The top dog (Bear)?

Someone asked me which Bear was the most important. I thought it was an interesting question. Certainly, there is no mistaking the fact that a quarterback has to run the entire show and without a capable guy, it could be a disaster.

Cal’s easy win over ASU was an illustration. Sun Devils quarterback Rudy Carpenter was horrible. He was interesting to watch during the game because he throws with an almost sidearm motion at times and he isn’t the most athletic guy in the world. Carpenter got the much easier schedule last season than previous starter Sam Keller faced, so I wonder if Sun Devils fans are a bit worried now that Dirk Koetter’s first decision (to start Keller) was better than his strange change of mind a couple days later.

Certainly, it would be hard to argue that Longshore means the most to Cal at this point.

But, I might argue that one guy is very close to him. Is it Marshawn Lynch? Probably not.

Lynch is the marquee player, probably the best player and the guy who is going to make millions in the NFL. He is a monster talent and deserves Heisman consideration. That being said, I don’t know that Cal’s fortunes would be that much different this season if they had Justin Forsett or Marcus O’Keith as the main tailback. Teams prepare for coach Tedford’s system and any of those three guys would make huge yards.

I probably would go with DeSean Jackson as the most important Bear after Longshore. This guy is coming into his own and teams simply can’t deal with his abilities. Any team that faces Cal from here on out will have to game plan to stop Jackson, even more so than Lynch.

Jackson has seven touchdowns already and he is getting better. That’s scary for opponents. It’s almost impossible to cover him one-on-one and that means cheating a safety over who might be better used to concentrate on tackling Lynch or guarding one of Cal’s other speedy wide receivers.

With someone to get him the ball in Longshore, Jackson’s talents should continue to be on display. He puts two moves on a corner and it’s over. Or he simply can outrun most corners that he faces. Teams will have to play back off him, and that opens up possibilities in terms of throwing the ball in the flat.

It will be interesting to see how Oregon State deals with Jackson. In the past, Oregon State has been very aggressive up on the line of scrimmage in covering Cal’s wide receivers. But if a cornerback doesn’t get his hands on Jackson right away, it’s over.

With Lynch as a threat, and the Beavers having so much trouble stopping the run against Boise State, Jackson should have opportunties to break the game open. It will be interesting to watch.



  • Lady Bear from LA

    DeSean Jackson’s explosiveness reminds of Deltha O’Neal, who always seemed to make plays (and score points) no matter what. I think the Cal athletic department should think about hyping up Jackson as the team’s next Heisman candidate after Marshawn is off to the NFL. Also, if Longshore continues playing the way he is playing, he should also be entitled to some future Heisman hype as well…

  • epalm


    Gotta disagree with your statement that Forsett or OKeith would get huge yards in this offense. OKeith might, but Forsett has had ample opportunity to run the ball this year and is averaging just over 3 yards per carry. That’s just not very good. He’s pretty good in space catching the ball, but he seems a step slow in getting to the edge and he’s not strong enough to break any tackles once the first wave hits him. I can’t disagree that Jackson is pushing for team MVP behind Longshore, but Lynch’s talents are the only thing keeping our running game afloat behind an inexperienced, smaller, and weaker O-line than we’ve had in years past.


  • Dan

    Love the blog! Marshawn is the obvious choice, and saying he’s the 3rd most important player on the team is a gutsy call ~ but I think your analysis is right on, esp. if Desean keeps playing like he does. I think Hughes and Mebane might give Desean a run for #2, however. Opposing OC’s must change blocking schemes to account for Brandon and/or consciously limit throws to Hughes’ side of the field…that’s a pretty huge impact.

  • Helen

    Hi Jay,
    Thanks for your great columns/blog/q&a. Yes Lynch and Jackson are great players. But you forget to mention the true top bear, Tedford. These players and the program would not shine as bright without him at the head.

  • Vib Mittal

    I think Daymeion Hughes has showed his importance the last couple of weeks. He has become the type of shutdown corner that Cal has not had since Deltha O’Neal. He will make Bob Gregory’s job a lot easier.

  • Zack

    It’ll be a real interesting game. The Beavers have always been real physical with the Bears, and excluding the ’04 season they’ve simple out-powered the Bears. Let’s hope you are right and that Jackson and Company can get out of that bump and run, cause I agree with you, if they do, lights out.

  • Calfan

    How is Decoud’s knee? Also, what do you think of the two tackles that started last weekend, Tepper and Gibson? Will Smith and Cameron reclaim their starting jobs when healthy? What’s wrong with Lynch running between the tackles? Is it the blocking? Will our run defense improve this year? Sorry so many questions but you are the guru.

  • BBG

    I saw DeSean play in that Army-sponsored prep game and the guy was literally awesome then. What you say about the “trinity” of running back, wideout and qb is so applicable to every good team: they need all three and all three have to be superlative. In the past, the only part missing was the unknown quality of the QB. Now we know that quality. GO BEARS!

  • dmgobears

    Marshawn and DJ are simply amazing athletes. I guess I am resigned to having Lynch move on to playing on Sundays next year, but it would be nice if Jackson stayed his full four. Longshore progress has been surprising, and I think a hostile away veuue like OSU will be a good test.

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