Surely, the subject of getting off to a fast start and how to deal with the time change was a topic of conversation all week. During the course of a season it has to be expected that the Bears will not perform at a high level in every single game. Cal has to find ways to win games when they are not at their best. Anytime Kevin Riley is passing the ball over 50 times the running game is obviously non-existent. On the other hand, when the halftime score is 21-6 and the Terrapins fumble on their first possession of the second half, Cal should not abandon the running game when one touchdown would make the game a one- possession contest.
After being down 14-0, the Bears still forced turnovers and never took advantage of them. Once you combine that with the Bear's inability to convert third downs the end result is a bad loss to a team that was beatable.
California was 3 of 13 on third downs and 0 for 3 on fourth down conversions. The Bears have too much talent on offense not to convert at a higher percentage when they are put in third down situations.
Throughout the game it seemed like Maryland was always calling the correct plays. If the Bears' blitzed the Terrapins always had a screen dialed up. When Cal was in third and long and called screen plays, the Maryland defense usually found themselves in the correct position. With that aspect of the game not going in Cal's favor, linebacker Zack Follett was still able to recover two fumbles. This game could have been different if the Bears' were more efficient on offensive side of the ball.
The Maryland quarterback position was turnover prone in their previous two games, but on Saturday, quarterback Chris Turner was 15 of 19 with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Bears' defense had two players that they needed to stop and those players were Darrius Heyward-Bey and Da'Rel Scott. Scott rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game with an injury and Heyward-Bey finished with two catches for 60 yards and one touchdown. Back-up running back Davin Meggett had a huge game with 13 rushes for 80 yards and 1 touchdown.
Moving forward Cal must be able to start fast when they are on the road. When the Bears are facing a team with less overall talent than them, Cal must send a message quickly that they will not allow their opponent the opportunity to gain confidence in any point of the game. California also must find players at the receiver position that will be consistent week in and week out. Cal has a bye that will provide them with extra time to correct their mistakes and come out strong against Colorado State on September 27.
©Copyright 2008, CalSportsDigest.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.