Good Afternoon, my name is Sam. I'll be your All-American punt returner today. May I interest you in our 57 yard special?
Finally, I have a chance to sit down and compose some thoughts on the utter destruction of Cal. Overall, it was a great day with many high points and only a few low points. Cal was a good team, but ultimately could not rise to the challenge of going toe-to-toe with OSU's playmakers. They had Jahvid Best trying to keep up with the exploits of James, Sammie, Quizz, and whomever was to inevitably intercept Kevin Riley. It wasn't really a fair matchup.
First of all, a hearty hip-hip-hooray to our two Pac-10 Players of the Week: Ocho Loco and Stephen "Tonga Power" Paea. The Ocho had a scorching, rocket-powered kick return score as well as a sprint, then skip to a stop, then scamper again rushing touchdown on the flysweep. 2 scores, 50 receiving yards, 20 or so out of the backfield--versatility, baby! He almost scored on a pass reception as well, but that would have been overkill and James Rodgers is a man of mercy.
Ocho Loco shows mercy by coasting at the goalline. via Thomas Boyd of The Oregonian
However, Tonga Power was not so kind. Stephen was snapping heads and putting on a bull rushing clinic all afternoon. He decided that it wasn't good enough to simply dominate Cal's All-American center, Alex Mack. No, Stephen thought it would be better if he could defeat Alex Mack aided by a double-teaming guard as well. And when Stephen decides that he's going to collapse your pass protection, well that's what's going to happen. Pads were popping, offensive linemen were getting blown off the ball, bodies were flying, and Mr. Paea was making soup up in their kitchen all day long. 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and this fabulous sack...no, not that one.
Tonga Power teacups another defenseless quarterback! via Thomas Boyd of The Oregonian
It was kind of a weird game, a bit of a slugfest punctuated by huge returns by Jahvid Best of Cal, and James Rodgers, Sammie Stroughter, and Keenan Lewis of the Team That Knows What The Hell It's Doing Wearing Black.
Against the Beavers overwhelming defensive pressure the Golden Bears were essentially incapable of sustaining any kind of offensive output. There was a garbage trick wide receiver pass play that reminded us of all the crap Tedford used to pull back when he was in Eugene and forced to compensate for the ducks' lack of talent, and also a nifty outside run by Best when the team lost contain, and that was basically the whole day for Cal. No, literally--apart from those 2 plays, the Bears gained 132 yards from scrimmage. The Bears were unable to establish any kind of consistent interior running game, and their draw plays weren't enough to overcome the damage of failing to block the stifling pass rush. Under that kind of pressure, the offense simply caved. Cal was able to run only 57 offensive plays all game and they gained only 1 yard in the 4th quarter.
The teams traded punches in the first half, then Quizz was Quizz and the Beavs were advancing the ball at-will in the second while turning the screws on defense. As Ted Miller put it, "the Beavers made a 6 point lead feel like 60." And that is the beauty of being a Beavers fan. 80 yards is a long way to go against this defense.
Wait, I said grill the Bears, not Bear Grylls! -Discovery Channel
With all respect to the Cal Football Team and its cheerful, good-humored fans, Zack Follett is the biggest crybaby in the universe not named Mike Bellotti. He was whining after the game to anyone who would listen, saying that he was being held by Tavita Thompson. This doesn't even make any sense because Tavita is 6'6" and about 75 pounds heavier while having just as quick of a first step as Follett or anyone not named Orange Jesus--Tavita doesn't need to hold anyone. Zack, sorry bro, they're called rules. You're just deflecting blame away from your poor performance and multiple personal fouls. As a dime-a-dozen linebacker, you aren't going to get away with hitting an All-American out of bounds. Deal with it, little buddy. Zack Follett prepares to deliver his first personal foul. Do you see #25 on the ground there? Quizz was actually the one who blocked him to his location out of bounds--from somewhere outside of the picture!!!! via Thomas Boyd of The Oregonian
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Sammie Stroughter DEE-HEE-STROY Follett on the very next play after Zack had hit Sammie out of bounds. It was a bloodthirsty crackback applied on James Rodgers' flysweep touchdown. Follett's head whipped back and his feet were hanging in the air as his limp, lifeless body floated momentarily before crashing to the ground. I guarantee that it only felt like running through one of those big pieces of paper at a high school football game for Sammie. I further guarantee that Follett is still feeling it 3 days later. It's been fun watching Sammie get the best of every team's top defensive player this season, especially when it's a poor sport like Zack Follett.
How incredibly ROCKING was Reser on the back to back interception returns at the end of the game? Even though the first one was called back on a false start, karma proved that it was the correct result. Keenan Lewis was all business on his pick. It was textbook. He caught it, lined up a couple blockers, then shed a comical attempt at an arm tackle by Jahvid Best. He didn't even need to look away from the endzone while he was brushing him off.
Brandon Hardin had a great hit on Cal's punt returner, but he also appeared to be out of his lane on Cal's long opening kickoff return. It will be fun to see if he's a starting corner next year, if they don't switch him to defensive end first. He's huge.
Kevin Riley deserves credit for only throwing one interception. Under that much duress, it could have easily been 4-5 picks.
Lyle had a poor showing in the stat column, in some ways it was the worst start of his career, but he played effectively and converted a lot of 3rd downs. Going one turnover or less is really all we need out of our quarterback position to win just about every game. Everything else that Lyle usually does is just a bonus. He was playing sick, with a coughdrop in his mouth so that he could be heard on the field--and he's still hoarse in interviews three days later.
After a noodle-armed early interception, he resisted making very many risky throws. I think Lyle really reined it in and waited to find the relatively few holes presented on some of the crossing patterns we had to run when Cal mostly dropped 8 players into a very tightly spaced, shallow zone coverage. From where I was sitting, you had to admire the uniform spacing Cal had down the field. They were very disciplined, with good alignments and equal spacing all over--it really reminded me of all the synchronized karate guys at the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing this summer. If you didn't see that on TV, you can probably find it on youtube. That was definitely the best pass defense we've seen this season.
My one sour note for the game: "black outs" are stupid. Half-(lawyers) blackouts are really, really, really, ridiculously stupid. Did anyone see the Georgia game earlier in the year? It looked like 85,000 empty seats. It looks even worse in Reser, especially when you can't get your act together. NEVER EVER DO THAT AGAIN. You're making a mockery of ORANGE. We've worked a long, long time to get people to wear orange at games and we still have a LOOONG way to go until we have 100% compliance. Recruits LOVE an Orange crowd. They LOVE it. People watching Beavers games across the country respect it. They're AMAZED by Orange. When fans see it on television they literally wonder aloud, "is it really that Orange in Reser Stadium?" The best that Reser Stadium has ever looked was during the USC game this year. Why? Because of Orange. Wear Orange. Be Orange. Let us never speak of this blackout again. OVERWHELMING ORANGE FOREVER.
Now, I will leave you with the eternal brilliance of James Rodgers: