September 2, 2007

Goal-line stand helps carry Cal

The immortal Vince Lombardi defined how teams win football games. "Offensively, you do what you do best, and you do it again and again. Defensively, you attack your opponent's strength." Therein lies the successful secret of Cal's game plan against the No. 15 Volunteers. After putting on an undeniable offensive assault of team speed, the Bears goal-line stand with 9:15 left in the third quarter showed that they can attack their opponent as well.

One of more undocumented preview aspects of the Tennessee-Cal game was the effective and creative play calling ability of Bears head coach Jeff Tedford and Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe. Both are two of the top offensive minds in the college game, and both have established themselves as big-time quarterback coaches over the years.

Certainly, everyone knew that both teams would score. Two coaches like Cutcliffe and Tedford, who pride themselves on having "the advantage", which is the case for all offensive players since they know what each play presents, were going to have their offense's tuned up. So in hindsight, most fans should have thrown out the ideology that there would be rust or early game jitters on either side of the ball. And in a game with plenty of offensive fuel and speed to burn, one big defensive stand by the entire Cal defense made a world of difference in yesterday's contest.

With senior Erik Ainge clicking on 14 of his first 15 passes, and Tennessee running back Arian Foster setting up the Vols rushing attack early and often, the Bears found themselves pinned back to their two-yard line. Despite a 17-point lead, the Vols offense was so efficient that the lead seemed like a tenth of that. Foster would have actually scored 6 points on his 43-yard rumble down to the two if it weren't for impressive senior safety Thomas DeCoud making a sweeping tackle near the goal-line. Tennessee was clicking, and the Bears lead looked like it'd be cut to 10 points in just a few seconds.

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