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

  • MoreNCsarecoming


    Please ask Captain Riley if he still believes he belongs right up there with the Pac 10 elite QBs. You know – Locker, Barkley, Foles, Luck, Katz, and, of course, Riley.

  • Juancho

    Nice article JO. I’m in a bad mood still from yesterday. I can’t help but feel like Riley saying he never thought he was coming out is very indicative of the lack of high-demand competition the team currently finds itself in. Ross hasn’t done anything, pretty much ever but he plays. Calvin cannot catch consistently, but he plays. Does anyone remember with Anthony Miller was a solid target? Play the young guys. Teach them how bad this losing feels when they’re the ones out there play after play. Let them learn now so that next year we have a head start. Please coach Tedford give youngsters time. I know you don’t want to send the message to Riley that the season and his career is over. But please don’t send us the message that our program’s lost.

  • Juancho

    “We had some chances to make some plays. We have to catch the football,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “He hits guys right in the hands where we could have made big plays and get us out of a hole. Somebody has to make a play somewhere. Everybody has to do their part. It’s very easy to point at the quarterback. People have to make plays when there is a time to make plays.”

    Really? This sounds familiar. It’s either Al Davis defending Jamarcus Russell. Or someone defending Alex Smith. Being a qb is about more than having “catchable” balls or throws where someone “can make a play”. It’s about having a leader who is reliable time after time, and makes the plays and throws himself. The body language was awful on every bad throw Riley had yesterday. Marvin Jones looked like he was wasting his time and had tests to study for everytime he walked back to the huddle after a bad throw.

  • RandUmBear

    Given the current California budget crisis, I think Tedford should take this years salary, divide it by the number of games and donate it to Cal. There’s no excuse for this embarrassment. I don’t mind losing, frankly, as long as our team shows up and plays competitively. Shoot…I could have coached the team to a 42-0 half-time blow out myself (and I would have done it for 1/10 his salary).

  • Calduke

    Are Bridgford and Hinder still on the roster.
    They weren’t listed for the UCLA game.

    Juancho – I have a similiar feeling about the current seniors and losing.
    There seems to be a ‘losing’ culture that has set in and I will be glad when this culture graduates(except for Veeren and Mohammad)

  • Cal_Fan2

    Kevin Riley is as clueless as Tedford…I would cut him some slack but at the start of the season, he was ticked off that Locker, Barkley, Luck and Foles were invited to the ESPN media thing….Riley kept saying he was a better QB then they were….LOL…. I try and give players the benefit of the doubt, but Riley can’t even back up his words…no self reflection…he is the #8 or #9 QB in the Pac 10….and pumped up stats against weak teams won’t change that…

  • Calduke

    My following comment is all speculation and based on absolutely no firm info or knowledge
    I think JT doesn’t play Sweeney or Mansion because Zack Maynard will be the QB next year. It could be part of the Keenan Allen deal.

    Oski and others – stomp on me!!

  • Calduke

    Let’s talk about the Ariz St game.
    I believe this the only chance for the Bears to get 5 wins this year.

  • Bob49

    Jonathan Okanes,

    An interesting article you could write, at the end of the season, is to handicap who will be Cal’s starting quarterback next year. I probably don’t know all of the candidates, but most consist of Sweeney (currently second string), Mansion (currently third string), Maynard (the transfer who, I believe, started at Buffalo), Brigford, Hinder, and the kid from the East Bay who will be a freshman next year who some people seem to be very high on (supposedly a great runner and passer). I could easily be wrong, but I think that Mansion is the only Elite 11 of the bunch.

    Please fill us in on this subject! Maybe your readers could provide their opinions on this subject before you write your piece on this subject. I am sure that people would enjoy the speculation by others and your article.

  • Bob49

    Just checked out a very interesting blog — The Band Is Out On The Field (a link is provided in the right column of this page). Here is what someone wrote as a comment on it (and there are other comments on who will be Cal’s quarterback next year and the year thereafter Kyle Boehm is the “stud” who will be a Cal freshman next year who I referred to above.

    Rivals pro-style quarterbacks rankings
    2011 #6 Kyle Boehm
    2010 #23 Austin Hinder (dropped after a terrible US Army All-American Bowl game)
    2009 #10 Allan Bridgford
    2008 #13 Beau Sweeney
    2007 #11 Brock Mansion
    2006 #6 Kevin Riley

  • Bob49

    More comments from The Band Is Out On The Field. One of these guys is maybe more sophisticated than the commentators on this blog — he’s going after Ludwig our offensive coordinator. Good pick. I think he’s in his second year. They normally only last one year with Tedford. I think it’s time for him to go!


    I’m confused, too.

    We need to figure out what we’ve got with Sweeney/Mansion to make a better assessment this spring.

    All I can think of is:

    1) Tedford still has high hopes for this season – so more time for the 1st teamers to improve even at the expense of the backups is indicated.
    2) Tedford already knows that Sweeney/Mansion aren’t the answer. So, giving them snaps has no bearing on the QB competition this spring. He wants/needs Bridgford/Hinder/Maynard to be the man.

    Old Toothwrangler
    by Kodiak on Oct 16, 2010 4:24 PM PDT up reply
    It is looking more and more like the hiring
    Of Ludwig as OC and Marshall as OL coach were mistakes by Tedford. I would say at the minimum boosters and influential alums will be demanding he fire those two.

    by SDBear on Oct 16, 2010 4:29 PM PDT via mobile up reply 1 recs
    +1 SDBear
    Bring back the Pac-10!!!
    by calas on Oct 16, 2010 4:55 PM PDT up reply

    100% agreed! As stated above, Tedford is not the issue, still a great coach. A head coach relies heavily on his OC and boy does he need a new one!

    by SonofCalifornia on Oct 16, 2010 6:09 PM PDT up reply

    next year
    Sr: Mansion
    Jr: Sweeney, Maynard
    So: Bridgford
    Fr: Hinder

    take ur pick. i say Maynard.

    by JustBear on Oct 16, 2010 4:29 PM PDT up reply

  • Tim

    Fire Tedford, use the money to save the sports Cal is cutting

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    I love how even Aaron “I can complete 5 yard padsdses” Rodgers is jumping ship. Notice what shirt he is wearing.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA….Butte College!!!!

  • nickle

    I’m still at a loss of words how JO liberally removes some comments and choose to leave others in.

  • Dan

    Just got done watching the first half of the game- it was brutal, got my blood boiling again, but I only heard the first half yesterday – Joe Starkey had a field day, as you can imagine- he was as baffled, as was Troy Taylor, as any of us. Anyway, I watched every play at least twice, one full speed, once or twice in slo mo. I just had to see what the heck was happening – the old player in me… Some thoughts/points-

    Barry Tompkins said near the end of the first half that this was the worst they had ever seen a team play in their 7 plus years of doing games on FoxSportsNet (now Comcast SportsNet). Think about that- they have done blowout games with WSU, they have done out of conference blowout spectacles. This was the worst by far in memory. Wow. Not surprising after seeing it, but still, wow. MY add- this was Holmoe-esque. Again. 4 times last season (OSU game was not close, but not really a true blowout). Twice so far this season. And this one was the worst. Notice a trend?

    Petros Papadakis kept saying in a befuddled and confused way, “Cal is better than this” … not understanding how Cal could be so thoroughly dominated
    . Petros, no, Cal isn’t better than this. Looking impressive beating up on 98 pound weaklings should never be considered real evidence that a team is good. If you look at the most recent history, this IS Cal.

    Two of Riley’s most glaring mistakes (interceptions) in the 2nd quarter led directly to 14 points (+7 SC, – 7 Cal)- he had Ladner open for a TD, with plenty of margin for error toward both the sideline and the end zone, and he under threw it badly for the picks. The other one to the SC DLineman, SC goes short field to score right after to close out the half. Riley has made more back breaking, OMG, “What the …” mistakes in half a season that a decent QB would make in a whole season. Also, he started the game 1-7 for 8 yards. Granted, he a couple dropped at that point, but whatever. He clearly just isn’t the guy who can or will elevate a team- he is unfortunately a guy that will bring a team down and hurt it when the team needs him most. But I don’t blame him- it’s primarily coaching, mentoring, confidence building, and QB development- Tedford’s forte’, right?

    Riley is exactly what we see over and over again, he will not help Cal win any of the tough games left on the schedule (Oregon, OSU, UW and Stanford). Hopefully he doesn’t blow any other (two) games or maybe one of the ones that look bleak that perhaps between a stellar D and run game Cal MIGHT have a shot at winning. It was rough watching what a great QB looks like watching Matt Barkley- he as good as advertised.

    But before it seems I am pointing only at Riley, there was so much bad football all around on both sides of the ball and special teams. Mind boggling, especially contrasted to SC.

    On O., the receivers continue to drop so many balls- Marvin Jones, for all the tantalizing greatness we see, drops more balls than T.O. Inexcusable. He has dropped more balls already this season than a truly good D1 receiver would drop in their entire career. The Oline was a joke. Just manhandled, pushed all around, standing straight up, no drive, and standing around watching Riley, Vereen., get pressured and pummeled most of the day Particularly, in slomo, Cheadle, Edwards, Schwenke, and Garnero were beyond terrible. Even Schwartz blew me away watching guys speed rush around him or push into the backfield. Watched everything wrong in slomo over and over. Again, Painful.

    NOTE- SC has had the same 5 OLine starters I all 7 of their games this season. At the part of the team that continuity is most critical on a football team, Cal has been a revolving door.
    Not sure how good or bad Marshall is, my guess so far is not very good, but in any event he sure can’t hold a candle to what SC’s line coach and game plan are doing for them.
    Overall just an embarrassment on offense- call me Captain Obvious- except for Shane Verren- that kid is a stud, a warrior. Also, Keenan Allen must be wondering how he took a wrong on the way to Tuscaloosa and ended up in South Central wearing a Cal uniform. He is so special. I giggle with joy every one of the painfully few times a game he gets the ball, marveling how special he is. Too bad I don’t get to giggle very much.

    Let’s jump to the defense. That’s easy. See what I wrote about the offense, and double it. They all stunk- except Chris Conte. Young man, if you are reading this, well I’m sorry to be so blunt prior, but you are a STUD. You have had your ups and downs, but you are the bona fide real deal this season. And you were special on Saturday. You were in position, you were smart, you were tough, VERY tough, you were forced to make way too many tackles- you were everything your 10 defensive field mates were not. Even our team captain Mike Mo was just BAD out there. Record and watch it when Comcast reairs it 27 times this week- if you dare.
    Coaching- it has all been said. I said it here first 2 1/2 seasons ago, told my friends about my observations two seasons before that, I was seeing strong similarities to Ben Braun’s Cal career. I was seeing questionable things from Braun even when he was winning a few years in. You see things with your own eyes, you losses that shouldn’t be, you see some wins that are painful and excruciating when they shouldn’t have been- then you start to see losses to lesser teams, and blowout losses to comparable or slightly more talented teams. How is this not like exactly like Tedford? Braun was nice, he ran a clean program, his 4 year kids graduated, he wasn’t the evil Todd Bozeman. Sound like anyone head football coach we know? Sounds just like Tedford, except replace evil (sic) Todd with inept Holmoe. IT’S JUST LIKE THAT.

    ?y question, is how can Tedford fix this? Short of bringing in a Mike Leach as OC, which sounds crazy as I type this and is probably crazy- but Tedford obviously needs to do something drastic, and he won’t- 4th and inches, down 21-0, let’s punt. Down 42-0 at half, let’s go back out and try to “win the 2nd half” – please tell me he dicn’t really say that- even if he thought it, he should NEVER say that to the media. Short of something drastic, that actually happens to work, he can’t fix it. All his dumb little things the past few seasons that he points as being BIG changes in the off season, they haven’t helped at all. The conference has better, more innovative coaches, they has something exciting to sell. Excitement, we’re on the way up- Cal doesn’t have that. Even the new facilties at best put Cal even with other programs, and there will still be better ones already in place for years in conference.

    All we can do is hope for better, but be realistic and smart enough to know better isn’t coming- not with Tedford. He has peaked out, now we are heading back down to the level we used to be at. How low and how long seem to be only questions.

    Bad seasons cost money- for example, I have seen crowds down the past few years. Let say for discussion sake, Cal draws 5,000 less per game due to the past few disappointing, underachieving seasons. Let’s also suppose that if Cal was playing to their capabilities over the past few seasons, we would draw at least 5,000 more per game. 5,000 people per game X 6 home games (won’t count the big game as it will be sold out, Cal plays either 6 or 7 home games a season, were talking 30,000 more attendees a season. At about $40 avg for ticket, concessions (I’m probably way low), that’s $1.2M. Think that would pay for a dropped sport or two? Not to mention the lost or non- realized TV revenues due to being in lower profile timeslots and networks.

    Those sugsting Mariucci, no. He went 6-6 and bailed. He is out of the coaching ranks for a reason. Gruden is intriguing, but he has said himself he is an NFL guy. You want someone who wants to be at Cal as a destination, not as a stop on the way. Not that they would come, but I vote for Chris Peterson or Gary Peterson or Kyle Whittingham, for starters. Maybe Justin Wilcox.

    Remember, Tedford’s contract is through 2015. He’s going NOWHERE. Think of all the bad losses the past 2 years, most have been embarrassing, humiliating blowouts or heartbreaking/heart wrenching- well Arizona was a heartbreaking example of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Get used to that feeling, because Tedford is going nowhere. – next will be losing to programs that have passed us by on our way down the conference pecking order.

    Actually, the most genius thing I have ever read here was put out by Juancho. Put Tedford to AD. He can save face, might do a good job, can actually try to even come close to earning his ridiculous salary. But who makes that move, Sandy Barbour? Is she going to be Chancellor? Is she going somewhere?

    Ah, good times.

  • Dan

    PS- I’m done w/ the SC game …lol. Should have broken up the prior post… ya think?

    And House, class move on the apology earlier. Just saw it. I accept, I hope as graciously as you extending it. Welcome to the dark side… it sucks over here …

  • Eric

    Dan – great post. You are preaching to the choir with me, but I hope others reading it will give you credit instead of making the common comment of “oh, are you saying you know more about coaching than Tedford?”

    I think Dan’s most telling comments may be regarding the o-line. The constant reshuffling has to be a huge negative. Lots of false starts. And, honestly, if Riley KNOWS he is going to get immediate pressure – but for whatever reason he simply never scrambles – I can understand why his passes tend to be high; I have seen hundreds of Qbs – NFL, College, High School, and middle school flag football make that same pass.

    I know that there have been numerous injuries. But I what I don’t understand – I raised it last week re UCLA – is why the o-line generally does a good job in run blocking but is absolutely pathetic in pass protection. Is it the inability to move backwards/sideways?

    I wanted Peterson two years ago, following the Oklahoma game (to this day, the gutsiest play-calling I have seen this decade). Unfortunately, he will never leave Boise State for a place like Cal absent huge money and firm belief he can duplictae his success. See Dan Hawkins.

    I don’t know who is the right name, but it has to be an creative offense-oriented mind. Oregon did it right – it plucked a great offensive guy from 1AA, seasoned him a year or two as O-coordinator, and guaranteed he would be the head coach. That’s what we need.

    Mike Dunbar might have been that guy, but he was stuck with Longshore, and Longshore absolutely can never work in a spread offense.

  • Bob49

    Not that I’m a Riley fan (I think he’s gone slightly downhill in the past few years), but the pass on the first interception was only slightly under thrown. The USC DB made a great play to pick it off, otherwise Cal’s TE would have had a chance to catch it, as he was ahead of the USC defender. The pass needed to be a yard of two farther to be perfect. The pass was not a short one, so you can’t expect perfection on that throw, either in college or in the pro’s. Sometimes DB’s just make great plays to come up with an interception. That was true this time.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Tedford == Braun. I rooted against the Bears at the end of Braun’s tenure because losing was the only way he’d get pushed out and a coach with the potential to actually lead the Bears to championships could be hired. Braun would never consider stepping down on his own, just like Tedford, regardless of (a lack of) results. At this point in time, call me crazy, I would take absolutely any other coach in the conference, except slick rick at ucla (another fraud), over Tedford. I bet a guy like Paul Wulff up in Pullman dreams of having the athletes that we have at Cal and all the innovative schemes and whatnot he’d implement if given the chance. Cal is dead in the water with Tedford at the helm and the players know it, it is obvious in how they play tough games, watch the tape. Then watch a tape of them playing when Tedford had just arrived, an unbelievable difference in effort, motivation, creativity, etc. What happened to Tedford’s mojo? Who cares, its gone, and it ain’t coming back. Sandy, pull the plug please. You got it right with Monty, I have faith you can get it right with the football squad too. Grrr…

  • Dan

    Eric – Agree w/ your comments, as usual. Thanks for the compliments on my post- I was bit horrified when I saw how long it ended up being. Guess I had a lot of venting to do, lol.

    An added viewpoint on the Dunbar-Longshore thing. Tedford brought Dunbar in to be OC, but also to “implement elements of the Spread” (as I recall Tedford saying)- whatever that was supposed to mean. But there was more there I think than being “stuck with Longshore”, that was a bit of a hindrance to that offfense. Kind of to me the where there’s smoke, there’s fire with where we now sit. The current offensive issues did not start w/ Dunbar’s year and this slide did not start because of Dunbar- not in any way.
    The year prior to Dunbar was the first season that I started to see some issues the offense, again what I have pointed out here for years, a lack of creativity, predictability, just overall what we see now- though not nearly as bad then. Cal was loaded on offense all over the field then, so I think that masked the issues a bit, in the same way having Sean Lampley masked how bad Ben Braun’s offense was- had to sneak in a Braun analogy, lol.

    More troubling to me was wondering if there was an bigger issue overall with Tedford’s offensive, the philosophy/approach. See, I think you can fix play calling alone, though it’s not easy if the person calling plays doesn’t see it or get it. Getting someone to change their mentality, overall philosophy or the offense itself, can be a huge change. Again, if the key person, who in this case would be Tedford, is oblivious, it is a HUGE fix.

    When Tedford hired Dunbar, I was excited. I thought that Tedford saw what I saw, and realized that he had to make some significant changes. Having seen Dunbar’s work at Northwestern, I was expecting big things in a wide open, high scoring, unstoppable offense. I thought Dunbar was probably pumped to come here and replicate his success at Cal, but perhaps take it even to a higher level given the better quality of Cal’s players/athletes. I was (incorrectly) most impressed with Tedford then, assuming he has seen the problems, and was taking an aggressive, somewhat pro-active step bringing in an innovator like Dunbar. I thought he had looked in the mirror and seen the error of his offensive ways, which is hard for a man to do. What I thought Tedford was doing was bringing in a competive advantage, much like what Oregon would go on to do by bringing in Chip Kelly. That is not what happened and clearly not what Tedford did.

    When the next season started with Dunbar at OC, it didn’t take long to see that something was odd. The OI looked nothing like a Dunbar offense, and the play calling was worse than the year before. I KNEW this was not Dunbar’s offense or not really Dunbar’s play calling. He was running Tedford’s offense and calling Tedford’s plays.

    By the end of year, there was another significant drop in the offense, and many in the media and fan base blamed Dunbar, which I thought was ludicrous. I knew what I had seen Dunabar do at Northwestern and I knew that the offense looked nothing like NW and I knew that the Cal offense looked like a worse version of the prior years. And then Dunbar was weirdly gone, not to another job. Something big went on there, but the real story has never come out. I felt that Dunbar became a scapegoat. We now know with hindsight that we have seen the same declining effects of Tedford’s offense for several years now, so much so that it renders Cal unable to compete against better and even comparable teams.

    Cal has become a predictable, play not to lose- that comes from the head coach. It permeates entire program. On D, that could be changing, we’ll see how Pendergast’s D pans out over a season or two. Butr be careful to give Tedford toal credit if he does pan out- Tedford got lucky Gregory decided to leave. You realize he was going to retain Gregory and you are blown away. You realize he is NOT capable of making bold decisions and seeing the truth. That is a trait that is present in great leaders and is absent with Tedford.

    But even blaming Gregory was problematic- seeing that Gregory’s defense was a mirror of Tedford’s offense speaks to a bigger issue- an overall playing scared, playing not to lose mentality. Gregory’s soft “bend but don’t break” defense looked just like Tedford’s “play not to make a mistake” offense. So that why I have pointed at Tedford for most of the programs recent struggles. Besides, at the end of the Day, Tedford is the Head Coach and the bucks stops with him. That is true no matter what he is paid. Factoring in his now ridiculously high salary, well it’s all been said here ad nauseum.

    So that’s my take on the whole Mike Dunbar thing and where I see it fitting in relations to where the Cal football program is now.

  • Dan

    Bob49- I respectfully disagree with your take on the Riley interception on the intended pass to Ladner. It was a BAD pass.

    Ladner had to slow down and stop, and still could not make the catch or break up the interception. Ladner was running wide open, he had beaten the defender badly and Riley threw it the only place he shouldn’t have- underthrown. Riley had much room- 5-7 yards to the sideline and 5-7 yards toward the goal line – past Ladner- to work with. You can’t miss short there.

    Yeah the DB made a great athletic play, but you can argue that Riley under threw that ball by as much as 10 yards. That is not a good throw. That Int was all on Riley, as was the one later in the 2nd quarter. And do you realize that if Riley throws it 7-8 yards farther, he hits Ladner in stride and it’s a TD? HUGE mistake and a VERY BAD throw. We see it over and over and over again…