pm | In Games | 14 Comments

Cal helmetStanford helmet

The Bears must regroup, overcome injuries and inconsistency, and come on the field with inspired energy. I want to see the team determined to wreck havoc after a disappointing season. Blowout the Furd, please. Go Bears.

SF Chronicle: “Saving the season”

For Cal, this season’s version of the Big Game is about more than a 110-game, tradition-filled rivalry.

It’s about making a nationwide statement or the realization that there is no way to salvage a season that started with such promise and could end without a bowl berth. Seemingly, there’s no in-between, and there are starkly differing reactions coming out of the Cal camp this week. …

“We’ve got to clean up the offense and do something about it or the season is going to go to” pot, senior receiver Robert Jordan said. “Early in the season, we were exploding on people. We weren’t just playing to keep it close. We were trying to blow people out of the water. We’ve got to get back to doing that.”

Bruce Feldman: “Picks”

Cal 28, Stanford 10: Coach Jim Harbaugh’s crew is a scrappy bunch, but they don’t have enough athletes to cope with the kind of speed Cal will throw at them. Coach Jeff Tedford is 5-0 against the Cardinal. He’s also covered the spread in four of those five.

SJ Mercury: “These days, Big Game is anything but”

On the silver anniversary of “The Play,” the Big Game has become virtually irrelevant. Sure, it means something to fans of both schools, although not as much as it used to. But beyond its significance to some Old Blues and longtime Cardinal fans, it’s a fading blip on the rivalry radar. …

Basically, the Big Game is caught in rivalry hell: One team is always bad, the other good - but not good enough to have a major bowl bid on the line.

And is the Big Game really the game for Cal these days? My sense is that Old and Young Blues alike would much rather beat USC than Stanford. Stanford is more pest than worthy challenger. The Big Game has lost significance to Cardinal fans in recent years, too, largely because of their school’s awful on-field product.

SF Chronicle: “Big Game not just a passing fancy for QBs”

“I feel like a lot of the team’s disappointments are my fault and are very obvious,” Longshore said. “I feel responsible for the losses. I haven’t played nearly as well as I wanted. I haven’t played nearly as well as I’m capable. At the same time, I’m excited about getting better.” …

In some regards, Longshore has to repair what has transpired this season. After a 3,021-yard, 24-touchdown showing during a 10-win season in 2006, he’s gone for 2,292 yards and 15 scores during this 6-5 season.

Building up a 5-0 start, he completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 1,137 yards and seven touchdowns with two interceptions. After missing one game with a right ankle sprain, Longshore connected 57.2 percent of the time for 905 yards and five touchdowns with eight interceptions in his next five starts.

Cal at Washington

Posted by Eric | November 17, 2007 at 4:59 am | In Games | 33 Comments

Cal helmetWashington helmet

It’s raining in Seattle.

The Huskies’ freshman quarterback Jake Locker is out, but Carl Bonnell is an adequate backup despite throwing 5 picks last season against the Bears. Meanwhile, Cal will be missing DE Rulon Davis, RB Jahvid Best, and DT Matt Malele. DB Marcus Ezeff may be back.

Cal has no business allowing Washington to stay close in this one, but we shall see how the team plays for pride. After Oregon’s loss to Arizona, hopes of 2 Pac-10 teams in BCS are gone. Emerald Bowl here we come.

EDIT: Here is a live video feed of the game from ESPN.

EDIT 2: Cal loses 37-23. Unbelievable.

Cal drowns in fourth quarter woes vs. USC

Posted by Steve | November 14, 2007 at 12:26 am | In Games, Quarterback | 2 Comments

In what was once considered to be one of the biggest games of the season, the Bears found themselves once again in a close game entering the fourth quarter. And yet again, they fell short, losing 24-17 to the Trojans. Entering the fourth quarter tied, the Bears final three possessions resulted in a three-and-out, a fumble, and an interception, allowing the Trojans to escape with a victory. It’s been reported that QB Nate Longshore has taken full responsibility for the loss:

“I take the responsibility on myself,” Longshore said. “I need to play better down the stretch to give us a chance to win. It’s a culmination of this late season. I haven’t been playing well enough for us to win.

“That’s what it comes down to, and I’ll be the first to say it.”

Also of importance in the article is the injury to RB Jahvid Best. He was taken out of the game during the third quarter with an apparent hip injury. To those at the game, his injury was not pronounced, as he came off the field on his own and was briefly examined on the tables by staff before watching the rest of the game. Although he has been ruled out for Saturday’s game up in Washington, let’s hope it is just precautionary and nothing too serious.

It seems to be a recurring theme of poor fourth quarter play on the part of QB Nate Longshore. Since returning from his ankle injury earlier in the season, he has failed to deliver a dominant fourth quarter, despite some considerably strong first halves. Some would argue that he hasn’t put up even a decent fourth quarter, as in the fourth quarter of the previous four games he’s only been 9-of-28 with 0 TDs and 5 INTs. Many fans have been calling for him to be replaced with red-shirt freshman Kevin Riley, who showed great potential in several fourth quarter drives during the Bears’ loss to Oregon State earlier in the season.

In response to these critics, Ted Lee over at Scout.com has done a breakdown of Longshore and Riley’s performances, analyzing their play game-by-game, quarter-by-quarter, and down-by-down. While I realize that Longshore’s play hasn’t been all that bad overall, it’s quite apparent that something is amiss and he has become incapable of playing a full four quarters to his full capacity. As Ted Lee says, “winning a game with a quarterback consistently putting up fourth quarter numbers like this is almost impossible.”

The media on USC-Cal

Posted by Eric | November 9, 2007 at 10:32 am | In Games | 26 Comments

USC helmetCal helmet

ESPN: “Top 25 Overview”

Just a few weeks ago, this game was penciled in as a must-see meeting between a pair of top 3 teams. But with five combined losses over the last five weeks, the matchup has lost some luster. USC has won the last three meetings and is 21-0 in November under Pete Carroll.

CC Times’ Jon Okanes on Bear Talk:

There wasn’t a whole lot to report from Thursday’s practice, and maybe that’s the biggest news. It was hard to tell that it was USC week this week. That’s not to say the Bears didn’t have a good and spirited week of practice, it just didn’t seem that different than another week. And it certainly didn’t seem to have the buzz as Tennessee week or Oregon week. That being said, I know the players all regard this as a big game, despite the fact that the stakes aren’t as high as some may have anticipated before the season.

CC Times: “Little, but pride, rides on USC game”

It’s finally here. Nov. 10. USC vs. Cal. The Pacific-10 game everybody has been waiting for this season. The showdown for . . . third place?

A strange thing has happened since ABC chose this game for its “Saturday Night Football” package, since the game sold out before the season, since the Trojans and Bears were the preseason picks as the top two teams in the Pac-10.

The rest of the conference caught up. Now, instead of being a battle for Pac-10 supremacy with possible Bowl Championship Series implications, Saturday’s game at Memorial Stadium simply will be a survival to stay relevant.

Daily Cal: “Remember, it’s still USC”

However, in the month of October, the now-No. 12 Trojans and the No. 24 Bears lost a combined five games, and what was supposed to be the game of the year is just not. But don’t tell Cal coach Jeff Tedford that the game has lost its importance.

“This is still a big conference game for us, maybe it doesn’t have the national attention or the weight,” Tedford said. “If we would have played it four weeks ago, it probably would have had a lot more weight of course but that’s the national thing. It still carries a lot of weight to us, and it still, I’m sure, it carries a lot of weight to USC.”

Both teams have fallen hard from their lofty rankings. The Bears (6-3, 3-3 in the Pac-10) ascended to No. 2 in national polls for the first time since 1951 before dropping three consecutive games—a first in Tedford’s career.

At the same time, the Trojans (7-2, 4-2) were the No. 1 team in the country. But unexpected losses to Oregon and—even more shocking­—Stanford dropped the Trojans off their perennial pedestal.

ESPN: “USC-Cal has diminished intrigue, but still has bowl implications”

[USC's] star-laden defense, however, has ranged from good to outstanding, though it too has suffered through numerous injuries. It turned in its most dominant performance of the season against the Beavers, piling up nine sacks. That’s probably why Cal coach Jeff Tedford isn’t buying projections that USC’s tumble from the nation’s elite is at hand. …

When Longshore is healthy — i.e., not appearing to favor his right ankle when he throws — Cal’s offense is second only to Oregon’s in the conference. … But when Longshore will be 100 percent is still in doubt. Perhaps in response, Tedford has been more conservative in his play calling of late, which has provoked muted irritation from a fan base that mostly still believes he walks on water.

In the workmanlike 20-17 victory over the Cougars, the Bears produced long drives –17, 20 and 11 plays — but their longest pass went for just 19 yards. Forsett had a 44-yard touchdown run, but gained only 88 yards on his other 31 carries. Moreover, the Bears must contend with this: USC is 21-0 in November under Carroll, though that perfect mark conveniently leaves out last season’s Dec. 2 loss to UCLA that knocked the Trojans out of the national title game.

OC Register: “USC looks to play more aggressive against Cal”

The USC defense … piling up nine sacks and holding the Beavers to fewer than 200 total yards and no touchdowns. But will an aggressive style work against a more intricate Cal offense, with the Pac-10’s best receiving corps and an offensive line that has allowed just eight sacks in nine games?

Somewhat surprisingly, the Trojans have spent a lot of time in aggressive, man-to-man defensive schemes in practice this week. The players seem to love it. …

After praising Cal’s receivers and pass protection, Carroll said, “I’m as confident in our ability to handle these guys as I’ve ever been based on how we’ve played this season.”

Daily Trojan: “Bears not in the position they expected to be when facing USC”

[Longshore] is still not fully recovered but plans to play Saturday against the Trojans. “We’ve been fairly banged up through the season here, and [Longshore] has been a little bit hobbled,” Tedford said. “He’s able to do more things now so he was very efficient last week.”

Despite all of the Golden Bears’ struggles, USC coach Pete Carroll said he still sees the team as dangerous as ever because of Tedford. “He’s done a fantastic job with their program,” Carroll said. “He’s turned the program around and given them a consistency that they haven’t had.”

The hype has died down for what was supposed to be a game that would determine the Pac-10 winner and possibly a trip to the national championship. And no one could be happier with the diminished attention than Tedford, whose team is taking baby steps on its way back to becoming a national power after snapping its three-game losing streak. “I think we have learned one thing - that winning does not come easy,” Tedford said. “We really need to appreciate it when we do get them.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper: “5 to watch”

The best one-on-one matchup this week might very well take place in Berkeley between USC DT Sedrick Ellis (No. 5 on my Top 25 Big Board) and California center Alex Mack. Ellis is the fourth on the team in tackles, including 10½ stops behind the line of scrimmage and 7½ sacks. Mack is a junior but he might be the best pivot man in all of college football this [season].

Three other players to keep an eye for the Trojans are: Rey Maualuga, who leads has 7½ tackles for loss from the linebacker position; and cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Cary Harris. Both will be extremely busy trying to keep tabs on Cal’s wide receiver duo of DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins.

SJ Mercury’s Jon Wilner: “Pac-10 picks of the week: What to make of Cal-USC”

USC (minus-4) AT CAL: Cal struggled to score against quality defenses of Oregon State and UCLA, and the Trojans’ D is at least as good. Will DeSean Jackson play big (like he did against Tennessee and Oregon) or disappear (like he did last year against USC)? Look for the Trojans to run the ball until Cal proves it can stop Washington/Johnson/McKnight. The Bears will have to be aggressive to get pressure on John David Booty, which means play-action could work wonders for the Trojans, especially play action to tight end Fred Davis, a nightmare matchup for everyone in the conference. If USC limits turnovers, it’s hard to see Cal winning. GIMME: USC.

SJ Mercury’s Jon Wilner: “Cal could get thumped”

Been pondering the Cal-USC game for a few days, and I can’t escape the feeling that the Bears are gonna get thumped.

I’m not talking about a four-touchdown differential or anything like that. I’m talking about a no-frills beat down … Cal makes a few big plays early, maybe even grabs the lead, but USC grinds away, takes control and wins by 10 or 14 points. Cal fans leave Memorial Stadium feeling like the Bears were never really in the game in the second half — never really had a legit chance to win.

I’m not sure why I feel that way, don’t have a great reason for thinking that: The Bears haven’t played well lately, but neither has USC — until last weekend, which it torched Oregon State.

Live blogging for Wash. St

Posted by Eric | November 3, 2007 at 5:46 pm | In Games | 17 Comments

Washington State helmetCal helmet

Well, here we go. The Bears host Washington State (3-5, 1-4 Pac-10) tonight with an opportunity to get back on track after a three-game skid.

Cal should definitely win this one, but given the shaky state of the Bears the Cougars are not a team to be overlooked. They’re coming off a big 27-7 victory over UCLA. However, while they’re 3-1 at home, they have not won on the road this season. They also have an excellent QB in Alex Brink but they’ll be missing starting running back Dwight Tardy.

6:44p: Sidenote, ASU taking a shellacking from Oregon right now. It’s 35-16 and the Ducks don’t look like they’re slowing down at all.

7:15p: Ducks win 35-23 while #2 BC trails 7-0 to FSU. We may be seeing Oregon in the National Championship game come January.

7:21p: Nate Longshore is the quarterback and he looks fine for now. Not sure what’s up with the coverage, but the game just switched on a few minutes into the first quarter. The Bears are sporting the gold jerseys and the offense is moving down the field pretty well.

7:27p: Whoops, FB Brian Holley just dropped a touchdown pass. Still, it looks like the offense is clicking right now, especially the ground game. Justin Forsett and Jahvid Best just made some great runs.

7:31p: QB sneak with Longshore already busted up? Bad idea. The announcers are skeptical about it too. But Forsett takes in the touchdown and the Bears have a successful, efficient opening drive. Bears lead, 7-0. Now… the defense goes to work.

7:38p: I’ll say cautiously that the defense looks alright… Zach Follett makes a big hit, Thomas DeCoud makes a great play breaking up a long pass. Luckily, Brink overthrows a wide-open receiver — whoever was covering him fell down.

7:42p: As usual, Longshore botches the long ball and throws an interception. Lavelle Hawkins appeared to be in perfect position but Longshore simply could not get the ball to him. Luckily, the defense subsequently holds the Cougs to a three-and-out, but let’s see if Longshore can overcome the last setback and lead the Bears down the field from inside the 5 yard line.

7:47p: Forsett and the ground game are tearing up the Cougs right now. However, I feel like I’ll be holding my breath whenever Longshore delivers the ball.

7:56p: Longshore attempts the long ball and is ALMOST PICKED AGAIN on a crucial 3rd and 2! His throws look absolutely terrible right now. The announcers can’t stop talking about his form which is obviously hampered by the ankle injury — they highlight his footwork and repeat “he is really struggling with his feet.” Will we see Kevin Riley soon?

***

EDIT 11/4: Sadly, the internet went out at my apartment complex at this point, effectively killing my live blogging efforts.

The Bears’ drive kept going with a long march down the field. However, with only runs attempted inside the 10 yard line, Cal unsurprisingly settled for a field goal. The first half finished uneventfully besides a nice interception capped with a 37-yard run by Syd’Quan Thompson. Cal totally dominated the time of possession of the first half but only ended up with 10 points to show for it.

In the third quarter, defenses on both squads looked pretty decent — or, the offenses couldn’t execute. There were a few field goals, but nothing too spectacular. 13-6.

Forsett made a bad fumble in the fourth quarter in the Cougar red zone and ended a nice, methodical drive. After exchanging three-and-outs and Washington State registering another field goal, Forsett broke out for a much-needed 44-yard touchdown run opened up by center Alex Mack. 20-9.

Down by two scores, the Cougs made a desperation drive and managed to score a touchdown with a very close two-point conversion. However, the Hawk comes up with the onside kick attempt – game over, Cal wins it 20-17.

This game was much too close for comfort, but I’m pleased that the losing “streak” is over. Longshore performed adequately and looked good with short passes — meanwhile, his long passes continue to terrify me. Overall, the offense is missing something intangible… things really need to come together or there’s no way the Bears take down USC next week.

Despite the clear need for improvement, I can’t help but feel good about the much-needed win last night. Go Bears.

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