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Whiny Cal Fans, Please Go Away

I have said before all opposing fans who wish to engage in thoughtful discussion are welcome here.  Those who simply want to flame or troll are not.  Same goes for my email box.  I will answer a couple of criticisms from yesterday's post because I think that they provide interesting discussion material.

First off, Cal fans can stop sending me the emails about Cal having more playmakers than Oregon.  Here is my count:

Oregon Playmakers
Dennis Dixon
Jonathan Stewart
Jeremiah Johnson
Jaison Williams
Matthew Harper
Walter Thurmond
Patrick Chung
Jairus Byrd

That's eight for Oregon

Justin Forsett
DeSean Jackson (Injured and fairly ineffective thus far)
Jahvid Best
Zach Follett (may or may not play)
Thomas DeCoud

I didn't list Worrell Williams, though a few others have, so I'll even give you him.  By my count, that's 8-6, and two of yours are injured.  Again, this is simply my opinion, and you are free to differ.

As for Cal's defense, I may have been exaggerating a bit when I said that they were the worst other than Stanford.  Wazzu is pretty bad, we still don't know about ASU, etc.  But, quite frankly, your defense is not very good.  SC's is obviously better, Oregon State's is better, UCLA and Arizona are better.  I don't hold any thoughts that Oregon's defense is that great, or that they will in any way be able to hold you under 35 points.

But here are some facts:  A Tennessee team that is looking more pedestrian every week and didn't have their starting running back moved the ball against you pretty easily.  A really bad Arizona team moved the ball against you pretty easily.  You lost three all league defenders from last year's team.  Yes, your defense is physical.  Yes, they force turnovers.  Your differential is the same as ours.  But they give up a ton of yards and points, allow QBs way too much time in the pocket, and commit way too many penalties.  
Oregon's defense isn't good, mainly against the run.  But I have no reason, based on both the stats and what I've seen (the Tenn. and Ariz. games) to believe that Cal's is really any better.  (Again, for those whining to me that Michigan isn't really an impressive win, how is Tennessee's resume much better?  And you got them at home).

Offensively, we don't know what Cal can expect out of DeSean Jackson.  Other than the punt return against Tennessee (and that was one damn sweet punt return), he just hasn't looked that good.  And his thumb probably has a lot to do with that.  Nate Longshore is inconsistent.  I expect Lavelle Hawkins to get his.  But the pass rush will put immense pressure on Longshore, and the D-Backs have been getting turnovers like crazy all year.

Basically, I'm thinking that your running game is going to have to beat us.    Can Justin Forsett handle 35 carries?  Or are Jahvid Best and James Montgomery going to get a lot of carries (because so far, they really haven't).

Meanwhile, Oregon has the ability to go well over 300 yards either passing or receiving.  Oregon has basically two starting running backs (Stewart and Johnson are a lot like Lynch and Forsett last year).  Plus, our quarterback has much more big play ability than Longshore because he can use his legs.  Receivers?  Cal may have a slight edge with a healthy Jackson.  But we know that Williams is a big time receiver, and Cam Colvin has 136 yards filling in for the injured Brian Paysinger last week.

Look, its not that I think Cal is a bad team.  They would toast any team in the Big 10, anyone but Oklahoma in the Big 12, Damn sure anyone in the ACC, and most of the SEC besides LSU and Florida.  But you have to remember, in Oregon and Cal, we're talking about two top ten teams here.  And small differences are going to be the deciding factor in these types of games.  These are those factors:

  1.  The game is in Eugene and not in Berkeley.  Cal has to go into the most intimidating environment on the west coast.
  2.  Oregon has a QB who has thus far been one of the top playmakers in the country with both his arm and his legs.  Cal has an immobile pocket passer who won't lose you a game, but certianly isn't going to win one for you.
  3.  Cal has injuries at key positions.  DeSean Jackson isn't healthy.  Zach Follett may not play.  Fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou has a torn knee ligament.  These are big time Cal players who won't be at 100%.
Cal should win ten games this year.  Certainly no fewer than nine.  But this is a worse team than last year.  And, in my humble opinion, Oregon should beat them.  I'm certainly not the only one with this opnion, as Vegas favors the Ducks as well.

In the meantime, keep in mind that this is an Oregon fan site.  And, quite frankly, you shouldn't be worried if an opposing blogger thinks that your team may lose a game.  Surely with your enlightened Berkeley education, you have better things to do.