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Washington State reflections

By Jonathan Okanes
Sunday, September 7th, 2008 at 9:30 pm in Last game tidbits.

The prevailing feeling I had last night as I made the drive from Pullman back to Spokane was that Cal had just beaten a very, very bad football team. Yes, the Bears look good. And yes, anytime you go on the road for a conference game and win that impressively, it’s a notable feat. But the Cougars simply didn’t provide much competition, and based on how they looked last night, I’m not sure they can win a game this season.

There’s no question WSU isn’t the most talented team around. And a few key injuries made the Cougars even more undermanned against Cal. But should they really be as inept as they were Saturday? Washington St. won five games last year and had two other narrow losses, to Arizona State and Cal. Is the talent level that much worse just one year later?

The Cougars’ problem Saturday wasn’t just about talent. They looked undisciplined. Penalties, mistakes, missed assignments, etc. all were on display against the Bears. Offensively, perhaps the Cougars still are trying to grasp new coach Paul Wulff’s spread offense schemes. Wulff has a huge task ahead of him, that’s for sure.

All that being said, Cal would have beaten a lot of teams yesterday. The Bears’ offensive line had another strong showing and Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen continue to be dynamoes out of the backfield. Defensively, the Bears simply outmanned the Cougars. They had no problem shutting down the passing game out of the spread, and WSU’s offensive line couldn’t make any headway in the run game. The Cougars rushed for 57 yards on 35 carries.

One of the highlights of the game was that the Bears emptied their bench and saw several players get their first collegiate action. Quarterback Brock Mansion, fullback Peter Geurts, offensive guard Justin Cheadle, offensive guard Richard Fisher, offensive tackle Donovan Edwards, offensive tackle Matt Laird, linebacker D.J. Holt and defensive back Sean Cattouse all made their debuts. Mansion scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter. Geurts ran for 44 yards on six carries. Holt had four tackles.

So Cal now is 2-0 with a cross-country trip to Maryland next week. Many of you probably already saw the Bears moved into the Associated Press top 25 at No. 23 today. They also are No. 25 in the USA Today poll. Even though Maryland has had an uninspiring start — with a narrow home win over Deleware followed by a 24-14 loss at Middle Tennessee yesterday, Saturday still will be a challenge for Cal. The Bears will have to adjust to the time zone and play an early game (Noon eastern), and you can bet the Terps won’t make the same kind of breakdowns as the Cougars under respected coach Ralph Friedgen.

The game also will be on ESPN, so it will be a chance for the country to form its own opinion about the Bears. And it also could be a showcase game for Best, who is emerging as a Heisman Trophy candidate early on. 

We’ll start taking a closer look at Maryland tomorrow. Stay tuned…

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  • Raf

    One blaring problem I saw yesterday: Kevin Riley and the long ball. His stats 6/14 for 51 yards!? Every long pass he threw was way off the mark… literally spraying balls across the field. What happens when a bigger/legitimate D-Line stops our running game, Kevin can move but can he accurately complete the down field pass with consistency. I haven’t seen that this year. About that running game, best and vereen are fast. But can they move the pile? Lacking that bigger back might also be a problem…

  • feveredbear

    Riley was playing his first college game on the road. Regardless of WSU’s performance, Martin Stadium is still one of the 25 worst venues at which an opposing team can play. Riley will do ok. And as far as RB size, Cal mostly doesn’t play an offense where that’s a concern.

    What was most impressive to me is something JO didn’t mention: Often, talented but poorly coached teams will fall to the level of their far less talented opponent; anyone who has followed Cal throughout the years has seen that come true, *both* ways. That didn’t happen vs WSU and (to me) it’s a sign that Tedford is finally getting the hang of this coaching thing. That is very, very good IF it continues.

  • Lawrence Ross

    Shut up, troll.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    A top 25 ranking for UCB is not good news for college football. It isn’t right to reward a team for shellacking a creampuff like WSU which arguably may have at most 20 players who could play for Chabot Jr College. What message is this sending to the rest of college football? Running up the score against a cupcake should never be rewarded. It is a bad display of sportsmanship. This is what the Miamis and the Florida States and even PUCLA would do.

  • Tom

    Let’s stow the Heisman talk. Individual award aspirations are part of what what destroyed team chemistry last year. I think the team would prefer to just keep winning as a team, and I think the fans would like that as well.

  • ClockworkBear

    Amy, what should Tedford have done? He aired it out in the second half…which was probably the best way to avoid running up the score. Giving it to Jahvid or Shane some more probably would have resulted in an 80+ point game–you saw how bad WSU’s D was.
    And Michigan State was a solid (never mind the score) quality win–Javon Ringer absolutely hammered Eastern Michigan 2 days ago.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    I actually retract my previous statement. My Trojans ran up the score on arguably the worst team in America, Virgina, and we moved up to a number 1 ranking. So I guess sometimes it is good to run up the score.

    However I must say that when USC wins by 50 points, it is because we are that much better than the opponent. But when Cal wins by 50, it is because they run up the score. I know my logic is not that great, but then again, I attended Mills college.

  • professor74

    Running up the score? It seems like Cal emptied its bench in the 2nd half. What are they supposed to do? Start kneeling in the 3rd quarter? Its not up to Cal to stop playing – it is up to WSU to stop them. If Riley and Best were still playing in the 4th quarter, you can make an argument but that was not the case.

  • rocksolidbearz

    NCs – Did you watch the game? That wasn’t Cal running up the score. Read the article, you had 2nd & 3rd stringers in there. You get a 4th and 2 deep in Wazzu territory – running up the score would be kicking the field goal. It’s not their fault they go for it and get a TD. It’s called running your offense. More typical “USC walks on water” BS and can’t do no wrong but anything another team does, no matter how outstanding, couldn’t possibly compare.

  • John

    Next week is definitely a trap game and has all the makings of a predictable upset. I can easily see the Bears coming out very slow and giving up a big lead early in this game. I hope the vets will remember last year’s debacle and keep everyone focused and grounded. They should practice as if they lost to WSU and have something to prove to the nation because you can bet the Terps will be angry about their loss and will be fired up to play with a higher caliber opponent.

    Cal has many of the good Pac-10 teams at home (with USC as the exception — we’ll probably lose to them at home or on the road anyway) and I wouldn’t be surprised by a big, possibly huge showdown vs. Oregon at Memorial. The team can’t think this way, or they will be tripped up in games like Zona on the read (remember 2006?)

  • Jan K Oski

    Who is starting at QB for the Arizona Cardinals this year?

    Which Heisman winner completed 40% of his passes with 2 sacks, 1 INT and ZERO TD passes?

    Which Heisman winner couldn’t get 3 yards on 3rd down and needed defensive teammmate Scott Fujita to seal the deal?

    Which NFL receiver and punt returner had an eye-popping performance on Sunday in his first career start while his 2nd choice for college didn’t have any receivers in the top 20 performances by NFL receivers in week 1?

    As the old addage still rings true, talk is cheap.

    Go Bears!

  • rocksolidbearz

    John – I hear ya, you need to be up for every game. I think Cal will be too fast for these guys, and Maryland’s big offensive weapon will get stopped the way Cal stopped MSU’s Ringer. I expect good things.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Jan K Oski Says:
    September 8th, 2008 at 8:11 am

    As the old addage still rings true, talk is cheap.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Yes it is!!! Look at this and weep Mr No Heisman – No BCS.

    USC FOOTBALL

    11 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
    1928, 1931, 1932, 1939, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1974, 1978, 2003 & 2004

    67 FIRST ROUND PICKS
    #1 in College Football

    11 NFL HALL OF FAMERS
    #1 in College Football

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Jan K Oski Says:
    September 8th, 2008 at 8:11 am
    Who is starting at QB for the Baltimore Ravens this year? >>>>>>>>>>>> Hint: It is not the one who supposedly threw a football 40 yards on his knees but has been a $13 million dollar bomb.

    Which Heisman winner completed 40% of his passes with 2 sacks, 1 INT and ZERO TD passes? >>>>>>>>>>>> Hint: Was it one of them coached by Tedford? Dilfer? Harrington? Akili Smith? Carr? Boller?

    Which Heisman winner couldn’t get 3 yards on 3rd down and needed defensive teammmate Scott Fujita to seal the deal? >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> The same one who was running all over the field yesterday.

    Which NFL receiver and punt returner had an eye-popping performance on Sunday in his first career start while his 2nd choice for college didn’t have any receivers in the top 20 performances by NFL receivers in week 1? >>>>>>>>> We never wanted him and never offered him. We knew better not too when he was griping about wanting the jersey #1 which had already been promised to Patrick Turner. Exactly how many BCS games did Tha1 bring you guys?

  • Jan K Oski

    John, John, John.

    Where is Maryland going to find all of this fire power, since they could only muster 28 points in 2 games against cupcakes? Ask Ringer if Cal has a good rushing defense this year, and 3 INTs against MidTenn? Ouch!

    Under Tedford our Bears historically have let-downs after tough games or games preceeded by bye weeks. Is either true in this case? Wassu was a cupcake, and it looks like our Bears escaped without any major injuries.

    The time of game might be a factor, but once the Bears get the adrenaline flowing, they’ll be fine. It isn’t like they sleep all morning as college football players.

    The need to prove oneself is great, but if you lack talent to compete in Division I football, it doesn’t last and manifest itself in trash play like late hits.

    Ever heard of “Every game counts”? Why are you writing about the ducks and $C, when Cal doesn’t play either of them for another month?

  • macdaddytms

    I agree with RAF above… a stat to be concerned about – take away Best’s 2 long runs – he was only 12 carries for 34 yards (2.8 ypc)

    Teams that don’t typically give up long plays (USC, UCLA, ARI) are going to key on Best and force Cal to beat them with the pass. With what Riley & Co have shown so far, that could get ugly

  • Jan K Oski

    the answer key to my questions for those who are intellectually challenged:

    (1) Matt “The Backup” Leinart
    (2) Carson “Pathetic” Palmer
    (3) Reggie “Never-Put-Me-In-At-Critical-Times” Bush
    (4) Desean Jackson (who denied $C, since they didn’t respect him) But, where are those great $C WR?

    I forgot question 5, which troll told Wassu to pass, pass and pass. Thanks for the recommendation! That’s two games in a row where you were completely wrong.
    0-2, Loser!

  • HOUSE

    Really Jan, I thought for sure you of all people would be smart enough to NOT FEED THE TROLL. Its pointless and he doesn’t listen to reason. He enjoys his time here and loves the attention that he/she/both gets.

    DON’T FEED THE TROLL, please.

  • rollonubears

    riley needs to work on his timing for the long ball a little more, but in all fairness, they were trying a lot of new things last week. he’s automatic on 5-10 yard passes and solid on 10-20 yarders. the receivers just aren’t as fast as they were last year. if they were a little faster, they’d have scored two more touchdowns. i don’t think we need to worry. he also showcased his mobility, although he needs to protect the ball.

    you can’t take away best’s 80 yard runs! that’s all part of the long run average. he only saw limited action due to the blowout, and a lot of his carries were just up the gut to burn clock and not run up the score. best is an awesome back. when a back averages 5ypc, you don’t expect him to get 5 yards on every carry. he will be fine.

    my only worry is that boateng seems only to be able to catch passes from longshore. they never should have done that youtube video together. he’s mental now. hopefully that changes. nice to see longshore settle down in this game, though. overall, an amazing performance by the bears. a little more work on the timing of routes, and we’ll keep moving up the polls.

    go bears.

  • morencesarecoming

    Here’s more triva questions? How many times can I post in a day and does the fact that I flunked out of law school and have no job help me post all the time?

  • Les Miles More Tedford

    Hey Jan K,

    I think this season’s more appropriate tag line should be “every Pac 10 game counts.” I agree that the team shouldn’t overlook out-of-conference games for the sake of winning. But lets be serious, the only thing that matters season is beating ASU, Oregon, and $C and a Rose Bowl berth–not running the table in hopes of a BSC national championship. Whether or not we beat Maryland this weekend is nearly insignificant if we can’t get pass those three teams.

  • Teff EdFord (also from Concord)

    I think Wassu has team chemistry problems.

    When the third stringers are playing…that’s not rolling up the score, that’s turning a done game into a practice, for both teams, as Wassu was getting what little depth they had some playing time as well.

    And as for NFL stars…I’ve never seen an analysis that can acutely pin down an NFL-star nesting spot in college – I think the average NFL career is 3.4 years, or something like that, regardless of where they come from…and most likely there’s plenty of players out of So. Cal that are busts – I think most QB’s don’t last that long anyway, and only a handful of them become Montana-Farves…wasn’t Farve from Southen Miss?The college coach’s job is to win in college, not be an NFL farm. Sure, it helps with recruiting, but there so many variables to success in the NFL.

    Anybody know whatever happened to Joe Ayoob, and John D Booty-ball?

  • Jason

    MoreNCsarecoming Says:
    September 8th, 2008 at 6:32 am
    A top 25 ranking for UCB is not good news for college football. It isn’t right to reward a team for shellacking a creampuff like WSU which arguably may have at most 20 players who could play for Chabot Jr College. What message is this sending to the rest of college football? Running up the score against a cupcake should never be rewarded. It is a bad display of sportsmanship. This is what the Miamis and the Florida States and even PUCLA would do.

    So you’re saying Cal should’ve started kneeling in the 2nd quarter?

  • Jason

    My bad, I didn’t read the rest of the posts before responding. I didn’t realize you are a blind Trojan fag. When USC wins by 50 points it’s because they left all their starters in and Pete Carroll has no respect for other teams, going for that TD that will make it 50-0 from USC’s own 20 with 3 seconds left on the clock. When Cal win’s by 50, it’s that we only won by 50 because we took out all of our starters.

  • Rocko

    I think Ayoob is playing in the second division Arena Football League, somewhere in Louisana. I beleive Booty is playing with himself.

    80,86,40 yard touchdown runs plus a blocked FG ran in for a TD and a 85 yd interception return, are piling it on? Next time Best breaks a long one he should just stop halfway to the goal line and take a knee. We don’t want to roll up the score.

    Check the weight on both Best & Vareen, I think you will find they’re both about 195 lbs. What did Justin Forsett weigh last year and he gained over 1500 yds and I think he gained over 100 yds against USC.

    Both Herbstreet and Corso thought CAL has the second best team in the PAC10 on Saturdays College Football Today show and Herbstreet who has a vote in the AP poll voted CAL 9th this week.

    It looks like some of the SoCal front runner fans are getting a little scared.