Posted on: December 28, 2011 11:52 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
TEXAS WON. It wasn't pretty, and they still didn't see much out of the offense, but it was a win for the Longhorns. If you're a Texas fan, you had to be impressed with what coordinator Manny Diaz has done all season long with the defense and the Holiday Bowl served as a great way to finish out the year. After neither team went to a bowl game last year, it was interesting to see how they respond to the layoff and it appeared to be not well. Cal turned the ball over five times and quarterback Zach Maynard was sacked six times - largely the difference in a game that was pretty close for three quarters.
WHY TEXAS WON. Don't look at the offense, which struggled most of the night. Quarterback David Ash was given the start and despite having issues moving the ball through the air early, got the ball in the hands of his playmakers. The reason the Longhorns will be able to enjoy their trip back to Austin however, is because of Diaz' defense. The front seven was particularly active and put plenty of pressure on Maynard. They also bottled up running back Isi Sofele, who showed some flashes but was limited after scoring a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Underclassmen Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks were particularly active with two sacks each.
WHEN TEXAS WON. Cal had threatened several times throughout the game but always seemed to shoot themselves in the foot. In great field position following a punt return, the offense just started to go backward and then Adrian Phillips sacked Maynard, who committed the fourth turnover of the night by fumbling. Reggie Wilson recovered and on the next play, Marquise Goodwin ran it 36 yards to set the Longhorns up inside the 10. On the first play of the 4th quarter, Cody Johnson punched it in from the four-yard line to push the lead to 21-10.
WHAT TEXAS WON. It was a disappointing season by the Longhorns' high standards but plenty of programs would be happy with a bowl win and eight wins. With such a young team, Mack Brown hopes this win can be a building block for next season. Sticking with Ash despite his early struggles seemed to indicate that he would be the guy going into 2012. The halftime adjustments were really good and both sides of the ball came alive in the second half. It's not the bowl win Texas wanted but a win is a win.
WHAT CALIFORNIA LOST. The ball for one. The Bears fumbled four times against Texas after only coming into the game with eight. The offense had issues up front all night and Sofele finished with just 58 yards rushing. The lone bright spot might be the kickers and that's not something to be proud of. The defense had its moments but couldn't stop a couple of big plays after bailing out the offense several times. This game was billed as a revenge match because of what happened a few years ago with the BCS but Cal didn't exactly fight like they wanted to win the game.
FINAL GRADE: This game was the definition of ugly for the entire first half. It wasn't as though the defenses were great - they were solid - but the offenses never could get anything going. Were it not for a few big plays out of Goodwin, there wouldn't be much to write home about on this one. The storyline coming into the game was about Cal's BCS snub in favor of Texas a few years ago but after watching this one, it would have been ok if the Holiday Bowl selection committee had snubbed both of these teams based on the way they played. At least Bevo enjoyed the San Diego weather and went home happy. GRADE: C
Posted on: November 15, 2011 11:20 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
CALIFORNIA WILL WIN IF: The Golden Bears now have a blueprint to beat Stanford even if they don't have the offense or the athletes that Oregon does. The Cardinal is still banged up so putting pressure on Andrew Luck while keeping his receivers from getting separation will be key. Cal has struggled on the road this season (1-3) and even though it's a trip across the Bay, they'll be headed into a hostile environment if last week was any indication.
STANFORD WILL WIN IF: The Cardinal have the superior team once again this year but will have to quickly regroup after a tough loss last week. The defense has to do a better job of shutting down the run, a phase of the game Cal has really gotten going over the past few games. Stanford used Stepfan Taylor early and often against Oregon last week but had to go away from him in order to play catch up. If they're the ones dictating tempo and wearing down the Bears defense, Andrew Luck should be able to return to form and pick apart the young secondary on the way to another Big Game victory.
X-FACTOR: Zach Maynard. The Bears quarterback has to play within the offense and take what the defense gives him. If he's forcing throws and turning the ball over, it could be a long day for Cal. The only way the Bears win is if Maynard plays his best game of the season and allows Marvin Jones, Keenan Allen and Isi Sofele to make some plays in space. He won't be able to top Luck and needs plenty of help from his defense but the only way Cal has a chance to stay close or pull the upset is if their quarterback far exceeds how he's been playing.