No Answer to the $64,000 Question
Monday, October 5, 2009
Category: Sports > Fall > Football
Kevin Riley looked like a wreck.
It was understandable.
There were 120 consecutive minutes of frustration boiling up on the inside of the Cal quarterback.
How has this offense gone two consecutive games without a single touchdown?
Riley thought the answer was clear.
"I got to get it into that end zone," Riley said. "I missed a lot of big-play opportunities."
Admittedly, a lot of the blame does fall on Riley. When a quarterback goes 15 for 40 and throws an interception with zero touchdowns, little success will come out of it.
One person could not be held responsible for an offense classified by coach Jeff Tedford as "zero-dimensional."
Instead, it's time to step back and come to a startling realization.
What appeared to be a revamped offense in the first three games has fizzled out faster than Jahvid Best in the open field.
With these two losses, people are already beginning to analyze the similarities between this year's team and the 2007 squad that went into a downward spiral, but there's little merit to that argument.
The mentalities of the two teams are worlds apart. Every single player who's still here from that year will attest to that.
Looking at last year's team, on the other hand, brings upon that unsettling reality check.
Even after an entire offseason dedicated to improvement, this 2009 Cal offense may not be much better than the 2008 one.
Sure, they pulled out that much-needed road win against Minnesota thanks to the air attack, but this season was supposed to be defined by these past two games. The Bears were supposed to show they could contend, but instead have fallen flat on their faces.
It was going to start with Jahvid Best. Many rightfully pointed out that all his big performances have come at the expense of lower teams, and Best's performance this past Saturday only gave their argument more strength.
Forty-seven yards on 14 carries is a meager improvement over the 30-yard performance in last year's game against USC.
It's not just Best though.
The receivers, after working so hard in the offseason, have come out flat when Cal has needed them the most.
Just as Cameron Morrah became the go-to guy for the Bears last year, tight end Anthony Miller was the only consistent receiving threat for the Bears this past Saturday. Miller's four receptions were the most any player has had for Cal in a game thus far.
And then there is Riley.
Being the clear-cut starter appeared at first to give him that extra boost in confidence that he needed for this team to succeed. With each ensuing week, however, came added pressure for him to perform well.
It also became increasingly difficult to turn to the most explosive player in college football when defenses completely keyed in on him.
Riley knows he has to play much better for his team to succeed, but even he is struggling to figure out how that will happen.
There's been no drop-off in his effort during practices, and mechanics didn't look like a factor in those first three wins.
So what in the name of Joe Ayoob is going on?
To say this offensive unit has possibly regressed since last season would be ludicrous, but until the Bears prove they can execute against a quality opponent, that may be the only answer anybody familiar with this team can muster.
Tell Jimmy if his articles have gotten any better at email@example.com.
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