I love the internets. Twenty years ago, it actually took effort to round up some resident know-it-all to get answers about a topic you're not entirely familiar with. And truth be told, I don't know much about Cal football. Except their coach before Jeff Tedford is currently the athletic director down in Provo. Oh and their offensive coordinator is some guy named Andrew Ludwig.
Whoever that is.
So, knowing I had Cal Berkeley connections a mouse click away, I caught a cyber wave on over to the best damn Pac Ten blog known to man (early-90s internet lingo FTW!) and asked them a few questions about today's game and how in the hell California went from sixth nationally to losing by a billion points to one of the Washington schools.
In fact, I actually answered some questions of my own. If you're interested in what I had to say (doubtful) go check it out and ignore the obvious confusion in copying and pasting my answers to the appropriate questions. Apparently the university can produce the scientific director of the Manhattan Project, yet their students still haven't figured out how to properly align answers to the corresponding questions.
Anyway, the good stuff is after the jump!
1. Cal was quietly floated around as the team to dethrone SC in the Pac Ten. Didn't happen. Why?
Cal was over-hyped in the preseason. By everyone. The media gave Cal too much benefit of the doubt and focused too much on Jahvid Best and nobody else. Cal had huge question marks regarding its offensive line, its QB, and WRs. On defense, there were huge question marks regarding the linebackers. All those units have not performed well at various times during this season and can probably be described as just average. Football is a team game and you need talent at all the other positions too to win games. I think the mass media forgot about that. They focused solely on our Heisman candidate Jahvid Best, and kept saying he could carry the team. Not true. But many Cal fans bought that sell, and are now horribly disappointed with our season and our fall from the top 10.
2. Most Ute fans were apathetic to Andy Ludwig's leaving for Kansas State (before turning the car around and heading back out west). What's the general consensus among Cal fans regarding his first season? And yes, I'm asking you to speak for most your Golden Brethren.
Honestly, with most college football fans in general, few of us are qualified to truly and accurate critique offensive playcalling. Nevertheless, the consensus with Cal fans is that he's done a pretty good job. There have been a few games where Cal fans have been left scratching their head and puzzled, but for the most part, the playcalling has seemed to be productive and strategic. He obviously hasn't wowed us all but we're also not wishing he wasn't here.
3. While at Utah, Ludwig ran more a spread option-style offense in the mold of what we see from Urban Meyer teams. Obviously that isn't the case now. What's Cal's style?
Cal's style now is what I could consider a sort of hybrid power running and spread passing attack. I say "hybrid" because the offense doesn't incorporate all elements of a solely pro-style offense and nor does it incorporate all elements of a solely spread offense. For example, Cal doesn't really pass out of your traditional professional I-formation formations. And nor do they really run out of the spread formations. What Ludwig has done, is really adopt an offense that has two styles. When Cal wants to pass, it goes into a spread offense. When Cal wants to run, it goes into a more traditional professional I-formation power type of offense. So depending on the gameplan or the game situation, you can see the Cal offense vary considerably in their looks and formations. It's probably even fair to say that Cal really doesn't have a strong offensive style because the formations and tactics seem to change so much.
4. With Jahvid Best out, who will the offense fall back on? Does this concern you or can they plug in someone to feel the role?
Cal's second runningback is Shane Vereen. Although not having Jahvid Best does suck, I'm not sure that it will really hurt. Shane Vereen is a very talented runningback despite his different running style. I would describe his style as more of a power type of runningback. I don't mean that in the sense that he's going to run everyone over like Jerome Bettis, but he's going to grind out that yardage despite poor blocking. He may not hurt you with his speed, but he will hurt you with his ability to just squeeze out that extra yard or two when he has no business getting that extra yardage.
5. How's Cal's defense? They seem just as inconsistent as your offense. True?
Sort of. Cal's defense is consistently good against the run, and consistently inconsistent against the pass. Cal has always been a stop-the-run-first defense. Even the best rush offenses rarely rush for more than 100 yards and greater than a 3 yard average on our defense. However, when it comes to passing, that's where the defense fails. Aside from Syd'Quan Thompson, our All-American cornerback, opposing QBs have usually been able to have pretty good games against us more often than not. Our zone defense has been picked apart fairly methodically by many mediocre offenses. The cause for this weakness is presumed to be from lack of talent and experience.
6. Would you support the Pac Ten expanding to Utah & Colorado or Utah & BYU?
If the Pac-10 were to expand, I think either of those options would be fine ones. Colorado probably fits in with the Pac-10 schools a bit better, while bringing in Utah/BYU would preserve the conference's 'pod' scheduling. Honestly, though, I'm not terribly enamored with the idea of expansion. I know many Cal fans are, for all the same reasons that the ACC expanded recently. Still, there's no one of Miami's caliber for the Pac-10 to go and grab out West (Utah, BYU and Colorado might all fit in with the Pac-10, but they would only serve to make the conference bigger, not better), and I look at the ACC as more of a cautionary tale than anything. Their title game has mostly been a sparsely-attended dud, and not only did the increased conference size mess up their football round-robin (something I'm quite fond of in the Pac-10), but it also messed up their basketball double-round-robin too. Expansion might help the Pac-10 in terms of income, but I think it would ultimately dilute the product on the field, and until I see evidence to the contrary, I can't support expansion.
7. I noticed a mixed reaction to the news you guys were playing the Utes due to the location and the fact the game is on a Wednesday. Has that changed at all? Or are we going to hear, like what we heard after the Sugar Bowl earlier this year, that you guys didn't really want to be there?
It won't happen. The alternative to San Diego was El Paso, and unless our players have a little of the Ron Mexico in them, no one was really enthusiastic at the prospect of the Sun Bowl. No, if Utah beats us, it'll be the same thing that's happened in every one of our losses--total dysfunction in every significant aspect of the game. Oh, and Utah being better than us. Which would suck, but wouldn't surprise me at all.
8. Don't you just hate BYU?
Seven dollars is more valuable to me than a degree from BYU.
Well, if the Cal team that played against Stanfurd shows up for the bowl game, I think Cal has a great shot at winning quite solidly. On the other hand, if the Cal team that showed up against Oregon, USC, Oregon State, or Washington (the teams that beat Cal by a combined score of approximately 150-30), then Cal is screwed. I think the Cal players are disappointed that they're not in the Sun Bowl playing Oklahoma. The last time Cal went bowling and were disappointed about where they were bowling was in 2004 when we played Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl. We lost that game in a worse fashion than the score suggests. So, I'm not thinking Cal is really going to show up for this game. I wouldn't be surprised if Cal loses. I'm going to guess that it's going to be a Cal loss, 27-31.
10. How many times has Ludwig tried the reverse on a third and short this season?
Actually, this hasn't happened at all this season. I don't think there has been a tendency this year that most Cal fans have really hated.
I'd like to thank California Golden Blogs for the information. Now hopefully they spend tomorrow crying in their tea-cups (they drink a lot of tea in Berkeley, right?).