Cal-Arizona State: Ten Thoughts From The Bears' Halloween Scare

WarderroCorrespondent INovember 1, 2009

BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 24:  Head coach Jeff Tedford of the California Golden Bears looks on against the Washington State Cougars at California Memorial Stadium on October 24, 2009 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

1. I know Berkeley fans have been hard on Jeff Tedford and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig to be more creative, but a pass out of the wildcat by Shane Vereen on second and goal when the team is down one with under a minute left is not the way to go.

Not only did that stop the clock, but the pass was nearly picked off by Vontaze Burfict. Had that drive not ended in a score, whoever was calling the plays would have been better off staying in Tempe Saturday (and not because of the Halloween parties).

Someone should investigate; I think someone on the Cal staff got a hold of Les Miles' playbook.

2 . Speaking of Burfict, he was everywhere for the Sun Devils—both stopping the run and helping Arizona State get pressure on Kevin Riley the entire game, thereby adding some credence to the fact that his team's defensive debacle at Stanford was anomalous.

Watch out, Pac 10, this guy is going to be force in the coming years.

3. Normally, I wouldn't devote a point to a kicker who missed two field goals, but Giorgio Tavecchio not only sealed the game for Cal but also calmly nailed a 51-yarder in the third quarter.

For the way the Bears' kicking game has been the last couple of years, that merits recognition.

4. Reserve receiver Alex Lagemman—three catches for 38 yards, and all of them big ones to keep drives alive. Get this man more touches. Same goes for Anthony Miller, who has been a load to bring down at the tight end spot.  

5. 12 penalties for 115 yards? Hard enough to beat a tough defense on the road when you're already beating yourself. Luckily for Cal, Arizona State racked up 123 yards in hankies, including six 15-yarders.

6. For much of the contest, Kevin Riley kept both teams in it, with two early touchdown passes and 117 yards passing being offset by two lost fumbles. As the game went on, he was noticeably holding the ball with two hands in the pocket.

7. Couldn't have asked for a better game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, though. Riley went five of six passing and drove the Bears nearly 80 yards, despite Cal taking two huge penalties. His performance was far from perfect overall, but he's a gamer.

Perhaps today was an exorcism of the Oregon State demons (fittingly enough, on Halloween)?  


8. My five players of the game:

Syd'Quan Thompson— Despite playing with an injured back/hip, Cal's senior cornerback had one of the defensive plays of the game that helped shift momentum at the end of the half.

Arizona State, having tied up the game at 14, elected to go for it all late in the second quarter, but Thompson's impressive over-the-shoulder pick and ensuing return helped set up a field goal for the Bears before the break. For a Cal team reeling at that point, it was a huge psychological lift.

Josh Hill— He jarred the ball loose from ASU receiver Brian Matsumoto that Eddie Young dove to intercept on the fly, turning a first down grab into a turnover; the freshman also jarred the ball loose from Ryan Bass in the first quarter to kill a scoring threat.

But Hill's biggest contribution was one that probably won't show up on any highlight reel. His shoe-string tackle of running back Cameron Marshall with just over three minutes left prevented a Sun Devil first down and allowed Cal to get the ball back with a chance to win the game.

Without it, Arizona State could have potentially run out the clock.

Kevin Riley— Ugly through parts, but in Cal's closest game of the year, he led the Bears to a game-winning field goal drive—their first come-from-behind win since beating Oregon last year. Could this be a coming of age moment?

Bryan Anger— Averaged 53 yards a boot, including three inside the 20, to help change the field position around. After a rough start, Anger is finally starting to look like his Preseason All-America self.

Tyson Alualu— He may not have gotten to Danny Sullivan until the very end, but the Bears' senior defensive end was once again the most disruptive player on that side of the ball for the Blue and Gold.

Where would Cal's pass rush be without him?

9. Memo to Cal's offensive line: Please block Lawrence Guy.

10. Silver lining of the game:

Take away Kyle Williams' 80-yard touchdown catch on a blown coverage, and Sun Devil quarterback Danny Sullivan only had 148 yards passing with two picks. ASU's only other touchdown was from three yards out, due to a Kevin Riley fumble.