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Saturday, November 06, 2004
Cal Holds Off Oregon
California held off Oregon today in football, 28-27, in a very close game that could have gone either way. Oregon showed up to play, unlike the two past Arizona teams, and Cal helped Oregon out by turning the ball over twice and making several special teams and defensive miscues: one of which almost cost the Bears the game.
[Note: This was originally written by Ralph Lee and posted in the Berkeley LiveJournal community. He offered to share it with the CalStuff readership, and we were glad to do so. It is longer than our normal football write-ups, but this was both an exciting game, and a point near the end of our season where it is worth the time to evaluate how the team is doing, especially in light of our potential opportunity to make it to a bowl game.]
Cal and Oregon scored a quick 14 each in an uncharacteristically high-scoring first quarter. The Bears' defensive unit was coming off of two back-to-back shutouts before today's game in Memorial Stadium. Then a California fumble led to an Oregon Duck touchdown that broke upen the game. But the Oregon kicker missed the PAT, which would come back to haunt the Ducks.
Cal's offense was uncharacteristically sluggish in the second and third quarters, with only one touchdown from the Bears. The California score came immediately after a demoralizing Oregon touchdown (and accompanying 6:05 drive), following a quick 75-yard, 1:10 drive led by Aaron Rodgers's deadly arm. But the score stayed at 27-20, as Rodgers and the running game were unable to score until the fourth.
After a missed FG by Tom Schneider (he missed two and is 5/11 on the season), Rodgers drove 70 yards to put the Bears ahead 28-27 and for good, with 13:50 left in the fourth quarter. While Cal's defense was decent, it was Cal's offense that won the fourth quarter game, with a drive that only went 43 yards but consumed 7:00 off the clock.
On the last Oregon drive, QB Kellen Clemens made several clutch passes, and seemed to complete a game-winning pass. But Oregon WR #8 Keith Allen dropped the ball on fourth down--completely uncovered. The dude will probably be hung on campus this week, as the game was literally in his hands. Just as USC seemed to catch a key last-minute break a few weeks ago, Cal did today and the Bears walked off victorious.
Special Teams is sucking it up. While punter David Lonie was above-average, placing several punts within Oregon's red zone, the unit as a whole was lackluster. The unit was responsible for a fumble and allowed Oregon's returners to put the Ducks in excellent field position; allowing a 52-yard kick return is simply unacceptable. Fans were calling for Schneider's head, and it looks like Tedford will have to recruit a top placekicker for next season.
Defense can improve too. Clemens went 19/33 for 217 yds with 0 INTs and 4 TDs, and found several holes in Cal's zone defense, often in the middle and underneath near the sidelines. In addition, Clemens ran for 54 yards, including some key first-down draws. Cal allowed 143 yards rushing, which is suboptimal. But the D held off Oregon sufficiently enough after the second quarter, with a few sacks, to end the game happily for Cal.
The freshmen retrievers were so-so today. Cal WR Robert Jordan, who did well for himself recently, fumbled the ball and was only able to garner 24 yards for the whole game. Geoff McArthur will be missed.
J.J. Arrington, and the Cal OL, was a bright spot today, picking up 188 yards on 26 carries, a remarkable 7.6 yds/carry. His consistent high level of performance (Lynch went only 7-25, 3.6 yds/carry) is carrying the team through many of these games and will be missed because Arrington is a senior.
Stat of the Game: 2-0. Cal turned the ball over twice, while forcing no turnovers. It almost cost the Bears the game.
*Aaron Rodgers actually caught a pass--he threw a pass that was deflected by an Oregon DL and actually CAUGHT it while it was coming back down. He went for 10 yards on a play that really should make Sportcenter's plays of the week.
*Backup FB Byron Storer hit the field today for one play. He is rated quite horribly on the NCAA Football 2005 video game, possibly rated as the worst player on the team. The first-team option, Chris Manderino, got no rushing attempts but caught a single 36-yard pass. Manderino lined up as a WR on one of Rodgers' TDs, a post route to McArthur, forcing the Oregon D to use a corner on him.
*Attendance was announced as about 65k. I'm surprised that many people showed up, but anectodally, it seemed like a LOT of Oregon fans came. They seemed to make even more noise than the UCLA fans, especially when Cal's offense neared the red zone. Oregon has previously won the last 7 meetings with Cal. Cal coach Jeff Tedford was formerly offensive coordinator at Oregon.
*Kate is our best mic (wo)man. The first-quarter dude screwed up a few times. I hope she's not graduating.
Writeup by Ralph Lee. Photo credits AP.
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