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Cal Football News and Updates


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3 Things Cal Fans are Thankful for this Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving everyone from Calfootballblog!

It’s easy around this time of year to think about what we want or are wishful for this coming holiday season (that will come during the next blog). But I’m going to take look back what Cal football fans should be thankful for from this 2011 football season so far.

1. A place to go bowling this December – We won’t be playing football on January 2nd as we had hoped this year, but with the Bear’s 23-6 win over Oregon State (ending the 4 year Beaver curse in the meantime), Cal is assured of a bowl game this coming season. Depending on the result of our performance in Tempe on Friday, and all sorts of other factors we can’t control (Stanford vs. Notre Dame, UCLA vs. USC, Utah vs. Colorado, we can significantly improve our bowl prospective from a low tier bowl vs. a non-AQ team, to one against a high-profile Big-12 team (hello Texas or Texas A&M?). Two years ago, the Bears were largely disappointed to hear they were out of the running for the Holiday Bowl when the folks in San Diego announced they were going to pick the winner of the Arizona vs. USC game that season. The Bears then played an extremely unmotivated game in Seattle getting crushed 42-10 by the Huskies and played uninspired in the “other” San Diego bowl game losing to Utah 37-27. However, I’m sure that was a lot better than “studying for finals” or “getting prepared for the draft” which is the silver lining coaches had to focus the players on last year.

2. No significant injuries this year – We had some injuries to our deep linebacking corp and offensive line, but for the most part, we have avoided the injury bug for most of the year. No injuries to Maynard (yes I do believe he is our best option at QB), his brother Keenan, Marvin Jones, or captain on defense Mychal Kendricks. Outside of the USC game, we have largely played competitively in all our games this year. And whether it’s better conditioning or longer offseason from no bowl from last year, it has improved the prospective for 2011.

3. No more home games at AT&T – The home away from home provided 4 victories in 5 games. But lackluster attendance, followed by weird stadium configurations, weird weather, questionable kickoff times, gave a sense we were playing at a pseudo-home field than a true home-field. Unless we play in the Kraft Fight for Hunger Bowl on 12/31, I’m sure Bear fans are eager to un-inhabit their temporary San Francisco home and greet the Nevada Wolfpack opening day in the new Memorial Stadium next year.


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Questions of the Week


Every week Cal Football Blog will look at 5 most intriguing questions before Game Day.

 

1. How will Cal bounce back after the tough loss against Stanford?

There has been a lot of talk about how the players are down and frustrated about the loss against Stanford, but still uplifted by the support of some Cal fans and of teammates. This is good news going into the last regular season game. If Cal can replicate the energy and heart that they showed against Stanford, California should be able to come out with a victory against a struggling Arizona State. However, if Cal continues to make big mental mistake and cause untimely penalties, Arizona State will run all over Cal.

2. Will Maynard continue his good play?

Zach Maynard had a strong performance against Stanford (though made a couple costly mistakes). He had 20/30 passes, 280 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions while Andrew Luck had 20/30 passes, 257 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Zach looked poised under pressure and made critical plays in the fourth quarter. It looked like the coaches were making plays that favored the strengths of Maynard, especially utilizing his capability to throw with his feet moving. Consistency will be key for Maynard throughout his Cal career. If Maynard continues to grow throughout the next two games, he may very well be a top quarterback next season in the Pac-12 especially with top quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, and Nick Foles leaving for the NFL.

3. Can the defense recover?

Even though the defense limited Andrew Luck throughout the game, he was still able to make big plays especially in the third quarter. The defense had trouble pressuring Luck and defending one-on-one matchups on long pass plays. However, Cal is one of three teams to sack and intercept Luck this season. Cal should look strong against Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler and their offensive line. Look for the Cal defense to pressure the opposing quarterback all-day. If the defense is forcing a lot of bad plays from Arizona State, Cal may get a similar win against Arizona State as they did in 2010 ( a 50-17 victory for the Bears).

4. Will Cal finally win on ESPN?

Does anyone remember the last time Cal won when the game was on ESPN? I sure don’t. Maybe the lights for ESPN are too bright, maybe the ESPN announcers puts a curse on Cal before every game, maybe the players get distracted trying to say hi to mom on TV, or maybe the national spotlight is too much pressure for Cal. Whatever it is, this needs to stop. Losing on national television does not bode well when recruiting and it doesn’t help Cal get into a better bowl game at all. Let’s hope Cal can end these losses on national television this Friday against Arizona State.

5. Which bowl game will Cal go to?

Right now the mess in the South Division makes this question really difficult. Cal can go to any bowl game ranging from the Alamo Bowl to the Vegas Bowl. Experts place Cal for the Holiday Bowl or the Sun Bowl meaning Washington and South Division team would be above Cal. However, if Cal wins against Arizona State there will be a world of possibilities. The Apple Cup up in Washington is this weekend, and if Washington State can pull an upset, Cal will most likely go to the Holiday Bowl (Assuming that Utah, Oregon, and Stanford takes care of business). If Washington wins like they are supposed to, Cal goes to Sun Bowl. If UCLA upsets USC, Cal goes to Vegas Bowl (anyone down to go to Vegas for Christmas?). If Cal loses to Arizona State, Cal goes to the Hunger Bowl. Cal only goes to New Mexico Bowl if either Stanford or Oregon loses this weekend.


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Bears come Close to Chopping down the Cardinals


Keenan Allen makes a grab in the first quarter to give Cal the early lead at Stanford

If there were grades given out for effort or such a thing as “moral victories,” Cal game close to scoring both Saturday in Palo Alto. The problem is at the end of the day, Stanford still has the Axe, is still in the running for a second straight BCS Bowl berth, and Andrew Luck still has another year of eligibility left. Bears fans appreciate the effort throughout the game and both the offense and defense battling deep into the 4th quarter. Even if the thought of victory was faint, you can see how badly the offense wanted to get into the end-zone on the last possession.

However, Cal fans could only ask themselves “what-if?”

What if Isi hadn’t fumbled on the second play of the game and dug Cal into an early 7 point deficit?

What if Jeff Tedford decided to go for it instead of taking a field-goal early in the game?

What if the questionable fumble hadn’t been ruled on Isi near the end of the 3rd quarter?

What if Keenan Allen didn’t go more than 2+ quarters without touching the ball?

Cal showed a lot of guts and heart during this game. However, it is clear good quarterbacking from Zach Maynard is not enough to cover up mistakes from the running game and somewhat shaky defensive play throughout the game. A Cal victory would have made it 5 defeats for the AP top 10 and a historic week in college football. However, the Golden Bears are going to have to get ready for a Friday night game in Tempe against struggling Arizona State and the gratitude, presuming Andrew Luck leaves, that they will be favored to return the Axe to Berkeley in 2012.


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The Play!


To get some of you pumped up for the Big Game, lets take a look at the greatest play in college football history. The kickoff return that won the game during the 1982 Cal-Stanford Big Game.

This game is similar to the one this Saturday in that Cal was an underdog and Stanford’s QB (John Elway) was a Heisman Candidate, who lost his first game big to Cal just like Andrew Luck did. Here is a good wrap-up of The Play from wikipedia. Maybe tomorrow, history will repeat itself.

 


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Shawn X.T.’s Weekday Links


The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur. ~ Vince Lombardi

  • The Big Game, history of unpredictability
  • An opportunity for the defense
  • In Appreciation of the Seniors
  • Big Game Heroes
  • Previewing Stanford’s Defense
  • Cal’s 1970 Big Game upset
  • Whiteside likely to start
  • Intelligent Linemen

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    Nine Bears on Pac-12 All-Academic Team


    Just in from Cal Athletics:

    Nine on Pac-12 All-Academic Football Team

     

    (BERKELEY) – Nine Cal student-athletes were selected to the Pac-12 All-Academic team released on Thursday, including four on the first team for the first time in their career with the selections of Mark Brazinski (3.68 GPA, Business Administration and Media Studies), Ernest Owusu (3.31 Political Economy), Mitchell Schwartz (3.24 GPA, American Studies) and John Tyndall (3.17 GPA, Interdisciplinary Studies/Peace & Conflict Studies).

    Owusu’s selection follows his choice as a Capital One Academic All-District 8 selection for the second consecutive year on Nov. 10.

    Will Kapp (3.03 GPA, American Studies), Matt Summers-Gavin (3.31 GPA, Political Science) and Giorgio Tavecchio (3.71 GPA, Political Science) were named to the conference’s all-academic second team.

    Tavecchio was a Capital One Academic All-District 8 choice along with Owusu.

    Cal’s combined seven first and second-team selections were the most in the Pac-12, while its four first-team picks were the second-highest total in the conference behind only the five of Utah.

    Dan Camporeale (3.04 GPA, American Studies) and Justin Cheadle (3.14 GPA, American Studies) were honorable mention Pac-12 All-Academic picks.

    Cal student-athletes have been honored 103 times on the conference’s all-academic football teams in the last 10 seasons (2002-11) under head coach Jeff Tedford, the second most of any school during that span.

    To be eligible for selection to the Pac-12’s academic teams, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade-point average and be either a starter or significant substitute.


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    Shawn X.T.’s Pac-12 Predictions: Week 12


    [Overall predictions]: 56-15 [The Week Before]: 4-2

    Woot! Cal is bowl-eligible!

    Cal is a major underdog this year against Stanford. Will we see another Big Game miracle from Cal?

    Washington 38 – Oregon State 14: Washington covers (-2)

    Utah 27 – Washington State 17: Utah covers (-3.5)

    Colorado 24 – UCLA 27: Colorado covers (11)

    USC 28 – Oregon 48: Oregon covers (-14.5)

    Arizona 21 – Arizona State 28: Arizona covers (11)

    California 35– Stanford 34: California covers (17.5)