Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A CAL FAN’S NOTES WASHINGTON



The sun was up at 7am. Oranges dominated. Trees were dancing, but it didn’t seem like much. Hit the courts at Clairmont by 8. Tossed up first ball to serve, and ball jumped two feet. Don’t let this game come down to a field goal, was all I could think of.
Unbelievably, it was 15 years ago this weekend when the Berkely Hills exploded. My host, and opponent this morning, TGR lost his house and everything in it back in ’91. Oddly, we played Washington that same weekend back then. It was Palowski’s Citrus Bowl bound squad, and that was one of the great games of all time.
“Eerie” was the only word for the hours that led up to the tailgate at Kleeburger.
As 22 point favorites, I wasn’t much concerned about it coming down to a field goal. On the other hand, it was Willingham. He never lost a Big Game to Cal. (And I carry a special spot for him in my heart, as he allowed my kid to walk on and be “Rudy”, the 6th string QB for two years back at Notre Dame).
Willingham teams are always prepared, and they always hit. We’ve been doing a little hitting ourselves, lately, so we were all optimistic.
Where we tailgate (the Kleeburger lot), will be a creek again some day. The new Stadium plan calls for Strawberry Creek to be opened up again (I guess it goes underground now). How cool will that be?
A new TV was set up at the eastern end of the parking lot. Slowly, we are becoming more fan friendly—credit Sandy Barbour.
Ditty got, their starting QB was out, so odds were in our favor.
In the parking lot the “insiders” told us Lynch would be rested to give him three weeks off his ankle. Sure enough, Forsett started.
Washington deferred on the coin toss. Longshore was sacked for a 7 yard loss on the first play. Intentional grounding was called as well, so we started 2nd and 22 from our own 8. (I knew those winds were a bad omen).
Forsett picked up 6, but a pass to Jackson fell incomplete so we punted.
They marched down—Bonnell not looking like a rookie QB—and kicked a field goal. With the exception of Tennessee, had we been behind before?
We put together a mini 6 plays, before Larson had to kick again.
Lynch came in for one play, and picked up a yard. So much for resting the ‘ol ankles.
Washington runs 6 plays for 20 yards before kicking. We do the same—5 plays for 17 yards, before punting. We’re hoping this is not on National TV.
All I can think of is the wind. Back in the day the Big 10 was three yards and a cloud of dust. Why? I learned when Bartkowski took the Bears back against Mike White’s Illini team. He didn’t complete a pass in the first or third quarters. But completed all of them in the 2nd and 4th. Why? The wind. It knuckle balls, a football, and not only is it impossible to throw, it “jumps” and receivers have a hard time catching it.
We were on the planes of Champaign today.
They were 7 plays for 50 yards—and a punt. We were 4 for 35 and a punt. The stadium announcer asked the stands to keep it down so the rest of us could sleep.
We did attempt a 50 yard field go, but like my serves—wide right.
Bonnell hit Russo on a slant and he took it in for a 49 yard TD. Could this really be happening? 10 zip.
Starting with 47 seconds left, Longshore hit 3 straight bringing it down to their 4. Five seconds left. Time for one pass?
Tedford played it straight and kicked the field goal to make ti 10 to 3 with 2 seconds left.
They went three and out to start the second half. Hobbling Lynch carried for 16—caught a pass for 26—carried for 4—and then carried for 14 down to the 2. In two plays Forsett took it in to make it 10 all.
Tedford had put the game on Lynch’s shoulders (ankles) and he’d responded.
D continuted to play tough. They kicked and we marched down until Schnieder hit a 50 yard field goal. 13 to 10.
Follet (that kid can play) made a diving interception, and for the first time this year. We ran 6 straight running plays. Alas, the last one was on 4th and short, and Lynch was stopped—so the Huskies took over at their own 14.
The 4th quarter began with Washington completeing an 86 yard drive to take the lead 17 to 13.
We went 68 yards in 9 plays and this time settled for a Schnieder field goal from the 29. At 17 to 16 all I could think about was serving with that wind. With 10:21 to go, time was becoming a factor.
The Huskies punted and we took over with 6:50 at our own 18. We put together an impressive 12 play 82 yard drive mixing passing and running with Lynch going the final 17. At 22 to 17, we lined up for a two point conversion. Tedford always throws on third and short, yet he ran Forsett right up the middle for a crucial 2 point conversion. Brilliant.
The rest is history: They started on their 22. Got to our 40, and took time out with 6 ticks left.
Hey, St. Helena’s own Jimmy Hunt did it to Jerry Bradley with one tick left back in ’65. (As a side light to Hunt’s game winner to Bradley, the Penn State Coach lost his job and was replaced by a kid named Joe Paterno).
Well, Bonnell flung it deep down the middle. Bishop was poised to go up and knock it down. He was hit from behind by two other Bears who were trying to make a play.
After the game, he said he didn’t know whether to intercept it or just bat it down. His indecision caused the ball to carom backwards, and Marlon Woods plucked it out of the air and carried it into the end zone.
Tie game. No time. Overtime.
Washington wins the toss, but wisely goes on defense. Lynch takes it in from 22 yards out on the 2nd play and we are up by 7.
After three plays, they’ve got a first at our 6. Then Thompson and Mebane combine to tackle the runner for a five yard loss. On 2nd and 11 from the 11, Bonnell is picked off by Bishop who runs it all the way back to the Washington 16. (As a sidelight, had a fumbled I think Washington gets the ball there—first and 10). But I’m not entirely sure.
Old school guys know the law is, on 4th down the ball is batted to the ground with both hands, like an illegal volley ball hit. Kids now-a-days intercept on 4th down. A Hail Mary, is no different.
If one is taking this as a “teaching moment”, the lesson is two-fold. One never 12 to intercept a Hail Mary—drive the ball into the turf. Two: Db’s must talk to one another—never hit another guy off the ball. It’s like knocking a rebound away from your own player. If you see the guy in front of you go up, never knock into him. It’s his play to make.
Others will say, “heat of the battle”, or you can’t take away initiative etc. etc—but smart football is smart ball.
Of course, who can criticize a guy like Bishop, who says he learned his lesson. All he had was 16 tackles, and the pick which one the game. He’s such a good kid, and such a throw back (He likes Butkus and Singletary) that you just have to pull for him.
Oddest stat: What would you have said the score would have been, had you been told before the game, we’d get 5 picks and were favored by 22?
As Art Arlett used to say, “It was a great day for California.”


For the longest drive of the day, click here to watch Lynch after the game.

From Greg:
RSVP for Cal's pre-game tailgates at Arizona and USC! The California Alumni Association (CAA) hosts pre-game tailgates before every away football game, so don't miss the parties before Arizona and USC! Full details including price, menu, maps, RSVP info, and more are on our tailgates page: ARIZONA, Nov. 11: The tailgate starts 2 1/2 hours before game time (TBA) on Gittings Lawn, located on the east side of campus at University Blvd (UA Mall) and Campbell Ave. The tailgate includes 2 free adult drinks! USC, Nov. 18: The tailgate starts at 2:30pm (game time is 5pm) at Jesse Brewer Park, which is on the corner of Exposition Blvd. and Vermont, on the grounds of Exposition Park, adjacent to the Coliseum. Don't miss the biggest tailgate of the year at over 2000 people! RSVP online today for significantly cheaper prices. Prices will go up by $10 on November 4 for *both* tailgates, and the walk-up price will be $10 more.

Erin from CAA sent me a post and said that Sandy sent the following e-mail regarding the Nov. 11 Arizona game, making it look like a probable 4:15pm game time in Arizona (that is 3:15 California time): "Actually, we already have an agreement with Arizona that one of us (either FoxAZ or ComCast (or both)) will broadcast the game at 4:15pm. Obviously, given our Pac 10 tv package, we've needed to learn to be a little more proactive. We were a little slow out of the gate, but I think we've got it covered now. FYI, we may not know about the AZ game and the ABC selection until 6-days prior to the game. Go Bears! SB" Note that ABC could pick up the game at 12:30pm, but it's improbable as this game is Arizona's Homecoming.


More from Greg:
A good article is sent in to me by Walt and is posted below, "Interesting article from USA Today regarding the PAC 10. Note that Sagarin ranks the Pac as stronger than the SEC (So Easy Conference)." Also a good one sent in from Dave, a CAL alum living in Oregon. This one is also posted in full below. Dave says, " here is a local article on a Cal recruit [from Oregon]. Maybe the next Lynch?"
FOOTBALL Bear Bits ... this year marks the first time since 1950 that Cal has opened 5-0 in conference play ... Cal leads the nation with 18 interceptions this year ... the Golden Bears lead the Pac-10 in turnover margin at #10 ... Daymeion Hughes is tied for second in the nation with seven interceptions ... the Bears have been over 50,000 fans for 16 straight home games - the Oregon sellout was just the fourth non-Big Game sellout in the last 50 years ... Cal lost its season opener each of the last two years it won the conference championship (1958 and 1975).....Despite missing the second halves of both the Oregon and Portland State games due to injury, Lynch still leads the Pac-10 in rushing (113.4 yards per game, 12th in the nation) and all-purpose yards (153.0 per game, eighth in the nation). ....California is now 5-0 in Pac-10 play; it is the first time the Golden Bears have opened league play at 5-0 since the 1950 season, the third of three straight undefeated conference seasons - as well as the third of three straight Rose Bowl appearances. Since 1950, the Bears have won more than five conference games just five times, including the 2004 season under Tedford, who has never had a losing season in league play.....since posting the worst record at Cal in 104 years (1-10) in 2001, the Golden Bears have rolled to five straight winning seasons since the arrival of head coach Jeff Tedford. Last year, Cal won eight games and so far in 2006, the Bears are 7-1, marking the first time the Golden Bears have had five straight winning seasons in over 50 years (Pappy Waldorf's juggernaut teams reeled off six straight winning marks from 1947-52)........Arizona tailgate: all info is now up at www.alumni.berkeley.edu/tailgates then click on Arizona


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