Cal Football: Jeff Tedford’s 1st Game v. Baylor, 2002, Contrast To Washington Lost

Zennie Abraham / Zennie62
Zennie Abraham / Zennie62

Washington beat Cal 21 to 13 Friday night, thus giving this blogger zero bragging rights to Washington alum Hope Solo, and adding to an already frustrating-to-watch Cal Football Season.

But lost in all of the talk of our Cal Bears poor games is the fact that this is the 10th year Jeff Tedford has coached the Golden Bears.

So I thought I’d look back to his first game, Cal v. Baylor on August 31, 2002, and at the younger and lighter Tedford in the photo (before the salary, stress, and steaks set in), in an effort to see what we’ve lost on the field. As to what we’ve gained because of 10 years of Coach Tedford, the answer is easy: a new football stadium.

While many think Tedford should be and will be fired, this blogger’s still not convinced those who want this to happen have charted a course for the future from what they want in a coach.

But that’s for another blog post.

Cal V. Baylor Schematic Items Of Value

“Schematic Items Of Value” is another way of saying there are plays that were called then, and strategic approaches, that worked, but have been forgotten in 2012. We didn’t have to look hard and deep into the Baylor game to find one: the trick play to open the Baylor contest.

The play started out of a double tight end, single-back formation, with two receivers to the right of the right side tight end. The back was sent in motion to a point between the two receivers. On the snap, the back stepped forward, while the outside receiver moved back and leaped to catch a high pass, then threw it downfield to the wide-open right-side tight end.

I use position names rather than player names because of the desire to think more about the play than the personnel in this case. But for you, a quick note: the QB was Kyle Boller, who went on to the NFL and is out of it now and married to Carrie Prejean, who made fame for her anti-gay-marriage blast at the 2009 Miss USA Pageant. Ok. Done.

What’s interesting about the play is the right-tight-end who caught the pass really wasn’t a true tight end, but the fullback. Tedford hid him in the formation in the hope that Baylor’s defense would be so busy thinking about stopping the apparent wide receiver screen, they’d fail to see him; Coach was correct.

In the image below, you can see the right-tight-end / fullback zooming off the line of scrimmage, without a defender to even slow his path.

You can see the full play at the 51 second mark here:

There’s more, but the overall point is the play call itself was shocking. It set the tone for the future of Cal Football under Jeff Tedford. And it was the opening act in a game that saw Cal score 35 points in the first quarter, and cruse to a 70-point game and a 70-22 win.

Crisp Passing

One particularly interesting pattern of note from the Baylor game was the crisp way the QB dropped and made separation between the offensive line and himself, then set at either three or five steps and threw. That kind of timing seems lost in the Cal spread offense of today – perhaps it’s worth resetting the timing of the passes in the shotgun spread formations. Also, there was no play that called for the quarterback to run back then. I’m not a fan of the running QB systems of today, because they lead to sloppy passing execution – throws aren’t made on time, rather to try and exploit a window.

I know football coaches are a copycat lot, but given Cal’s record it’s fair to ask why do we have to do what other teams do? Why not reach back and install plays not because they’re contemporary, but because they’re effective for a given situation. Here, I’m starting to adjust my love for a typical system of plays such that it’s OK to think of plays as tools to achieve a particular objective – still, they should fit within an overall philosophy that makes sense to the players.

In this case, that way of thinking should be to constantly keep the defense guessing and off-balance. And I think that’s what’s lost with Cal Football 2012 because this year the offense has been so predictable, my friend John Highland stood and called out what Cal was going to do against Stanford on a particular 1st and 10 when we were on their 14 yard line: “Oh, Zack’s going to throw to his brother again.” That pass was intercepted.

Keenan Allen is a rare talent, and this is not to pick on him, but to make a point. We’ve gotten away from an offense that attacked from the opening whistle, and in the process of doing so, installed creative ways of getting the ball to exceptional players. Jeff Tedford prepped us to expect that from Cal Football, but for whatever reason, particularly over the last three years, we’ve not seen that at all. We certainly did not see that against Washington last night.

It’s time to bring that unpredictable and creative brand of offense back to Berkeley.

Stay tuned.

About the Author

Zennie Abraham
Zennie Abraham | Zennie Abraham or "Zennie62" is the founder of Zennie62Media which consists of zennie62blog.com and a multimedia blog news aggregator and video network, and 78-blog network, with social media and content development services and consulting. Zennie is a pioneer video blogger, YouTube Partner, social media practitioner, game developer, and pundit. Note: news aggregator content does not reflect the personal views of Mr. Abraham.

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