Friday, September 5, 2008

Steve Harris post - WSU

Hello and Go Bears! It’s Washington State week!

Game 2: Cal (1-0, 0-0 Pac-10) v. Washington State Cougars (0-1, 0-0 Pac-10)
Date/Time: Saturday, September 6, 3:30 p.m. PST
Location: Martin Stadium (37,600 capacity, grass), Pullman, WA
TV/Radio: Comcast Sports Net West (Comcast Channel 400; DirecTV Ch. 698; Dish Ch. 409)/FSN Northwest/KGO 810 AM/XM Satellite Radio (Chs. 193-95), also basic cable 99
History: Cal leads 39-25-5, won last three, won in Pullman in ’06 (first time since ’79)
Point Spread: Cal by 13-1/2
Opposing Team Colors: Crimson and Grey

Sagarin computer ratings on Cal and various opponents:
National rank Team
1 $C
19 Cal (yup, down 5 spots even though we won; dissed Mich. State, no?)
47 Maryland
51 stanfurd (enjoy the Axe while you can!)
66 Washington State

Inconsistent Cal led by 10, senior reserve quarterback Nate Longshore (6) was abysmal (2 interceptions!), a Cal game broke out, but Cal won, 38-31. What happened? This:
Ø Offense: sophomore quarterback Kevin Riley (13) started and completed 17 of 24 passes for 202 yards and 2 TDs, two running backs ran for over 100 yards (redshirt freshman Shane Vereen (34) had a scintillating 81-yard touchdown run!), and the offensive line was great. Improvements: the wide receivers dropped too many catchable passes!
Ø Defense: run defense was fabulous against the nation’s top senior running back and lots of pressure on the quarterback. Improvements: allowed 202 yards to a wide receiver and yielded 300 yards passing. No sacks. Another opponent scored over 30 points (albeit 7 were due to a Longshore’s last interception returned for a TD! UGH!).
Ø Special teams: GREAT: Blocked punt for a TD (first since 2004 – Washington) and punter was fabulous! BAD: Cal couldn’t get a punt off due to a bad snap. HORRIFYING: kickers still can’t get the ball inside the 10-yard line. Punt team committed a STUPID roughing the kicker when Cal was up 10 points. Let them kick it!

PREVIEW OF WASHINGTON STATE (lost to Oklahoma State 39-13 last week)
Cal overall concerns: Catch the ball + no more Longshore = another Cal victory. WSU lost 8 scholarships (failed to meet NCAA Academic Progress Rate standards), 25 arrested players in 18 months, a new coach, injuries, and an early season date with Cal. But it’s Pullman, Cal hasn’t won 2 straight there since 1969 and 1971, so expect another close one!

Cal’s Offense: run at will and get those receivers comfortable!
Ø WSU starting cornerback Alfonso Jackson was hurt and won’t play this week. The Cougar secondary now boasts three sophomores and a redshirt freshman. Throw early and often… and hope Cal’s receivers hold onto the ball!
Ø Chances are WSU will stack the line of scrimmage to stop Cal’s run game and force Cal to pass. Fine. Use more screen passes and throw to senior wide receiver Sean Young (88) and junior Cameron Morrah (5), Riley’s favorite targets last week. Or welcome freshman wide receiver Michael Calvin (84), who was injured last week.

Cal’s Defense: Stop the one good wide receiver and pressure the quarterback!
Ø WSU will throw a no-huddle, spread offense at Cal, far different from the plodding, running back heavy offense Michigan State used last week.
Ø Senior wide receiver Brandon Gibson is the only Pac-10 caliber player WSU has for now. Double cover him and dare the quarterback to beat Cal in other ways.
Ø Keep up the pressure on the quarterback! WSU’s offensive line has three new starters and experienced a lot of pressure last week. The QB is a fifth-year senior but a first-year starter. He can be rattled! Get after them Bears!

oh, stanfurd…. a ½-full stadium, notwithstanding that insipid money back “sort of guarantee even though it’s only guaranteed if you ask for your refund before the $c game” guarantee. stanfurd won only because Oregon State lateralled the ball into its own end zone for a safety and fumbled the ball through the end zone on a tying touchdown drive. This week’s game at Arizona State will tell if the Grade Inflateds are a pretender or a contender. For now, stanfoo are definitely more competitive… losers.

So what’s going to happen: Why Cal could lose the game: Riley channels Longshore into his psyche and throws four interceptions, Best and Vereen suffer injuries, and the defensive line falls apart. Why Cal could win the game: Riley has another strong performance, Best and Vereen run for 100 yards each, and the relentless defense gives WSU fits all day. Even with the 10-point WSU advantage for playing in the middle of the middle of nowhere, 25 arrests in the last 18 months, combined with a new coach and a new system, and an early scheduled game, means Cal moves forward (albeit with some growing pains). ESPN blogger Ted Miller thinks Cal will come out FLAT for this game… OPEN CHALLENGE TO THE TEAM: PROVE HIM WRONG! Expose the Cougs for the cellar dwellers they are in the first half! Cal 37, WSU 24.

Steven Harris ’93 (; just knew that a Cal game would break out at some point Saturday. Note to the student section: don’t serenade the other side and tell them they suck with 3 minutes to go… Cal games don’t work that way. See three zeros on the clock? The ref’s off the field with the ball? THEN celebrate… skeptically! #1 Cal Fan Jeremy Harris will be 3 years old on Wednesday! Your parents love you very much! It was great to hear the cannon go off again after so many months of silence! Rust is inevitable, but I’m sure any kinks in the execution will be fixed by Colorado State! Keep up the good work and Go Bears!

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