Saturday, October 10, 2015

FROM COUGARS TO BRING ‘EM YOUNG






We whipped the Cougars 34 to 28.  Not sure “whipped the Cougars” is appropriate.  Sounds more like an internet site I’m not allowed to go on.

Now that the word “Cougar” has taken on a new meaning, it is a bit tougher to rejoice in defeating them.  Subduing a fierce predatory cat is an accomplishment.  Getting the best of an ancient bar fly who is preying on young men after midnight, conjures up a less macho picture. 

But I digress.

We done good:  Check out the highlights:


After a gorgeous drive down through the Valley eyeing Trix colored vines, we hit Stoney’s tailgate .  Current Chron writer, Bruce Jenkins and former Chron scribe, Dave Bush, joins us.  We were all in school during the 60’s so we have a certain perspective—and a certain level of cynicism, which is not very becoming.  But it is balanced by and odd level of optimism which keeps us (Sisyphus-like) coming back for more, and willing to push that rock up that hill, knowing that once we near the pinnacle, it is just going to roll back down again.

We talk stats.

The legendary Jim Brown used to say, “Statistics are like cold potatoes.”  Not sure exactly what he meant, but one gets the general idea—they don’t mean much—until they do.

And now, Stats we got—national ones at that.

As Casey Stengel said, “ya', can look it up.”

http://espn.go.com/college-football/statistics/team/_/stat/defense/sort/interceptions

Earlier I had written that our 5-0 record had been a gift from cinco mediocre teams.

Then Thursday night, Washington upset SC.  So how bad can the Huskies be?  Or how good can we be?  On the other hand, TCU squashed Texas, so………?

As has been noted, so often in the past we have found ways to lose close games we should have won.  And so far this year, we have missed slipping on that banana.

How?

Luck?

 I don’t know.  When an Enwere breaks tackles and rumbles 42 yards on a third and 32 from our own 4 yard line, is that luck?  When a Lawler makes a one handed catch in the end zone, is that Luck?  When a Goff pin points a 34 yard TD pass to Treggs to set Cal’s all time TD record, is that luck?  When Damariar Drew has back to back, drive killing and game saving interceptions, is that luck?  When Darius White tips an extra point to win a game, is that luck?  When Donald Trump sings “We shall over-comb,” is that luck?  (OK.  Maybe like Montgomery in the Ardennes I went a bridge, er, an example too far).

Or do we have some athletes who make plays when they are needed, as opposed to dropping balls, missing tackles, throwing interceptions or stepping on chalk lines at the most inopportune times, as has been the case so often in the past?

This is what separates this team from previous teams. The season is young, but to date we’ve had kids step up when they were most needed.  It’s been a thrill to watch—especially on defense--given our past history.

For five games we’ve seen sacks at crucial times, interceptions and fumble recoveries.  Sure.  We haven’t dominated—we’ve made more than our share of mistakes.  Still……….

So maybe instead of “luck,” we’re witnessing something that’s been missing from the program. 

Character. 

Character manifests itself under stress.  How did President Kennedy define courage?  “Grace under pressure.”

Me thinks that is what we’ve witnessed these first five games.

We only have the talent we have.  It may not be enough to go far, but at this point, young men of character have stepped up to re-write the Cal Bear script.

On the other hand, we truly have had a problem with short yardage situations. This may not be curable, as the techniques taught to pass block in the Bear Raid offense, are not conducive to the drive blocking techniques necessary to budge a defensive line intent on preventing the O from picking up inches. (I stole this gem from former Mike White offensive lineman, Ray Volker with whom we share season tickets).

Not only did we come up short, we fumbled, as we did against Washington last year when Shaq Thompson (he who had chosen Cal before Lepois got away) picked it up and ran almost 100 yards to score and break open a close game.

Also, Red zone stats are iffy—30 times in the red zone—25 scores—good, yes--but twice we’ve been stopped with first and goal from the one.

Our red zone D is weak.  Opponents have entered 14 times and scored 13.

Yet, we are opportunistic.  Not only are we 2nd in the nation in interceptions, and lead the Pac 12 in sacks (2nd nationally) we are ranked in a host of other catagories   When the Cougars tried to stick it to us with a fake punt, Darius Allensworth stuck his hat in there and caused a fumble.  Stefan McClure scooped the loose ball up and dashed 45 yards for a score.

(It reminded me of Gary Parker, a Black buddy in New York, who “ran” Central Park.  Before our touch football game one Saturday morn, he said a guy had pulled a knife on him the night before and said, “I’m robbing you.”  Gary wrestled the knife away and said, “You ain’t robbin’ me, I’m robbin’ you.”  And took the money the guy had from a previous heist).

That’s what Allensworth and McClure did to the Cougars on that fake punt.  “You ain’t foolin’ us.  We’re foolin’ you.”

As to the Utes tonight, history has not been kind to us when we’ve played on national TV in the past—especially in “make or break” games.   

In my memory, we’ve never won one.

Utah has great athletes (How can you recruit against a school that can offer a free athletic scholarship, plus two wives?)

We won’t be going to Salt Lake.  My Doppelganger (when one Goggles my name) is Warren Jeffs.  (Talk about bring ‘em young).   So I’m a bit uncomfortable there.

Brigham Young had 20 wives and 47 children.   Can you imagine trying to get dressed for a party and hearing  “Are you really going to wear that shirt?” twenty different times?--to say nothing of the cost of aspirin.

So let’s rejoice while we can,  turn on the tube, and bask in the accomplishments of these young men. 


Few expected us to be so dominant (even against questionable opponents) at this point in the season.

Character has manifested itself, and it has paid off handsomely for the Bears.

Not even Hillary Clinton can delete what these kids have accomplished so far this season.

















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