A few notes and conclusions following Cal’s 35-28 loss to Ohio State
— Should Jeff Tedford gone for it on 4th-and-1 from the Buckeyes’ 25-yard line in a tie game with less than 4 1/2 minutes left? Well, you don’t want to send your placekicker the message that you’ve lost faith. But Vincenzo D’Amato already had missed twice from the exact same distance — 42 yards — and you’ve got an entire playbook of choices to get 1 yard. I’d go for it. You want to beat a good on the road, sometimes you’ve got to be bold.
— The guess here is D’Amato gets another shot this week, but if another kicker rises up in practice Tedford will have a tough call to make.
— Who has the motivational edge next Saturday at the L.A. Coliseum? Cal and USC are both coming off tough losses, and the Trojans could be mad as hell. On the other hand, as disappointed as the Bears, they must return home with some confidence. The Trojans’ big-picture dream (a national title) is essentially dead.
— Plus, Stanford showed two ways USC may be vulnerable: They pressured Matt Barkley right out of the top spot in the weekly Heisman ratings — hitting and sacking him — and they ran the ball effectively. Not convinced the Bears can accomplish the former, but seems they can do the latter.
— What to do with a suddenly full backfield? Brendan Bigelow has to get more opportunity, but at the expense of Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson? It seemed clear Saturday that Bigelow’s ability to get to the edge against the Buckeyes was something the other two didn’t get done. Bigelow is much more of a home run threat. You wonder if the Bears will try to throw him the ball, get him some space in which to operate. One way or the other, got to believe he gets more touches.
— Zach Maynard’s best game? Not sure about that, but it it’s on the short list. Took six sacks without fumbling the ball or showing panic with bad decisions. Threw one INT, but had 37 attempts and was generally very sharp. And if he had managed six more yards on the throw-back pass from Keenan Allen, he’d have logged a TD pass, TD run and TD reception.
— Pretty soon we’re all going to start wondering not when we’ll see TE Richard Rodgers, but if we will. He was supposedly “probable” for this game, and he was in pads and warmed up. But did not play. No explanation given.
— Tedford talked about how the Buckeyes survived by delivering big plays, and he was right. OSU had 223 yards on its five biggest plays of the day (44.6 yards per snap), but managed just 189 yards on its remaining 58 plays (3.3 yards per). Cal’s defense was pretty good much of the day, but suffered a brain freeze on OSU’s decisive touchdown.
— The Bears squandered some nice field position — netting just seven points out of four separate possessions with an average starting spot of the Cal 47-yard line. Not good enough.
— Allen caught nine passes for 80 yards, moving him past DeSean Jackson into fifth on Cal’s career list with 164. Next up are Nai’il Benjamin (165) and Brian Treggs (167).
— Freshman Cole Leininger had three punts for an average length of 47 yards. But sophomore Steffan Mos actually handled the Bears’ first two punts, hitting a 57-yarder but also an 18-yarder. Not sure why two punters. With all the other angles to explore during postgame, no one thought to ask Tedford about it. Including me.