31.Oct.2010 Cal Post-game Thoughts
It's hard to imagine a less impressive 35-7 win than the Beavers' "thrashing" of California yesterday afternoon. There was one clear improvement–the defensive intensity. How much that intensity had to do with the outcome is debatable. I think the Beavers still win the game even if Kevin Riley played, but a lot of the positive defensive stats were the byproduct of Brock Mansion playing quarterback.
The glaring issue yesterday was once again team attitude or swagger. After taking an early lead, the Beavs let off the throttle, managing just one score in the second half. To say this team "lacks killer instinct" would be putting it kindly. Under Riley, they have never finished teams off, but that doesn't mean fans should learn to accept it or make excuses. What makes Riley's approach doubly frustrating is watching the team in Eugene run over their road kill until it ceases to exist.
Run blocking is another area that showed no improvement. Sure, on the surface Quizz's rushing statistics looked good, but the reality of the situation is that his blocking was horrendous. Cameron Jordan, defensive end for Cal, essentially made fun of the offensive line after the game, calling them soft and not up to par with prior vintages. He is dead on. Rodgers' better runs came when he looked at the point of attack, disliked what he saw, and cut outside. He improvised his way to big gains. If he followed his blocks, many of those better efforts would have instead been 1 to 3 yard dives. What happens when teams realize this, contain the outside, and he actually has to follow those blocks?
Finally, what is Riley thinking putting his starters in with 6 minutes left and a 4 touchdown lead? Not only does this kill team moral and curb future development, it puts the entire season at risk–if Rodgers, Katz, or Wheaton went down early in the 4th there would be outrage. I don't understand it, and think it warrants an explanation. As of this evening, I haven't heard anyone in the media ask the question, though. In fact, they're all writing that the team is now fixed and poised for a Rose Bowl run. It's amazing what those orange glasses can do…