Every once in a while you get a clunker. The type of game where the offense is so out of time that you hope your defense can carry you through. Cal's offense against UCLA was nearly dreadful. There glimpses of promise but on the whole Cal couldn't move the ball when it absolutely needed. With a halfway decent performance Cal would have blown UCLA out of the water.
Kyle Boller had a great mental game against UCLA but that didn't equate to good numbers. Kyle was 13 for 30 with 133 yards and one touchdown. Those are hardly spectacular numbers, and it was clearly Kyle's worst performance to date. However, Kyle made the correct decisions and didn't turn the ball over. The bright spot was that Kyle became Cal's all-time career leader in touchdown passes with 55, a record he will undoubtedly increase with 4 games remaining on the schedule.
Inconsistent running plagued the Bears throughout the contest and was one of the main reasons why the Bears could not develop any consistency on offense. Joe Igber carried the ball 20 times for 55 yards and Terrell Williams had 7 carries for 41 yards. Seemingly the Bears fared much better with Williams in the game and hopefully Williams will see more game time so the Bears can develop a power running game. Too many small gains on first down put Kyle Boller into 2nd and long situations.
A fairly solid performance by the offensive line, but Kyle Boller was under pressure all day and often didn't have the time necessary to complete his deeper routes. Even still the line did give Kyle enough time to complete a good number of his passes. Run blocking was inconsistent but then again when UCLA has 7-8 in the box you're not going to win that situation usually.
Separation, separation, separation, if Cal is ever going to have a great (read: consistent) passing attack they are going to need better separation from the receivers. It just seemed that the Cal receivers couldn't get themselves open enough to give Kyle Boller some margin for error. There were times where they were open but those were few and far between. Quietly, Tom Swoboda is becoming one of the top Tight Ends in the nation. Cal needs a few more deep passes in order to open the passing game underneath.
The defense came up huge and almost reminded me of the Arizona "Desert Swarm" defenses of the early nineties. Anytime you can hold the opposition to 11 points and only give up 226 yards you're doing an excellent job. Seven sacks, thirteen tackles for loss (TFLs), and 2 injured quarterbacks later the Bears defense had had one heck of a ball game and showed that yes, they are improving dramatically.
Consistent pressure and incredible run stopping kept the Bears in a game, which looked all but lost with the stagnation of the California offense. Anytime your defense can get 7 sacks and injure two quarterbacks you know that the defensive pressure is consistent and overwhelming. Tom Canada had himself a whale of a ballgame and picked up Pac-10 honors. The most inspired play from a defensive line unit in quite some time.
The loss of John Klotsche was huge and has affected the Bears immensely in stopping the run. Despite giving 102 yards to Tyler Ebell the linebackers were able to keep the rushing average down and nullify the underneath passing game for the most part. Mike Seidman was held in check and Tyler Ebell wasn't given the space to roam on screen passes.
The secondary continues to get better every week. It was another great week from the group as they shut down Tab Perry and forced Craig Bragg to beat them. Bragg did end up with seven catches for 113 yards but outside of his excellent performance the remaining Bruin receivers were unable to hurt the Bears.
This category should almost be broken into two categories, kick coverage/returns and the kicking game. The kick coverage was excellent and the kick returners provided Cal with very good field position. The punt team was horrific giving up not one but two blocked punts. These two blocks are further magnified because they occurred in the fourth quarter, when UCLA had its third string quarterback in the game, who had been unable to move the ball. Two free opportunities were given to UCLA to score easy touchdowns, which could have ultimately cost Cal the game. Luckily for the punt unit the defense bailed them out and prevented UCLA scores.
Grade: B+ for Kick coverage/returns F for the Kicking game.
Overall Grade: C-
A win is a win is a win. It doesn't matter how ugly a game can get if you win you'll take it over a pretty loss. This win spoke volumes about the Cal spirit and tenacity. Sometimes you won't bring your "A" game but you still have to go out and play your guts out, which is exactly what the team did. I'm sure the older alumni loved this game because it was a rock'em sock'em punch'em in the teeth hard-nosed football game. Nonetheless Cal has to feel good to win homecoming and escape with a victory. Onto the points of interest
1) The offense is struggling mightily. There are a few elements that seem to be contributing to the offensive woes. The lack of a power running game and injuries to the receiver corps seems to be some of the problems plaguing the offense. The offense needs to get it in gear because they can just expect the defense to come out and smack teams in the mouth.
2) Character- These wins build character and usually manifest themselves in a game down the road or early in the next year. This game will give the Cal team that extra grit needed to pull out a tight contest down the road. They know how to pull out all the stops and give everything they've got. The Bears know how to win the close game, which earlier in the year was a problem against Washington St., Air Force, and USC.
3) The schedule looks easier, but … it really isn't getting easier.
[MEDIA:52945] UCLA Performance Review