<FONT size=2><FONT color=#000080><FONT face=Verdana>California vs. Michigan State

WHEN IT'S GOING YOUR WAY: In working it's way to a 15-0 lead, Cal's two offensive scoring possessions netted 0 and 10 yards.
SATURDAY'S MOST ASTOUNDING STAT: Michigan State threw the ball to Charles Rogers 22 times and completed 9 of them. There's more on this below, but even when Dameane Douglas caught 100+ balls, I don't think he ever had 20 thrown to him in a game.
FIELD POSITION AGAIN: For the game, Cal had a +134 advantage in starting field position -- which was enhanced by two extra possessions caused by special teams turnovers. But Michigan State had a +80 advantage during the 1st quarter -- for the remaining 3 quarters, Cal had a +214 yard advantage in starting field position spread out over 11 Cal possessions/9 MSU possessions. This is the first game that Cal's starting field position advantage was less than 250 yards. To grasp the significance of this, note that Cal and its opposition have for the most part had yardage totals in the 350-400 yard range. A 250-yard advantage, no matter how you get it is huge. Per a suggestion from GldnBear71, I'm still seeing if I can find a way to measure punting game effectiveness. An excellent case can be made that the key moment of the game was when Cal's punt bounced passed the MSU return man and was downed on the Spartan 2. Besides setting up the safety and the the following long kick return by Ward/long field goal by Jensen, it took Cal out of the huge field position hole that they'd been in during most of the 1st quarter.
THIRD DOWN MAGIC: Cal averaged 10.4 yards on 17 first down plays: 6.2 yards on 5 running plays, and 9-of-11 for 144 yards with 3 first downs and 2 touchdowns.
SECOND HALF GROUND ATTACK: Did anybody think that Cal could run a grind-it-out offense against Michigan State in the 2nd half? Cal ran the ball 24 times for 107 yards against Michigan State in the second half for a 4.5 avg.
Disclaimer + quibble: These numbers may not jibe completely with the box score -- for one) I tend to trust my eyes and ears, two) official box scores have been known to be wrong, three) for some of the numbers that I churn out, there's a highly subjective nature to them and I can refer back to my notes a lot easier than I can try to refer to a play-by-play (plus, I don't have to worry about tracking it down).

The other big difference is that I include sack yardage as passing. There will always be a handful of plays in any game when the QB goes down and it's not clear if it was a broken pass or a broken run. In a game like yesterday's, where there were several rollout sweeps that looked more like direct runs than original pass plays, deciding which classification (pass or run) to use requires lots of subjective judgment. However, since the NCAA classifies all sacks as runs, a semantic argument could be made about whether or not you can have a sack on a run play, thus bringing into question whether sacks, in a statistical sense, should be measured by either the NCAA or its member institutions. But however backwards the NCAA method is, to their credit at least they attempt to associate sack yardage with a QBs stats, unlike the NFL which buries sacks from individual rushing or passing yardage but keeps a separate team stat for them.
OTHER THOUGHTS: I am so damned happy for Lashaun Ward. Three years ago, after the, uh legendary (you had to be there) kick return and a generally frustrating game, the fans were filing out of Memorial Stadium, and Ward was sitting on the dirt hill underneath the north end of the stadium in his uniform and pads with his helmet off looking frustrated and a little pissed off. Since then, he's be an offensive guy, a defensive guy, and now, once and for all an offensive guy. He's so gifted that you want him to do well, but he always seemed to be a bobble or slip away from being amazing. But the talent was always there. Now he's a returning, catching, throwing machine who's getting a chance to use that speed -- and has become a secret weapon of sorts for the offense. He's not usually the 1st or 2nd choice receiver, but a defensive game plan can't ignore him, and all it takes is for one defensive alignment a game to leave him in one-on-one coverage, and it's off to the races. I just can't wait for a 3rd down situation inside the opponent's red zone, with Boller, Terrell Williams and Lashaun Ward all coming out of the huddle. Mark my words, before the year ends, just the sight of that personnel combination will force the defense to burn a timeout. There are a lot of Bears to really like on this year's team, but Ward? He's my guy.

Cal 1st Down: 31-129 4.0 (Run: 16/63, 4.0; Pass: 15/66, 4.4)

Cal 2nd Down: 21-63, 3.0 (Run: 10/53, 5.3; Pass: 11/10, 0.9)

Cal 3rd Down: 17-176, 10.4 (Run: 5/31, 6.2; Pass: 12/145, 12.1)

Cal 4th Down: 1-(-4), -4.0 (Run: 1/-4, -4.0; Pass: 0/0, 0.0)

Cal Total: 70-364, 5.2 (Run: 32/143, 4.4; Pass: 38/221, 5.8)
MSU 1st Down: 31-131, 4.1 (Run: 16/57, 3.6; Pass: 15/74, 4.9)

MSU 2nd Down: 23-124, 5.4 (Run: 10/59, 5.9; Pass: 13/65, 5.0)

MSU 3rd Down: 12-93, 7.7 (Run: 0/0, 0.0; Pass: 12/93, 7.7)

MSU 4th Down: 1-0, 0.0 (Run: 0/0, 0.0; Pass: 1/0, 0.0)

MSU Total: 67-348, 5.2 (Run: 26/116, 4.5; Pass 41/232, 5.6)

Cal 1st quarter: 18-74, 4.1 (Run: 6/32, 5.3; Pass: 12/42, 3.5)

Cal 2nd quarter: 21-86, 4.1 (Run: 2/4, 2.0; Pass: 19/82, 4.3)

Cal 3rd quarter: 14-79, 5.6 (Run: 11/64, 5.8; Pass: 3/15, 5.0)

Cal 4th quarter: 17-125, 7.4 (Run: 13/43, 3.3; Pass: 4/82, 20.5)

Cal Total: 70-364, 5.2 (Run: 32/143, 4.4; Pass: 38/221, 5.8)
MSU 1st quarter: 18-92, 5.1 (Run: 8/35, 4.4; Pass: 10/57, 5.7)

MSU 2nd quarter: 13-29, 2.2 (Run: 3/5, 1.7; Pass: 10/24, 2.4)

MSU 3rd quarter: 21-140, 6.7 (Run: 9/40, 4.4; Pass: 12/100, 8.3)

MSU 4th quarter: 15-87, 5.8 (Run: 6/36, 6.0; Pass: 9/51, 5.7)

MSU Total: 67-348, 5.2 (Run: 26/116, 4.5; Pass 41/232, 5.8)

California: 14 poss., avg. starting field position: 35.2

MSU: 12 poss., avg. starting field position: 29.9
Note: However, in the first quarter, Cal was what amounts to -80 yards in starting field percentage (out of four possessions) compared to MSU. After the 1st quarter, Cal had a +214 yard advantage which worked itself out to a starting field position of their 43 compared to MSU starting at their 27. (Because of the special teams turnovers, Cal had two more possessions than MSU).

California: 7 poss: 3 TD, 3 FG, 1 missed FG

Cal scoring %: 6/7 -- 85.7%
MSU: 5 poss: 2 TD, 2 turnovers, 1 over on downs

MSU scoring %: 2/5 -- 40.0%
Comment: For the year, Cal has scored 18 out of 21 times inside the opponent's 30 with 13 of those being touchdowns.
Many commentators will refer to the red zone as being within the 20. But if a team's offense is within the opposition 30, it should be considered within scoring position. If a team has a scoring play longer than 30 yards, it's not included in the above table.

CAL-Boller, 33 att, 18 comp, 212 yds, 8 first downs, 2 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks for -10 yds, 35 plays for 202 yds, 5.8 avg, 30.3% success (10/33)

CAL-Ward, 2 att, 1 comp, 14 yds, 0 first downs, 1 TD, 0 INT, 2 plays for 14 yds, 7.0 avg, 50.0% success (1/2)
MSU-Smoker, 33 att, 16 comp, 198 yds, 10 first downs, 2 TD, 2 INT, 2 sack for -23 yds, 35 plays for 175 yds, 5.0 avg, 34.3% success (12/35)

MSU-Dowdell, 4 att, 4 comp, 58 yds, 2 first downs, 1 TD, 0 INT, 1 sacks for -9 yds, 1 scrambles for 2 yds, 6 plays for 51 yds, 8.5 avg, 50.0% success (3/6)
Comment: All of Boller's option runs appeared to be runs from the get-go; none of them were counted as scrambles. On a side note, it's interesting to note that Cal always saves a few wrinkles for the second half.
Note: The success percentage is defined as (first downs (via passing or scrambling) plus touchdowns) divided by (pass attempts plus number of sacks plus number of scrambles). The idea is to measure how often a quarterback is successful in helping the team to maintain possession (via first down) or score. It's not meant to be an all-encompassing measure of a QB's effectiveness. If it were, then allowances would have to be made for interceptions, interceptions for touchdowns, sacks, and a special knucklehead factor would have to be incorporated for sacks that take a team out of field goal range.

Somebody asked if it was possible to track which DBs the opponents were picking on. Trying to keep track of this was a little bit messy as some of the camera angles didn't help, and ESPN's eagerness to show every possible Miami/Temple highlight made it difficult to see how Cal was setting up their defense. On a couple of quick outs, the play was made so quickly it was tough to tell if Cal was in man or zone coverage. Anyways, this is what my notes showed, although I'm sure that if 50 people looked at the game and kept notes, they'd all come up with something different.
Against a zone defense: 13 att, 6 comp, 98 yards

Against Bethea: 5 att, 3 comp, 67 yards

Against Powell: 7 att, 4 comp, 36 yards

Against Asomugha: 3 att, 2 comp, 4 yards

Couldn't tell: 6 att, 2 comp, 6 yards

Against assorted DBs: 3 att, 3 comp, 41 yards
All three completions against Bethea were fairly early in the game (2 in the 1st quarter, 1 in the first series of the 2nd quarter).
What this doesn't measure is if certain DBs were avoided.

Terrell Owens please take note.
This is the first time that I've ever kept track of how often a WR gets thrown to, and for a WR to have 22 passes thrown to him in one game must be pretty damn close to a record.
Against Bethea: 5 att, 3 comp, 67 yards

Against a zone: 9 att, 3 comp, 64 yards

Against Powell: 6 att, 3 comp, 35 yards

Against Asomugha: 1 att, 0 comp, 0 yards

Pass interference (official count): 1 (there was another interference call on a ball that Rogers caught).

Pass interference (Rogers count): est. 10 (the other two were drops, which he seemed to accept)
What this shows is that Bethea had the early assignment on Rogers and had some difficulty. For the rest of the game, Cal used Powell when in man and a variety of zones to attempt to contain Rogers. Powell was successful in not letting Rogers get past him or beating him for a big gain.
For a team that seemed to be able to run the ball pretty well, MSU went way, way overboard in trying to get Rogers the ball. Getting him the ball 20+ times might make sense if they used a Tedford-like offense to get him the ball in lots of different ways in different locations throughout the field. Rogers is a terrific player, but this is a terrific example of what happens when you gut your offense to try to get the ball to one player.

Cal total: 16

Pass thrown long: 3

Pass broken up: 3

Pass thrown away/big rush: 3

Pass off fingers: 2

Pass high: 2

Pass thrown behind: 1

Lame duck/INT: 1

ESPN got faked out and KGO never said what it was: 1
MSU total: 17

Pass broken up: 6

Pass thrown away/big rush: 3

Pass overthrown: 3

Pass dropped: 2

Pass thrown short: 1

Pass blocked at line: 1

Pass ruled caught OB: 1
Comment: I didn't count how many times Rogers complained to ref about pass interference after a play was broken up. One encouraging sign was that there were no obvious drops by Cal's WRs. There were a couple of passes that were off the fingers, but it was 50/50 whether the receiver should have caught the pass or whether the pass was long.

Cal's defense broke up six passes, and had three pass interference calls made against them, one was declined. There were no pass interference calls against Cal in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.

This measures how often a defense is pushing the opposition into a third down situation by dividing the number of third down situations by the number of first down situations. If this number is low, then the defense isn't doing a good job.
Cal - 33.3% (10/30)

MSU - 54.7% (17/31)

This stat takes the total yardage of the five biggest plays the defense gives up and divides them by the total yardage the defense surrenders. From a consistency standpoint, a defense would want this percentage to be relatively low. It's technically possible for a team to have a low percentage while giving up 40 gains of 15 to 20 yards, but it's also highly unlikely.
Cal - 41.5% (note: 3 of MSU's big plays came in the 1st quarter and 1 was on the last touchdown play)

MSU - 36.8%

The number of plays run on the opponents' territory divided by total plays.

Cal - 41.4% (29/70)

MSU - 46.2% (31/67) 


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