If there's one thing about the California Golden Bears is the fact that the team just cannot put teams away. It happened in Minnesota and now it's happening against Arizona State!
I'm not sure why Andy Ludwig playcalling becomes so conservative after gaining a lead. In this case California even after a turnover was able to break out to a 14-0 lead. The Bears had a chance to take any kind of fight out of Arizona State after the Bears recovered a fumble as the Sun Devils were in position to score.
Then the questionable playcalling began. I just don't get why on third and four situation and a running back in Jahvid Best averaging well over four yards per carry on the season and even if he was stopped at least it gives one of the better punters in the Pac-10 a chance.
Instead Ludwig put Riley in a dangerous situation and it cost them. Riley fumbled the ball and the Sun Devils recovered the football. One play later the game was 14-7.
On the next series the Bears drove down the field and on a third and five situation decided to throw the football. A holding call on the play would have made it third and 15 but the Sun Devils declined making fourth down.
In this sequence the Bears had to settle for a field goal and that was missed. With the starting place kicker already out due to injury it would have been more beneficial to try to get a few yards closer for the backup kicker who has shown that he's not very consistent.
If Best ran for three yards it makes the field goal a 31-yard attempt instead of 34-yards. It would have been better for the Bears.
After the miss it took one play for the Sun Devils to tie the game up at 14. The Bears drove down the field but a couple of penalties hurt the Bears and they were forced to punt, which was excellent and forced the Sun Devils to start from the half yard line.
Sun Devils then turned the ball over to the Bears. There was plenty of time left for the Bears to score a touchdown, but had to settle for a field goal. Another questionable playcall on third down hurt the Bears as well. Again it was another pass.
If the Bears get a first down the clock stops anyways, so again the Bears had plenty of time to score and at least take time of the clock so the Sun Devils would have a hard time moving down the field.
In the end the Bears had to settle for a field goal from 25 yards out and gave the ball back to the Sun Devils with plenty of time left to at least get into field goal range.
Again another issue I have with Ludwig's game calling against the Sun Devils is how many times the Bears have had Riley carry the ball seven times. Riley also fumbled three times while losing two of those fumbles.
My problem though is the only other player to get a carry for the Bears besides Best and Riley was Jeremy Ross who carried the ball for five yards but could have gotten at least a few more yards if he had cut inside instead of tried stretching the play to the sideline.
What's mind boggling to me is the fact that Shane Vereen who would be starting for many teams in the country only touched the ball twice in the first half! Yes, you heard me twice in the first half.
My other problem is the fact that Marvin Jones who has great hands and looks like a solid receiver only has one catch and it's not like the Sun Devils is one of the top teams in the Pac-10 in terms of secondary play.
So, my problem has been with the Bears pretty much the whole season though is the lack of utilization of the Bears best players. Jones is rarely looked at, Vereen needs more carries to go with using Best, and in fact utilizing the tight end Anthony Miller in short third down situations.
I also think that the Bears need to start using both Vereen and Best in the same backfield. Let teams worry about which running back is going to be used. It also could be used to stretch out the defense because both Vereen and Best can catch the football out of the backfield and if either of them are matched up on a linebacker those teams are in trouble.
The Bears have so many weapons offensively I didn't even touch on the fact that Verran Tucker has some talent at the wide receiver position along with Nyan Boateng the Bears should have had a much better wide receiver core this year.
I also realize the Bears have gone through offensive coordinators recently, but it's time for a new one after the year. Ludwig has failed miserably with utilizing the Bears best players and that offense that was supposed to be so potent has been anything but and can only be described as offensive!