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Football: Sunday night update

When a team crushes a team it is supposed to crush, and there aren’t any extraordinary individual efforts or new impact players that emerge, there typcially aren’t a whole lot of compelling storylines in the aftermath. Such was the situation tonight following yesterday’s 49-17 win over Washington State.

But despite the dearth of excitement, we march forward with some nuggets:

–Nose tackle Derrick Hill suffered a sprained shoulder against the Cougars. Jeff Tedford said Hill is day to day. The good news for the Bears is backup Kendrick Payne saw a handful of snaps yesterday after retuning from a foot injury. And Aaron Tipoti has played well in Payne’s place. That being said, Hill played at a pretty high level yesterday and would be missed if he has to sit out Saturday’s game at Arizona State.

–Tedford said kicking duties will once again be open for competition this week. Vince D’Amato has recovered from his sprained shoulder. Tedford was generally content with Giorgio Tavecchio’s performance Saturday, although he lamented a couple kickoffs that just made it past the 20. But Tavecchio had a handful of others that went to around the 5.

–Think Cal has had a big-play offense recently? Before Jahvid Best’s 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter yesterday, the Bears had scored 11 straight touchdowns from outside of the red zone.

–Cal has moved into the latest BCS rankings at No. 24.

–Cal received 24 votes in this week’s Associated Press top 25, putting the Bears at No. 28 nationally.

That’s all for tonight. I’ll be back tomorrow with some complete transcriptions from the press room Saturday as well as some final items to wrap up Washington State. Also, tomorrow we will find out the start time for the Nov. 7 home game against Oregon State.

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.

  • Robert

    I guess the story is: Why is the pass D so soft with 8 starters back on a unit that was pretty good last year? Or The comfort level with the 3-4 was supposed to increase, which would lead to more variety and better D. Or Why is the linebacker excuse deflecting attention away from Gregory’s “coaching?”

  • Robert

    Next year’s Gregory excuses: The secondary is young. We lost Syd. We lost Tyson. We are only in our 3rd year of the 3-4.

  • Bears

    I like that the D’s base is 3-4 but they are willing to go to 4 down linemen at times. It’s good to have the option to mix it up and give the opponent other looks. For Cal to win the majority of the rest of their games and finish 2nd or 3rd in the Pac the defense has to step up its game. Especially the LB’s and DB’s, really surprised at the DB’s struggles. D and special teams need to create turnovers, have not made many this year, especially in first half of games. I know these guys are capable but when are they going to get pissed and say enough, we are a good D and will show it every saturday? Our team used to show disciplined swagger and physicality, do these guys have it in them? Each game left will be a tough contest, the Bears will need to bring it to win the greater majority and to prove they are a good team.
    Starts in the desert at 12:30pm saturday. Is our D any good? Can our offense be consistently good vs good competition?
    These last 5 games are key! Go Bears!

  • GoldenBear 77

    Robert,

    I sometimes think that we confuse what they say in public, with what they are really thinking. I am sure that “they” (and in this instance I mean Tedford) are asking the same questions that you are. Whatever the questions, I don’t think they are the type of people to “air their dirty laundry” so to speak — and I, for one, think that is the right thing.

  • Eric

    Here’ my take on the 3-4. The 3-4 has made our run defense better, because it allows the linebackers to close with speed on runs. In many ways, it is a defense designed to deal with the Oregons/Washingtons of the world. Other than the Oregon game this year, the run defense has been good (U$C)to great (every other game).

    The 3-4 is not great at creating pressure on a QB unless we are using a LB in the rush, which can be good because can come from all different angles (again, think of the critical delayed blitz in the UCLA game in the third quarter), but is bad because it creates a hole in the coverage.

    The most significant problem is that our secondary has not stepped at all. Part of the problem is personnel. Syd is good, but I think all of the hype got to him this year, and he has not been where he needs to be. Hagan has been repeatedly exposed, and the replacement (Hill, etc.) have been mediocre. And our safeties are just not playing great – virtually no help to the CBs on deep plays. But a significant problem is coaching. Too often our CBs are starting plays 10 yards off the line, and then retreating at the snap. That gives receivers too much room to work. And our LBs are either not playing the right lanes or the coaching is not adequately adjusting – too often pass plays to FBs and TEs are wide open.

    Even though our secondary is a lot weaker this year, I said it before – our defense lives and dies with the LBs. If the LBs make plays (like UCLA and Minnesota), we win or are put in a position to win. If the LBs play like they did against Oregon, we’re toast.

  • cal85

    Having an LB blitz, and therefore, takes a man out of coverage isn’t a valid point. That still leaves 7 in coverage and two rushing. I think the D really misses Follett’s play making abilities and how it changed opposing offenses. He made the secondary look better because of the fear of his speed coming off of the edge.

    I don’t know if anyone’s ever studied if their is difference between a “speed” sack (from a LB, secondary or unblocked lineman) vs. pocket crumbling or coverage sack, but it seems to me that a speed sack would lead to more interceptions.

  • BluenGold

    One thing that really stood out while watching the WSU game (and was driven home later while watching OSU vs the U. of Sports Corruption), was that the pass defense seems to be way too passive. I did not see any Cal defender going after an interception. The approach seemed to be to wait for the receiver to catch the ball, then go for the tackle. I get that they are trying to avoid PI calls, but why not be more aggressive in trying to break up the completion and, at least on occasion, intercepting the pass?

    BTW, OSU looked really good on Saturday. Cal will need to really step up both on O and D in order to beat them.

  • Calduke

    I think OSU looked good because of the OL.
    Cal’s OL can’t handle most PAC 10 defenses and the Cal’s DL doesn’t seem to be around.

    Please don’t use WSU and UCLA as examples of our OL and DL capabilities.
    Both the UCLA QB and the WSU QB had career days against Cal.

    There is no miracle cure for the pass defense and the offense will have to score lots of points the rest of the year.