Football: How sacks, 3rd-down woes and 1st-down failures add up to Bears’ offensive malaise

Here’s my notebook off Tuesday’s news conference, exploring the complicated nature of Cal’s offensive shortcomings.

With an NCAA-worst 25 sacks through five games, the Bears are on pace to finish the regular season with the astronomical total of 60!

The NCAA’s most-sacked team a year ago was Pitt with 64 — the most by any team since at least 2004.

I went through stats dating back to the early 1980s and found only three Cal teams who’d surrendered as many as 40 sacks in a season. The worst of those was the 1984 team that allowed 44 sacks for 357 yards in 11 games.

As recently as 2007, the Bears allowed opponents to take down their quarterback only 11 times for losses totaling 63 yards. Cal has exceeded that total just the past two weeks.

Then there’s former Cal quarterback Gale Gilbert (1980-84), who had a rocket for an arm but struggled to avoid the rush. Could not find sack totals for Gilbert, but he finished his career with a net total of minus-808 rushing yards. Surely a Cal record never to be broken.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Air Force (admittedly, with just 44 pass attempts) and Texas-San Antonio (87 PA) have yet to permit even one sack this season. Middle Tennessee (109 PA) and Louisiana-Lafayette (122 PA) have surrendered just one apiece.


Jeff Faraudo

  • Easy Ed

    Apologies to Longshore and Kevin Riley. Zach Maynard is more mobile than both and he’s still getting the crap beat out of him. Talent? Scheme? Reads? I don’t know but one thing is clear, JT needs to dumb this thing down. This isn’t some coaching clinic, if these kids aren’t able to get it then he has to figure out a way they can. My goodness if Bigelow can’t get the reads after nearly 2 years in the system then the damn system is screwed up.

  • Shaka

    10-4 over Easy, we have the “hurry up offense” only to see Maynard look to the sidelines for 8-10 seconds trying to digest the play call. Worst yet, it’s fooling no one.

  • Steve W

    The hurry up offense is designed to prevent defensive substitutes. But I agree that Cal lining up and then stopping everything to have Maynard get the play is totally lame. It’s actually painful to watch.

    So now Bigelow is guaranteed some carries in the UCLA game. Something tells me that this will get screwed up, too. I get the sense that somebody high up in the Cal administration ordered Tedford to play Bigelow or else. The “or else” may be coming sooner than we all figured. I was shocked to read on a Cal insider blog that Tedford might get sacked mid-season if he loses big-time to UCLA.

    The behind the scenes stuff is far more interesting than the games.

  • A-Dubble

    ZM’s thought process during a play.

    1st read-Lil bro Keenan double covered
    2nd read-He’s still covered
    3rd read-Maybe ill just throw it toward Keenan and see what he can do
    Uh oh!!!


  • gobears49

    I agree with the comment about Gale Gilbert and his great arm. However, I am almost sure that he seriously hurt a knee his sophomore or junior year, which greatly hurt his mobility. If not for that injury, he could have been one of the all-time great Cal QB’s. He probably had the strongest (and very accurate) arm of all Cal QB’s, except for Bartkowski.

    BTW, Gilbert was the QB for Cal for “The Play” game against Stanford. He had a tremendous game that day, which was one of the most entertaining Cal game I have seen, even before The Play occurred.

  • rotfogel

    Bartkowski is great and all and Gilbert may have had a nice arm…Aaron Rodgers had the best arm by a mile and it’s not even close in both accuracy and strength.

  • gobears49

    I agree Rodgers had the most accurate arm (I was at the USC where he completed something like 23 straight passes — we would have won that game had not Makonen slipped in the end zone before Rodgers’ pass reached him), but not the strongest. Actually, on second thought, I think that Kyle Boller had the strongest arms of all Cal QB’s. I heard he could get on his knees and throw the football over the goalposts. Don’t know if that’s true, but he did have a cannon for an arm. From the Cal QB’s I have seen since the late 1960’s, I’d say the order of arm strength is Boller, Bartkowski, and Gilbert.

  • gobears49

    Regarding Boller, I meant to say I heard he could get on his knees on the 59 yard line and be able to throw the football from that position over the goalposts.

  • gobears49

    Meant 50 yard line.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    The only thing that will make this season interesting is if JT is forced out mid-season. Otherwise CMS will be a ghost town for the uo and uw games and the off-season will be miserable too. 1-11 ain’t pretty.

    Success for this season is once again, just like in the 80’s and much of the 90’s, based on the outcome of the Big Game. And the way things are going right now, that game won’t be close.

    But, if a new (interim) coach is promoted mid-season and the Bears can show some signs of life, maybe pull of the upset of ljsu and ou or uw, then this team has nothing but positive momentum heading into the bowl-less off-season.

    Those sack stats are terrible, very un-Cal like. Remember the days of OCallaghan, Merz, Phillips? That line DOMINATED to the tune of 2,000+ yds for a guy named JJ!

  • BlakeStreetBear

    As for the QB rankings…

    Most accurate – Rodgers
    Most powerful – Boller
    Most unflappable – Pawlawski

  • covinared

    Rich Campbell was the qb in my day. The line pass blocked better than the current group, and he was no threat to run. He had the ability to step up into the pocket as the rush was closing in to avoid sacks that Maynard seems to lack.

    Still, the line this year may be the worst college pass blocking group I’ve ever seen anywhere. Last year, Maynard significantly improved when the pass game switched midseason to primarily using rollouts. Why we have gone back to the pocket game with a significantly lesser pass blocking line this year befuddles me.

  • Steve W

    Since we’re ranking the qb’s, I thought I would throw in my rankings on the coaches:

    Bruce Snyder – no doubt in my mind Cal would have gone to a Rose Bowl had he stayed. His 91 team might have been the best in the modern era, and his previous teams played with such heart.

    Tedford – can’t deny the first five years. Those upset wins on the road against Michigan State and Washington in the first year were epic.

    Steve Marriuci – went into the Coliseum his first year and took down the Trojans. His offense was pure fun to watch with Pat Barnes throwing to Tony G. The defense, however, was a total mess led by a guy named Holmoe.

    Holmoe – the final year was pure misery, but he did manage to beat SC three times.
    Joe Kapp – remember the infamous, “we just got run over by a moped” comment by an opposing coach in a rare Cal win?

  • covinared

    Pappy Waldorf and Andy Smith don’t make your list?

  • milo

    It’s the O-line stupid!

    Cal has one returning starter currently playing. Two returning starters are out. The 2nd string isn’t ready. There’s absolutely no depth due to injuries and talent.

    It’s the O-line stupid. Nothing is going to fix that except healing or new players.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Milo, the bad OL play can by mitigated to a certain extent by calling more plays that don’t isolate these inferior players 1 on 1 with bull rushing DLs, etc. Rollout every other play or more if you don’t have the guys to create much less protect a pocket. JT’s strategy is to fit the square peg in the round hole, no adjustment whatsoever to the “reality on the ground” – as they say. “Oh, its 3rd down, Maynard must throw from the pocket, Maynard must throw from the pocket.” Its insane how JT has regressed. Some things are just too obvious to miss, yet missed they are by our once wundercoach…

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Hey Losers

    If there be any doubt about the classless nature of UCB state fans then this thread should be all that it takes to convince you.


    Unbelievable, truly unbelievable that a fan base could resort to this low of behavior.

  • scottybear

    Moren: Go wipe the buttermilk off your boxers and get out of the house. It’s a nice day outside!

  • wehofx

    GoBears49, I’m assuming you saw j roth play. (i’m pretty sure he played 1 season and huge things were expected when tragedy struck???) where do you rank him.

  • gobears49


    I did see Joe Roth play, but not that much, as I moved to the L.A. area in the early 1970’s until returning in the late 1970’s. He would easily be in the top 5 Cal QB’s I saw. But he wouldn’t be the most accurate or have the most powerful arm.