Earlier this week, I answered a few questions about WSU football (shudder) and what to expect this weekend. The gentlemen at California Golden Blogs, or CGB as they're affectionately known, returned the favor and did the same for us...round table style.
If you haven't checked them out before, now would be a good time. Bookmark them. You won't regret it.
solarise - Truth be told no one has seen Mansion take enough snaps to make accurate assessments besides the coaching staff. If Cal's final two minute drive against OSU last week offers any indication, then Brock Mansion looks like a bigger Kevin Riley w/ similar escapability and creativity when the pocket breaks down. If you give Mansion time he will hurt you.
Coach Tedford told us that Brock Mansion earned the promotion to backup Riley over Beau Sweeney after showing more consistency in practice. We have seen little of Beau after UC Davis & Colorado. He can run for sure but needs to settle down when inserted into games.
Kodiak - He's big, strong-armed, pretty mobile for a guy his size and has had no meaningful playing experience. Although he reportedly lit up our defense as the scout team QB when simulating Nevada's Pistol...we don't run the Pistol. There are rumors that he had accuracy issues and didn't have a great command over the playbook until recently. Sweeney took over the #2 spot towards the end of last year. Although not as physically gifted as Brock, he had a better grasp of the offense. During his limited time this year, he looked like the game was moving really, really fast; he had big eyes, happy feet, and had trouble executing. However, I think his demotion is more a result of Brock's improved play than doing anything wrong.
Berkelium97 - Brock Mansion is in his 4th year with the program, but he does not have much experience. Before Riley's injury, he had only thrown 7 in-game passes during his career. He was originally recruited during the Ted-Spread years when Mike Dunbar was Cal's offensive coordinator. Brock was recruited as a dual-threat, so he can scramble for yards if nothing opens up down field. In fact, Brock's first career touchdown was on a run against Washington State in 2008. Early on he had struggles with accuracy and the complexity of the playbook, though he appears to have turned things around in the past month leading Tedford to promote him to second team a couple weeks before Riley's injury. Tedford said there would be no quarterback competition between Mansion and Sweeney this week, so Mansion took all of the first team reps during practice. It seems Mansion has really put it together during practice in the past couple months--we'll see if he can bring his impressive performance into a live-game environment.
OhioBear - Brock Mansion is from Dallas, Texas and he is the envy of many young men because Carli Lloyd (Cal volleyball player extraordinaire) is his girlfriend. He was recruited at a time that Cal had an offensive coordinator (Mike Dunbar) who was eager to employ spread offense concepts. Brock fit the bill. But when you look at him, he also has the look of your prototypical pocket passer -- good size, strong arm. But he is quite inexperienced. Last week against Oregon State was his first opportunity to take meaningful snaps in his career.
Word is that Beau Sweeney was just beat out by Brock. Sweeney was the # 2 QB on the depth chart as recently as three weeks ago vs. USC. But when Cal brought in a backup during the blowout win over ASU the following week, Mansion was the guy.
solarise - Most likely. Given this is Mansion's first career start I think Tedford & Ludwig are gonna call on #34 more often. Matt Summers-Gavin moving into LG and incumbent Brian Schwenke moving to RG should also help the running game. Isi Sofele, Shane's backup, looks to get get his shares of carries after Shane. They are long overdue for big performances.
Kodiak - He won't have as many home runs, but he's more likely to churn out a steady diet of 4-6 yard runs with a few 10-20's in there. That's when our schizo Oline opens holes up for him. He does a lot with individual effort. So, unless the score gets out of hand and makes us throw it non-stop, I think he's going to get his yardage. We haven't done a great job with our undersized line running straight up the middle. However, our guards and center are pretty good at getting out in space and pulling, so runs to the edges have been effective. We're juggling our line this week...so we don't know yet how that will work out.
HydroTech - Off the top of my head, I want to say doubtful. Cal's offensive line has been the weak spot of this year's team. Everything from run blocking to pass blocking, and proper shower technique has been a horrible mess. However, I just looked up Shane Vereen's statistics for this year. He's averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and that is an improvement over last year's 5.2 yard per carry average. So you know what? He just might run over you again, just like Jahvid Best did. Maybe. But the way things are going for Cal right now, despite Washington State being as bad as your local high school team, Cal will probably fail to rush for 50 yards on the day. I mean, last week Cal faced Oregon State! Oregon State! Their defense was second to last in the entire NCAA for yards allowed. They were giving up enough yards a game to go to the moon and back. And you know what happened?
Cal barely gained a whopping 200 yards on the day, 45 of which came on the last play of the game on a despiration hail mary type pass when Oregon State's players were already headed to the locker room because they were so bored of beating up this pathetic team.
So, no, Shane Vereen isn't going to run over you. You're defense is going to look amazing this Saturday. You will be like a steel curtain. You will be a brick wall. Nothing will get past you guys.
Berkelium97 - Shane's biggest problem this year is the inconsistent passing game and his inconsistent O-line, which has allowed opponents to stack the box and close down his running lanes. If the O-line shows up Saturday and if the passing game is effective, Vereen will have a great game against the WSU run defense. If the passing game struggles, he can carry the load offensively, but he won't be win the game by himself. While Shane doesn't have the top speed that Best does, he is much better at breaking tackles and picking up yards after the first hit. If the Cougars manage to shut him down (which is tough), Cal might be in trouble.
OhioBear - Vereen might -- he has that capability, though he might not do it in the same way (read: silly fast) as Jahvid. Vereen is a very good runner between the tackles and is competent on the edges. He is also a big threat as a receiver out of the backfield, more so than Jahvid was. That said, Cal's O-line hasn't exactly been stellar.
3. Can the Cal defense shut down the dynamic Tuel/Wilson combo of aerial death? What's the plan of attack for Cal's D?
solarise - We will rush Tuel out of the base 3-4 from all directions to hurry/hit/sack him. This strategy hasn't worked out well when we give up field position in special teams play. However, if Tuel is the type of QB who is prone to make mistakes under pressure then he might be in for a long day.
Kodiak - We're done pretty well against two different types of spread offenses. Our new DC tends to mix up man/zone defense on the outside, and sends a variety of pass rushers from different positions. Generally speaking, our secondary has shown a lot of improvement over last year. That's when everything is working. When it's not, we have serious issues with over-pursuit, particularly up the middle, and are vulnerable to mis-direction. We don't have any stand-out/dominant pass-rushers besides Cameron Jordan(DE). So, if the blitzing LB doesn't get there, we're sort of screwed.
OhioBear - Cal is capable of shutting down a passing attack -- it did so quite well against Arizona and ASU, for instance. But the defense has not been as good on the road, save for the Arizona game. New D-coordinator Pendergast brings more pressure than his predecessor (Bob Gregory), but Cal simply has not been effective when it has fallen behind on the road. If WSU falls behind early, the formula might be in place for a long day for Tuel. But if WSU can get ahead, look out (for Tuel, that is).
4. What did we do to you guys? You gave us Brandon Jones and he was a miserable failure. The other transfer, James Montgomery, had a freak injury that almost took his leg. Is there a Cal jinx?
Kodiak - Of course there's a Cal jinx. You've heard of "The Curse of the Palouse?" We bull-dozed sacred trees and unearthed ancestral hippie burial grounds to implore JuJu to strike back. We're sorry about Montgomery - he was a solid guy and we wish him the best. Jones was kind of a head-case...That one is on you for taking him in.
OhioBear - Wow, I don't know. Sorry, guys. We were sorry to see Monty go and we felt badly about what happened to him. As for Brandon, he had some off-field issues in Berkeley and change of scenery was probably best for him. Too bad (for him and the Cougs) that it didn't work out for him up there.
5. Is Tedford really on the hot seat?
OhioBear - Probably not. The vocal fans (meaning those who take the time to post on the message boards) are restless but there is no way that the AD lets him go or even thinks about letting him go right now.
Kodiak - Not yet. If the wheels come off this year, it would still be his only losing season. If he goes back to back...well, the temperature starts rising. Especially with the heavy reliance on football revenue to offset athletic department expenses.
solarise - I say Tedford has nothing to worry about as of now, especially if he somehow manages to keep the Axe at home. If Tedford can't produce a Rose Bowl berth though after the completion of Student Athlete High Performance Center and a renovated Memorial Stadium in 2012 then he will get roasted to a crisp.
6. Do you guys regret the Big 12 invasion that blew up in your face?
Kodiak - We regret having an opportunity to kick Texa$ teeth in every year. But, we're not surprised that they would screw us and run away. Even if it didn't work out as hoped, the expansion was still a bold move towards leveling the conference playing field, particularly with regards to television coverage. The status quo clearly wasn't getting it done, so the audacity of the new commissioner is to be applauded.
solarise - No. The bitchslap Texas suffered by the backhand of UCLA was semisweet enough. Nothing would satisfy my black heart more than to see Tedford punch Mack Brown in the face for Rose Bowl 2012.
7. Explain CGB for those of our readers that have never visited.
OhioBear - Explain CGB? Let Ted Miller do it: "The California Golden Blogs is just a well-done, intelligent and amusing effort." We have fun at CGB and we try not to take ourselves to seriously. Oh yeah -- and we're naked when we post stuff.
Kodiak -Run far. Run fast. Don't look back? We're an eclectic group that enjoys hanging out and talking Cal sports. Some of us apparently take the clothing-optional approach. That's okay. We don't judge that type of thing - living in Ohio is punishment enough.
solarise - It's a place hosted by Tedford sunshine pumpers & TwistnHook. Make sure you respect the Mrs and blogcandies and you won't get hurt.
8. Are you guys going to be the team that gets Coug'd? Score predicitions?
solarise - There's enough firepower even w/o Riley. In Vereen we trust & the Party Yacht gets it done. Cal 42 WSU 14.
Kodiak - You guys are certainly due and up until last week had been playing better. If there was ever a time for us to completely fail, it would be on the road breaking in a new QB behind a porous Oline. 27-10 Cal?
OhioBear - We desperately hope not to get Coug'd. We shook off that Curse of the Palouse a few years ago and we'd like not to have it come back again. WSU will put up a fight, but I think that somehow, some way, Cal gets it done even with the backup quarterback. Cal 31-14.