The defense opened up the same way that the offense did: dominant.
The Bears held UC Davis in the opener to 83 total yards, while winning the field position battle and returning two turnovers for scores in their 52-7 romp over Colorado. With new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's aggressive blitz schemes working, Cal fans had every reason to be confident. Unfortunately, for the Bears, the defense was pushed around by Nevada's pistol offense, yielding 45 points.
With the defense shaken up, the Bears looked for redemption in Tucson.
Against a potent and highly ranked Arizona offense, the Bears put pressure on quarterback Nick Foles and only allowed three points through the first 58 minutes of the game. However, with the game on the line, Arizona finally broke through with a flukey jump ball, as an Arizona touchdown in the last 90 seconds turned out to be the difference in Arizona's 10-9 win.
The special teams also saw marked improvement, as the unit has – for the most part – controlled field position and doing moderately well in the return game. But, as we all vividly remember, the lows of last week's contest in Tucson still outweigh the overall play of the special teams.
As the Bears head into the bye week, the football team is at a crossroads: two dominant victories, followed by a blowout loss, followed by a near-upset-turned heartbreaker. At a similar point in 2009 – when the Bears were 3-2, after consecutive blowout losses, heading into a bye week – the Bears responded valiantly, winning five of their next six contests.
The turning point for the 2009 team began after a bye week against UCLA.
Thus, 2010 falls along a similar path. A strong effort out of the gate can revitalize this team and put them in the correct path. After all, the Bears may be 2-2, but they are only one game back of the conference lead, with eight remaining.
Let's hope it ends on the highest of highs.
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