Cal vs. Washington: Six observations

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By Ted Lee
Posted Nov 3, 2012
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2014 BearInsider.com


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Six observations from Washington's 21-13 win over Cal on Friday.

1. This is the earliest that a Cal season has effectively ended.

With Friday's loss, the Bears' record drops to 3-7, ensuring them of a losing season and finishing the year without going to a bowl – the second time this has happened in the past three years. When the Bears finished 5-7 back in 2010, Cal's postseason hopes went down to the last play of the last game of the season, when Washington scored to win 16-13 and deprive the Bears the chance to finish at a 6-6 record.

While the Bears have two games left in the season against ranked teams, they still have the opportunity to pull off a couple of upsets, they still have two chances to find a way to put together the complete 60-minute effort that's eluded them this year, and it's also a chance for the seniors to try to finish the season with positive memories of their Cal career.

Even had the Bears won this game, they still would have needed to win against Oregon and at Oregon State which are no sure things – but the prospect of playing for a bowl game is a powerful motivator.

Throughout his tenure, Cal head coach Jeff Tedford has always insisted that his teams have played for the current season, and that he owes it to his team to do everything he can to help them win the next game and play for this season. But without the prospect of postseason play, the Bears certainly have to keep one eye on next season.

With starting quarterback Zach Maynard suffering a knee injury that initially looked like it could end his season and Cal career and with all-time leading receiver Keenan Allen likely out for the season, the Bears have a junior quarterback in Allan Bridgford, a young receiving corps and a generally young defense, it'll be interesting to see if Tedford decides to start giving small amounts of game experience to players who could be contributors down the road, to help them get a clearer idea of the expectations that'll be set for you next year.

2. This game isn't going to warrant the “Keep Until I Delete” option on many DVRs.

With Washington wallowing in mediocrity and Cal striving to reach it, the chances of this game ending up as an ESPN Instant Classic was almost nonexistent. And what ensued was a sloppy game. At one point there were four turnovers within an 11-play span.

In all, nine different players fumbled, there were two interceptions, 18 penalties for 163 yards, a sack that resulted in a -16 yard loss, and a lateral/fumble that resulted in a 17-yard loss initially when a lateral from Maynard to Bigelow went awry, and the wide receiver picked up the ball and lost four more yards resulting in a total of a 21-yard loss.

And then bizarrely enough, on a 3rd-and-23 from the Cal 16, the Bears ran the ball, with C.J. Anderson breaking loose for a 64-yard run, which ended when Shaq Thompson took him down with a horsecollar tackle adding 10 more yards to the play.

For Maynard, the second half was a near-disaster. Prior to suffering an injury, he was 3-of-9 for 29 yards with two sacks, a fumble that was a collaborative effort between Maynard and C.J. Anderson, and an interception that was thrown almost directly into Washington defensive back Shaq Thompson's arms. Of that 29 yards, 16 came on an acrobatic catch by Chris Harper that had to be reviewed.

The Bears had a kickoff sail out of bounds, Vincenzo D'Amato's streak of 11 consecutive field goals ended when he missed a 41-yarder and usually reliable punter Cole Leininger was uncharacteristically off, averaging just 33.5 yards on four punts, including a 20-yarder.

But what the game lacked in aesthetics, the two teams did combine for 861 yards and it was fairly competitive until reasonably late in the fourth quarter.

3. Friday's game took a physical toll on the team.

The Cal-Washington game included 163 yards in penalties; factor in the yardage of all the penalties that were declined and the total yardage would have risen considerably. At one point in the fourth quarter, there was a remarkable play where holding was called on Cal left tackle Freddie Tagaloa, intentional grounding was called on quarterback Allan Bridgford, and roughing the passer was called on a Washington player. All three penalties offset each other. Right tackle Matt Summers-Gavin was injured on the play where he seemed to be hit both high and low, although it wasn't apparent if he simply fell over a Husky defender or if the defender had engaged Summers-Gavin.

Along with Summers-Gavin, quarterback Zach Maynard and defensive lineman Keni Kaufusi were aso injured. The extent of Summers-Gavin and Maynard's injuries are unlikely to be announced before Sunday. Maynard will have an MRI done on his knee. Maynard suffered an injury in the fourth quarter and needed to be helped off the field. Kaufusi broke his kneecap and will be out for the remainder of the season.

4. Chris Harper is ready to step up into the role of alpha receiver.

Whatever you make of Cal's passing stats, the numbers were bolstered by a couple of remarkable catches by freshman wide receiver Chris Harper. With injuries depriving the Bears of two of their starting wide receivers – Keenan Allen and Bryce Treggs – Cal's offense needed one of its receivers to step up.

On a Cal's third offensive play of the game, Harper was running downfield and a Zach Maynard pass appeared to be sailing over his head, but Harper leapt up in the air, twisted his body and caught the ball with one arm while falling backward and secured the ball for a 24-yard gain.

Later in the game on a 3rd-and-15, Maynard threw a pass that Harper had to come back to while hemmed in on the left sideline. Harper who'd run past the first down marker, came back and dove for the ball and managed to get his elbow down before rolling out of bounds.

Harper had three catches that were subject to video review, all three catches stood.

And when he scored on a 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter on an end around after taking a pitch from Isi Sofele, as defenders were closing on him, he dove for the end zone pylon, touching it with his outstretched arm for the touchdown.

For the game, he had seven catches for 101 yards along with his touchdown run. And with Allen and Treggs out, Harper was also deployed on punt return duty.

5. The inside linebackers played one of their better games of the year.

With 11 tackles, two fumble recoveries and an interception, Nick Forbes had one of his best games of the season. The Bears' inside linebacking corps has had a rough go of it at times this season, and when the unit was beginning to get hit with the same injury bug that seems to be afflicting the rest of the team.

While the Bears' defense did allow 411 yards, they gave the Huskies' offense a fierce battle. Of Washington's two second-half touchdowns, one came on an outstanding play by Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins who took advantage of an eight-inch over Cal cornerback Steve Williams on a 29-yard touchdown catch and the other came due to a short field following a Zach Maynard interception.

Robert Mullins also played well with eight tackles and a forced fumble. His forced fumble on a Bishop Sankey carry in the second quarter helped give the Bears good field position, setting up a 20-yard field goal that put the Bears up 13-7.

6. While night games are great, weeknight games in Berkeley should be rethought

Although the announced crowd was 42,226, the actual numbers of bodies in seats appeared to be much less. There were a good number of fans who found the challenge of trying to get to Berkeley in the late afternoon, having to navigate through new traffic routines, as well as having to deviate from the normal tailgate routine a bit of a challenge. Some season ticket holders chose not to show up while others showed up late, ending up in a Memorial Stadium that was unusually empty at kickoff.

While Pac-12 teams will be obligated to play on weeknights as part of the conference's TV contract, the challenges of get thousands of fans into a city and stadium where parking can be hard to come by on weekends, much less weekdays; should the Bears have to host a weekday game, they may want to consider the Oakland Coliseum or AT&T Park; facilities which have plenty of parking and better mass transit access.

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