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the Gekko File: California

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In this week's Gekko file, we are going to talk about truth, or at least the perception of truth and how, on occasion, truth is really more a concept than a principle.  It was Winston Churchill who said that "Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on." In other words, civilized beings of the world will accept as truth only those matters that we find convenient.  Presented with facts that infringe upon our convenience, we tend to move along with our more agreeable notions dominating our perceptions of truth.

I'm sure many of my colleagues on this blog can relate to the notion of convenient truths.

For Lear, it's the notion that women dig pilots because he's "encountered" a few flight attendants in his day.  For John B, it's the notion that vacations in the Caribbean are, in fact, a luxury of the common man.  For Crazi, it's the idea that whatever he just saw in his mind matches exactly what he just saw with his eyes.  For JDHusker, its fact that Taylor Martinez throws a beautiful pass and for KirkD, it's the notion that intangibles are, well, tangible.

For me (man I was tempted to refer to myself in the fictional third person just now), my convenient truth is that Cal sucks.  There are many reasons for this.  For one, I lived in San Francisco and, well, all the Cal grads I worked with at my first company got promoted over me.  For two, Berkeley has the worst weather in all of Northern California.  For three, and most importantly, I've never personally seen Cal actually win a game. 

That's right.  Never.  You see, I was a student at UW from 1991-1995.  Great years.  Each one of them.  I went to every home game.  I went to many road games.  It was a great run of football during those years.  We had an awesome coach, great fans, true football weather, some pretty decent players, a number one NFL draft pick, an undefeated season and a National Championship.  We had success in those years, but nothing was handed to us.  Teams rose up and challenged us.  We were lucky to get through a few of those games.  We lost a few.  However, during that time there were only two schools in the PAC that I failed to personally see UW lose to:  Oregon State and Cal.  Obviously, they must be the two worst teams ever.  As it was then, so it is now. More of the Gekko File on Cal following the jump.

 

  • Cal and Washington have one of the longest running college rivalries.  They have played each other 87 times with Washington holding a 46-38-3 all-time advantage, including a 24-17-2 advantage in Seattle.  They first played each other in the 1916 season. In fact, they played twice that year with Washington winning both times.  That was when we claimed Cal as "our biatches" and we haven't since looked back. 
  • Cal's offense this year is somewhat in flux with a total changing of the guard in the backfield.  QB Zach Maynard is a play-making transfer from Buffalo who will try to carry on in the stellar tradition of mediocrity that is Brock Mansion, Kevin Riley and Nate Longshore (what?  too soon?).  Seriously, he is an exciting, but as-of-yet inconsistent, player who has a couple of weapons on the perimeter in Marvin Jones and half-brother Keenan AllenIsi Sofele is the unquestioned leader at RB where Cal looks unusually thin this year.  One-time UW recruit, Brendan Bigelow, has been sighted and is making noise on the depth chart at RB. The most notable addition to the Cal offense this year may well be one-time UW Offensive Coordinator (for about 20 seconds) Jim Michalzik.  He has returned to his old role of Offensive Line coach where he excelled during his previous stint in Berkeley. 
  • Cal's school motto is "Fiat Lux" which is Latin for "Let there be Light".  To the untrained observer, "let there be light" is a euphemism that likely refers to one of two ideas:  "let there be salvation" or "let there be knowledge".  However, to those of us who have been to or even have lived in the dreary town of Berkeley, we know that this literally means "let the effing sunshine in for chrissakes".  Thanks to its position directly east of the Golden Gate, east flowing fog banks have little resistance as they engulf this godforsaken town many days of the summer.  It is truly one of the darkest cities you'll ever visit. 
  • Given the above, is it any wonder that the #1 major at Cal is Electrical Engineering?  Yes, I just profiled once again.
  • Unlike some other teams that UW will face this year, Cal has a rich but not quite so accomplished history.  The last time the Golden Bears played in a Rose Bowl was in 1959 (a pummeling at the hands of Iowa) and, in fact, they've only played in 12 bowl games since that time.  It is a testament to Jeff Tedford that seven of those bowl games have been under his watch making talk of a hot seat somewhat absurd.  Cal hasn't ever had it so good.
  • Speaking of history, I'd be remiss to not point out the obvious UW / Cal connection that is Keith Gilbertson.  Keith had a hard time at Berkeley, but he did manage a 9-4 record in 1993 - a season that was capped with an Alamo Bowl win vs Iowa...the revenge for that '59 Rose Bowl
  • Whatever happened to DeAndre Coleman? Oh, that's him way down on that depth chart over there.
  • Cal does lay claim to being participants, or victims, of some of the most strange plays ever witnessed in the history of college football.  Everyone has seen the "The Play" where Cal, with just five seconds on the clock and down by one, fielded a kickoff and used five laterals plus some Stanford band members who secretly worked for Buffalo Wild Wings to score an unlikely TD and win the game.  Just as bizarre was the "extra minute" controversy in a 1989 game between Oregon St and Cal at Corvallis.  In this one, a "clock malfunction" led to a reset of the game clock.  However, instead of resetting to "9:59" in the fourth quarter, the timekeeper added a minute and reset to "10:59".  Oregon State used all of the time available kicking the game winning field goal with :24 "remaining" in the game (which, of course, was 36 seconds after time should have expired).  Finally, there is the famous case of Wrong-Way Roy Reigels.  Wrong-Way was a lineman on the 1929 Rose Bowl team against Georgia Tech.  In that game, Reigels recovered a fumble, got turned around and ended up running 65 yards in the wrong direction.  His teammates tried to catch up to him and convince him to lateral, but one guy got blocked by a Georgia Tech player and Reigels waved off the other guy and yelled that "this is my TD".  Riegels ended up getting tackled on his own 1 yard line.  Cal ended up taking a safety on the next play and lost  by one point to Tech 8-7.
  • For those of you that don't know, Cal Golden Blogs is one of the best fan blogs anywhere.  They have several good writers and one crazy one (TwistNHook, I'm talking to you).  Seriously - it is a great blog.
  • The Cal Defense is viewed as a strength of the team, though they've had mixed results so far this season.  There is definitely talent on this squad.  Players like Mychal Kendricks, DJ Holt, Trevor Guyton and Josh Hill are names familiar to Husky fans.  However, this unit hasn't been challenged by a strong offense yet and they've failed to dominate those that they've played.  They come into Washington with a chip on their shoulder and with an opportunity to make a statement against the Pac 12 leader in Passing TDs (Keith Price) and its second leading rusher (Chris Polk).
  • Jeff Tedford has had some pretty good players come through his program in the last decade.  Guys like  DeSean Jackson, Aaron Rodgers, Kyle Boller, Nnamdi Asomugha, Brandon Mebane, Marshawn Lynch, Scott Fujita and Alex Mack are among some of the more recognizable names that Tedford has coached.  If it weren't for that nefarious program in LA, Cal would have a few Rose Bowls to be sure.
  • California at Berkeley boasts an alumni that reads as a "who's who" of runner-ups, number twos, has-beens and never-made-its.  Among the famous alumni promoted on their website, they highlight Tom Anderson, co-founder of MySpace (Facebook), Walter Haas, President of Levi Strauss (Gap), Steve Wozniak, co-founder of some company name Apple (Steve Jobs) and George Takei of Star Trek fame (though they do acknowledge that he actually transferred to UCLA before graduating).  They also boast someone named Julie Gerberding.  I would have read her bio, but I was too busy cleaning up regurgitated lunch off the kitchen floor.
  • Last year's five wins was the worst showing in the Jeff Tedford era.  After blowing out ASU in late October, the Bears lost four of their last five having only the gumption to pull out a one score victory over WSU.  Of course, we all remember UW's last second victory over Cal in Seattle last year on God's Play.  The Bears have actually lost three of their last four against UW after owning us for several straight years dating back to 2002.

California at Washington:  A Preview

I'm sure Cal comes into this game feeling pretty good about being 3-0 but uncertain about how good they really are.  Early games against Fresno St, Colorado (non-conference) and Presbyterian have failed to answer critical questions about this team.  Will Zach Maynard be a quality Pac 12 QB?  Will the D-Line emerge as a force?  Will Allen and Jones solve their dropsies and become the finest WR tandem in the league?  Can the secondary hang with a high powered passing attack?  Will their Special Teams correct?  Can Tedford handle calling plays again?  Can a republican buy a real hamburger in Berkeley?

The reality of the situation is that UW comes in with fewer questions, but more glaringly definitive weaknesses.  Offensively, UW looks like it will be able to move the ball against Cal.  The offensive line has improved in every game and the left side anchors of Schaefer and Kelemete have been playing at a high level.  They have created lanes for Polk, they have executed their roles in the play-action game and they have vastly improved their pass protection from game one.  Polk continues to get stronger every week and Keith Price has flat out answered the bell, strong arm or not.  Price leads the Pac 12 in passing TDs and has consistently been one of the most efficient QBs in the league despite playing on a couple of compromised wheels. Cal has athletes on Defense and they play very aggressive.  In fact, they are second in the Pac 12 in sacks without any single player registering as a league leader.  I've only seen the Colorado game, but it appears that they have made ample use of a variety of blitz packages.  Interestingly, Cal has their own version of Josh Shirley.  Freshman Cecil Whiteside leads the team in sacks with two, but has registered just four tackles over the entire season (all of them for loss). 

Defensively, the Huskies are going to struggle against Cal.  Jones and Allen are the two finest receivers we will have seen all season ... and it's not even close.  The question is whether or not Maynard will get rattled by our as-yet-to-show-up defensive front.  He's prone to mistakes and, to date, has not always shown a good sense for when to hang in and and when to run out of a play.  He's a tremendous athlete and he has a little gunslinger to him.  His arm is better than Taylor Martinez, but he hasn't really shown us his wheels yet.  On the year, he's completing just over 50% of his passes and has only 49 yards rushing.   There is definitely an opportunity for UW to make a statement here.  The reality is that the Husky Defense is more reminiscent of Kent Baer than Jim Lambright.  They will no doubt be looking for creative ways to kindle what has been, so far, a non-existent pass rush in this game.  Only four Pac 12 teams (Oregon St, WSU, Arizona and ...OREGON) have fewer sacks per game than the Huskies.  Regardless, Husky fans will be looking for faster play and greater role discipline from a unit that has performed very poorly despite showing some fight all along the way.

Prediction:  Cal 38 - UW 44

I expect this game to be a barn burner.  I fully believe that the Huskies are going to get whatever they want on offense between the running game of Chris Polk and the passing attack of Price and his WR corps.  Sark has really been solid with his offensive game plans since the EWU debacle and you can see that the O-Line is starting to gain confidence in one another.  In addition, UW's receiving corps has been completely as advertised.  Every week, a new star has emerged.  We've seen flashes from Jermaine Kearse, Devin Aguilar, James Johnson, Kasen Williams and ASJ at different times all season.  Who will it be this week?  Look for Kasen to have a big day.

On the flip side, I expect Cal to get whatever they want, but to make a few more mistakes along the way.  I'm certain that Tedford has kept Maynard's second dimension (his wheels) under wraps specifically targeting this game.  My guess is that we'll see the full play book with healthy doses of Marvin Jones, Keenan Allen and Maynard making plays with his arm and legs.  Also, don't fall asleep on the Cal running game.  Isi and Bigelow have confidence and, I'm sure, are licking their chops at the prospect of playing our D.  UW should be playing aggressively on D - Holt will be feeling pressure to blitz more than he is comfortable - and that will lead to big Cal plays in between some big licks delivered by our boys.  

There is a feeling that Cal is "due" given our recent history.  Price's injury situation, Maynard's gunslinger mentality and the status of Semisi Tokolahi all feel like wild cards to me.  I also expect special teams to play a role in this game - an advantage that is most assuredly going to lie with the Cal Bears given their awesome punter (Bryan Anger) and the fact that the refs don't seem to approve of our Special Teams Unit.  Nevertheless, I like that UW has been tested by better competition so far.  I believe that they are playing at a higher level of "game speed" coming off their battle with Nebraska and I choose to believe that this will translate to a definitive momentum advantage early in the game.

Other Predictions:
...Nick Montana will make his first pass attempt as a collegian - and it will be completed
...Jessie Callier FINALLY finds the end zone for the first time
...Isi Sofele will have a surprisingly good game and gash us for 100 yards
...Brandon Bigelow will not
...Garrett Gililand will get some significant run and Crazi will officially go out of his mind
...DeAndre Coleman will get into the game and none of us will notice
...UW will win the battle of intangibles handily

Thoughts?  Predictions?  Snide comments?  Leave them below or get banned.

(Editors Note : This article has been edited to remove paragraphs which we feel crossed the when it comes to perpetuating racial stereotypes. I do believe that it was an innocent attempt at humor by the writer which happened to backfire. That being said I want to apologize to all the members and visitors of our blog who were offended. This is not what we are about as a group and I personally apologize for not editing this sooner.)