One of the conundrums of being a fan of any team is that of being in a constant state of anhedonia. If a team's struggling, it's easy to complain about the offense, complain about the defense, complain about the coaching staff, complain about the announcers, and complain about the splintered benches. But what happens when the team starts doing well? A standard of success that was acceptable last year is no longer acceptable this year. Although the complexion of most college teams change dramatically from year-to-year, there's an expectation that things should proceed seamlessly. It's no longer enough for a team to win, the team has to win with style, or with impressive statistics, or by convincing enough margins to impress poll voters who might never venture beyond a team's box score.
There's always reason for concern, whether it's the next half, the next opponent, or the next recruiting class.
Lost in the concern and the worry is the fact that the California Golden Bears are having their greatest run in more than 50 years. In its last 20 games, Cal is 18-2. Aside from a 15-4-1 spell during the Snyder/Gilbertson years, you'd have to go all the way back to the 1949-1950 seasons, when Cal had anywhere near that level of success over a similar stretch. Pappy Waldorf had the Bears on a 19-1 run, although there were undoubtedly some Blues back then griping that they needed to find a coach who could win the Rose Bowl.
If you go watch the musical Les Miserables, it will always end with a rousing version of Do You Hear The People Sing. If you attend a George Strait concert, you can be certain that he'll wind up by singing The Cowboy Rides Away. And if you attend a French movie, when it ends, you'll know that you'll have no idea what just happened.
With sports, there aren't always tidy resolutions. And they would lose their appeal if week-after-week, it followed the same old script. If a team won by 42 points every week, people would wonder why they weren't winning by 49.
Not that there's anything wrong with arching the occasional eyebrow, or yelling for the coach to go for it on fourth down. But take yourself back to the days when you could stretch out at Memorial Stadium with a row in front of you, a row behind you, and lots of room to your left and your right when you were thinking about the team and the program you wanted.
Guess what? It's here. Or if it's not, it's very, very close.
It may get even better in Strawberry Canyon in the years to come, but in the meantime; enjoy this moment, enjoy this team.
Yardage by quarter
While California's offensive numbers weren't as dazzling as they've been in games past, they were solid enough to put up a 28-point victory. Regardless of how expectations may have changed during recent years, a conference victory of that margin, especially a shutout, is terrific work. Perhaps thrilled to not face a gimmick offense this Saturday, the Bear defense never allowed Arizona's offense that establish any momentum. When Arizona tried to step up its passing attack, Cal's secondary played well, with two interceptions and several broken up passes. Although Wildcat quarterback Richard Kovalcheck ended up throwing three interceptions, he was fortunate not to have thrown twice that number.
To Arizona's credit, its defense fought for all 60 minutes. As opposed to the Cal's first four opponents, the Wildcats didn't roll over in the second half.
While a 70% completion percentage and two touchdowns would on the surface look like a good performance, Ayoob's 28.6% success percentage was his worst as a starting quarterback. By comparison, he had success percentages of 43.9% vs. Washington, 31.5% vs Illinois, and 48.1% vs. New Mexico State. Many of the short completions weren't resulting in first downs. Of greater concern is that out of 28 pass plays called, eight (or 29%) didn't result in a pass being thrown. While two resulted in scrambles that ended up in first downs, that means that six didn't. For Cal, Marshawn Lynch threw one incompletion on a tailback option pass.
Kovalcheck had an even tougher game as a success percentage of under 20% meant that Arizona really ought to have considered bringing in a back-up for a possession or two. If a quarterback's barely completing over 50% of his passes and he's averaging under 9 yards a completion, the chances of him all of a sudden being able to breathe life into the offense are fairly remote. Credit ought to be given to the Bear defense as Kovalcheck by far his worst game of the season.
|Joe Ayoob, CAL||28.6%||28||8||28||141||5.0||20||14||70.0||137||6||2||1||5||-23||3||27|
|Richard Kovalcheck, AZ||16.2%||37||6||37||163||4.4||36||19||52.8||169||6||0||3||1||-6||--||--|
|Note: The Success Percentage attempts to measure a QB's effectiveness by looking at how often he achieves a successful result (a first down by passing or running or touchdown) out of all pass plays attempted. Current QB rating methodology does not include either sacks or scrambles - this rewards QBs taking sacks instead of throwing incompletions. In addition, QB rating formulas reward the eight-yard pass on 3rd-and-12 (i.e., it's a completion, it's not an interception, and there's an above average yardage gain). Anything over 40 is exceptional, 35 to 40 is very good, 30 to 35 is OK, and it's very rare that a team will win when a QB's success % is less than 30. Key: Succ.% - Touchdowns + First Downs/Total Plays, TP - pass attempts + sacks + scrambles, FD - first downs, TD - touchdowns, Yds - Yards, Avg - Average, Att. - Attempts, Comp. - Completions, Pct. - Completion %, Int - Interceptions, Pl. - Plays)|
Dr. Ayoob and Mr. Joe (continued)
In the first half, Ayoob's completions were of 9, 7, 7, 7, 5, 4, and 4 yards, and his success percentage was an unusually low 20%. At that, two of his first-half first downs came from scrambles. Ayoob had a considerably better second half, as his completion percentage rose to 38.4% as his completions of 39, 20, 12, 10, and 10 surpassed any of his first half completions.
Starting Field Position
Starting field position was about even for both teams. California had a big advantage in the first half as Arizona was hemmed in its own side of the field and had several three-and-outs. In the second half, the Bears had to start consecutive possessions on their 3- and 4-yard line. Arizona also had the advantage of a 34-yard punt return (where the Bears missed, by one account, seven tackles) by Syndric Steptoe that put the ball on the Cal 19-yard line.
|1st half||2nd half||Total|
When Marshawn Lynch ran for 107 yards on Saturday it meant that California ran its streak of games with 100-yard runners to 17. While finding out what the team record is going to take some digging, the individual record for consecutive 100-yard games is 31 held by Ohio State's Archie Griffin.
|Justin Forsett||2005||New Mexico St.||235||31|
|Marshawn Lynch||2005||Sacramento St.||147||24|
|J.J. Arrington||2004||Texas Tech||173||25|
|J.J. Arrington||2004||Southern Mississippi||261||31|
|J.J. Arrington||2004||Arizona St.||188||30|
|J.J. Arrington||2004||Oregon St.||108||22|
|J.J. Arrington||2004||New Mexico St.||177||16|
|J.J. Arrington||2004||Air Force||181||16|
Checking in on the running backs
This week's chart has a little bit more life to it with the return to action of Lynch and Michael Hart. Hart had a strong game against Michigan State. In the fourth quarter he had 18 carries for 86 yards. Reggie Bush also finished well with five carries for 69 yards in the fourth quarter against Arizona State. Peterson missed the second half of Oklahoma's game against Kansas State with an ankle injury but should be ready for Saturday's game against Texas. Lynch started well on Saturday, running for 47 yards in the first quarter.
|Key - Att.-Carries; Yds. - Yards; Avg. - Average; TD - rushing touchdowns; FD - rushing first downs, FL - fumbles lost, >28 - yards gained after the team was up by 28 points or more; Oyds - yards gained through receiving/returns; OTDS - touchdowns gained through receiving/returns|
California had five penalties; three offensive and two defensive. The three offensive penalties where one holding, one delay of game and one false start, and all occured in the first half. The two defensive penalties were pass interference calls of an extremely dubious nature. Replay does not allow referees to overturn pass interference calls, but as both penalties were replayed on press row, it was clear that both Donte Hughes and Tim Mixon were the victim of bad calls.
Arizona had 11 penalties, six on offense (three illegal procedure/false starts, one delay, one intentional grounding, and one holding), three on defense (pass interference, face mask and offsides), and two penalties on special teams. Usually teams that have that many penalties have a few late hit or personal foul calls mixed in there. The closest that Arizona came was a five-yard face mask and a running into the kicker call.
California made better use of the tight ends on Saturday, as they were 5-of-6 for 53 yards throwing to Craig Stevens and Eric Beegun. They were also 5-of-11 to the receivers for 58 yards, and 4-of-4 for 25 yards to the running backs.
Buchanan (Justin Prueitt) survived a late rally and a missed extra point to beat Edison 43-42...Modesto (Levirt Griffin) recorded its first win of the season in beating defending Modesto Metro Conference co-champ Los Banos 20-6. Los Banos avoided the shutout by scoring a touchdown with four seconds left...Orange Lutheran defeated Crenshaw (R.J. Garrett) 22-15, despite junior tailback Raymond Carter running 24 times for 189 yards...Kevin Riley threw three touchdown passes including two in the second half as Beaverton defeated Aloha 28-7....Although Brandon Jones had to sit out the game with a sprained knee, junior Quinton Richardson and sophomore Johri Ferguson each gained more than 100 yards as O'Dea defeated Bishop Blanchet 34-7. For O'Deal, Taylor Mays caught two touchdown passes...Stafon Johnson scored three touchdowns, one on a 64-yard fumble return, and two more on runs, as he ran for 168 yards in 14 carries as Dorsey defeated McClymonds 31-0. Josh Tatum suffered a knee injury during the opening kickoff and missed the rest of the game..Monte Vista and Mike Costanzo defeated California 34-20 as Mike "The Beast" Geurts ran for 214 yards. Costanzo is quoted a couple of times in this SFGate story....Wilcox defeated Mountain View 23-14,
Tracy Slocum ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns and Clovis East defeated Midland Lee 38-37 in a game played at Midland, Texas. For Clovis East, Andrew Pancotti had 9 carries for 224 yards including runs of 80 and 66 yards. Here's a long game story from a west Texas web site..Despite Anthony McCoy's seven catches for 100 yards, Clovis West defeated Bullard 25-15...James Montgomery ran 10 times for 226 yards and five touchdowns as Cordova thumped Rosemont 77-0...Major Culbert had 24 carries for 332 yards as Narbonne defeated North Torrance 38-16...In a stunning upset (but then, aren't most updates stunning?), Dominguez defeated Long Beach Poly 39-37 in overtime. Terrence Austin caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Gabriel Thomas in overtime, but Poly was thwarted in its 2-point conversion attempted....Although Shareece Wright will be sideline for the rest of the season with a wrist injury, Colton had no trouble with Fontana, winning 74-0, outgaining the opposition 589 to 82. Allen Bradford rushed 9 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns...Bellevue had little trouble with Mount Si 35-7...In front of a capacity crowd of more than 6,000 people in Stockton, Lincoln defeated St. Mary's 55-21. Quarterback Nick Ruhl was 6 of 8 for 109 yards and junior running back Curtis Shaw ran 17 times for 205 yards and two touchdowns and senior running back Michael Peters ran for 157 yards in victory...Greg Davis didn't get a mention is Blue Ridge's 71-20 shellacking of Covenant. Wide receiver Tony Lewis, who's 6'3" and apparently unnoticed had a strong game with a pass catch and a return for a touchdown, although it should be pointed out that Covenant came into the game with just 13 healthy players...Jamere Holland caught a touchdown pass as Taft easily defeated Gardena 48-0...Oakland High's Cameron Brown ran for 337 yards, but it wasn't enough as Piedmont beat Oakland 47-26....Louis Arnold ran for 271 yards and three touchdowns as Bishop O'Dowd defeated Castro Valley 27-6.
In a battle of two of the state's top JC running backs, CCSF defeated Laney 27-8 in Oakland. CCSF's Tyreece Jacks ran for 216 yards and two touchdowns, while for Laney, former Cal redshirt Frank Summers ran for 152 yards and one touchdown. For another account go here. Summers came into the game as the fifth leading runner in the conference averaging 129 yards a game. ...The wildest JC game of the week was previous winless Hartnell's 66-60 upset over College of the Sequoias. The two teams combined for 1188 yards, 749 of them passing. Brent Schaeffer had another wild game, passing for 423 yards and running for 133 more, but attempted a bootleg on the final play and was tackled on the Hartnell 4 as time expired... Fresno City College tailback Travon Jones, all 5-7, 170 of him, ran for 114 yards in 11 carries and scored two touchdowns in the second half as Fresno City College defeated Modesto 23-20... College of the Canyons quarterback Marcel Marquez completed a four-yard touchdown pass to Billy Omahen with 1:06 play as the Cougars defeated Bakersfield 24-23, extending their winning streak to 19.
Air quality concerns relating to the wildfires in Southern California forced the postponement of the Oaks Christian-Oak Park game. It's not clear if the game will be rescheduled. Plus, all you children of the 70s will draw a big smile when you see that the author's first name is Rhiannon....Camarillo eked out a 19-8 win over Buena as Samson Szakacsy was limited to 14-of-24 passing for 93 yards and three interceptions....Sophomore running back Jamar Smith ran for 172 yards as Berkeley defeated Alameda 35-14...Hart defeated Birmingham and sophomore wunderkind Milton Knox 23-13. Knox, who suffered a bruised hand during the game, was held to 37 yards. For Hart, quarterback Tyler Lyon suffered a concussion on the second play of the game...Following that same L.A. Times link, sophomore running back Darrell Scott ran for 242 yards in 29 carries as Moorpark upset Thousand Oaks 50-28...
Nice story in the Oakland Tribune about McClymonds' Rico Thomas....Riordan running back Tyrone McGraw was the subject of a couple of nice features this week, one on SFGate, the other in the Mercury News...With James Montgomery possibly still in the recruiting picture, it's a good time to link back to this Sacramento Bee feature on him that appeared earlier this season...There have been several stories about Manteca East Union's Matt Van Gelderen. Here's one story from the Manteca Bulletin and another from the Stockton Record about his memorial service. To leave a message offering condolences, go here...
Games of interest...Tired of watching recruiting videos and want to see some players in person? Then make your way to McClymonds High School this Friday for a chance to see Cal commit R.J. Garrett, Darian Hagan, Tyquan Knox, Derrick Hill, Na Derris Ward and Josh Tatum (and hopefully his knee will better by then) in person as Crenshaw plays McClymonds. Get there early as you'll have to hunt for streetside parking. Down south, the Dorsey/Birmingham game will be a chance to see two good tailbacks in Dorsey's Stafon Johnson and Birmingham's Milton Knox....Down in Orange County, Mission Viejo will host De La Salle.
Involving Cal commits:
Modesto (Levirt Griffin) vs. Turlock, 7:30 p.m. (Thursday)
Crenshaw (R.J. Garrett) at McClymonds, 7:00 p.m.
Dorsey (Keith Browner) vs. Birmingham, 7:00 p.m.
Monte Vista (Mike Costanzo) vs. Livermore, 7:00 p.m.
O'Dea (Brandon Jones) vs. Bainbridge, 7:00 p.m.
Beaverton (Kevin Riley) v. Glencoe, 7:30 p.m.
Buchanan (Justin Prueitt) vs. Bakersfield North, 7:30 p.m.
Westview (Daniel Lofton) at Vista, 7:30 p.m.
Wilcox (Isaac Leatiota) at Santa Clara, 1:30 p.m. (Saturday)
Other games of interest:
Bishop O'Dowd at Hayward, 7:00 p.m
Camarillo vs. Oak Park, 7:00 p.m.
Colton at Yucaipa, 7:00 p.m.
Cottonwood vs. Highland, 7:00 p.m.
Lincoln (Sacramento) at Tokay, 7:00 p.m.
Long Beach Poly at Millikan, 7:00 p.m.
Mullen vs. Boulder, 7:00 p.m.
Narbonne at Taft, 7:00 p.m.
St. Mary's vs. Tracy, 7:15 p.m.
Bellevue vs. Liberty, 7:30 p.m.
Blue Ridge vs. Trinity Episcopal, 7:30 p.m.
Bullard at Central, 7:30 p.m.
Clovis East vs. Fresno, 7:30 p.m.
Cordova vs. Galt, 7:30 p.m.
Mission Viejo vs. De La Salle, 7:30 p.m.
Oaks Christian vs Santa Paula, 7:30 p.m.
West Campus (Sacramento) vs. Colfax, 7:30 p.m.
Wilcox at Santa Clara, 1:30 p.m.
Laney, CCSF and College of the Canyons are off
Pop culture tip: ...They never pass around a sheet of exactly what the Bear Insider demographics are, but it's probably a safe guess that many of you at some time have taken the pursuit of basketball shoes seriously. Maybe it started with Chuck Taylors, maybe it started with Air Force Is, or maybe it was when the Cal basketball team was wearing the blue and gold Nike Dunks. Some of you might religiously collect Air Jordans, and others might drag out your old set of Reebok Pumps for your weekly run. A marvelous recent addition to the magazine universe is Sole Collector - a magazine that for the most part is strictly about basketball shoes. Whether it's photo essays about somebody's collection, previews about upcoming releases, or Professor K's ridiculously detailed reviews, this magazine has one of the higher cover-to-cover entertainment values of anything you can find on newsstands. While the magazine is supposed to come out six times a year, its publication schedule seems closer to whenever. This month's issue includes a fascinating story about the conception and development of the Nike Free line of shoes, which is written with such depth that you don't mind that a) the Nike Free line has nothing to do with basketball shoes and b) it seems to just be your basic running shoe with slits on the bottom.
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