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Football: Bears moving on

At least when the Bears lose, they do so at the right time.

The only good thing for Cal about Friday’s loss to Nevada is it comes at a time when the Bears can wipe the slate clean and focus on the beginning of the Pac-10 season. Cal could use a fresh start after Friday’s game, and now the Bears have a new goal in their sights.

“We get a fresh start,” said linebacker Mike Mohamed, who seems optimistic he will play Saturday. “The Rose Bowl is still within reach starting with Pac-10. It’s a clean slate. Now we’re just focused on the Pac-10.”

It also helps that Arizona runs a more conventional offense than Nevada, although the Wildcats are far from easy to defend. Arizona, with efficient quarterback Nick Foles leading the way, feature experience and balance on offense. The defense, meanwhile, despite losing a handful of key players from last year’s team, is aggressive and effective. Arizona currently has the third-ranked defense in the country.

Excitement and confidence will be as high as the Bears have experienced in Tucson on Saturday.

“It’s always been a frenzy there,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “The environment is not something that is going to surprise us because we’ve been there before and we know what they are capable of there. They really feed off of it. They’re playing really, really well.”

Reflecting more on the Nevada game, Tedford said some of the problems on defense were due to lack of execution and some were becasue of Nevada’s unique schemes.

“Everybody has to be exactly in their right gap,”  Tedford said. “One time a (linebacker) is not in the right gap, the next play a safety thinks he has to get in there. There are so many phases to it that you have to be perfect with what you’re doing on defense. We had some guys out of position because of the different looks and some of the things they were doing.”

Mohamed didn’t play, but he did review the tape with his teammates. He said Cal had problems on defense because players took turns “messing up.”

“It wasn’t the scheme,” Mohamed said. “It was just individual players. It seemed like every play, somebody took a turn messing up. That’s what Nevada wants. If you have 10 guys doing it right and one guy doing it wrong, that’s all it takes.”

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.

  • Dan

    Gee, then maybe we should run Nevada’s offense….

    “It wasn’t the scheme,” Mohamed said. “It was just individual players. It seemed like every play, somebody took a turn messing up. That’s what Nevada wants. If you have 10 guys doing it right and one guy doing it wrong, that’s all it takes.”

  • BlakeStreetBear

    With a healthy Mohammed we give Nevada a much better game and maybe even eke out a win against pretty impressive team on the road. Let’s see how our D plays against az, hopefully with a nearly fully healthy Mike Mo. I think there will be a dramatic improvement. Go Bears!

  • abe

    “The Rose Bowl is still within reach starting with Pac-10…” (Mike Mo ) In my opinion that right there is the ultimate reason why this Cal program will struggle reaching the promising land. Don’t get me wrong this is no knock on Mike, i have nothing but pure admiration for the guy. This is more about the program as a whole and the sentiment surrounding it, namely the overwhelming pressure to get to the Rose bowl. Sandy once said “we dont want this (the drought) hanging over this program forever”. True but it does and everyone involved with the program feels it and the players are no different. Each new recruit that enters the doors of Cal football automatically inherits this pressure. It is not a coincidence or some kind of cosmic joke that every time we seem close to reach that goal we find a way to mess it up. And the longer the drought goes on the problem only gets worse. A similar situation can be found with any the professional sport franchises in Cleveland and the nature of disappointments that has pervaded those franchise that represent a city that has not won any championship in like forever. Its a self sustaining beast.

  • rollonubears

    maybe they should just play a tape of last year’s press conferences, in the same order of each loss this year. the oregon tape would have worked here. maybe next week, we can play last year’s u$c tape. the reality is, on defense we were flummoxed. on offense, we made too many mistakes. the game plan was too pass-heavy and too aggressive on defense, and it didn’t work out. i get the feeling if we went back up to nevada again, they’d do the same thing, and we’d have the same result. if they really think the reason we lost was because one guy was out of position on a few plays, and nevada keyed on that on every play, than expect to see nevada in the title game. i hope they make it, for our sake. just go beat arizona, please.

  • http://leaderofthepac.wordpress.com/ LeaderofthePac.wordpress.com

    Oregon had a pretty big loss in game one of last season and bounced back just fine. This was a minor setback, but as it’s been spoken about, Cal plays much better as an underdog.

  • SteveNtexas

    If we beat Arizona, Nevada will be pretty forgotten.

    This weekend we are getting a new lease on life with with our Pac 10 start.

    Indiana uses the same offense that we saw at Nevada. I think they use our defense too… They also are a good school and recruit great kids- rarely is an IU player arrested.

    They are 2-0 (cupcakes) and will try that offense against Michigan Saturday.

  • Matt G

    Abe, with all due respect that doesn’t make any sense. The team will fail because it hasn’t been to the Rose Bowl in forever? Many would argue that’s the same championship attitude every team should have as the conference season starts: target = Rose Bowl. If Mikey Mo said “We’re aiming for about the RB or even thinking about it because we don’t want to get uptight” many would be screaming about how the team has no ambition or championship mentality! I WANT this team starting every season with Pasadena on their minds and a firm belief that they can get there in January

  • pompusone2000

    And, when the players didn’t mess up, there was the fatal no-call. See Golden Blogs.

  • rollonubears

    we did get hosed on a couple calls, especially holding. i’ll give us that. it might have accounted for a score that should have been a stop, but we still didn’t play well enough to win.

    i’d just like to at least get to the second half of the season before our pac10 hopes are completely dashed. saturday would be a real nice step.

  • a Perko

    More than one once, I’ve seen this loss at Nevada compared to the loss at U of O last year. I don’t think they are equivalent at all. We lost to U of 0 with a score of 42 to 3! Versus Nevada we did manage to score 31 ( or so) points on offense! We were very much in the game for three quarters, and could have easily taken the lead except for an interception. I had a feeling during the U of O game that Cal just didn’t show up that day. I didn’t have that feeling with Nevada. I’m optimistic that Cal will play well against Arizona. I do think the pistol offense and cal D sans Mohammad was the major reason we had so much trouble.

  • uh oh.

    Abe:
    The Red Sox finally won, didn’t they?
    So did the Saint’s.
    Cal will too.
    Yes the pressure is there, but one day it won’t be.

    I’m glad we lost in one sense. If we go on a winning streak here to open the Pac10, I don’t have to stress that we might end up being TOO good and end up going to the National Chumpionship game. I don’t want that – I want an outright Pac 10 crown and the Rose Bowl. If we have to give up a non-conf game in order to opt out of the Chump game, then I am thrilled!!!

  • Holmoephobic

    “At least when the Bears lose, they do so at the right time”

    Is that why it’s been 52 years since Cal’s last Rose Bowl game? Seriously, is there some sort of trend I am unaware of in which Cal mostly losses ‘at the right time’?

    Furthermore, they don’t get to wipe the slate clean. They’ve been exposed by a WAC team (other than Boise State or Fresno) and looked extremely undisciplined in the process. We’ll see how clean the slate is when UCLA and Oregon are looking over film and realize how easy it will be to for them to run their offenses against us. I wish I could believe Cal is just ‘losing at the right time’ and now they are ‘wiping the slate clean’ but that just sounds ridiculous and unfounded.

  • Dan

    Rollon-

    Very good playback/recollection- thanks.

    Last year, all year, all we heard about on defense re: getting shredded was that it was that one player, just that one player, who was out of position or didn’t make the play. Yep, it was that one player- otherwise we would have shut down the opposition in those 5 lopsided losses. Do they really believe that load of crap?

    Last week, the defense either couldn’t execute or wasn’t coached to play assignment football. The pistol is an option attack, you HAVE to play assignment football. I am always baffled why Cal chooses not too. We looked lost vs. Oregon, we looked lost for much of the game when we played Air Force in the bowl game. I just don’t get it. The OLBs should have had carte blanche to just unload on Kaepernick every time he came down the line either with the ball or carrying out the fake. Just unload- not dirty, good hard football hits. That is how you disrupt and shut down that part of the option.

    Now, in the aftermath of the game, we hear the same old “one guy was out of position and didn’t make the play”. Please.

  • manus

    Watching the Arizona/Iowa game, it was interesting to see that AZ Coach Mike Stoops is a lot like K State B’ball coach Frank Martin. When Stoops went into overdrive with his act after a series of penalty setbacks, it seemed to have a bad psychological effect on his players and that’s when the momentum changed in Iowa’s favor. However, the AZ defensive players rallied when it counted and won out. AZ is one tough team.

  • cane grande

    One loss clears the air?; really! I watched all the PacTen games that were televised last weekend. They all looked good. The common thread in all those game was that each team – Stanford, the Arizona teams, the Oregon schools – have all developed a strong offense built around their ability to recruit/train outstanding quarterbacks. In that regard, it’s as though they’re driving Aston Martins and Cal continues to rely on a Model T.
    Another point; if any of you owned a company whose CEO was paid a seven figure salary but had produced decling result over the past four years, would you not be activly looking to replace that person?

  • Very Old Blue

    Sigh…Holmoephobic says 52 years since the Rose Bowl… That is how long I have been a bear backer, waiting for the Second Coming…
    somehow, I seem to have a mental disorder – I keep believing that “hope springs eternal”, and one day the combination of coaching and players will turn the hat trick again.
    for the past three seasons including the Nevada game, I have watched linebackers and cornerbacks out of position time and time again, not filling gaps and literally stumbling over other Cal defenders, while huge running and passing lanes develop.
    Pro coach Pendergast was supposed to change all this –?? Hello??– who wish I had a nickel or dime for every time I saw a linebacker or cornerback totally flummoxed and out of position in the Nevada game.

    I concur completely with “Dan” – it wasn’t one guy out of position; it was several.

    I will probably rejoin the Bear Backers again for my 53rd year – though I guess my excitement with the Cal athletic program is going to have to to shift to basketball, swimming, water polo, and rugby.

  • Michael

    The problem with Tedford and Mohammed talking about the Rose Bowl as a goal, is that once it’s not possible, what is there to play for? This is why Cal falls on it’s face every year once they lose a couple times. Cal will stink until Tedford is canned.

  • abe

    Matt G,

    I agree with everything you say about always aiming for the highest prize, goals, targets, championship mentality…etc, I just dont know what any of that has to do with the particular point I was trying to make: We need to focus on what is right in front of us, this week for instance, Arizona, instead of evaluating every win and loss and everything else that goes on with the program from the perspective of going to the RB. When that happens it becomes more about obsession and less about all those thing you talk about and that in turn brings a boat load pressure. I believe this is why coaches always preach about keeping focus on the game at hand, on each play, each moment…etc and not getting distracted by the big picture which will take care of itself if you take care of the task at hand.

    UH OH,

    True but how long did it take the Red Sox to win it, like a century. Again I am not suggesting that they wont win, geez I hope not, just making the point that the longer the drought goes on the harder the struggle mostly due to self imposed pressure.

  • michias

    Very Old Blue: I think you mean IF there is swimming, water polo, and rugby — all of them are on the old chopping block.

    I think you all are over analyzing this loss. Nevada is a very good team. Their QB (whose name is too complicated to remember) will get his yards running in that modified option they call the “Pistol”. It was the pass defense that failed; time and again we had them stopped on third down and he (what’s his name) would just step back and throw successfully down field. It seemed as if our cornerbacks were not even closing on the ball once it was in the air.

    If that is true, i.e., a very inept defensive secondary the Pac-10 QBs will eat us alive.

    May God have mercy on our souls.

  • Tyler M.

    I can see the Bears running some aspects of the pistol with next year’s starting QB…Zach Maynard.

  • rollonubears

    the red sox may have taken a century to win it all, but they had plenty of division championships over the years. that’s all we’re asking for. win the dang pac10. it’s 10 freaking teams. we have the second-highest-paid coach, and the second most active players in the nfl. we go through talent like it’s going out of style, but we can’t put together a championship team just once?

  • Bear.in.PA

    Michias:

    The aquatic programs are very well funded from alumni. They aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

  • Meep.

    Well, I agree with you guys that it was a total defensive lapse, but what they said does hold. When one guy misses his assignment, others have to cover for the gap he created. If everyone takes turns missing assignments (just takes one guy at a time), the entire defense becomes a mess because everyone’s adjusting for each other and there’s always going to be a lane somewhere else. It’s why you need a disciplined defense to protect the spread option/pistol offense, and Cal’s defense is honestly too young. And for anyone blaming Pendergast: 1) Yes, it’s his fault for not coming up with better schemes, but 2) he’s from the NFL. Nobody runs spread options in the NFL because the defenses are faster, bigger, smarter, and are willing to lick the quarterback every time. It was pretty obvious we didn’t have the speed on defense to keep up. Apart from Holt, our linebackers were burned play after play. I’m thinking Pendergast realized he didn’t have the talent and speed on defense to contain them and decided to take out the running backs and make the QB make the plays. I bet you he regrets that decision.

    @Rollon: Well, luckily, we have a lot of active offensive NFL players that are doing pretty well for themselves and should serve as an indirect recruiting message while we try to figure out this Rose Bowl thing.

  • oldcalfan

    Many of the comments I have read here seem to make sense. However, Cal never seemed to make any defensive adjustments after giving up 200+ yds. rushing in the first half. Could it be that Nevada has better athletes than Cal? (With the exception of Vereen). That might explain Nevada’s contiued dominantation of Cal’s defense in the second half.
    Their O-line was (and is) better than our defensive line. Where were Cal’s defensive backs lending support for the defense?
    Tedford seemed to know what was in store for Cal. During the previous week all he talked about was how tough it was going to be to defend Nevada’s attack.
    Tedford used to say: “they’re a very good team but we are too and we’ll come to play”. Remember?
    I hope Cal proves me wrong.

  • manus

    Even with the defensive lapses, if we hadn’t committed those offensive turnovers, the game would have been closer, if not different in the score.

  • BearIV

    Who wants a ride to Tucson? Go BEARS! Check out the rideshare on craiglist. I want to go but can’t afford gas solo and my other buddies actually used their Cal degrees to make money and are flying. Road trip!

    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/rid/1964273466.html