Tuesday, September 25, 2007

San Jose Mercury: Cal knows it can, must play better


By Jonathan Okanes

Cal is 4-0 and ranked sixth in the Associated Press poll, but the players are well aware they have yet to reach their full potential. In which game did they come the closest? "They're all tied for last," linebacker Worrell Williams said. It's probably in the Bears' best interest to be so self-critical, because they probably will have to put together more-complete performances to contend for a spot in the Bowl Championship Series. It wouldn't be a bad idea to start Saturday, when they visit No. 11 Oregon. "It actually makes me kind of happy because we haven't played a complete game yet" and we're 4-0, Williams said. "When we do, it's going to be scary." It could be scary if they don't, too. The Ducks (4-0) have been one of the surprising teams in the country this season, with quarterback Dennis Dixon putting on a series of breathtaking performances to make Oregon the top-ranked offense in the Pacific-10. The Ducks lead the conference in scoring (48.5 points per game), total offense (536.8 yards per game) and rushing (299.8 ypg). Their victories have come by an average of 27 points. "I don't think we've played a full game yet," Cal running back Justin Forsett said. "Consistency is the key. Our offense plays great at times, but we have to be consistent. We can't take any quarters off. I think we're pretty close; we're one step away from playing a complete game. But we have to put all the pieces together."

The Bears looked  ready to put together an excellent performance during the first half of their 45-27 victory Saturday against Arizona, but they faltered in the second half and provided some nervous moments when the Wildcats cut a 28-point deficit to 11 early in the fourth quarter.  Cal's offense has been virtually unstoppable, but it runs into lulls at inopportune times. The defense, meanwhile, is still a work in progress. Cal slowed down Arizona's spread offense in the first half but allowed some sustained drives in the second half that allowed the Wildcats to come back. "I'm pretty sure what our potential may be, but we haven't reached that yet on a consistent basis," Coach Jeff Tedford said. "There are flashes from time to time, but we haven't put together a full game yet." While Cal's defense has given up its share of yards, it also has had a knack for the big play. The Bears are tied for second in the Pac-10 with 11 takeaways. One of the Bears' biggest problems is health - starting defensive linemen Matt Malele (foot) and Rulon Davis (foot) and starting linebacker Zack Follett (neck stinger) all missed the Arizona game, and it appears only Malele has a good chance of returning this week.



Anonymous said...

It good to know that Cal players and coaches readily acknowledge that, for whatever reason, they are yet to put the pieces together into one great game. Maybe this Oregon game will be it. (I'm not sure that will be the case -- but I'm hoping for the best).

Anonymous said...

Is a "complete game" a real possiboe reality, or an utter fantasy?

Of course I hope the latter, and I hope theystring some together starting this week at Oregon. But is ANY sign of trouble an indication of weakness, or just not putting together a complete game?

I realize these two conditions may not be independent.