Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bears Welcome Buffaloes to the Pac-10 for Slaughter in 52-7 Victory in Berkeley

After the season opening victory over UC Davis, the California Golden Bears were supposed to have their first real test of the season against the Colorado Buffaloes, yet the Buffaloes didn't put up much of a fight against the Bears.

What turned the game in disaster for the Buffaloes was the lack of discipline too many penalties especially in the first half when there were seven in total called, the five turnovers again with a majority of those turnovers coming in the first half, and not being able to protect quarterback Tyler Hansen who was sacked six times, three three interceptions, and fumbled once.

Focusing on the positives the teams has scored points in a variety of ways running the football, throwing the football, and even the defense has gotten into the act with the Bears scoring a total of 104 points so far.

Offensively the Bears have gotten production from Kevin Riley who has thrown for 455 yards, seven touchdowns, zero interceptions, and only has been sacked once. What was significant about Riley's play though was that Jeff Tedford has finally started to use Riley's athleticism to his advantage.

There was a designed run for Riley who took off for a 14 yard gain and he ended the game with five carries for 24 yards. If opposing teams have to prepare for Riley to take off with the football it opens up the likelihood for big plays for the Bears as defenses will need to stay home and not just concentrate on the receivers for the Bears.

Kevin Riley Pictures, Images and Photos

Riley also in the game against the Buffaloes with his four touchdown passes found a variety of players with Shane Vereen, Keenan Allen, Isi Sofele, and Marvin Jones.

Vereen has yet to have a huge game yardage wise but even when he's not putting up big yardage games he's still effective. He made a sensational catch for the Bears first touchdown and later in the game had a three yard touchdown run.

In the game he had 16 carries for 59 yards and a long of 12. So far on the season Vereen has 30 carries for 126 yards, a 4.2 yards per carry average, the 12 yard run was his longest of the season, and three touchdowns.

Receiving wise Vereen has caught five passes for 46 yards, 9.2 yards per catch average, and has two touchdowns. Combined touches for Vereen 35, 172 yards, 4.9 yards per touch, and five touchdowns.

Now catching the ball again Jones and Allen provided the production the Bears needed. Jones had three catches for 77 yards with a long of 62 in which he almost dragged a Buffalo defender into the end zone.

Allen had the most catches with six had 66 yards and a touchdown on a nicely designed play near the goal line in which Riley rolled to his right and had either Jones or Allen wide open for a touchdown. The two combined for nine catches and 143 yards, and two touchdowns.

Shane Vereen Run Pictures, Images and Photos

Jones so far on the season has eight catches for 158 yards, a 19.8 yards per catch average, and two touchdowns.

Allen leads the team in receptions with 10, yards with 186, averages 18.6 yards per catch, and also has two touchdowns. Also, like he did against UC Davis, Allen nearly made an outstanding catch diving for the football.

Against the Buffaloes, Vereen was the only other Bear with more than one reception and he had three for 18 yards, Jeremy Ross had a big catch on the third down that went for 27 yards, Eric Stevens had a catch for eight yards, and Isi Sofele had one catch for one yard, but that catch went for a touchdown.

Defensively though the Bears dominated again. The Buffaloes had 17 first downs, 239 yards of offense, averaged 3.1 yards per play, 1.7 yards on the ground, and 4.9 yards per pass play. After the first two games the Bears have allowed 160 yards, only 43.5 yards on the ground and 116.5 yards through the air.

When the season began there were questions about the linebackers specifically at outside linebacker. Mychal Kendricks had big plays with a sack and then a fumble recovery after Jarred Price while being held sacked Hansen and forced the ball loose.

Among the other weaknesses for the Bears were the secondary and pass rush. Those questions were answered with three interceptions, the six sacks which one led to a fumble, three interceptions including one returned for a touchdown by Mike Mohamed, and also another fumble after a completed pass that Darian Hagan ran back for a touchdown.

Mike Mohamed Big Game Interception Pictures, Images and Photos

Yet, what the biggest plus for the Bears secondary was that the secondary did not allow for the Buffaloes best receiver Scotty McKnight to come up with big plays. Interceptions for Cal were by Bryant Nnabuife, Steve Williams, and Mohamed.

Most of the yards by the Buffaloes came in the second half when the game was well out of reach. The Bears had climbed to a 31-0 led at half time thanks in part to Mohamed's interception of Hansen that he returned 41 yards.

Rodney Stewart for the Buffaloes led the way with 29 carries for 78 yards. Hansen had the only touchdown scoring on a fourth and goal where he took off with the ball and made it easily into the end zone. Ryan Deehan led the Buffaloes in receiving with four catches for 51 yards.

There are still some flaws both offensively and defensively for the Bears that need to be worked on such as leaving receivers wide open but so far the Bears haven't been hurt thanks to bringing more pressure on the quarterback.

As for other issues that need to be worked out are ways to get Riley to throw the ball down the field and have the play be made. Jones had an opportunity to make a big play on a nicely thrown ball by Riley, but could not come down with the ball.

Another issue is that Jones and Allen have combined for 18 of the 29 completions that Riley has had this year. That means 62 percent of his passes that have been completed have gone to the number one and number two receivers for the Bears.

If Vereen is incldued then it's 23 of the 29 passes that have been completed have gone to the three best offensive players the Bears have. That's nearly 80 percent of the time the ball is going to either Vereen, Jones, or Allen.

When the Bears start up Pac-10, Riley is going to have to do a better job of getting the ball to tight end Anthony Miller, third receiver Jeremy Ross, or even fullback Eric Stevens. Although, at this point a third or fourth receiver hasn't really needed, but as the season progresses the Bears certainly need more from the other receivers on the team.

For the Bears next game which is against Nevada and again like the 2009 season the Bears should start 3-0. What will be interesting is to see if Vereen can get over the 100 yard rushing mark, he has yet to do that because of the sizable margins the Bears have been able to get up to, Riley can throw the ball down the field a little bit more, and also if the defense can keep up it's aggression and continue to force turnovers.