2006 wasn’t our only chance

I keep hearing from various people that what was so hard about the loss to USC was that “this was our only chance”.  Everyone looks to the next two years and assumes that Cal can’t beat USC.

I think that’s hogwash.  At the beginning of the season I agreed that 2006 was a great opportunity to beat USC because it was likely going to be a down year for USC.  But it turns out it wasn’t.  USC looks to be their usual self and likely is going back to the National Championship game.

There was less of an opportunity here than everyone thought.  Unfortunately Cal didn’t have USC on the schedule until they had 90% of a season to get the kinks worked out.  If Cal had played them when they played Oregon, I think it would have been a different situation.  But as it turns out, USC had hit their usual rhythm by the time Cal had them on the schedule.  Unfortunately, people can’t seem to get out of the mindset that we all had at the beginning of the year so they’re giving USC too much credit for how much better USC will be next year because they thought this was going to be down year for USC.

But it wasn’t.  Who can honestly call this a down year for them?

So I don’t think USC is going to be heads and shoulders better next year.  While I don’t see USC being worse next year, I don’t see them being substantially better.  They’ll be losing both their star recievers as well as a number of other talented players.  True, they’ll have lots of talent to replace them, but the point is, they’ll be basically the same team.

And so will Cal.  We’ll be losing some defensive talent, but we have lots of talented young guys who will be filling those spots.  On offense, I think Marshawn is going to stay and therefore we’ll have the same offense with probably a bigger and more experienced offensive line.  Even if he goes, between the experience of Forsett and the highly recruited talent behind him, we’ll be in good shape.

Also, I think people under estimate the offensive line problems we had this year.  Although the pass protection was OK, the run defense stunk.  I think that’ll be better next year with another offseason in the weight room.

And then there is the schedule.  Cal is undefeated at home this year.  Next year we get both Tennesee and USC at home.  That’ll make a BIG difference in those two games.  Also Cal gets the scary trap games at home: OSU, UA and WSU.  The “scary” away games are Oregon and UCLA because Cal has struggled at those two places.  However, both schools are struggling, don’t seem to have significant upside for next year and Cal handily won those games this year, making those games optimistic for next year.  Washington, ASU and Stanford on the road won’t be a problem.

So don’t buy into the “we’re doomed to be 2nd fiddle to USC” mindset.  This Cal team is young, just like USC.  They’ll be a reasonable challenge to USC next year.  Don’t sell your 2007 USC game tickets.  I think you’re going to want to be there.  Count on it.

5 Responses to “2006 wasn’t our only chance”

  1. Josh Says:

    Ken, do you really think Lynch is going to stay? I think he’s a goner. But then again, he seems like a tough person to get a read on and I won’t be surprised one way or the other.

  2. Ken Crawford Says:

    Yes I do Josh. Supposedly there has been word from his family that he’s leaning that direction. Next time I get the chance I’ll ask him in an interview.

    But think of it this way… his performance this year has been unimpressive from a “I’m a junior in the draft” perspective. He’s an early 2nd round pick and maybe lower because of his various injuries that might scare a few teams. Considering he could dramatically increase his stock in the draft with a strong performance in 2007, he’s got a reason to come back. Plus there’s still the shot at the Heisman. Additionally, I think he really wants to go out with a team that’s accomplished big things.

    There’s lots of reasons to stay.

  3. GoBears Says:

    Lynch is going to leave this year. He was injured but still leads the Pac 10 in rushing. He will have a great combine and be a high first round pick, possibly above the also oft injured Adrian Peterson. Also, the running back class this year is weaker than next, when sophs Slaton, McFadden and others will be draft eligible juniors.
    But I agree with you that the running back position is well stocked. And while Marshawn is a special player, Tedford’s offense has been churning out 1,000 yard backs pretty consistently. My pick for next RB star is James Montgomery.

  4. Ken Crawford Says:

    Well at least we agree that the RB position is well stocked, GoBears :) .

    I try to stay away from definitive statements on subjects like these because nobody really knows besides the man himself. Everyone was shocked when Leinart decided to stay. Just the same there have been numerous instances where everyone was caught by surprise when certain juniors declared for the draft. Nobody really knows.

    That said, I think it is reasonable to hold either position. I lean towards the ‘staying’ one. As I said, I’ll make sure to ask him next time I get the chance (which is rarely because of how media shy he is).

  5. Josh Says:

    Thanks for the reply, Ken. Though I hope you’re right, I know it won’t be the end of the world if Lynch leaves. A seasoned Longshore, an improved line and the combination of Forsett & Montgomery will hopefully serve the Bears well.