Cal 52, Maryland 13

A good night at Memorial Stadium last Saturday. Cal came in as 21-point favorites with, no doubt, payback on their minds after last year’s embarrassment at Maryland. After an unsuccessful and somewhat predictable first drive (Jav’s take after the 3-and-out: “The 2009 Bears look a lot like the 2008 Bears”), the Bears really warmed up. And it didn’t take long for them to put it away once they got going. The game was pretty much over 37 seconds into the 2nd half, when Shane Vereen scored his first touchdown of the night to put the Bears up 37-6.

Thoughts on the game and its aftermath…

  • Jahvid was amazing, to no one’s surprise. Walking up to the stadium, I predicted (only slightly tongue-in-cheek) 200 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns for Jahvid, with half the yards coming on 2 carries. As it turns out, I was right on 2 out of 3 — and I would’ve been right on all 3 had he not sat early due to the blowout: 10 carries, 137 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, and rushes of 73 and 40 yards. Not sure how that Maryland DB was able to track him down on that 73-yarder, but Jahvid made a nice double-move to shed him. He made a couple of nice catches, as well, including turning a short dump-off from Riley into a neat 18 yard scamper. He would’ve scored another touchdown on a long pass, but Riley underthrew him after he had his man beat by 2 strides.
  • The wide receivers were great, Marvin Jones in particular. Jones and the rest made some circus catches out there…catches that we were certain would’ve been drops last season. They caught balls behind them, way above them, and everywhere in between. Nice work, fellas.
  • Shane Vereen would start in a lot of programs. He’s a great all-around back, running inside and out, catching passes, and returning kicks. Two impressive touchdowns, including the nail-in-the-coffin mentioned above.
  • The defense was quick and, with the exception of a play or two (including the ugly 39-yard rushing touchdown they surrendered), looked damn good. They gave up some easy passes across the middle (young LBs?) and didn’t pressure Maryland’s QB nearly enough early on. But the tackling was good (few, if any missed tackles, and I shouted “hit squad! hit squad!” at least a couple times), Syd’Quan had some very nice knockdowns, and the sacks piled up once we started sending more guys. I’m not yet sure how good they really are, as opposed to Maryland’s offense stinking. But I feel pretty good about them.
  • Aside from Brian Anger and a couple kick returns, our special teams suck once again. How hard is it to kick-off to inside the 15 yard line? How hard is it to keep them from returning a kick-off less than 20 yards? It’s been 5 years of this nonsense. WTF?
  • Riley, Riley, Riley. Just before the game started, I said to Vin, “Riley better not fuck this up.” After the first couple of drives, I was really worrying. He was underthrowing the long ones (including a sure touchdown to Jahvid on Cal’s second play from scrimmage) and overthrowing the short ones. Even his first completion was more Jones’s amazing catch than a great throw on his part. But after starting 4-for-10, he proceeded to hit 13 of his last 16 attempts, finishing the night with 298 passing yards and 4 TD passes — enough to garner Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week honors. Whoda thunk? He threw some good deep balls, including a 49-yard beauty to Jones for a TD and a fish-in-a-barrel 39-yard toss to a wide open Boateng for a TD (that I could’ve thrown if I could see over the lineman). His best pass, though, was one of his shortest: he ducked a charging lineman before throwing a 3-yard TD to Curran. I’m very happy with Riley. No bad decisions, just a few bad throws to start the game. Led the team well. And what a block on Jahvid’s busted play 40-yard run!
  • The Blue Out was fairly successful (I saw a few gold shirts out there), but I lamented not being able to wear my gold DeSean jersey. I think I’ll have to get a blue Jahvid jersey now.
  • For the love o’ pete, bring back the trailer bathrooms that have running water. Are 20 real toilets and urinals for 60,000 people really that much to ask for?
  • Cal is now #10 in both the AP and USA Today polls. Not sure we’re top 10 material, but I’d believe that there are only 9 teams better than we are right now. Only time will tell.
  • Eastern Washington at home next week. The betting lines are currently off for this game, so I guess we shouldn’t lose too much sleep over this one.

One last thing. 17 years after first enrolling at Cal, I finally ate at Top Dog (much to Vin’s and Raj’s disbelief). I had the hot link and the chicken apple. Excellent, both. The hot link is as hot a link as I’ve ever eaten. And the chicken apple actually had recognizable shreds of chicken in it. I’d be happy to return. Thanks, Vin & Raj.

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