Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Cal Fan's Notes/Tennessee Waltz

What was Saturday’s finest moment? Desean’s Heisman hyping 77 yard punt return? Follet’s hit of Ainge and Worrell’s fumble recovery and sprint to an early TD? The Goal line stand? Jahvid’s 34 yard streak? Forsett’s 156 yards?

To those of us who were in Knoxville some 8,808 hours ago, the moment which sent chills down our spines was when the rooting section broke out in a staccato “Pac 10 football. Pac 10 football.” With about 5 minutes to go, that chant sent the Tennessee fans stampeding for the exits.

Those of us who sat in that sea of orange last year have not been able to erase the haunting sound of their chanting “S.E.C. S.E.C.,” for seemingly hours on end. We had nothing to counter their taunts.

Well, Jeff Tedford, the C.C. Meyers of College Football, shut ‘em all up for good. What a grand moment.

We may lose this week. (Does the name Appalachian St. ring a bell?). We may undergo a rash of injuries. We may choke or just have plain bad luck. Maybe even a scandal. Anything can happen in college football. But one truth is immutable.

For the first time since Andy Smith’s Wonder Teams and Pappy’s Boys, The California Golden Bears are one of the truly elite teams in the country. That’s a lot of bravado for a school which hasn’t been to a Rose Bowl in almost 50 years, but it’s a simple fact. We need no false modesty.

The Bears treated Tennessee like a White House intern during the Clinton administration. We dissed ‘em every which way. We dominated in every facet of the game, and save for some untypical defensive mix ups (more on that later), we showed why memorial Stadium is truly our house (19 out of our last 21).

The man I felt most sorry for was the Stanford State Scout who is assigned to check out the Bears. Lucky for him the Bridge was closed and CC Meyers was just beginning his miracle working.

From here on out, Alumni all over the globe will be using the word “we”. Last year at this time it was all about what “they” did wrong—and can “they” bounce” back. We alumni are such good winners.

Saturday morn was a hot one in the Valley. Our friends, Country and Connie had flown in for the Game (he was raised in Big Stone Gap, Virginia 100 miles from Knoxville). Dressed in their Orange and big T’s (for Tedford, I guess), we were the odd couple as we headed down to the parking lot for the tailgate.

Goobs had us stop and Target so she could buy some pink panties to hang on a cloths line (Anything for the joke) over her table where she handed out Pink Panty Pull downs (Vodka, Pink Lemonade, and “just a splash” of Sprit) to the Tennessee faithful.

Arriving 5 hours before kick off seemed just about right.

The dendrophiliacs (look it up) were out in force and properly caged. A Cop asked Country what he thought of them, and in that thick Southern accent he drawled, “Hayell. Nothin’ a couple ah good coon dogs an’ a chayan sahw could’n fix.”

(Is dendrophilia legal between consenting adults?)

The Tennessee folks who invited us on their boat (part of the Volunteer Navy) last year, showed up at Stoney’s and like Union and Rebel pickets during the Civil War, we swapped stories congenially, knowing in a few hours vicious fighting was about to take place.

Observations from an amateur:

Last week, a tall good looking guy predicted that Follet would cause a turn over and that Worrell would show why a pro scout wrote him up along with 16 other Bears. Ignorant Tiresias that he was, he failed miserably to predict it would happen in the same play.

In the first series, Follet drilled Ainge in the back, causing a fumble which was picked up by Worrell who sprinted into the end zone.

This was not your Father’s Bears.

Still, we never put the Vols away.

Broken finger or no, Ainge constantly threw to the right man. Interestingly, he was only three for 11 in the 4th quarter, but I’m sure that doesn’t mean that the pain killer was wearing off. They don’t shoot up college kids do they?

What was untypical for a Gregory coached defense (he’s been the real secret weapon during the Tedford Era), was the amount of confusion. When Tennessee would line up in a 4 wide out set, linebackers and safeties where shouting at one another—unsure where to line up. On one down, we had 5 players outside of their right tackle (or was it the tight end?). (Fortunately, Ainge made one of his few poor throws, down the middle.

Tennessee was going with the no huddle, so that accounts for some of it, but it was obvious which slot was going to run what and be open, and Ainge usually found him. No doubt that will be corrected as the season progresses. Point is, our defense is better than the scheme we were playing that day.

This seems impossible, but Jahvid Best is faster than Jackson. We were told that when they “race” they stay stride for stride—with neither one “winning”. Seems there’s an unwritten gentleman’s agreement that there’s no need to “prove” who is the fastest.

The one who didn’t do anything wrong, but might find himself fighting for playing time is Montgomery. He starred in spring and during camp. He’s the real deal, but there will be pressure to get Jahvid more touches.

We just take Forsett for granted. What an athlete—always goes forward. Clearly stronger than last year. Several times appeared down and then did a “Lynch refusing to go down.

` We have more playmakers than ever before, but it’s all about the Big Boys. Check out the “Mack-pancakes” if you’ve got Tivo. Several of the Big Boys up front put the hurt on some Vols.

Game’s oddest moment: There were just under three minutes left. Forsett appeared to score—they didn’t allow it, so it was third on the one foot line. Rather than huddle, Longshore rushed the team up to the line, Forsett barely even got set—and a fumble ensued on the attempted QB sneak.

Very Un-Tedford. Logic would have dictated taking even more time off the clock while calling a play.

Guess here is that they’d seen something in the films where a quick snap would catch the Vols unawares. Could make for a good Grid Club question.

The Vols had the ball back, and instead of 52 total points (thought that would look good on ESPN), we were only leading by 14, with the very real fear that something bad could happen.

Alas. These truly are not your father’s Bears.

Only good stuff happened---as it had all day.

Speaking of good stuff, how much of a stud is Ta'ufo'ou (He of the many vowel movements). Sprained meniscus and he starts? Had some good carries, to boot.

Longshore never sacked—barely pressured. We had trouble getting to Ainge, as well.

Special teams, spectacular. Schneider pulled a quad during warm ups, but back up Jordan Kay was perfect. Punter Andrew Larsen is the Gary Fowler of his day.

No sense to mention Desean’s punt return. It looked choreographed, like a Buzby Berkeley spectacular in the old musicals. After that first punt, Fulmer (who boasted he was going to kick to Desean) elected to go for the “Gender neutral” approach to punting. Not a macho blast, nor a girlie out of bounds—just a tweener.

Desean Jackson and Barry Bonds—separated at birth.

(Thought: What happens if Jackson lines up about 30 yards from scrimmage and Best is stacked behind him, about 45 yards deep. Or vice versa?)

Bears ranked 10th today. In True Mack Brown Fashion, 12th ranked Bears beat 15th ranked Tennessee 45 to 31 and move up two. 11th ranked Louisville beats unranked Murray State 73-10 and moves up three.

Oh well. To paraphrase George Herbert, “Winning well is the best Revenge.”

Off to CSU Thursday night. Looking for a Rocky Mt. High, but it will be tough to be last Saturday’s.

And yes. CC Meyers finished the bridge ahead of schedule. What’s a hotel cost in New Orleans, anyway?

Go Bears,

Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70

For True Bear Junkies: Copy and paste this site for more than you ever needed to know about the game.


For some really good writing, check out Scot Ostler’s Monday Column


From Linda (early this morning)

I haven't seen the polls yet, but Sagarin has us at #4 behind LSU, USC and GaTech.

Please go to Pontiac.com to vote for DeSean's punt return as the Game Changing Performance of the week to help bring in some $$$ for Cal.

This ‘n that from the web page

Cal has won 28 league games over the last five years (Jeff Tedford's tenure), the second-most in the Pac-10 ... Cal has had at least one 100-yard rusher in 42 of 64 games under Tedford, meanwhile, its opponents have had just 15 games with 100-yard rushers ... Cal had 58 pass plays of 20 or more yards in 2006 ... the Golden Bears also had 49 other plays (rushing, punt returns, kickoff returns and interception returns) of over 20 yards since 2006 ... in 2006, Cal had 28 scores that took less than two minutes ... the Bears also had 19 scoring drives that lasted less than 2:00, as well as three interception return TDs, four punt returns for touchdowns, a safety and a fumble return score ... 2006 marked the fifth time in program history that Cal had an eight-game winning streak (single season) ... 2006 also marked the first time since 1949 that Cal started 6-0 in conference play.

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