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Football: Emerald Bowl reflections

One of the things I find most amazing about Jahvid Best’s performance last night is that Miami knew he was Cal’s only offense, and it still couldn’t stop him. Perhaps even attempting passes here and there helped keep the Hurricanes’ defense honest.

It obviously was a rough night for Nate Longshore, but good for him that he ended it with the game-winning touchdown pass. That play may have had some Cal fans on edge, but it was a good checkdown by Longshore to notice that Cameron Morrah was covered and spot MIller open behind him. It just could have been disastrous for the Bears had Morrah got a hand on the pass and it resulted in a deflected interception or something.

It was pretty much the formula Cal has used all year. Let the defense set the tone and rely on the ground attack. Aside from Miami’s couple sustained drives, it never could get any consistency on offense. The Bears absolutely stuffed the run. Cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson was his usual lock-down self and Zack Follett was at his best. Follett always has fun playing, but he seemed to be especially enjoying himself Saturday. Of course, it’s easier to enjoy yourself when you’re the most dominant defensive player on the field.

The Emerald Bowl really demonstrated the value of fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou, and how badly he will be missed. He had a couple of key blocks on Best runs.

I don’t think I ever followed up on it, but cornerback Darian Hagan was out with leg cramps before he came back late in the game.

I really enjoyed that atmosphere last night. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical going into it, playing football in a baseball stadium. But the configuration actually lent itself to a good atmosphere, with the crowd right on top of the field. It really added to the home-field advantage the Bears had.

Nine wins is a good season for this team. I don’t think anybody thought Cal would win more than nine before the season. When you consider how inept the passing game was, the injuries along the offensive line, the inexperience of the wide receivers and the switch to a completely new defensive scheme, the Bears should be very happy with 9-4.

I’ll have more looking back and looking ahead in the coming days.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • Jake

    J.O.,

    I agree, 9-4 is very respectable for this team. I mean honestly, did anyone think this was going to be any different after losing so many players. Last year was the year, but the coaching staff blew it, and they almost did the same last night.

    I know people love to hate him because of his arrogance and cockiness, but without DeSean Jackson, the Hawk, and Robert Jordan, I wonder where NL would be in the CAL record books. I also wonder how Riley would have done with those type of receivers to throw to. (I guess we all speculate at that if we saw the end of last year’s bowl game).

    I hope we can build up the receiving corps, because I think that more than anything will make a big difference in the CAL QB situation. Tucker, Ross, and Boateng could be decent because they seem to have the size. They lack breakaway speed, but all we need is some good route runners and good hands to convert over the top when guys plug the box to stop Best. If we can do that and support Best, I think next year will be much more exciting!!!

  • JT

    just imagine how good this team could have been if we had a decent passing game..

  • Golden Bear

    I love that this team went 9 and 4. I’m very happy and content with the team and it’s results. But I’m also happy that Nate has had his last game. For whatever reason, Tedford couldn’t resist Nate’s siren call, and now there is no call to hear.

  • Kent

    9-4 represents a “solid” year. It’s right at the expectations for this years Cal team. The good thing was that Cal did not lose a game to a vastly inferior team. Sobering news was that Cal was only 3-4 against teams with a winning record and all three wins were home wins (I include last night’s victory against Miami as a home win). All four losses against teams with a winning record were on the road. Cal did not distinguish itself from Oregon as the 2nd best program in the Pac-10…and a 4th place finish is exactly where Cal was predicted to finish. Overall, Tedford and his staff “held serve” in terms of meeting expectations. It’s been a few years since Tedford’s team has exceeded expectations…let’s hope next year will be the year we achieve a Pac-10 Title.

  • AL da BERKELEY KID

    let’s get that SAHPC built UC

  • milo

    Man listen to you Cal fans…Cal goes 9-4 and everyone is rationalizing it’s a “good” season.

    Haha…that’s a great sign if you ask me. Considering all the things mentioned — no passing game, green WRs, switch in D scheme, mediocre QB play…9-4 is great.

    If the passing game and WRs show up next season, it could be a very good year.

    Go Bears!

  • Pompusone

    Milo

    Well said. Nice coaching job I think – go with what you have and the switch to 3-4.

    Next year should be even better.

  • Eric

    As negative as I have been on the play-calling and the QB-switching all year, 9-4 is a good season. We were undefeated at home. All three of our nonconference opponents (Maryland, Colorado State, and Michigan State) went to/are going to bowl games, which means we did not play any non-conference creampuffs.

    As easy as it is to blame the lack of QB/receivers on our 4 losses, to me that had as much to do with coaching on the offense side. I doubt we would have beaten U$C this year (though that game, more than any other, demonstrated how good our 3-4 switch has been), but I think we should have at least won the Arizona game.

    If the offensive coaching improves – i.e., using your strengths all the time and doing something to actually develop players to minimize weaknesses – we have a real shot to win the Pac-10 next year. We get U$C at home. ASU and Arizona will be down. UCLA and Washington will each still be a mess. WSU isn’t close yet, and Stanford still doesn’t have the talent (though I discount the talent gap in the rivalry game on the road). That leaves the Oregon schools. I don’t think OSU will sneak up on any one, and they lose Stroughter. Oregon will be tough (and we play them at Oregon), but for whatever reason Tedford still gets into Oregon’s head when the pressure is on.

  • Go Bears82

    The pleasant surprise this year was that the defense really improved. Switching to the 3-4 helped leverage our speedy linebackers. I’ll miss Zack but I think Mike Mohammed is going to be just as good, if not better. The DBs will be even better.

    I’ve been disappointed with the QB play this year. I expected Riley to improve considerably. He showed signs of improvement but the game has not slowed down enough. He misses a lot of open receivers simply by not seeing the play developing. He also tends to hold onto the ball too long.

    2009 should be the year for Tedford to demonstrate that he can still mold a great quarterback. With a legitimate passing threat, that will open up more running opportunities for Best, Vereen, Slocum and Deboskie with the emphasis on Best of course. If the QB play improves, this should be a very good team next year.

    Go Bears!

  • ToparchiBears

    How about adding Randall Carroll. The fastest man on the air with the fastest man on the ground. The Bears will be a contender for next year championship.

    Go Bears!

  • wehofx

    I think JT picking Nate to start the Emerald was a clear sign to K Riley and B Mansion that the QB position is wide open going into the Spring. I hope they both work their asses off and one of them emerges as the man. With J Best and an improved/healthy O line, if the WR’s mature and improve, whoever ends up at QB should be getting the keys to a big play offensive machine.

    Go Bears!

  • Juice

    Has Randall Carrolld de-committed to SC and committed to Cal?

  • Jan K Oski

    Will the blind conjecture on Tedford’s reasons for choosing Longshore ever stop? We all know Tedford likes going with the player who practices best. Riley was ahead of Longshore during the season, because they were even in passing, while Riley added a second dimension in speed. Apparently, Longshore improved in practice from JO’s reporting, but it obviously translated into another Trent Dilfer performance. That’s it. Tedford isn’t sending anyone a message or giving Longshore another chance to redeem himself. Unfortunately, for us, we will be reading Part II of a QB Controversy with one old and some new characters. Go figure with a QB guru Tedford! I guess this comes with the territory of an up and coming program.

    Go BEARS!

  • Jan K Oski

    Juice, Carroll is still a soft-commit to $C, but he will be going somewhere else next year, because his mama didn’t raise him to be a Spoiled Child. Cal is in the mix with Florida, Georgia and Colorado. My guess is mama might request that her son stay close to home, and Cal would be that option. Let’s not forget that there are other great prospects with offers and conversely interest in Cal, too. Flourney (yet another $C soft-commit), Ussery, and Hall still have Cal on their short list.

    Go BEARS!

  • Kent

    After 7 years we now see that Tedford really has made poor decisions in handling QBs. First he stayed way too long with Ayoob back in 2005 and he made the exact same mistake with Longshore in 2007. In 2008 he switches back and forth between Riley and Longshore, allowing neither QB to get comfortable with the position and gain confidence. As we look to 2009, we have Riley who certainly will have no confidence that he will be the starter for the season, even his he wins the job over the summer.

    The way Tedford SHOULD have handled this year was to let both players play in the 1st game against Mich. St. After watching Longshore make poor decisions, Longshore should not have been back on the field for the rest of the year. Riley needed the experience to get better and so we can see if he really was a top tier QB. Once Riley was injured then it made sense to bring in Longshore, as long as Cal was still fighting for a Rose Bowl spot…but after losing to USC and virtually eliminating any chance for a Rose Bowl bid, the only other QB who should have received any playing time other than Riley should have been Brock Mansion.

    The decision to start Longshore vs Miami was ridiculous. We all know that Longshore does NOT provide any better chance to win against any opponent vs. Riley. They both are terribly inaccurate passers…mediocre to slightly below average QBs. At least with Riley, you can argue that he is young and relatively inexperienced, so why not give him a chance to improve. At least with Riley, you have hope that the experience will make him better in the future and by playing him now will only help for next year and beyond! By playing Lonshore, it just highlights the indeciveness of Tedford and perhaps a glimpse into his decision making process that does not appear ready to lead the Cal football program to challenge for a Pac-10 Championships.

  • CalFBFan

    Kent, I have to disagree with you. Hindsight’s always 20/20.

    In 05, Booya WAS our backup. Levy was a 3rd string converted fullback. Under those circumstances, I understand why switching took as long as it did.

    With regards to Riley and Longshore, fans can only judge performance based on games. Coaches have access to players during practices as well. If Longshore’s practicing better than Riley, how can you not start him? A player who practices poorly may or may not light it up during a game. The same can be said of a player who practices well, but its easier to see this player carry his performance into the game. And really, if you don’t start a player who practices well, what does that say to the other players? That their effort in practice doesn’t matter, it all just comes down to who the coaches think are better regardless of practice?

    People who’ve seen Riley prior to the game have also said that he was limping noticeably. Longshore, according to Tedford, is finally fully healthy. This, in conjunction with how Longshore’s been practicing, makes it pretty easy to understand why Longshore was starting.

    Finally, I think throwing Brock Mansion into the mix would’ve really been detrimental. If QB merry go round with 2 players is bad enough, I don’t see how it would be better with 3 players.

  • Go Bears!

    I believe that Coach Tedford and his staff are making decisions that they think will give them the best chance of wining football games. I believe that Coach Tedford and his staff have done more for this program than any of us can remember as a result of those decisions. I believe that Cal’s future without Coach Tedford is back to the bottom of the Pac-10.

    You guys will be praising his name when Cal beats SC next year.

    In Tedford We Trust!

    Go Bears!

  • ToparchiBears

    Come on! Let the QB question behind us. Just enjoy the win, and move on. Now, recruiting should be the topic for the next few weeks. If the coaches can sway in some top recruits, specially the WRs and the #1 Center. Cal will be better of in the long run.

    And, I can’t wait to see the SAHPC up and running.
    The future of bear sport will be up a notch.

    Go Bears!

  • Old Bear

    9-4 is a success.

    BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Riley’s regression. After the opening day victory against MSU, who would have thought he would be holding the clipboard in the bowl game.

    SURPRISE ON DEFENSE: Darian Hagen’s play at CB gives us two lock down corners for next year.

    SURPRISE ON OFFENSE: Won a bowl game with three underclassmen o-liners.

    BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Second half collapse against Arizona.

    HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR: Thrilling victory in the monsoon against the hated Ducks.

    Can’t wait until the spring game. Go Bears!

  • Golden Bear

    oh my god!

    check this out:
    http://www.tmz.com/2008/12/29/usc-football-catches-academic-ass-whooping/#comments

    TMZ asked some of the SC players a few civics questions. Check out how stupid those guys are.

  • Larry

    Wow! I know SC will NEVER have a Draddy winner now. How could you not know who Joe Biden is? Even if you are a “meathead”, you should at least know that. Maybe if you were retarded or brain damaged… oh… never mind.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Sadly you will never own up to how really true your statements are about stupid athletes. Here is a quote from one of your own.

    “The problem is there’s a huge world of Mickey Mouse courses and special curriculums that athletes are steered into,” said Murray Sperber, a visiting professor in the University of California’s graduate school of education and the author of four books about college athletics and college life. “The problem is there are many athletes graduating from schools who are semiliterate.”

    Hurts doesn’t it?

    http://www.ajc.com/sports/content/sports/stories/2008/12/28/acadmain_1228_3DOT.html

  • Calduke

    Maybe Desean Jackson can spare a few moments of his very precious personal time and speak to Randall Carroll that the pros recognize speedy receivers from Cal, just as much as from SC, and the positive results that occurred for him from attending Cal.

    This might be a positive way DeSean can return some recognition for the exposure Cal football provided him.

  • Will

    I’m really happy with how recruiting has gone so far this year. We’ve gotten some great recruits, and getting someone like Carroll or Kennard would be icing on the cake.

    Also, I’m just curious, what does moron do in the offseason? In a week or so, the football posts will slow down, and he’ll have to cry himself to sleep knowing that he has nothing to do when he wakes up…

  • Jan K Oski

    Calduke, Do you know what happened when Bush called McKnight about $C? Let me fill you in… Pete, McKnight and Bush denied it. Why? It’s illegal.

  • Calbears

    have u ever heard rey m being interviewed, hes extremely dumb

  • Jake

    Ahh… i see it now. I know why you failed law school Moron. First of all you have to learn to read, then you have to learn to get your facts straight. If you don’t, you will never win a case.

    In regards to the article you linked to:
    1) Sperber did get his master’s and PhD from CAL. But nowhere in his article did he say that CAL or the UC’s were graduating athlete’s by having them take Mickey Mouse courses. That was a general statement about the state of ALL collegiate athletics. Something that is not a surprise and that I am certain the Mighty Trojans are all too familiar with.

    2) The article does say that the gap btw. student athlete SAT scores and that of the general student body is higher at UC Berkeley. Something I would expect at the top public university. If your general student body is scoring higher on their SAT’s than say a middle tier private university, like USC, where most students pay for the grades on their transcripts, then wouldn’t the gap be higher?

    So the question is not whether athletes are stupid or whether jocks are dumb. Because if you read the article clearly Sperber speaks to this as well.

    The real question is how dumb are you and how truly sad a representation of the Trojan nation are you? The reality that you have nothing better to do than come on this blog and pretend to be pro pac-10. To have nothing better to do than to preach your anti-CAL bear hatred. But that’s ok. I know it’s hard to not be in the NC game when you had so much promise. To have to sit back and watch Oklahoma and Florida play all because you guys choked against OSU. To have to wait another year and see another season full of promise get snuffed out because of poor undisciplined play by 5-star recruits. Just another typical USC season.

    Hurts doesn’t it?

  • BluenGold

    If moron the troll would have bothered to read the entire article for which it posted the link and took the quote, it might have noticed that the survey or study in question specifically excluded private schools because they are not subject to public records act disclosure requirements. It stands to reason that if top rated public schools like Cal and UCLA have a significant gap between test scores of athletes and the general student body, private schools like the U of Sports Corruption, that attract NFL bound football players, will have even wider ones, because they have more leeway in the academic standards they must enforce. Look at the graduation rates for NCAA athletes. $C is not an academic powerhouse by any means, but then, their only claim to fame is that some of their athletic programs are successful. Why? Can you say “money”?

  • Jake

    Speaking of stupid athletes:

    http://www.sportsline.com/collegefootball/story/11208703

    Stanley Havili will not be playing in the Rose Bowl. What does it say when your football players can’t even pass the “Mickey Mouse courses” and “special curriculums” that they are steered into. Shows that Moron is not the only idiot from U$C!!!

  • ToparchiBears

    So far, it is all Pac-10. They are 3-0 after the Oregon mulled down the #13 Okahoma State. If the Oregon State take care of the Pitts, and for sure the SC will take care of the Penn State, then Pac-10 will be perfect in post season.

    Go Bears! Go Pac-10.

  • Larry

    Stanley Havili will not be playing in the Rose Bowl due to academics.

    Hurts doesn’t it?

  • Larry

    How hard is it to weave a basket at U$C?

  • ToparchiBears

    Vote for Aaron Rodger for the FedEx player of the week.
    He thrown for 308 yards in win, and +3700 yards for the year.

    http://www.nfl.com/partner?partnerType=players-air-and-ground

    If the Niners were watching, They were sure regret of not picking Rodger for their QB.

    Go Bears!

  • ToparchiBears

    Correction:

    His full year as a starter of 2008 Stats is 4038 yards, and 93.8 passer rating.

    Please remember to vote for him for the player of the week at FedEx site.

    Go Bears!

  • ToparchiBears

    Aaron surpass his former mentor, Brett Favre, this year both in yardage and in passer rating. The green bay fans accepted and voted for him as their offensive MVP. What a great start for Rodger.

    Go Bears!

  • curtis birch

    when the time comes that no one responds to MoreNCsarecoming, these posts will cease to exist. please, for the sake of the rest of the people here, do not respond to these posts.