Thursday, September 20, 2012

CAL UPSET. UPSET, UP SET.







It’s a staple of coach-speak, “Moral victories are like kissing your sister—through a screen door.”

Having no sisters I wouldn’t know.  When I was younger, I kissed a few wayward nuns, but never got into the habit.

                So I’m hardly an expert on this point.  
  
                Moral victory or not, we won on many fronts—not the least of which was we got to watch our Bears sans white helmets—someone’s idea of the vinyl solution.  But I digress.

The bears can take great pride that they not only ran with the big dogs, they chased them all over the field—that is when they weren’t chasing us from behind.  

Lots of reasons for uplifted chins (and held in bellies).   Players we got.  Speed we got.  Alas, a win we didn’t.  The Bears are entitled to be upset the upset was up set.  

However, the biggest question after Saturday was , “What do you tell a kid like Brandon Bigelow if you are his parents?” 

Where is the justice?  Isn’t ability supposed to be rewarded—especially on the “Fields of Eton.”

                Down 20 to 7 with 9:48 in the 3rd. Bigelow breaks one off for 81 yards--longest run ever by an opposing back in 90-year-old Ohio Stadium to bring it to 20-14.   It was his first carry of the day.

                Now anyone can get lucky—(unless he’s dating a Kappa and has a D&B rating to back it up). 

               However, Bigelow doesn’t touch the ball again until 8:31 left in the 4th when he knocks off consecutive runs of 16 yrds. Then 59 yards for a TD to tie it 28-28.  Hello?

                He then doesn’t touch the ball again until 1:37 left in the 4th and picks up 4 yards.  Hello?

                Bigelow rushed four times for 160 yards, and 2 TD’s. He had three kick returns for 74 yards and totaled a career-high 234 all-purpose yards and touched the ball only 7 times.  

Is this smart?

                (Last year a tall good lookin’ guy wrote that Bigelow “should touch the ball more,”  and that “If a player is good enough to return kickoffs, he’s good enough to get some playing time.” ‘Tis a puzzlement.

                The question is:  Why didn’t he touch the ball more and why was he missing in crunch time?

                (And this is no knock on either Sofele or Anderson.  They’re terrific, but by all rights Bigelow flat out earned the opportunity to start against SC on Saturday--) no if ands or Butkus.

                The lynch pin of sport is meritocracy.  If Bigelow doesn’t start Saturday, every coach in the conference is going to tell hot shot recruits, that no matter how well you perform on game day, that doesn’t mean you’ve earned a starting job at Cal.

                 
                Speaking of performing, Maynard is a D1 qb.  He’s got poise (most of the time) and when he goes left he is quite effective.  He’s limited throwing to the right (bubble screen TD’s don’t count)—but he’s gutsy, sees the field and keeps his bro, Keenan Allen (9 catches), involved.

                I had planned to take the choo-choo to the shoe, but plan B be had been to head to Vegas and put five grand on the Buckeyes to cover the 16.5 point spread.  After the flag football game against Southern Utah  I was expecting Horse Doo in the Horse Shoe.

                Once again I was wrong (can’t tell you how surprised my wife was to experience that for the first time in our marriage).

                The TV was instructive.  After the first five minutes I sent a Text to Petee (sitting where I should have been in the Shoe) saying “We can win this one.”  

                I was shocked.  Is the Big Ten that down?  Pac 12 teams had treated them like Christen Grey dealt with Anastasia Steel in Fifty Shades of Grey.  Only I’m not sure the Badgers et al enjoyed the spankings as much as she did.   
                Speaking of spankings, we won every statistical category of merit, and we got homered on a holding call on a TD—plus, alas, we missed three field goals. 

                You’ve read the stats:  Cal had more yards 512—412; more 1st downs 22-14;more possession time 35-25.  The list goes on.

 Cal held OSU’s Miller to 86 yards rushing, 55 coming from one TD run. (He was being touted as all world leading the Big 10 in Rushing, yada, yada, yada—when the real All America prospect was the Buckeye’s scheduler starting the season with Miami of Ohio, Central Florida and then Cal.

We’re clearly not the only ones who schedule cupcakes, and at some point writers and TV commentators are going to have to take completion into account when lauding potential All Americans.

Could it be that these kids don't want to play the Nevada's, Southern Utahs, Central Floridas etc.  Maybe that's why we were so flat the first two games.  Maybe they only get up for real competition--like real athletes? 

Dominating the Buckeyes at home is no mean feat.

                (Kehike Alexo—now he has mean feet—but he’s a kick boxer.  Let’s not talk about feet, because there is no more lame excuse than blaming “de-feet” on a kicker. Young boys make field goals.  Young boys miss them.  It’s demeaning and incorrect to put a win (or loss) on their soles (pun intended).
The D showed up.

It’s clear We’ve got players—lots of them.  Those freshman wide receivers, Treggs, Harper, Powe are clearly the real deal.  Any idea how hard  it is to go into a defensive secondary and concentrate on catching the rock when you’re only 18?

Another positive was how composed the entire team was—except for the rash of penalties.   Having been at Tennessee—and watched a traveling squad try to call signals in front of 106,000 rabid home fans, we have seen what it’s like to attempt to perform in front of a Big Time Football program.

                Speaking of Big time did you see the Stanford State Indians manhandle SC?  What a reversal.  Stanford was so much more physical than SC.  

As Duffy Daugherty famously opined, “Dancing is a contact sport.  Football is a collision sport
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                Ray Willsey put it this way, “Football is played inside the twenties.  The rest of the field is for the statisticians.”

                Stanford out hit SC, big time.

                Do we hit like that?

                                                (Writing of Stanford State, I’m reminded of Harbaugh telling his Indians that had to learn to trust each other—to trust the line, to trust the backs, to trust the defensive, to trust the coaches—until one kid said, “Coach.  You don’t have to tell us the importance of trust.  We all have one.”)    
 
Are we smart?  If not how do we get that way?  

                Think about it.  Missed blocks resulted in 6 sacks for 50 yards). A TD nullified by penalty; three missed FGs; the 72 yard TD pass by OSU in the final minutes do to a blown coverage.  And numerous “Shot gun snaps” which had Maynard fielding the snap like Crawford gobbling up grounders for the giants. 

          These are all fixable things which point to something besides ability.  

          L’Affaire Lupoi looms larger and larger.  Under Tedford’s leadership and the recruiting abilities of the various coaches (Lupoi probably got too much credit), Cal has been amassing an amazing group of athletes—most “bestest”, over these years in the history of the school.  That’s why so many have made it to the pros.

          Ergo:  Why ain’t we winning more?

          Only she-who-knows-all, knows.  I can’t figure it out, but we could be in for a very pleasant surprise against SC on Saturday. 

          Here’s hoping we play Christian to their Ana and deliver a spanking they will never forget.

          Stop by for some Cab it you get up this way.

Go Bears,

Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70    
         
           
               

               

               

                               
               
               
                               


               
               
               

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