The more I think about this game, the more I am in disbelief that we lost. As I wrote before, we gained almost 100 more yards. Just as we thought they would be, the Cal defense was completely gassed at the end. And Autzen was as loud as its ever been. Obviously, there were the turnovers late that really sealed the deal. But, it never should have gotten that far.
First off, you look at our defense. Everyone talks about what a great game our defense played. And there is no doubt that if our defense only gives up 31, we should win. Against the run, its about as well as they've played. Against the pass, not so much. Our secondary is good, and will be great. But DeSean Jackson is going to catch the ball EVERY time when he is wide open. It was so bad that on most of the replays, there wasn't even anyone else in the frame. And because we only sent a three man rush on Longshore, he had all day for Jackson to get open. Our defense was great late when we started to blitz Longshore, but the damage was done at that point.
The defense played a good game for the personnel that we have. But its kind of sad that the expectations for our defense is so low. They didn't play bad, but to have to talk about how well they played while giving up 400 yards and 31 points tells you something about the kind of talent that we are recruiting on defense. With few exceptions such as Haloti Ngata, we just haven't gotten top flight defensive recruits here like we have with the offense.
Offensively, Dixon didn't play poorly, but he also didn't play well. He missed at least two wide open touchdowns in the first half that could have put a lot of distance between the two teams. He missed some keeper reads on the option that could have gone for big yards. This is the second game in a row in which he hasn't made many plays with his feet. And we know about the picks, though only one was his fault.
This loss was hardly on Dixon alone, however. Especially coming out of halftime, the running game didn't get nearly enough yards in key situations. We got nothing in the return game (Cal's coverage was surprisingly good), and the botched return where two guys tried to field it simultaneously was terrible. As for why Stewart wasn't returning KOs is beyond me.
And in spite of all those problems, we came within one inch of beating what is now the third ranked team in the country. I don't think that Cal will be there for long (I don't really think that their defense is any better than I thought it was before the game), but they are still a legit top ten team.
One week off before Washington State. Lets try and get healthy and take this one out on the Cougs. After all, that's the game that really started the spiral last year. They are due for a pounding.