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Football: What does Cal’s win mean?

By Jeff Faraudo
Sunday, October 7th, 2012 at 12:25 pm in Football.

We won’t truly have context for the Bears’ 43-17 rout of No. 25 UCLA until the season is complete.

Will it be a turning point in the season, a springboard to something lasting?

Or was it just one good night against an opponent ripe to be knocked down a notch?

Admit it, you woke up this morning feeling there are opportunities ahead for Cal that you could not have envisioned just 24 hours before.

The trip to Washington State (2-4, 1-2) this week provides a chance to get within one game of .500 overall and pull even in Pac-12 games. And that would give the Bears great momentum going into the earliest-scheduled Big Game in history, a week later in Berkeley.

There are other games on the schedule you figure Cal can win — if it plays the way it did against the Bruins. The Bears would seem to have a shot at Utah on Oct. 27 and the week after at home against Washington.

Let’s say Cal wins three of the next four: Then the Bears would be 5-5 with Oregon at home and Oregon State on the road to close out the regular season.

Given that scenario, I think two things change dramatically:

   — Jeff Tedford likely returns as coach. A loss to UCLA would gave been crushing, but the Bears resonded with a victory that meant a lot on different levels. The season’s ventilator may not be packed away, but it’s switched off . . . at least for now.

   — A bowl game is back in play. This seemed impossible a couple days ago. I had a conversation with a friend who pondered the possibility that Cal did not win another game all season. Now there are only a couple on the schedule that seem overwhelming. The rest: possible.

It’s foolish to make too much of one game. As good as they were, the Bears were not perfect. Three turnovers. A second straight 100-yard penalty game. Two blocked PAT kicks.

As Tedford said afterward, there is lots to fix.

But, for once, the list of positives far outstripped the negatives:

   — QB Zach Maynard, after throwing into double-coverage and being picked off on his first pass of the night, was 25 for 29 for 295 yards with 4 TDs the rest of the evening. His pass efficiency rating was 203.26! (That’s actually better than West Virginia QB Geno Smith’s ridiculous season rating of 202.38 — based on 24 TDs, 0 INTs). But Maynard is chronically inconsistent, and the trick is for him to do this — or something close it — again. And again. Jury is out.

   — Maynard benefited from a substantially improved performance by the offensive line, which allowed just three sacks after surrendering 25 in five previous games, 19 during the three-game losing streak. It helped that Maynard generally was quick and decisive.

   — The defense was relentless. Or, as UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr., called it, “maniacal.” The Bears forced six turnovers, sacked Brett Hundley five times and held the Bruins to half their season average point total.

   — The improved performance was not simply the result of better efforts by the usual cast, but breakthroughs by players given the chance to contribute. Cornerback Kameron Jackson replaced injured Marc Anthony and intercepted three passes. Tight end Richard Rodgers, limited to three catches all season by a foot injury, had seven for 127 yards — the first 100-yard game by a Cal TE since . . . well, not even sure. And while RB Brendan Bigelow, in his first career start, had just 12 rushing yards on five attempts, he showed off that “it” factor Maynard talked about when he turned a quick pass into a 32-yard TD burst.

   — A great day for the coaching staff. Tedford credited Marcus Arroyo for excellent play calling. Clancy Pendergast’s defense attacked the Bruins and disrupted Hundley’s rhythm. And Tedford fielded a team that played with passion and purpose we didn’t see the week before against Arizona State.

Now the Bears merely have to do it again next week.

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  • SteveNTexas

    If we knew we were going to go 6-6 for the season we would still be mediocre-average. Now we win one game and the sky’s the limit?

    We can beat Washington at home ..if they all get lost and Oregon if they all get busted.

    If we lose to Washington State we can go back to firing Tedford and not dreaming of bowls.

  • covinared

    The criticism of damato is not fair. The ucla guys blew through the line on the blocks. Msg returning is big. Mullins and hurrell hardly played,if at all. Sebastion cameback to earth. He looks too small for safety. Logan has the size.

  • rob bear

    What does Cal’s win mean? It means that when the 22 Cal guys on the field execute, they are competitive. When they do not execute, they are not. On to WSU. Go BEARS!

  • konamike

    Well, let’s say they do somehow get to 6 & 6 and go bowling. Tedford then stays and…puts us another 1-2 yrs. behind the inevitible. He’s gonna’ go. Sooner is better than later.
    Let’s @ least give Coach P some credit for blitzing the crap out of the JV’s. It’s always the best pass defense.

  • Steve W

    This thing needs to be brought under proper context. Let’s not forget that Cal laid a pasting on the Bruins in 2010 and didn’t get to bowl game. Cal seems to match up against UCLA in the same way it can’t match up with SC and Oregon. I am penciling in losses to Stanford and Oregon, which means that Cal has to play near perfect football to beat Oregon State and Utah on the road and even get a sniff of a bowl game.

    I think 4-7 sounds about right. And the sad thing about it is that Cal showed last night it can be pretty good. It’s just that the rest of the conference has gotten that much better.

  • Steve W

    Excuse me, 4-8.

  • Easy Ed

    The UCLA win doesn’t mean a damn thing if we go up to Pullman and lay a turd!

  • 707 Bear

    What does Cal’s win mean?

    It means the season is half over and it’s time for the midseason report card? Forget the MVP Award. That’s for #21, but what about?

    Best player not named Allen?
    Biggest surprise?
    Biggest disappointment?

  • wehofx

    Ucla game only means we can be pretty damn good when we play together!!! w energy, discipline – minus damn penalties – and stones. (Whichever rigsbee did the spearing personal shoulda been yanked. That’s the best way to show that dumb penalties will not be tolerated. Time for Freddie T? Already burned his red shirt.))

    EasyEd, agree it means nothing unless we win at wsu.

    I’ll never wish our Bears ill. If we get to 6 and 6 – highly doubtful possibility – jt will get/deserves 1 more season. Maybe jt gets his mojo back w zk.

    But I worry that recruiting will go down the toilet. Ucla fired slick Rick after 6/6. Interesting times. Sandy, can you say cost benefit analysis?

    Go Bears!

    Midseason report card:

    Best player not named Allen?

    McCain is playing like a beast. After ka, our next 1st rounder.

    Biggest surprise?

    Bigelow. All the way back from injury. Now he’s gotta learn playbook and get some damn carries. (2nd place R Rodgers. Now that he’s healthy, what a game. What a beast. I know 1 game but still. I though the RR hype was more smoke jt was blowing up our…)

    Biggest disappointment?

    Z Maynard. Lack of leadership. Dumb int’s. Still missing high. But. Maybe he’s turned a corner. (2nd place – jt and coaches)

    Go Bears!

    Sent from my iPhone

  • Steve W

    Here’s my vote:

    Best player not named Allen – CJ Anderson. Last night sealed the deal for me. The guy is a bruiser who gets you the yards you need and doesn’t fumble. Pretty good catching passes out of the backfield, too. I think he has pushed Sofele down the ladder to fight for playing time with Bigelow.

    Biggest surprise – Richard Rodgers last night. Where the hell has he been? I guess he’s been injured for a few games, but his presence opens up a whole new dimension for this offense. Let’s see if he remains the new weapon. I agree that McCain is playing great, but it’s not that much of a surprise because he showed what he can do as a true freshman last year.

    Biggest disappointment – A no brainer here: the play of the interior lines on both sides of the ball. Last night notwithstanding, there hasn’t been enough pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. And the O-line has been pushed around too much on pass protection. It almost seems like their feet are set in stone sometimes.

  • ConcordBear

    Last night was a great night, a really really fun game to be at and the new stadium looked amazing.
    The sunset, the lights and the night really highlighted something I’ve never seen at a Cal game before. It was stunning.
    The play was fun to watch because of the effort and passion the team put into it.
    They really connected with the fans, it was a lot of fun. That’s what college football is supposed to be like.
    Hope the team has figured it out. From the comments post game it sounded like they had a great week of practice and were on the same page ready to go for this do or die game. If you don’t practice well you will not play well. If you do not believe you will win you usually won’t. Great to hear the players worked hard and were confident as a result and were rewarded for their performance.
    Winning is fun.
    Hope the guys are able to give a solid consistent effort like they did in beating ucla. Still a lot to improve on but we have a lot of talent.
    Rooting for this team to keep improving and put it all together!
    Go Bears

  • BlueNGold

    Cal’s win against UCLA will only be meaningful if the team continues to improve and build on it. If they revert back to the level of play they exhibited in all but the OSU game, it will mean nothing. If Cal can build on it and play a solid game against WSU to notch another win, I think it will be huge as a turning point in the season.

    GO BEARS!!

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    It means you stay out of the Pac 12 north cellar for another week and The Bottom 10 Worst Teams in the Nation.

    It also means pucla is still bad even though Rickey is gone.

  • rollonubears

    I wish I could have been there. I remember an Arizona State game on or around halloween several years back. I believe the score was similar there as well. Anybody remember that game, and care to compare? It seems like we win all of our night games like this. I don’t think shifting to a lot more night games is the key, as I think the team gets up for these big shows only because they come around every now and then, but if we could add one or two more a year, I wouldn’t object. Big game at night would be pretty sweet, too.

  • rollonubears

    But at 5, or so. 7:30 is really late, and on the east coast, it killed my sunday.

  • Yoda

    It’s as meaningful as the Ohio State game.

  • Juancho

    Best player not named allen, mccain.

    Biggest surprise, bigelow.

    Biggest dissapointment, dave wilkersons imjury.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Sandy Barbour has announce the University is going to erect a Jeff Tedford statue in front of Memorial Stadium following the win over UCLA.

  • wehofx

    SteveW, good point. I never thought I’d see a jm coached o line play so badly and, even worse, undisciplined.

  • Concordbear

    O Line must improve for the team to reach it’s potential.
    galas back at G?

  • Dan

    Barbour announces after big UCLA win that Tedford’s contract extended through 2017.

  • Nor-Cal Scott

    What did it mean? It showed how well the Bears can play when Maynard has a good game. The Def isn’t out there all game long, so they were rested & played excellent.

    Dave, I’m a bit more optimistic as I think we can get to 6-6… IF IF IF Maynard plays well. If he returns to high passes or passes behind the targets we could easily go 3-9.

    Best Player not named Allen- CJ Anderson. Beastmode. Reminds me of Lynch.

    Biggest Surprise: Avery Sebastian & Kameron Jackson. These two young DB studs have had great games AND made a big impact the past few weeks. Treggs & Harper a close second as true freshmen. Sorry guys, but Bigelow was expected to be a playmaker. It’s sad he was wasted last year with little action burning his redshirt.

    Biggest Disappointment: OLine. Granted injuries have played a major role in why this group looks so bad, but I cant help but wonder if Coach Miz was not the OC would he have more time to focus on the OL.

    RollonyouBears- there was something magical Saturday night in CMS. I didn’t like the extra late start, but TV times now rule the Pac12. I’d love 4 or 5pm games all season. Noon kickoffs are just too damn early.

  • Dan

    Went to game Saturday night, get in really early, stayed after for a good hour and half plus after. Quite a day and night-

    Pre-game-

    Arrived in town about 3:45. Just a GORGEOUS afternoon in Berkeley. Warm 75+ degrees, blue, blue skies, slight breeze. Just a perfect early October afternoon, the kind of day you know from your fondest memories.

    Walked everywhere trying to find a place to hangout and watch the A’s and some college football. It dawned on me – Berkeley really kind of sucks these days for that type of pregame festivities where you want to sit, have a beer, order some food, watch some games on a few tvs, maybe with some windows so you don’t feel like you’re a shut in on a spectacular day. You know, a good/great sports bar/restaurant? Raleigh’s, gone (fire). Lavals gone. Looney’s gone. Blakes gone (now Pappy’s, completely different concept). Huge bummer. Anybody have any suggestions?

    The Bear’s Lair was packed before 4, not a seat to be had, great weather outside, but about 100 freakin degrees inside where all the TVs are, wall to wall people, no food service anymore, and A’s game nowhere to be seen. EVERY tv has the same game (Texas-WVU). Clueless.

    Ended up at Kips. A sweaty madhouse, got the only few seats left in the dark, ear splitting back room. Old, small lousy TVs blocked by hordes of obnoxious fUCLA fans. Couldn’t wait to eat (food is improved) and get out of there. Good place to go pre-basketball night game in the winter. Not on a gorgeous fall game day.
    From there, over to Sproul Plaza to watch the band, up Bancroft past all the frats, the turn past the International House … that new view of the stadium in all its splendor. I will never get tired of that. On to Maxwell Family Field to hang, chat, watch the band come by. What a wonderful and beautiful slice of heaven.

    The Game-

    GREAT crowd, loud, it was all electric under the lights. I expected way more empty seats, so pleasantly surprised at the very solid turnout to watch a 1-4 team- homecoming and UCLA aside.

    A couple of nice moments- during a first half timeout and the patriotic and moving halftime ceremonies, 1st Lieutenant (and former Cal TE) Garrett Cross was introduced in his Marine Dress Whites and represented the Marine Corps on the podium. Cut quite a figure, his 6′ 6″ frame, still looked like he could play, in those dress whites. Starkey interviewed him in the 2nd half, he just returned from deployment in Afghanistan. Should be very proud and appreciative of him and service and fine representation of Cal. Final note on Cross- didn’t know he played rugby at Cal a couple of year after he was done with football.

    A funny note- with the halftime ceremony already under way, Sandy Barbour comes running out of the north tunnel, jogs under the goal post, cuts through the bands in formation, who were playing. She heads to the portable platform set up at midfield with Cross and other dignitaries, jogs right up the steps, goes to the podium mic, and without a pause of breath, launches into her short speech, introductions and the stadium re-dedication. I mean she made it right at that second. It looked really odd- like the heck was she? By Vince Lombardi standards, she was quite late. I hope she had a good reason.

    Overall, I feel like last night proved what I have been saying for years. We have a LOT of good players, a lot of weapons, and that we should be way better than we are, and we are under-achievers under Tedford. Last night for the most part felt like it used to feel much earlier in the Tedford era.

    Now, I have to say that this is the first time in I can’t remember when that we played pretty well and had a strong win against what seems to be a fairly decent team. Not sure yet how good UCLA is, but they certainly didn’t play well last night.

    Going into last night, I would say that we would win 0-2 more games. After last night’s performance, I could see several additional wins beyond that, however, who knows what team will show up. I take my hat off to the team last night. They played with heart and lots of passion, and were frequently urging the home crowd to get even louder. If they can play like that last night, why not before this? It will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

    Maynard- wished I could say it was a great game, but 1 bad pick that handed UCLA their first TD and then both fumbles on poorly executed hand offs- the guy can’t stop shooting himself and the team in the foot. I could have really said this was his best game otherwise, but 3 turnovers? That has, and will, kill us against a good team.

    Was listening to game too, and Pawlawski said that the coaches had tweaked the offense, with Maynard rolling more and also getting rid of the ball on quick drops. And that worked. Many on here have been screaming for that- it’s obvious- and the coaches finally do it. Let’s see if they stick with that approach. It was great, but … where’s that been?

    Defense finally got pressure on QB- it was great, but … where’s that been?

    McClain played like a beast. Very impressive.

    Bigelow- mixed bag here. So he can hardly get a look one game, and the next game he starts? Then he plays, and then disappears. All seemed kind of weird. Also, heard that on his touchdown that he was lined up in the wrong place. Also, interesting conversation with very reliable source. The net is that BB is a bit learning challenged. In the end, they guy is a ridiculous talent, beyond his explosive speed. You can see what he does when he gets the slightest bit of daylight.

    I thought last night was my last game of the season. Its tough to avoid the pull of a wonderful fall Saturday in Strawberry Canyon. We’ll see.

  • http://capitolgoldbuyers.com BlakeStreetBear

    I, sadly, was on the other side of the bay watching the Giants get beat Saturday night. From my seats I could clearly see the lights of CMS. I do not have any regrets for choosing to watch the team that has actually won meaningful games during a championship run over the last 5 years, despite the inspired win in Berkeley.

    But I did come home after the disappointment in SF, with no knowledge of the Cal outcome, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the Bears dominate their sister school!! I was surprised, to say the least. Had this Cal team played even 80% as well as they did Saturday night in their previous games, I think they could be 4-1 if not 5-0! And Tedford would be getting praise left and right.

    But no, the team is 2-4, struggled to beat an FCS team in the cupcake game while smashing up a ripe team to be smashed – ucla, starting a freshman qb etc. There still in absolutely no excuse for losing to Nevada. And the osu game, well, we know how JT “went for it” during that game…more or less cementing his reputation as a, excuse my french, p_ssy coach unfit for winning tight, challenging games, much less a berth in the Rose Bowl.

    So, to me, this game means:

    1) it is great to beat ucla after losing to ALL 3 in-state rivals last year. And not only to win, but to win with inspired play for most of the game on both sides of the ball. Kudos to the coaching staff and players for the exciting game against a middling, mistake prone, opponent – maybe we swayed a recruit or two that ucla is not where they want to be next season?

    2) Win or lose at wsu, I still think that CMS is mostly full for the early BG on the 20th. Thus the program’s coffers not suffer TOO much on THE big payday of the year for the Cal sports community. I will be there with friends and family, wasn’t so sure about that 2 days ago.

    3) Tedford gets a slightly longer leash because maybe one or two of the wealthy donors who were in attendance decided NOT to write that check contributing towards the inevitable buyout…crap.

    I remember that Braun’s Bears would tease us with inspired ball once in a while – as JT’s teams have for the last 7+ years, setting us up for the inevitable disappointment. I was at Haas in 2006 vs ucla with a championship on the line and I just KNEW that Howland was going to make the necessary adjustments at HT, while Braun would definitely not. ucla won the game and the title on our home court.

    We Cal fans are not dumb. We see the OVERALL ARC of a program and decide if that is the product of over or under achievement. If a team is over-achieving, a la Tedford’s early teams and ALL of Monty’s teams, then us fans generally give the coach all the slack in the world and come to revere them – that’s how I felt about early JT, Bruce Snyder, and Monty right now.

    But if the opposite is true, if we sense an under-achieving squad then we pounce, as we should. This is Cal and NOWHERE on campus should mediocrity reign. The Cal community was right to send a mediocre coach in Braun packing. And Cal will be right to send another mediocre coach packing at season’s end.

    The brutal truth is that ultimately, this game meant nothing. As Sick Boy says in Trainspotting when contemplating Sean Connery’s acting carrer: “All I’m trying to do is help you understand that The Name of The Rose is merely a blip on an otherwise uninterrupted downward trajectory.”

    Willie Taggart anyone?

  • Dan

    BlakeStreetBear at #24-

    PHENOMENAL post. One of the best I’ve read on here in a long time. You definitely outshone my ramblings above at #23.

    One add to poart of your post baove. You so deftly stated… ” This is Cal and NOWHERE on campus should mediocrity reign. The Cal community was right to send a mediocre coach in Braun packing. And Cal will be right to send another mediocre coach packing at season’s end.”

    What I would add, which I have many times in the past here, to this, is this … Sandy Barbour herself has stated MANY times that one of the main athletic department goals for every sports team at Cal is to win conference championships and challenge for national championships. Cal does this in many sports, but is NOWHERE near that in Football under Tedford. He was close to entering that realm for 2-3 years, but since 2007 mid-season, the program has fallen further and further away from SB’s stated goals. This major shortcoming exists in THE MOST IMPORTANT sport in the entire program.

    So aside from the very well put “This is Cal and NOWHERE on campus should mediocrity reign”, Cal’s goal is greatness in everything. That will NEVER happen under Tedford. We have 6 consecutive seasons of proof.

  • rollonubears

    Dan and BlakeSt, I thought both of your posts were fantastic. It was nice to see our Bears win big, but I really think a lot of it had to do with UCLA royally screwing up. Every time they were knocking on the door, they messed up. That’s just not going to happen in any of our remaining games, save maybe wsu (doubtful on the road) and utah. We are going to have to play better, with fewer mistakes. But maynard was good overall. Playcalling was solid, and i believe we switched to the 4-3, which was a good move. Keep it up, go for it on 4th and 1, and i’ll be a happy alum.

  • wehofx

    I also vote, “Aye.” Excellent posts Dan and BlakeSt, esp liked “pre-game” #23. For me, Kips is best appreciated with a good buzz on.

    Dan, 707, Covina, and anyone else lucky enough to be at the game. Did zm seem like he was finally being a leader on the sidelines? On tv it definitely felt like he’s finally getting leadership part that comes with being qb.

    Does it seem like the receivers are getting better separation than last year? (wc. It does to me. again on tv without benefit of high master shot)

    General observation: I’m guessing/theorizing that m arroyo had to grow into the job as THE play caller. But, more importantly, I think jt and jm got out of his ear and just let him call the game and stopped micro managing. I’m guessing that’s why the delay of game penalties and t/o’s went down. ma’s calls are no going straight to zm.

  • Dan

    Clarify my #23- Marines Dress are Blue & White, not just white. White hat, Navy coat, white slacks and shoe.

    Cross is articulate, bright, a gentleman, a stud and a hero to boot.

  • Dan

    Thanks for the kind words Rollon and Wehofx-

    Yes, receivers getting separation, but it seems like it comes one of three ways- either right out of their break (of course), or perhaps either a blown coverage or just superior beast mode (Keenan and Rodgers). I think what helped a lot was the coaches simplified the playbook and approach for this Maynard passing game wise. He either threw on quicker 3 and 5 step drops or they rolled him out in the right situations. In those 2 scenarios, e didn’t have as much time to think/overthink about things or make as many post snap reads.I still need to watch the game on dvr again to be more sure.

    I was on the other side, so couldn’t comment on ZM exhibiting more leadership, but that question made me think of something very cool that I didn’t mention earlier.

    Between the 3rd and 4th quarters, while the TV audience was away I’m sure, both teams,- both teams came together on their respective sidelines in big huddles. Both had leaders/coaches in the middle getting their sides fired up. The game was still very much in doubt at this point. UCLA was fired up. But Cal- and I cant remember when I’ve seen this- the whole team, dressed out and street clothes, just turned into a fired up, mass of humanity, jumping up and down in a way that was unbelievable. It went on and on. It was like a volcano exploding, like a mosh pit.

    The whole stadium, seeing fire we haven’t seen out of a Cal team in forever, went nuts. There was a sincerity and a feeling there that made you feel like these guys meant business and were going to find a way to win. IT came across that they REALLY cared and had fire and passion and knew they NEEDED to find a way to win. I can’t describe it well, but it was different that I’ve seen a Cal team in years. Then they went out and did it. It was really something,. Can they re-capture that EVERY week? I dont know, but if they did, we would see the Cal team we’ve been dying to see.

    RE; play calling- I feel like for years, Tedford bring these OCs in, but they really aren’t true OCs, as Tedford runs what HE wants, not what they might want. Therefore, the revolving door at OC. Maybe he stepped back a bit and let Arroyo do more his think.

    Don’t forget, not to rain on anyone’s good feelings- we still had 3 turnovers, all unforced and avoidable, all on Maynard. But UCLA had SIX TURNOVERS. They somewhat gave the game away, we tried to do the same, but in the end we stepped up and did what it took to win the game, even winning it handily in the 4th quarter.

  • 707 Bear

    Question for the computer gifted: Is there a difference in winning percentage for a noon vs 5 PM or later start?

    I ask because the entire vibe–pregame and during–is different for the later starts.

    The fraternities were up and drinking 3 hours before gametime and the entire crowd seemed pumped before kickoff. There has to be an additional edge to the home team.

    The UCLA game reminded me of some great 5PM or later victories under JT:
    1. Tennessee revenge game
    2. Michigan State
    3. Oregon with Dennis Dixon (my favorite game after the SC overtime)
    4. Washington State (Joe Ayoob’s finest hour and the 707′s L. Cunningham with a key TD catch)
    5. Arizona and S. Vareen’s 4th Q dash to seal the deal
    6. Maryland revenge game after Javid’s barf the year before
    7. Even the SC loss in the rain with Longshore’s late interception was exciting

    Here’s to more fall memories.

    Go Bears!