Nail, meet coffin.
The 2012 football season began with scattered whispers for the end of the Jeff Tedford era. Those whispers rapidly shifted to obnoxious screams as the Bears dropped their opener to Nevada at a newly renovated Memorial Stadium.
The yelling halted after Cal’s blowout of UCLA and a convincing win over Washington State. But after the utter beatdown at Memorial against Stanford on Saturday, the screams returned louder than ever.
Now 3-5 on the season, Cal’s hopes for a postseason berth have effectively evaporated. To even reach bowl eligibility, the Bears need to take down Utah and Washington and win one against either Oregon State or Oregon. It’s a possibility that Cal will be the underdog in all four games.
Lose two of those, however, and it would be a surprise if Tedford isn’t fired.
The Big Game epitomized Tedford’s failures all wrapped up into one little package. The offense came out unmotivated and flat. The play calling consisted of unimaginative and disjointed packages. And there were enough third and long halfback draws to make any Cal fan yank out clumps of hair.
Most worrisome of all, Tedford hasn’t adjusted the offensive gameplan to account for the offensive line’s deficiencies. The line gave up four sacks in what has rapidly become a pattern of porous play this year.
Stanford completely dismantled the Bears’ running game. Running backs Isi Sofele, C.J. Anderson and Brendan Bigelow could easily be considered among the most talented grouping of backs in the conference.
All of that talent earned Cal a grand total of three rushing yards on 28 carries.
Whether the blame lies on the offensive line taking six steps back after taking a baby step forward or Tedford’s inopportune play calling is impossible to discern.
But three rushing yards is pretty inexcusable, especially in a marquee matchup. Cal’s inability to pick up yards on first and second downs killed any chances of the team putting together a scoring drive. The Bears went one for 14 on third downs, facing third and 8 or longer half of the time.
It seems like in every single game, the offensive line finds a way to screw up the offensive momentum. Sometimes, Maynard gets sacked nine times and throws balls over everyone’s heads — as in the tilt with USC. Against Stanford, the death blow was letting the Cardinal front seven do whatever they liked on the line of scrimmage.
The offensive line will need to start putting together consistent, cohesive performances over these next four games.
Otherwise, Tedford could be on the street faster than Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas shoots through the A-gap.
Michael Rosen covers football. Contact him at [email protected]
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