Poor Marshawn had a tough day, he still played well though. At one point I could swear I really saw the frustration in him. His Heisman chances are effectively over. Luckily he escaped major injury while rushing for an amazing 74 yards on only 12 carries.
I was struck like a gunshot wound to the head how thoroughly Cal was outplayed, and sadly, outclassed. There was no stopping the Vol offense and there was no challenging the Vol defense either. As a Tennessean would say, “there was no nothing.” As the game wore one it became clear that any chance of Cal winning the National Title were going down in a rare 4-alarm fire.
While this carnage was taking place I sat quietly and stoically on the couch. Last year when Cal would be blowing the big game (not the big game) I would get so upset and want to go crazy. This game though, (and hopefully this year) there was nothing like that. I have not the foggiest idea what caused the change of heart. Maybe deep down I just knew we were going to lose no matter how I felt.
FACTS OF LIFE
Fact: The Cal offense is clearly in a lot of trouble again this year. Granted, this was the opener and this Tenessee bunch in clearly quite good, Cal looked anemic. In a sense, the Cal offense could not have played more poorly today. By the time Ayoob came in and made the score a little more respectable, the game was long over.
QB Issues trail us into 2006: This is really scary, like last year there is clearly a bad situation brewing at the QB position. I just do not understand. Why is it even mediocre teams seem to have great QB’s and we cannot even find one. We have recruited some of the best players in the country. Why, damn you, why?
Fact: Defense is very soft, or at least they played that way: This was perhaps the scariest development in a terrifying afternoon. I have known for a while now that the Cal offense has its serious and evident shortcomings. The defense has been a pillar of stability in a sea of uncertainty. This afternoon though things were rough out there, poor tackling, bad reads, overcompensation, clear frustration. You saw it all, and it was all very painful to watch.
Secondary in trouble: I felt bad for Syd, I know he will be great someday, today though he was just burned. I think that TD he gave up right before halftime really solidified Cal’s collapse. I know he is a very fast guy and quite quick, but those Tenn players made him look slow. He clearly was not the only one though. In fact I hate to even single him out because he played with real heart. I am sure everyone will take a long hard look at the game film, as everyone made mistakes, again, everyone.
Special teams not so special today: This was another major cause for concern. I may have already said that above in some other intro but this one is not that bad. I guess we could not really evaluate the special teams too much as they saw-limited action. However, what I did see concerned me. Shneider clearly needs to work on his kick off abilities. His kicks were terrible and I think I saw at least two go out of bounds for penalties.
The return game did nothing to catch my eye. Marshawn had a decent run back to almost the thirty on the initial kick off but everything after that in terms of kick returns were a blur. I know that midway through the second quarter or early third Tedford stopped using Lynch for kick off returns.
Finally, I would like everyone to know that I stand in solidarity with all bear fans, students, alum, coaching staff, and, most importantly, players tonight. This is not the end of the world. Last year something like this would have freaked me out. While it should still freak some of us out, I have learned to take it with a grain of salt. I mean the odds are if it is a huge game, Cal is not going to pull it off. What I can say from that is this merely means we need to learn how to handle situations like this better. I hope that coach Tedford and the staff get back to Berkeley and begin an immediate post mortem. A lot can be learned from this, and no doubt a lot will. The Bears are a tough bunch, an underachieving bunch, (we all underachieve) but they can still be great. As a matter of fact, I KNOW they will.