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[NFL 2011 Wild Card Weekend] – Cal Alumni News

Aaron Rodgers watches on as Matt Flynn starts against the Lions in week 17

Aaron Rodgers talks about his favorite pre-game rituals. The ghost of Aaron Rodgers lives on in the Bay Area as he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Arod doesn’t feel as if the off-week plus the layoff will hurt Green Bay in their game against the Giants as he took advantage of the down time to join a fraternity and go to State Farm Insurance for a second discount double check.

Thomas DeCoud was disappointed in the Falcons’ secondary and its performance against the New York Giants last week. AJC reports DeCoud, who is a free agent, will likely not be resigned giving him a chance to test free agency. Thomas also made an interesting comparison of Victor Cruz.

Cameron Jordan looks for more moments like this on Saturday at Candlestick.

Brian De La Puenete received great reviews for his performance against the Lions on Saturday, while fellow Bear Cameron Jordan, did not fare as well. Brian received additional great praise here, but was called a “weak link” by a Bay Area newspaper. Another good article here written about Brian from his high school newspaper.

Tony Gonzalez is still searching for his first playoff win. If there’s a silver lining, he has been a pioneer of sorts for Hispanic football players while being the modern Godfather for tight ends.

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Stanford and Pac-12’s Luck runs out in Phoenix

Jordan Williamson watches the Cardinals' second straight BCS bowl win sailed wide left on Monday

2-5. Ouch. 2-5 was the Pac-10’s bowl record two years ago in 2009 which lead to a ton of West Coast hate and USC+9 Dwarfs jokes two years ago. However with a rejuvenated summer of 2010, Larry Scott re-branded the Pac-10, which included a tour of New York City with all 10 coaches, plus an exclusive ESPN interview with the conferences 4 premier quarterbacks at the time: Matt Barkley, Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, and Nick Foles. Cal fans remember Kevin Riley believing he was left out of the invite list and was “better than all those guys. ”

This year however, the Pac-12 was underdog in 6 out of the 7 games and things weren’t looking good for the conference heading into 2012, with Utah’s miracle come from behind win, the only contest the conference could hang its hat on for the season. Stanford and Oregon had a chance to prove that the conference’s poor bowl record was more a product of difficult match-ups: ranging from reasons such as Boise State getting squeezed and the Big-12 mysteriously getting only 1 BCS bid despite being Sagarin’s #1 conference. Oregon was finally able to get the conference off the snide showing it had the speed and skill sets to beat a “much more physical” Wisconsin team in the Rose Bowl. They were also able to get the important stops on Montae Ball when they needed to even though Wisconsin’s O-Line enjoyed what I guesstimated to be 30-40 lbs in advantage across the board. For Badgers fans who think they are screwed out of the last two seconds, Ryan Leaf and the 1997 Washington State Cougars team can relate to you.

Stanford had a chance to score the Pac-12 a second BCS win which would go a long-ways to cover up the conference struggles earlier in the bowl season. When a broken check-down drove the Cardinals to the Pokes’ 25, it looked as if Stanford would do that. However, Coach Shaw decided to take the foot off the pedal and ran two extremely conservative plays to set up a 35 yard field goal. Ask Kellen Moore and Chris Peterson how much of a gimmie 35 yard field goals are. It’s easy to second guess now, but when you claim to have the best college football player in the world, wouldn’t it be a perfect time to run a bootleg or play-action with 3 tight-ends lined-up? I understand Coby Fleener was injured, but Stanford’s tight end core goes 4 deep and they shouldn’t have had a problem to move the ball close to make it more of a “chip-shot” everyone desires to try to win a game. Williamson was already struggling in the game, missing a 41 yard field goal and kicking a ball out of bounds. Once Jordan hooked the ball left, it seemed all but inevitable Stanford was going to let this one slip away.

Realistically, everyone expects a drop-0ff with Luck leaving next year. He is a once in a lifetime talent and it’s important for non-traditional programs like Stanford and Cal capitalize when they land QBs as talented as Andrew was for Stanford and someone named Aaron Rodgers at Cal. The Cardinals were obviously able to do a lot more with Luck (beat USC and Notre Dame 3 times, and win the 2011 Orange Bowl) than the Bears were able to do with Rodgers, but hopefully for Bears fans, this guy will be the answer moving forward.

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2011 NFL Season Cal Alumni SNF Introductions

Nnamdi Asomugha introduces himself on Sunday Night Football against the Falcons during week 2 of the NFL season.

Week 1 (Thursday): New Orleans vs. Green Bay

Aaron Rodgers – “California”

Desmond Bishop – “San Francisco City College”

Cameron Jordan – “U.C. Berkeley”

Week 2 (Sunday): Philadelphia vs. Atlanta

DeSean Jackson – “California”

Tony Gonzalez – “University of California”

Nnamdi Asomugha – “Narbonne High School and U.C. Berkeley”

*Thomas DeCoud did not start*

Week 5 (Sunday): Green Bay vs. Atlanta

Tony Gonzalez – “University of California”

Desmond Bishop – “San Francisco City College”

Aaron Rodgers – “California”

Thomas DeCoud – “THE University of California”

Week 6 (Sunday): Minnesota vs. Chicago

Chris Conte – “Cal”

Week 7 (Sunday): Indianapolis vs. New Orleans

Cameron Jordan – “U.C. Berkeley

Brian De La Puente – “Cal Berkeley”

Week 8 (Sunday): Dallas vs. Philadelphia

DeSean Jackson – “California”

Nnamdi Asomugha – “Narbonne High School and U.C. Berkeley”

Week 10 (Sunday): New England vs. New York

Andre Carter – “Cal Berkeley”

Week 11 (Sunday): Philadelphia vs. New York

DeSean Jackson – “California”

Nnamdi Asomugha – “Narbonne High School and U.C. Berkeley”

Week 13 (Sunday): Detroit vs. New Orleans

Brian De La Puente – “Cal Berkeley”

Cameron Jordan – “U.C. Berkeley

Week 16 (Sunday): Chicago v s. Green Bay

Aaron Rodgers – “California”

Desmond Bishop – “San Francisco City College”

*Chris Conte is on IR*

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Bears Turned Away in San Diego

A Cal turnover was a familiar sight Wednesday in San Diego

Those in Texas are familiar chant “Remember the Alamo!” For Bears fans, 2011 seemed like a great opportunity to “Remember 2004!” Even with the Super Bowl MVP and finishing second to probably one of the greatest teams ever (USC 2004), our Rose Bowl drought continued. What if JJ Arrington’s touchdown hadn’t been called back? What if Arizona State hadn’t lost to Arizona? What if Oregon State hadn’t missed 3 extra points against LSU? And of course what if Mack Brown hadn’t lobbied his way to the extra votes in the AP and Coach’s poll to bump Texas ahead of Cal? It seemed like a storybook closure to a dark chapter in Cal history. We had a chance to beat Texas in the Bowl game we were so unwilling to go to 7 years earlier. Unfortunately working against the Bears was the simple fact many of the current Bears were barely in 4th or 5th grade when the snubbing happened and the rally cry for 52 years of frustration wasn’t enough to carry Cal past a more obviously talented Texas squad. Yes, the Longhorns suffer from the same QB issues Cal does. But their creative play calling from Bryan Harsin and speed on defense was more than adequate to cover their deficiencies at QB. I’ll focus on a couple issues of why Cal lost the game.

1) Predictable play calling – I’m going to avoid the obvious 5 turnovers which doomed the bears. What was most irritating were they were not “hustle” or “fluke” turnovers from a player trying to stretch for extra yards or a batted ball. But a collection of terrible reads, missed exchanges, and inability to protect the ball while running. Of course it didn’t help that every other play was either a bubble screen play to KA21, Isi trying to get to the outside, or Maynard rolling to the left. It was pretty obvious Texas knew those were the “fallback” and “safe” plays were going to run and they did a great job to bottle them up. The Texas defense seemed to always be in the right place at the right time and I don’t think it was a coincidence. It was obvious by the 3rd quarter we weren’t going to beat the Horns to the edges and they knew how to defend the screens. I’m not sure why Tedford didn’t reach into his 110 plays he has saved up and call some pass plays/routes Maynard was most comfortable with throwing, because it was obvious ZM was rattled from the TOs.

2) Not capitalizing good field position – It seemed as a great opportunity to turn the game around after Texas’ unnecessary roughness followed by a sack pinned them to the 1. Marc Anthony also got lucky the receiver barely stepped out of bounds preventing a huge bomb on third down. Marvin Jones got a great return to the Texas 35. But somehow we moved backwards on 3 consecutive plays topped by an Anthony Miller unsportsmanlike conduct and the fumbled which was the turnover the Horns finally cashed in for 6. How we didn’t get at least points out of that possession is beyond me. Of course not having KA21 for a couple plays hurt, but there’s now reason why we should go from the Texas 35 to our 40 yard line in the course of 3 plays.

3) The “little things” – Bryan Angar will probably admit this wasn’t one of his better punting days. His shank to the 50 led to the first Texas touchdown when it appeared our defense was holding the clamps down. Marc Anthony gets beat deep by the fastest player on their team when there wasn’t any safety help over the top. The bobbled snaps by Maynard out of the shotgun. As a disclaimer, most of them appeared low, so I’m sure that will be a point of emphasis in the off-season. I’m sure the coaching staff will focus on these issues during the next 9 months and hopefully 2012 will open with a bang in the new Memorial Stadium in September.

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[2011 Holiday Bowl] Cal vs. Texas : First Half Analysis

The Bears hope to leave SD winners tonight

– Texas appears to be trying to establish the run early.

– Gutsy 4th down call by Mack Brown pays off

– Pretty fortunate ball was touched by a longhorn avoids a disastrous start for the Bears.

– Maynard looks great converting 2 pivotal 3rd downs.

– Great field goal to bail us out despite the penalties.

– Our defense is swarming Ash, I wonder how much longer till we see McCoy.

– Maynard isn’t moving the ball that much more effectively than Ashe, we have looked sloppy on our exchanges and hikes tonight.

– Hopefully we can hold them to a field goal attempt after an inexcusable dropped mesh between Maynard and Anderson. [Wide left!]

– Ugh , Angar shanks a punt. It’s so obviously now we are throwing too many bubble screens to KA21 and Maynard is always rolling to his left.

– Wow defensive breakdown on the TE on that play gives Texas a huge boost. That was a pretty nifty trick play called by Harsin.

– Great return is nullified by inability to gain much on first down. Our offense is moving backwards. Terrible we can’t even get a field goal attempt on that last drive.

– Looks like this will be a war of attrition folks. Game will probably be won on field position.

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Holiday Bowl Random Facts

DeSean Jackson celebrates with the game ball 5 years ago in the 2006 Holiday Bowl

– The 1984 BYU team lead by Robbie Bosco won the 1984 National Championship after winning the Holiday Bowl despite beating a 6-5 Michigan team. This marked the last time a Non-AQ team won the National Championship (outside a few random computers which voted Utah the champion back in 2009). BYU at the time was part of the WAC. The Holiday Bowl was the best tie-in available for them which lead to reforms for the non-AQ schools’ bowl tie-ins.

– BYU played in the first 7 Holiday Bowls. For those who thought BYU’s annual trip to Las Vegas (2004-2009) was long, this was a longer and probably far less exciting trips for the Mormons.

– There have been 6 different sponsors for the Holiday Bowl, ranging from Shamu (Sea World), to Rental Cars (Thrifty), and a water softener company (Culligan).

– Bridgeport Education (the current sponsor) offers online classes post secondary degrees including bachelors, masters and PHDs. They were founded in Colorado, but based out of San Diego now.

– The Holiday Bowl has always been known for high scoring and exciting endings. The 2000 game (Oregon vs. Texas) and 2001 game (Washington vs. Texas) were both voted as one of the 25 most exciting bowls in the BCS era.

– The Big-12 currently holds the edge 8-6 against the Pac-12 in the Holiday Bowl.

– Uniforms have played an important part in determining the result of the Holiday Bowl. Since 2005, the designated home team has won every contest. Texas is home this year unfortunately for Bear fans. In addition Texas is 2-1 in their home uniforms in San Diego. But if there’s a time to end the streak, this year would be a great year to do so!

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3 Reasons Cal Fans should be Happy for the Holiday Bowl

Texas remembers the Alamo. Cal fans remember 2004

1. BCS – Cal = BS – Well let’s start with the obvious. We had a great chance to end our long Rose Bowl drought in 2004 with a Super Bowl MVP quarterback. But it wasn’t meant to be as Mack Brown did some 11th hour politicking and swayed enough voters to bump Texas to #4 in the BCS rankings and automatically qualify for a BCS game. What if the Southern Miss game was played earlier? What if Tedford had thrown for an extra touchdown. What if Arrington’s TD hadn’t gotten called back for a questionable block in the back call. What is Oregon State could have held on to beat LSU in week 1? What if Jonathan Makonnen hadn’t slipped on that slant route against USC? Revenge is better served chilly as in Ted Miller’s ESPN best case scenario for Cal, he had us beating Texas in the Alamo Bowl. Instead, we get a chance to get our payback closer to home in San Diego, which should just be as sweet for Cal fans. It was rumored Mack Brown’s job could be in jeopardy. Wouldn’t it be ironic if we caused Brown to be fired?

2. Big-12 is King according to Sagarin – According to Sagarin, the Big-12 is the league’s top conference top to bottom in 2011. Sagarin puts heavier emphasis on the middle, which is where Texas is located. I still can’t believe the Big-12 wasn’t able to get a second BCS team, but this would be a great opportunity to score a win against a quality opponent for the Pac-12 as they play 3 Big-12 games. If Stanford can beat the Pokes, and Washington can somehow pull another rabbit out of the hat like they did last year against Nebraska, it could go a long ways to repairing the conferences image after a slow start to 2011 and would justify two BCS teams. The conference did score late non-conference wins against Notre Dame (2), Pitt, and Lousiana LaFayette (all bowl teams), and Cal could build on that momentum.

3. The Bears want to be here – In 2004, we obviously didn’t want to be here and it showed. This year, the Bears have a chance to prove they are on our way back up with a big win against a national power ranked #24 in the BCS. We can remain in California (2 hours south of our desired destination but o wells), and the alternatives would have been a game in hostile territory against the likely Heisman winner (Alamo Bowl), a game against a team which has finished in the top 7 for 3 years in a row in Boise State in Las Vegas, or a game in El Paso against a team who runs the triple option to near perfection (recall our issues with the spread and pistol). Texas has trouble scoring the ball, so 24 points might be enough to win it and Maynard shouldn’t feel as if he needs to carry the team. He should be able to win by as announcers like to say “managing the game” and not making mistakes. If we win, we will also have bragging rights, along with UCLA, that we can beat Texas while USC can’t. So Cal fans, get on a Southwest plane, winniebago down the 5, or take a trolley, let’s pack Qualcomm on December 28th.