Top 5 Individual Performances (Offense)

May 31, 2008

Sorry about the sporadic posting but I am going to do my best to post 2-3 times per week from now until the team reconvenes. Until then there will be a bunch of posts using all too easy to write rankings. Today, I begin with the top 5 individual performances by a player on offense during the Tedford Era.

5. Adimchinobe Echemandu v. USC, September 27, 2003: Not the most statistically dominant game, particularly by a running back.  But, Echemandu was the engine behind Cal’s 34-31 over then #3 USC.  He ran the ball 34 times for 147 yards and found a way to move the chains time and time again.  While sentimental favorite Reggie Robertson is better known for his OT touchdown pass to Jonathan Makonnen, I’ll always remember Echemandu as the real star of Tedford’s greatest victory as head coach of the Golden Bears.

4. JJ Arrington v. Southern Miss, December 4, 2004: On ESPN, with the Rose Bowl on the line, JJ Arrington put in one of the finest performances ever by a Cal running back.  JJ carried the ball 31 times for 261 yards and almost single-handedly destroyed the Golden Eagles.  It capped off a regular season where Arrington ran for over 100 yards in every game, totaling 2,018 yards and scoring 15 touchdowns.  Finishing 8th place in Hesiman voting was no consolation prize for Arrington who watched Texas slip past Cal in the final polls and rip roses out of Cal’s hands.

3. Marshawn Lynch v. Washington, October 21, 2006: The signature Marshawn performance.  It was a game that should have never been close but then #11 Cal was down 17-13 in the fourth quarter.  Marshawn would have none of that.  With 1:52 remaining in the game, Lynch scored on a 17-yard run to put Cal ahead by 7.  Amazingly, Huskie backup QB Carl Bonnell connected on a 40-yard hail Mary with no time remaining to send the game to overtime.  Lynch scored on the second play of overtime and it proved to be the game winner.  In celebration, Marshawn attempted to ghost ride the injury cart and ended up a favorite for a lot of YouTube users.

2. Steve Levy v. Stanfurd, November 19, 2005: The 2005 quarterback controversy seems quaint compared to the current Longshore-Riley imbroglio.  After terrible performances against Oregon and USC, Cal fans were clamoring for change at quarterback.  With presumptive starter Longshore injured and Kyle Reed redshirting, Tedford was reluctant to put former fullback Steve Levy at the helm of Cal’s offense.  Tedford relented and Cal bounced back to win perhaps the most satisfying Big Game victory of his tenure.  Levy’s individual statistics were pedestrian, 10 of 18 for 125 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.  But, they were remarkable given it was Levy’s first collegiate start after the team dropped their previous two games and faced their cross-town rival.

1. Aaron Rodgers v. USC, October 9, 2004: Rarely do teams earn the sort of respect Cal received in the wake of their 23-17 loss to the Trojans in 2004.  Rodgers drove the Bears to the precipice of greatness only to fail with four chances at goal-to-go.  Out-gaining the seemingly invincible Trojans 424 yards to 205 and taking them down to their goal line officially put Cal on the national map.  What made the individual performance so noteworthy was the 23 straight competitions Rodgers threw to begin the game, tying the NCAA record – and, against one of the best pass defenses in the country.
 
Honorable Mention

Geoff MacArthur v. Stanfurd, November 22, 2003: Macarthur’s 2003 season stands alone as the greatest ever by a receiver at Cal. He broke Big Game records with 16 catches for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns. It completed a season that saw MacArthur gain 1,504 yards receiving and break single season records for 100 yard receiving games and 150 yard receiving games.

Aaron Rodgers v. VA Tech, December 26, 2003:  On national television and in Cal’s first bowl game since 1996, Rodgers completed 27 of 35 passes for 394 yards, threw 2 touchdowns and ran for 2 more.  Cal’s 52-49 victory set the stage for the team’s 2004 preseason ranking at #14 and for their eventual run toward what should have been a Rose Bowl.  The game itself is perhaps one of the most exciting since Tedford arrived.  Cal initially fell behind 21-7, but the Bears stormed back to take a 42-28 lead into the fourth quarter only to cede the advantage with 3:11 left in the game.  On the subsequent FG winning drive Rodgers completed all three pass attempts, for 51 yards, leading Cal to its first bowl victory in 11 years. 

Marshawn Lynch v. BYU, December 22, 2005: Surprisingly, 2005 was Cal’s third most successful season, despite up and down play at the quarterback position.  Much of the reason for that success was came from Cal’s ground game led by Lynch and Forsett.  In the Las Vegas Bowl Marshawn was at his finest, running for a career-high 194 yards and scoring 3 touchdowns.  Cal’s strong end to the 2005 season made up for some of the emotional letdowns and setup yet another high preseason ranking the following year.

Desean Jackson v. Oregon, September 29, 2007: Jackson had several memorable performances and plays; but, as a receiver, he was at his best against the Ducks this past year.  He caught 11 balls for 161 yards and scored 2 second-half touchdowns.  The performance vaulted Jackson to the top of a lot of Heisman and was probably, for most of us, our last great memory of Desean in a Cal uniform.

Kevin RIley v. Air Force, December 31, 2007: To be honest, I thought of including Riley’s performance against Oregon State instead.  The Beavers were a more formidable opponent than Air Force and Riley’s fourth quarter is both legendary and infamous.  However, it’s impossible to ignore how effective Riley was against Air Force, leading Cal back from a 21-0 first-half deficit.  Riley was 16 of 19 for 269 yards, threw for 3 touchdowns and ran for another.  Just what Cal needed, more fire added to an already smoldering quarterback controversy and Tedford avoided his first losing season as Cal head coach.

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So, Where is Evans Diamond?

May 25, 2008

For the last 7 years I’ve lived in the Bay Area. During that time I’ve attended every home football game and quite a few hoops games. But, not once had I taken the time to go to a Cal baseball game.

Friday, as I was sitting in my apartment around 1:30PM and eating breakfast, I decided it was time to find out where the Bears play baseball. Honestly, I has no idea where the field was.

I parked in front of RSF and walked past Edwards Field, then around the campus perimeter in search of Evans Diamond. Finally, after asking a couple security guards and some UCLA fans, I was pointed in the right direction.

Admittedly, I am pretty impressed with the setup. While the atmosphere is somewhere between Single A baseball and Babe Ruth League, the diamond and the surroundings are not that bad. I love the pictures of Cal baseball greats in left field – not that there are that many greats to commemorate.

Unfortunately, despite having Tyson Ross on the mound, the Bears lost 8-0. And, while 65% of those in attendance were family and friends making me feel like I was attending a party I wasn’t invited to, I decided to give it a go one more time on Saturday. I mean, they gotta score a run while I’m there, right?

No. They don’t. And, after yesterday, with me in attendance, Cal has been outscored 15-0. Of course, on Sunday Cal bounced back with a 7-6 record to at least finish with a .500 record in-conference.

Although I don’t foresee attending Cal baseball games on a regular basis, at least I know where Evans Diamond is. And, apparently, as long as I am not there, they field a pretty good ball club too.


Love Triangle

May 21, 2008

tedfordsmoochesdesean

Winning against Tennessee healed a whole lot of wounds from the 2006 season. It provided revenge and it provided vindication. It put Cal in the national spotlight and confirmed Desean Jackson’s Hesiman candidacy.

But, somewhere along the way, and perhaps throughout Desean’s entire tenure at Cal, there were always rumors surrounding Desean. He’s not a team player. He doesn’t work hard enough. He doesn’t listen. All those rumors, in addition to Desean’s diminutive stature, led to a precipitous decline in THA1’s draft stock.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Desean Jackson saga, at least for Cal fans, is the relationship between Desean and Coach Tedford.

Desean was Tedford’s first elite recruit out of Southern California and it came on the heals of what should have been Cal’s first Rose Bowl since Joe Kapp last drank Tequilla. For the most part, when Desean played, he met and exceeded expectations, scoring 20 career touchdowns over three seasons. On the other hand, Cal went 0-3 against USC during his three seasons and his up-and-down junior season left a bad taste in the mouth of everyone associated with Cal football.

However, when Desean announced that he was entering the NFL Draft, he did so via conference call, with Coach Tedford on the line. After Desean announced, Tedford answered a few questions from the media, lauded Desean’s ability and contributions, and told the departing junior that he loved him. What seemed like a somewhat tumultuous relationship suddenly looked healthy.

Behind the scenes however, there was indeed discontent. The Philadelphia Daily News recently talked to Tedford, Desean, and Desean’s father, Bill Jackson. According to Bill Jackson, Tedford believed Desean’s family was too involved in his football career and Tedford still believes that was the case:

“With outside opinions and outside advice always eating at DeSean, he was in a very tough spot,” Tedford said yesterday, when asked about that discussion. “He’s trying to be a team guy, trying to fit in and play his role, but dealing with outside information always eating at him, and not always positive. It ended up putting him in a very difficult position. He’s had to deal with a lot of different people’s opinions being shot at him. That’s where I think he has grown, and will continue to grow, on being his own man, using his own common sense. Being part of the meetings and the offense, he knows better than the outsiders what is going on.”

Hopefully Tedford is right, Desean has grown, but it’s interesting to hear that Andy Reid won’t let Bill Jackson near the Eagles’ facilities.

With regard to work ethic, again, Tedford concurs that it may have been lacking while Desean was at Cal:

“I don’t know that he worked as hard he could have, because he’s a very natural player,” Tedford said. “Now that he’s in the NFL, and he has to compete with guys who are all as good as he is, he’ll figure out he needs to work . . . He got away with doing things on natural ability a lot at this level, that he probably won’t be able to do at that level. I don’t think he’s opposed to it, but he’d probably even admit he can work harder.

“I don’t think DeSean is malicious, or a detriment, in any way, shape or form . . . He’s young . . . I think he will continue to grow, but I think he’s a good-hearted person who wants to do well. I think if he surrounds himself with the right people, who lead him in the right direction, he will definitely want to go in that direction. I have no doubt that DeSean does have the character and the characteristics to be a good person and a great player.”

I think Tedford is right, Desean was not and is not a cancer. Like a lot of elite college players, he could and did get by on his natural talent. And, it isn’t his fault that his family may have involved themselves a bit too much in Desean’s football ventures. While someday I would like to hear what really was going on in the locker room, how the team’s chemistry unraveled, I’m still willing to give Desean the benefit of the doubt.

That said, Tedford looks so much more comfortable these days. Most likely, it’s because even Tedford admits, the team’s chemistry is much better this year. Well, and they can start throwing over the middle again.


Hoops Schedule Released

May 19, 2008

Cal released the 2008-2009 men’s hoops schedule today and from the looks of things not much changed from previous years. However, two positive things jump out immediately: (1) Cal will compete in “to-be-named” tournament in Vegas; and (2) Cal plays two other local programs in UOP to open the regular season and USF the week of the Furd road game.

While the competition in the TBN tourney looks average at best, the locale is fantastic. Vegas baby!! Vegas!!!!! I really like including schools in the schedule. There are some decent mid-major programs here in the Bay Area and given the success of the mid-majors over the past few years, why not play some decent ones in our own backyard?

Overall, as the press release from Cal states, the Bears have had the 6th and 12th toughest schedule the last two years according to Sagarin. Of course, that ranking has little to do with Cal’s non-conference schedule and a lot more to do with the level of competition within the Pac-10. For the most part, I think the schedule is a small step in the right direction. I would still like to see Cal face an elite program outside its conference every year and the home schedule is not very good at all, again. I have not purchased season tickets for hoops since 2004-2005 and this home schedule, even with Monty at the helm, won’t compel me to do so this year either.


Bears Trapped in a Cage

May 17, 2008

trappedinacageofemotion

Well, well, that Glenn Dickey article certainly ignited a firestorm . . . on Bear Insider at least (See here, here, and here). Mutiny!!!! Run Longshore out of town!!!!! All hail King Riley, ruler of Cal Football, overlord of game clock management!!!!!

towelofshame

Let’s try to keep things in perspective and not go off the deep end. Jeff Tedford isn’t going to throw Nate under the bus, publicly. He also isn’t going to merely anoint a guy starter after almost two games at the helm. Is Tedford stubborn? It kind of looks that way. But, just because he didn’t go all Neuheisel on us and name a starter only to watch that starter and the backup subsequently go down to injury, doesn’t mean the right guy won’t win the job.

Remember, when Tedford refused to supplant Ayoob, he didn’t automatically give Steve Levy the job the following year. There was an open competition between Longshore, Levy and Ayoob. OK, it wasn’t the most riveting competition – Levy decided to take himself out by throwing a beer at some dude in North Beach and Ayoob still looked rattled. Still, to some Tedford looks stubborn, but maybe he is just patient. After all, he is still coaching our California Golden Bears and the SAHPC is not yet built.

Whether it’s patience or stubbornness, Tedford also seems to like information, a lot of it. That’s one of the reasons Cal does not give out a ton of early scholarship offers, they want to see how some of them change from their junior to senior years.

There are 105 days until kickoff. (Yes, I’m counting.) I am going to try my damnedest from here on out and try to avoid second guessing this process until we get some real news, not a Glenn Dicky article that parsed quotes to fit in to the theme he tried to articulate. Oh, who am I kidding? Tedford is out of control!!!! He needs to go!!!!! Hire Steve Spurrier!!!!!


War, Declared

May 16, 2008

Fine CGB, steal my fucking banner only hours after I start my site. Now that you guys are “big time” you don’t have any need for us WordPress, Blogsome, or Blogger folks. But, don’t think I’m gonna back down from some Longshore loving Marxists quoting Aladdin. So, enjoy your fanshots, fanposts and oh so wonderful realtime commenting, just know I’m watching, lurking, and totally planning my revenge.


QB1 Controversy Revisited

May 15, 2008

Glenn Dickey wrote a piece yesterday on Cal’s fall from grace last season and the changes made to address that fall. For the most part, Dickey seems to agree that Cal addressed those causes for concerns I spelled out in my first post, particularly the arrival of Cignetti and the new receivers. The most interesting part was about the QB1 controversy:

“I wish people would think of Nate as a warrior who was trying to do everything he could to help us win, but instead, it seemed everybody was blaming him when we lost,” said Tedford. “He’d be on campus and some pimple-faced freshman would come up to him and tell him he was a bum. Nate probably would have liked to haul off and hit him but he knew he couldn’t do that.”

Tedford is correct in calling the criticism by some segment of Cal fans as over-the-top.  That same treatment did in fact end Joe Ayoob’s career.  (Though, he still got his Cal degree.)  But, what Tedford doesn’t seem to recognize is the criticism of his stubbornness.  

Twice now Tedford stuck with a quarterback that was clearly performing below par (.e. Ayoob and Longshore).  He certainly had no problem pulling Reggie Robertson for Aaron Rodgers in 2003.  And, vice-versa in the upset of USC that year.  Since then, in perhaps an emotional attachment to his recruits, Tedford has latched onto his annointed leaders too long.

What’s most puzzling about this go-around is Tedford does not seem to recognize Riley’s superior play last year and Nate’s poor second-half performances: 

“Writers kept throwing up statistics like the number of touchdowns thrown in the fourth quarter and the number of interceptions, but there was more to it than that. Against UCLA, Nate was throwing very well against just about the best defense in the country when he threw that bad interception in the fourth quarter (returned for a touchdown). After that, he was intercepted twice more but those were just long passes he was hoping might connect.”

Coach, I would accept that explanation if it wasn’t for Longshore’s TRENDLINE.  It wasn’t just one game where Nate disappeared in the second-half, Nate has struggled after halftime more often than not over his entire career at Cal.  Maybe he tries to do too much.  Maybe it’s just a matter of receiver’s running the wrong routes.  Maybe it’s karma for not going on his Mormom mission.  Or, perhaps there is fire where there’s smoke.  

I am not saying definitively that Cal has to start Kevin Riley.  And, I understand that Tedford is not going to throw Longshore under the bus publicly.  But, I do think Coach has misinterpreted Nate’s second-half statistics.  And, it doesn’t seem like Riley has received enough praise for what he did accomplish, even if it was in a loss to Oregon State and a comeback bowl win over Air Force.