Archive for September, 2006

Updated Pac-10 metrics

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Well, I finally had my first 100% week.  It was a pretty easy week all the way around and my metrics reflect that.  That said, the picture in the Pac-10 is becoming a great deal clearer:

  • Stanford, OSU and Arizona are in a class all their own, and that’s not a good thing.
  • WaZoo, UCLA and ASU are schools that think they’re good but aren’t (a note about UCLA, their 31-0 win over Stanford was very misleading.  Stanford had UCLA very worried for 3/4’s of the game.  It also turns out that UCLA’s win over Utah wasn’t very impressive as Utah has stunk all year.).
  • Washingon is the wildcard who’s seemed to get their act in gear this year but is untested and there is no reason to believe that they’re in the top group.
  • Cal and Oregon are the lone challengers to USC and…
  • USC although good, and the defacto leader until knocked off, is VERY beatible.

All of this makes next week’s Cal vs. Oregon game extremely important as it sets the clear challenger to USC in November when both teams play USC back to back in LA.

In any case, here are my updated metrics:

  • MVD: 14.9 (down from 15.6 with new scores of 17, 12, 17, 3 and 4)
  • TPD: 13.4 (down from 14.6 with new scores of 5, 8, 5, 5, 10)
  • Winning percentage: 82.4 (up from 79.4 after going 5-0)

Tune in later this week for new predictions.

Bears game wrapup

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

OK, despite the itch I’ve had all week, I didn’t drive up to Oregon to watch the game.  So my wrapup will be completely based on the radio coverage.

Which is as good as a place to start as any.  I’d heard a few complaints from some Cal Bloggers about Starkey’s radio coverage.  Not having listened to it in a couple years, I wasn’t willing to specifically rebutt those comments.  However, now that I have… what is wrong with you guys?  Starkey is one of the best and he still has it.  He calls a great game with all of the details that one needs.  Sometimes he’s not as good for the novice listener who’s not paying attention because he doesn’t alway say what down it is, but his explanation of the previous play makes it clear what the down and situation is.  And he has to make that sacrifice to give all of the detailed information he gives about the formations and the players involved.  In addition to being very detailed, he does a very good job of projecting emotion.  So I say: Starkey = A+.

On to the game, it went about as I expected, with one caveat: Cal was able to put a bunch of points up early and it got OSU out of it’s running game, turning the game into a blowout.  While I’ll admit my confidence in the Bears putting up points early was low, I knew that if they did it would be a blowout.

The big thing that was confirmed about this game was that the Bears can have a dominating run defense.  We already knew this really having stopped the powerful Minnesota running game.  What was unclear going into this game was whether OSU had the passing game to do what Minnesota couldn’t do: force the Cal defense to cover both dimensions.  The answer to that question is no, no they couldn’t.  Unfortunately that answer means it is still unknown is whether Cal can be dominating at BOTH aspects of the defense at the same time.  We’ll know the answer to that question next week when we face Oregon.

The Cal offense continues to click.  I was glad to hear that there weren’t too many rushing tackles for loses.  The running game had that old dominating feel I’m used to after the last few years.  I think that opposing defenses are realizing that Cal will burn them with the passing game if they over-emphasize stopping the run.  The result is that the running game is going to improve.  I expect to see more of that in the future and the Cal offense will feel more balanced.

So Cal is rolling.  And it’s a good thing because we’re going to need a Cal team that is clicking on all cylinders to beat Oregon.

Pac-10 picks

Friday, September 29th, 2006

On to the rest of the Pac-10 and my predictions for them:

Cal 35, OSU 24: See here for details.

UCLA 29, Stanford 10: A week ago, nobody would have questioned whether UCLA was going to win this game.  Now that UCLA lost to Washington, have things changed?… Absolutely not.  WaZoo took Stanford to the woodshack at the red-bird-color-but-not-the-bird-itself-and-definitely-not-a-reference-to-the-leaders-of-the-Catholic-Church-despite-the-fact-that-we-were-founded-as-a-Catholic-University–Cardinal was at home at their brand new and empty stadium, albeit without their “incomparable” band.  No way are they going to win against UCLA in the Rose Bowl.  Speaking of which, I’m starting a new tradition: I’m taking my predicted score for the Stanford opponent and increasing it by 2.  So in this case: 3 touchdowns, 2 field goals… and the automatic inclusion of a safety.  It only seems fair.

ASU 24, Oregon 42: ASU has begun their annual tailspin.  Yes, it’s a little earlier than usual but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.  By the time USC is done with them next week they’ll be so demoralized that Stanford may just have what it takes to completely destroy what’s left the ASU football program.  If they think losing three in a row is demoralizing, THAT may result in a death Jim Jones style. In any case, Oregon is too strong and too determined to lose this one.  Expect more mistakes from Carpenter and a Oregon spread offense that runs up the score.

WSU 21, USC 24: Watch out USC, WaZoo plays well on it’s home field, the frozen potato patch (not to be confused with the frozen Tundra).  USC should be thankful they’re playing an afternoon game not a night game because even in late September it gets awful cold up there at night.  USC is definitel a strong team, but they’re still a wildcard in my book.  Nobody strong has challenged them and their pass defense is completely untested.  That said, I don’t think WSU is the team that will test them.  Athough I think they’ll exceed the 14 points USC’s best opponent put on the board, I don’t think they’ll have what it takes to beat a determined USC team, even if the game is on the frozen potato patch.

UA 17, UW 24: Neither of these teams have offenses that have taken it to their opponents and I don’t expect that to happen this weekend either.  In fact, maybe I’m giving them both too much credit and I should adjust the scores down.  In any case, this game is going to be close and Arizona will be aching for a win after last weeks loss.  Expect to see them aching for another week.  Willinghan has UW back on the right track.

OK, that’s it for this week.  Expect a Bears game wrap-up and updated Pac-10 metrics by Monday.

Cal vs. OSU preview.

Friday, September 29th, 2006

OK, it’s that time of the week again.  Time for me to share predictions on the Cal game.

Before I get started, forgive me for feeling the need to rant about the TV coverage or lack thereof.  WHAT THE HECK!?! I have no way to check, but I bet Cal is the only team in the Top 25… including Rutgers… that doesn’t have their game on at least some subscription channel.  I though that was the point of Comcast SportsNet, to cover the games that the big boys don’t want.  ARG!?!  I’ve been tempted all week to plan a trip to Corvalis.  I would do it too if I didn’t:

  1. love my family
  2. not want to drive 20 hours in a weekend
  3. not have time to blow the whole weekend on a minor game
  4. lack the finances for the ticket
  5. lack the finances for the gas
  6. lack the finances for a place to stay (noticing a trend here).

As a plus, I’ll get to listen to Starkey call the game.  I don’t wear headphones at the games (it’s a family event, why would I block out my family?) and I don’t listen to the radio coverage when I’m watching the game on TV because of the TiVo.  I’m a big fan of rewinding plays and that just doesn’t work with radio coverage.  If someone can ever figure out how input alternate audio for a TV program into a TiVo (so it syncs with my rewinding), please let me know.  I’ll be your buddy for life.

In any case, listening to Starkey is the upside but it completely blows that a Cal game isn’t on TV.  So much for a return to prominence….

OK, I’m done complaining about the lack of TV coverage… onto the game:

I won’t lie, I’m nervous about this game.  In the end, I think Cal’s going to win, but OSU is the type of team that can really take it to the Bears and has a history of doing so.  Tedford has lost 3 of his 4 games against them.  OSU beats Cal by controlling the football and being physical on defense.  Last year it felt like Cal only had the ball 4 times all game and then OSU took their sweet time to march down the field Big-12 rushing style.  Then when Cal got the ball back, Lynch had no where to run because OSU was putting 27 defenders in the box (at least it felt that way).  They dared Ayoob to throw it.  It was ugly.

This year, OSU won’t be able to get away with that.  Cal’s offense is too balanced and it’ll run up the score like nobody’s business if they try loading the box like they did last year.  However, I’m still worried OSU will control the ball through the running game and will keep this game a lot closer than it should be.  In the end, Cal has too much fire-power, but it still wories me.  Our best hope is to score a few TD’s early to get them out of their ball-control running game.  If that happens, this could be a Cal blowout. 

But I don’t see that as the likely scenario.  Their defense is good enough (although I think they suffer from the same over-praise from a weak non-conference schedule that ASU had) and their game-planing is strong enough that they’re not going to let Cal have a bunch of early quick scores.  They’ll make Cal earn its points.  But earn them Cal will and it’ll be too much for OSU, despite them doing their best to control the ball.

Which brings me to my final topic to discuss: the Cal run defense.  As much as I don’t think they have to play well to win this game, it would make a world of difference if Cal could shut down the OSU run game.  Even if OSU is able to score more frequently because of it, it’ll also mean that the Cal will get the ball more often for its offense to run up the score.  So, in my opinion, this week is the opposite of last week.  Last week Cal was willing to sacrifice the run defense to shutdown the pass-offense of a dangerous ASU team.  This week Cal should be willing to give up a more prolific passing game to shutdown the running game of OSU.  It’ll be interesting to see the game plan Gregory comes up with.

To wrap up all of these thoughts, I’m pretty sure Cal will win this no matter what, but a strong OSU running game will be the determining factor as to whether it remains competitive: Cal 35, OSU 24.

Slimy politics

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

I have some exposure to all of the stuff that happens behind the scenes in politics and it continues to amaze me to what levels political groups will go to.

And today I saw another example of this.

See the key to politics is peer pressure/influence.  They’ve done study after study that shows people vote not on a politicians record but based on what the voter’s peers say about him/her.  What this means is that they key to winning elections is making it seem like the regular joes out there that we know support the right guy.

And of course they’re using every tool they can to make it seem this way.  The Internet is on the bleeding edge of this.  See, a single person can seem like 200 people online.  So when I read the article about whether my congressman is a fraud my political manipulation censor started going off when I read the reader comments on the article.

In my opinion, this is clearly a case where two or three political operatives for the democratic candidate are purposefully posting tons of comments under multiple names to make it seem like the public is ready to fry the incumbant.  The comments are just WAY too imbalanced to be anything else.  Heck, even the “is this comment helpful” numbers are way out of what with each of the comments slamming the incumbant having near perfect “approval” numbers.

To be clear, I’m undecided whether Doolittle will get my vote.  I’m suspicious that he has indeed been a tool of business interests without any political checking.  However, it’s ridiculous that his opponent will go around acting like the general public is in their corner.  Nice to see that politics has delved to this low level.

I love getting good insight

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Whenever I watch a football game there are always a few plays that make me wonder, “What happened there?”  It then bugs me to no end how infrequently reporters ask about those plays.  They’ll spend an hour peppering them about how the feel and then not talk about the details of the game.

Well this time I got my answer.  In the 3rd quarter of the ASU game, there was clearly a miscommunication between Longshore and his snapper, Mack.  Clearly Longshore was not expecting the ball when it was snapped to him in the shotgun.  According to Contra Costa Times reporter Jay Heater, Longshore made a miscalculation.  I’ll let him tell it:

Quarterback Nate Longshore and center Alex Mack were joking about the shotgun snap that hit Longshore in the chest. It turns out that Longshore decides what count to go on. He tried to surprise ASU by going on first sound. What he didn’t consider was that if somebody was not lined up right, he would have to deal with it. He tried to move one of the players, Mack heard the first sound and BOOM.

Now THAT is funny.

Did Cal create another Ayoob?

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

After Saturday’s demolishing of ASU, Cal may have created another Ayoob in ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter.  Compare and contrast these two quotes from their respective head coaches:

“We just need to get back to good fundamentals. Rudy is carrying the ball too low. When he scrambles he is dropping the ball out of his left hand. He is throwing off his back foot. He has been there before, he’ll get it back. It’s not like he’s never had fundamentals. He has picked up a couple of bad habits trying to make big plays. We just have to get back to solid mechanics. We’ll get that straight this week.”

-ASU Head Coach Dirk Koetter 9/25/2006

“Confidence and fundamentals, they both go hand-in-hand. When you start pressing – that becomes a confidence issue. He’s (Ayoob) very competitive, very tough. But we need to work harder on fundamentals to hopefully help him get his confidence back.”

-Cal Head Coach Jeff Tedford 11/12/2005

As Yogi Berra would say: “It’s De Ja Vu all over again.”

Oakland is a 2nd-class city?

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Over at my brother’s blog he shares a quote about San Francisco, Oakland and sports:

“Oakland teams will always be second fiddle to the San Francisco teams — regardless of records — because Oakland is a second-class city. When people around the country think of the Bay Area, they think of San Francisco. If there was no San Francisco, nobody would ever even hear of a city called Oakland, except when they break their own record for homicides each year.”

I’m going to ignore the sports angle (mostly because it is ludicrous to state that teams deserve coverage based on the size/prestige of their city (Green Bay Packers anyone?)) and focus on the merits of the two cities.

First of all, there is no denying that SF is an elite city, higher in stature than Oakland.  It’s in that list of cities everyone in the world has heard of: New York, Chicago, Paris, London, etc..  That said, I think it is a stretch to call Oakland 2nd-class unless we’re scoring on an 10 class scale where SF is greater than Oakland is greater than Sacramento is greater than Modesto is greater than Roseville is greater than Rocklin is greater than Newcastle is greater than Gridley is greater than Biggs is greater than nothing kinda way.  The reality is that any city in the US that has 3 pro-sports franchises is in the top tier, at least in the tiers I would have.

But more importantly, since the above argument is just an argument for how to split up the tiers, is that this person seems to think that SF is a better city because of the people and the way the city is run.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  If you look at 9 out of 10 elite cities, they are elite cities because of geography.  They are in genuinely unique places often very a great shipping port, well sheltered from the ocean.  The reality is that SF would be an elite city no matter what they did.  Heck, the current policies of SF pretty much prove the point.

So his statement “If there was no San Francisco, nobody would ever even hear of a city called Oakland” is completely false.  If SF were to fall into the ocean Superman I style, some other city in the Bay Area would be the elite one (and I’m guessing it would be Oakland).  The geography of the area dictates it.

So the next time somebody tries to sell you some crap about how awesome their elite city is, especially if that person is from the pathetically run San Franciso that no longer even has a substantial port despite being in one of the worlds best locations for one (and it should be noted that the reason is because the Port of Oakland put them out of business), know in your heart that their arogance is unfounded.

Final and most important post from yesterday’s Cal game

Sunday, September 24th, 2006

There is nothing more important in sports than sportsmanship and the safety of the players.  That’s why I completely agree with Idiots Who Write About Sports that #4 for ASU, Jason Tyron is the worst football player on earth.  All of the above should happen:

  1. The Pac-10 should apologize for the ref not throwing #4 out.
  2. The Pac-10 should suspend #4 for a game.
  3. ASU coach Koetter should apologize for not sitting #4 for AT LEAST a series as opposed to putting him in the next play.
  4. Tyron should apologize himself for the cheap shot.

Funny exchange at the Bears game

Sunday, September 24th, 2006

This cracked me up:

Announcer: In Palo Alto, Stanford 0, Washington St. 2.

Fan: Boy, you know that these two teams suck when the only scoring is a safety.

(an hour passes)

Announcer: An update from Palo Alto, Stanford 0, Washington St. 22.

Fan: Wow!  11 safeties… now THAT’s impressive!