In which the bowl hopes are done and dusted.
I'll chime in only to say that the gap in our expectations is not the gap between who we are now under Wilcox and a perennial 10 win team. The gap is merely between where we are now and a consistent 8 win team, that beats Furd and an LA school with some regularity. It's not easy to do, but it's not out of reach. My despair is that this staff have reached plateau at like 5-7 wins. Any student of sports history sees the road littered with coaches who at one time were successful and then fade. Momentum is a MOFO. Wilcox, this year, has lost momentum.
No..energy…left… 5-7/4-8, recruiting a mystery, coaching status up in air, BUT plain happy to have the Axe back for a while. This, fellow fans, is Cal Football Purgatory..
I'll need to watch the game tape a few times, but my initial observation as that this beatdown started and ended with the offensive line. If you recall UNR and WASU both had pressure defenses that brought numbers and 'pressed' on receivers. The goal of those defenses was to take away the run with numbers, bring pressure on our QB with numbers, take receivers off their shorter timing routes with the press and force the QB to throw long while under pressure. It worked all three time and the common denominator was the poor play of the offensive line. A shout out to our D for playing well. It would be hard to point to defense in the country that could have played better with the amount of time our D spent on the field, with the disastrous TOP of our offense. Getting back to our offense. We knew going into this game that UCLA had lighter and speedier D-Linemen. That means we should be able to beat them by driving them off the ball....if we could get to them. When reviewing film the O-line coach needs to know the limits of his players. We have GOOD lineman. Our boys are big, fairly athletic and tough. But, like most o-lineman they aren't quick. So how do you counter the UCLA defense? I would have schemed up a game plan that tightened our splits to create smaller gaps. Yes, this does hurt our running backs, but missed defensive players who come through those gaps uncontested are a greater challenge to our running backs than smaller gaps. Smaller gaps mean our O-linemen don't need to travel as far as with normal splits to make a block...its all part of space in that time and space thing. I would have not run any reads or slow developing plays; they are moot with tighter gaps, and they take the time aspect away from a blitzing defense. This is the time part of the time and space thing. I would have run traditional quick hitting physically destructive plays where our bigger guys could pound their smaller guys: dive, power, traps (I love the wham: if you want to keep a defensive player from crossing the LOS all you need to do is run this once and hit him in the ear hole), and many others. Maybe we don't break long runs but we do get 3-5 yards all the time. That means safeties need to move up to honor our run, it means we give Garbers more time to throw and it means our receivers can get open. Without establishing success in the run game our offense is doomed. In any event, this was not on the players; it was about scheme and coaching. Personally when the offensive coaches went into their Sunday meeting to discuss scheme, Angus should have piped up and said something about the ability of his players to have success against a speedy high pressure defensive unit. I like Wilcox and want him to succeed. He has one more year. He needs to assess his coaching staff and their abilities very carefully and then make some tough decisions. I like Musgrave, but he needs to realize these kids are not pro level athletes and some things in his scheme just wont work with college kids in a program like ours. He's smart enough to figure it out. But assistants need to know enough and have the guts to tell him what their players are capable of, and not capable of doing. Case in point, when I coached and we brought in a new offensive coordinator who ran the spread, he wanted all my O-liners to be able to do right and left stances and play both sides of the line. He wanted us to do double reads on pass pro. I told him no. I told him we were at a JC. When I looked at my kids and their athletic abilities, it was going to take a lot of time to get them good at one stance and position, and trying to make them all around players in a two year JC would hurt our chances orf playing well. I told him double reads were an invitation for delayed blitzes. I told him on pass pro that no one would ever beat us inside from tackle to tackle, or from TE to tackle if we did it my way. I coached my tackles up on the old momentum block so they could handle speed rushers. And I told the OC that if a blitz came from the outside then either a RB had to pick it up or in an empty set the QB had to make the hot read, FAST. He let me do my thing and it worked. We lost 3 of the first 4 games learning the new system, then we didn't lose another game. We ended up in a bowl game and beat the snot out of a team that beat us early in the season. And, my o-line did what they did well by keeping it simple. And, they did with with a lot of nasty and pride. They were a unit that were the big uglies, the big badasses and no one fucked with them. You need that in your o-line unit. CAL has the players....not sure we have the right position coaches.
Thanks Nam....that was a rough one...
We are Cal! Own it. Each year we enjoy the run up to spring practice the summer-long positive speculation and early (usually) success vs an FCS team and a bad (usually) FBS team. Then comes a reality
Until an uncle Phil Nike comes along we are who we are. Love the genuine student athletes and the coaches who mentor them. Be happy for the rugby team and our swimmers!