Archive for October, 2006

Pac-10 Picks

Friday, October 27th, 2006

It’s that time of the week again, time to predict which Pac-10 teams are made of men and which are made of girrrly-men.

OSU 10, USC 28: OSU has been the team in the Pac-10 that occasionally comes up from the depths to steal a win from one of the better teams.  This year that game was against Washington.  The problem with this trend is that many over-rate the importance of the upset and think the victim is far weaker than they are and OSU is stronger than they are.  Nope, it’s just an unlikely upset.  However, USC should be thankful because now that OSU has used up their upset mojo, this game will be a safe win.  USC’s fairly strong defense will shut down the mediocre OSU offense.

ASU 17, Washington 20:  This is the game of the week that everyone should be watching on… what channel is that going to be on?  Oh yeah, on FSN but only in Seattle and Arizona.  Nice.  In any case, if this game was in Arizona I might have a different prediction but ASU is known to play poorly under pressure.  Washington seems to have lost little with Stanback on the sideline so I expect them to win this one.

WSU 24, UCLA 10: UCLA is so weak this year.  They’re not going to be ready for the WSU defense, a defense that is good enough for me to drop the WaZoo from WSU’s name.  WSU proved last week that they’re going to be able to win the tough games by generating some offense.

Oregon 42, PSU 10: Oregon needs to get back on track with their season defining game against Washington coming up next week.  PSU provides them the perfect opportunity to work on their timing and get back in sync after being man-handled by WSU.

OK, with 3 Pac-10 teams on a bye (Cal, Arizona and Stanford) it’s a slow Pac-10 week.  Expect an article from me about what to watch for in the UCLA game with them coming to Berkeley next week on later today.  Of course check back on Sunday for updated metrics.

My latest on

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

My latest article is now posted:

Where does Cal need JC help?

Random thoughts on the Cal vs. UW game

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

One of the disadvantages of writing a column is that it doesn’t provide the opportunity for random thoughts.  You’ve got to have a story line.  Since the whole reason I started writing about the Bears was so that I had an outlet before my head exploded from internal commentary pressure syndrome, I’ll make sure I keep putting those comments here:

  • Cal ran a play about 5 times yesterday that I hope never gets used again.  It was a formation with 3 recievers close to the linemen.  The idea, at least I assume this was the idea because the play was never successfully run, was to use them as extra blockers to spring the running back around the outside.  It never worked.  All it did was get all the right defenders close to the line and in the perfect place to blow through the weak blocks of the wide recievers and drop the running back before he could even get started.
  • We shouldn’t overlook the 4 interceptions in that game.  It was the only thing that kept the game close enough for Cal to get back in it.  Just when it seemed things couldn’t get worse for Cal, they’d grab a remarkable INT and save themselves from utter self-destruction.
  • What ever happened to the trick plays?  Outside of one very successful reverse, Cal mostly has gone away from the trick plays this year.  While I think that many teams over use them, I think Cal has gone away from them too much.
  • I’m pretty sure that I should be concerned that the only Cal player to catch a ball in the endzone was Damien Hughes on his INT.
  • In the last few weeks we’ve heard various complaints from some about why Marshawn Lynch won’t just nut it up and play with his boo-boos.  I’m pretty sure this week will be the end of that.  Despite being visibly hurt and seeing some tackles force him to his knees he still came out and carried the team on his back.
  • Schneider is one awesome field goal kicker.  The 50 yarder he missed was pretty close and the one he got was straight down the center.  Plus he hasn’t missed a extra point all season and God knows he’s had plenty to miss.
  • This was a game that proved the value of winning the time of possession game.  Just when it looked like Cal was about to put the game away, all the time the defense spent on the field in the first half caught up with them allowing Washington back in the game.  I think their ability to dig deep late in the game was remarkable and really is what most deserves praise.
  • There is no question why DeSean Jackson is a wide reciever not a tight end.  On that busted half back play that Lynch turned into a wild near TD run, the reason it was a near TD run was because DeSean couldn’t fullfill his promise to Lynch to block for him.  It was down right hilarious to see Jackson vigorously waving his arms for Lynch to come his way and when he did, the defender blew right by Jackson untouched to force Lynch to cut back and get tackled before he could reach the endzone.
  • Speaking of vigorous waving, Cal’s last field goal was setup by Longshore’s inability to follow similar waving.  On third and 5 he had a lane to the first down marker and Lynch was waving that he’s block for him.  It would have been an easy first down with Lynch blocking.  Instead Longshore threw a wounded duck pass to the outside receiver that didn’t have a chance to be caught to get a first down had it been caught.
  • Back to good plays, it came as no surprise to me that when watching the review of the hail mary the only player who made an attempt at tackling the receiver after he caught the ball was Damien Hughes.  He nearly got the receiver down too and it would have ended the game right there.

That’s all the random thoughts I had for now.  Anybody else?

Cal vs. UW commentary posted at

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

My next article about the Cal vs Washington game is now posted at  Go check it out.

Don’t they have a class at ref school about this

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Why is it that refs have such a hard time with which side of the coin is heads and which is tails?

At the game I was very confused by the overtime coin toss.  The Washinton player called heads, the result was a tails (or so the ref said) but it was Washington who got the coveted choice from the coin toss.  What gives?

Well it appears from now reviewing the television coverage that the ref had to spend 15 seconds figuring out that the side of the coin that was up was indeed the heads.  Of course us fans had already cheered for the tails and moved our focus elsewhere.

I just don’t get how a person can say: “OK, this is heads (shows head side of coin to players).  This is tails (shows other side of coin to players).  What do you call?” then flips the coin in the air after the call and three seconds later can’t figure out if the coin in his hand is showing heads or tails?

I mean, OK, I know that they’re often using special coins that aren’t like a quarter or the change we are used to but THEY JUST LOOKED AT IT and verified which side is heads and tails.  I think they need to add a class at ref school for this.

Syd’Quan regresses

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

I’ve been very impressed with Syd’Quan Thompson’s dramatic improvement over the season.  I think he’s going to be a great cornerback for Cal, the Washington game was a step back for him.  I saw a number of plays where his blown coverage kept drives alive:

  • In the first quarter the ghosts of Tennessee were on the field when he over-persued a ball and missed the tackle turning what should have been a 4th and 5 into a first down.  All he had to do was make the tackle and Cal would have got the ball back.
  • His blown coverage resulted in that late 2nd quarter TD.
  • In the 4th quarter on another 3rd down he released his receiver to the safety to cover the flat when there was no one in the flat and the safety wasn’t in position yet.  Another first down.
  • In OT, the near TD pass that was stopped at the 7 got as many yards as it did because Syd wasn’t watching the play and was blindly following his reciever on a clearing route.

In fairness to Thompson, he did use his speed for the 2nd week in a row to prevent a big run play from turning into a TD, so it’s clear that he’s an asset to the team.  I was just disappointed that he had one of his worst coverage week since the Tennessee debacle.

I’m sure he’ll get back on track after the bye week.

FSN coverage blows

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Not only is the Pac-10 ensuring that a number of Pac-10 games aren’t on TV with their contract with FSN but they’re also allowing FSN to continue its crappy coverage.  After going to the game I reviewed the TV coverage later last night and noticed so many bad calls I wondered how those announcer keep their job.  Here are 3 notable examples:

  • There was a fumble in the 1st quarter by Washington that allowed Washinton to advance the ball for a first down.  Even though the ref mentioned it over the intercom, there was no mention of it on the TV coverage.
  • The 50 yard field goal attempt that Schneider missed was plently long but wide-right.  They called it short.  It had more than enough distance.
  • On Washington’s final TD drive they said that Hampton managed to tip a ball when in fact it was just a dropped ball.

It’s not that I expect them to get the call right the first time (although I do expect them to be fairly good) but they need to be watching their monitors and correcting themselves when they make a mistake.  But they don’t, they just go with their bad calls as if nothing was wrong. What a joke.

Updated Pac-10 metrics

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

I have a hard time tooting my own horn on my prediction abilities when I so drastically underestimated Washington.  Two things I need to remember in the future:

  • Other teams have bad weeks too (Wash vs. OSU) that make them look deceptively bad.
  • Not all backup QBs are Ayoob.

Nevertheless, I did still predict 4 of the 5 winners and was correct in being hesitent in the 5th pick.

As for the shape of the Pac-10, it just officially became a 2 horse race.  Oregon’s loss to WSU pulls them back into the middle of the group.  Now, not only are Cal and USC the only conference undefeated teams, they’re the only ones without 2 losses.  Additionally, with the exception of USC vs. Oregon, both Cal and USC have played all of the more difficult teams in the Pac-10 (WSU, Oregon, Washington and ASU).

For the rest of the Pac, WSU is looking to be the team to beat for 3rd place.  They’ve only lost to Cal and USC (and having put up respectible struggles).  The three teams likely to challenge them for that spot are Oregon, which just lost to them, Washington and ASU.  ASU is still the wild card of those 4 teams as they’ve only played the best of the league (USC, Cal, Oregon) and the worst (Stanford).  I suspect they’ll beat Arizona and OSU but their games against the Washington teams will define their season.

UCLA could in theory bring itself up into the above group but since they have yet to play Cal or USC, I think they’ll fall below most of them.  They seem to be about equal with OSU.  Finally the bottom of the Pac is still Arizona and Stanford.

Here are my final projected standings:

  1. Cal 9-0
  2. USC 8-1
  3. WSU 7-2
  4. Oregon 6-3 (loses to USC)
  5. Washington 4-5 (loses to WSU and Oregon)
  6. ASU 4-5 (loses to UW and WSU)
  7. UCLA 3-6 (loses to USC, Cal, WSU and ASU)
  8. OSU 3-6 (loses to USC, ASU, UCLA and Oregon)
  9. UA 1-8 (doesn’t win again)
  10. Stanford 0-9 (finishes 0-12 for first time in history)

There are a lot of interesting matchups yet, but I think the list helps define which matchups are likely to affect the final standings.  From my predictions of it, the Pac-10 will have 6 bowl eligible teams.  If UCLA could have pulled the upset on Saturday against ND and OSU had been able to beat Boise St., the number could have been as high as 8.

In any case, here are my updated metrics:

  • MVD: 13.9 (even from last week with new scores of 25, 12, 8, 16, 7)
  • TPD: 12.9 (down from 13.1 with new scores of 11, 18, 6, 14, 7)
  • Winning percentage: 83.7 (down slightly from 84.1 after going 4-1 again)

Tune in later in the week for updated predictions.

Head to head stats now available for Pac-10

Friday, October 20th, 2006

OK, the script I’ve been using to get head to head stats including opponent numbers is now successfully available as a webpage.  Check it out: Head to head stats.

For the time being I only have Pac-10 teams available because I have a bandwidth problem that prevents me from allowing all I-A teams.  I hope to resolve this problem soon.  I also hope to add the following stats over time:

  • Time of possession
  • Scores per redzone appearance
  • TD’s per redzone appearance
  • Points per redzone appearance
  • 3rd down conversion percentage
  • 4th down conversion percentage
  • Offensive points per game
  • Defensive points per game
  • Special Teams points per game (sans extra points)
  • Defensive points allowed per game
  • Points off turnovers
  • Points off special teams (sans extra points)
  • Blocked punts per game
  • Punt average
  • Field Goal percentage
  • Field Goal percentage inside of 40 yards
  • Field Goal long
  • Extra point percentage
  • 2-point conversion percentage

UPDATE… Additional ones:

  • Punts per game
  • Turnover on downs per game
  • safeties per game

Anybody have other stats they’d like to see?

Pac-10 Picks

Friday, October 20th, 2006

This week I won’t be doing a separate Cal game preview because frankly, this is such an easy one to pick and everyone agrees that I don’t have much valuable to add.  But, I still need to keep my metrics going so here are my Pac-10 picks.

Cal 49, UW 17: UDub has a bad pass defense, a run defense that was exposed by OSU, no QB (which desimates both their passing and running game), and the game is in Berkeley.  I’ve always had respect for Willmingham but this is a game he just can’t win no matter how disciplined his team is.

UCLA 20, Notre Dame 35: UCLA is every bit as weak as everyone thought they were.  While Notre Dame is still a big wild-card in my book, they’re still well strong enough to beat UCLA soundly particularly with the game being in South Bend.

ASU 37, Stanford 10: 10 seems to be about all Stanford is capable of and without their starting QB I don’t see that changing.  ASU on the other hand has turned a corner confidence wise and will win the majority of their remaining games.

WaZoo 19, Oregon 24: This is the possible upset of the week game in my opinion.  I was very impressed with the WSU defense last week and I think they’re going to give Oregon fits.  However, their inability to get it done in the redzone will be their demise and even though they’ll be smart enough this week to kick the field goal while they have the chance, it won’t be enough to get over the top in this squeeker.

UA 10, OSU 24: OSU really surprised me with their upset of Washington last week.  I guess it was their yearly upset because they always seem to find the formula to upset a better Pac-10 team (last year it was Cal).  Of course now that Stanback is out at UW, that’s no longer an upset, but he didn’t go down until the 4th quarter.  In any case,  Arizona is the worse team in the Pac-10 east of Palo Alto (OK, anywhere besides Palo Alto.  Trivia question of the week: name the four Pac-10 schools to the west of Stanford without looking on a map.).  They’ll just not be able to put up enough offense to beat OSU.

Well, that’s the roundup for this week.  Check back on Sunday for updated metrics and a Bears game wrap-up.