Wulff or Tedford? Who Ya Got?

Happy Thursday to you Coug Nation.  We are happy to have a guest writer today, someone who’s been a regular contributor to comments lately.  Say hello to Matt Wessel, better known as “WSU91″ around here.  Matt had an idea for an article, but he did so much of it himself that we thought it would be better that HE tell you all about it.  So, here we go:

I sense a lot of frustration about the Cougars and our coach, Paul Wulff.  Cougar Nation is restless.  But let’s put these last two Cougar games into perspective by comparing them with the last two Cal games against the same two teams.  If you compare Cal’s box scores versus Oregon and USC to our box scores against the same two teams, you might be surprised by what you see.  Here are the stats:

Against USC in Berkeley, Cal rushed for 86 yards, and threw for 199 yards.  They had 17 first downs, and possessed the ball for 23:14. 
USC rushed for 174 yards and passed for 283 yards, and had 20 first downs.  USC won the TOP battle, 36:46 to 23:14.  
Cal had two turnovers, USC had one.  Final score, USC 30, Cal 3.

In the Coug game against USC in LA, WSU rushed for 85 yards, and threw for 144 yards.  WSU had 18 first downs, and won the TOP battle 36:09 to 23:51. 
USC ran for 156 yards, threw for 247 yards, and had 14 first downs. 
The Cougs had three turnovers, USC had two.  WSU lost 27-6

Cal scored their only points on a late field goal, and were intercepted by USC on their opening drive at the USC goal line.  WSU scored its points on a late TD, and was also intercepted at the USC goal line early in the 4th quarter.  WSU also missed a field goal at the end of the first half on Tuel’s first drive in the 2nd quarter.

In comparing these two box scores, I would argue that the Cougars faired better against USC on the road than Cal did vs. USC at home.  The TOP stat was really surprising.

Read on for more….

Now for the Oregon comparisons:

Against Oregon in Eugene, Cal rushed for 77 yards, and passed for 130, gaining 15 first downs.

Oregon rushed for 236 yards, and threw for 288 yards, gaining 26 first downs.  Oregon won the TOP battle 32:51 to 27:09.
Cal had two turnovers, Oregon had three.  Cal scored first on a field goal, the result of Oregon fumbling the opening kickoff deep in their own territory.  Cal did nothing the rest of the game. 
Final score, Oregon 42, Cal 3.

Against Oregon in Eugene (and no, this isn’t pretty!), the Cougs rushed for 107 yards, and passed for 51, gaining only 4 first downs.  Oregon rushed for 318 yards, and threw for 196, gaining 31 first downs.  Oregon won the TOP battle 35:51 to 24:09.  WSU had three turnovers, Oregon had only one.  WSU scored on a fumbled Oregon punt return at their own 1, and WSU finally punched it in (and missed the PAT).  WSU didn’t do much else the rest of the game. 
Final score, Oregon 52, Cougars 6.

I would argue that in this comparison, Cal did better against Oregon than WSU did, but not by a whole lot.  In terms of game flow and play-by-play, Cal looked about as bad as we did.

What does all this mean?  That’s what blogs are for, we get to debate it. 

For starters, both Cal and WSU have played two very good teams, one of whom will probably win the conference, although Stanford will be a factor in this race.  I also think it means that in the last two games, Paul Wulff has done more with far less than Cal coach Jeff Tedford.  Also consider that Cal had a #6 ranking going into the Oregon game, and was favored to beat the Ducks.  Meanwhile, WSU went into these games still considered about the worst team in the FBS, but fared about as well as Cal.  Neither team looked good, and WSU shouldn’t strive to look as good as another Pac-10 team who arguably played the two worst football games in the country the last two weeks.  WSU should strive to look as good as they can with what they have, and I think Paul Wulff is doing his job in this area.  Jeff Tedford clearly isn’t.

I am not making an argument here that WSU can beat Cal when they play.  What I am saying is that it makes no sense to me to be screaming for Paul Wulff’s head when Jeff Tedford managed to make his #6 Cal Bears look just as bad, and possibly worse, in the last two weeks.  WSU will never get the type of overall talent that USC, UCLA, Oregon and even Cal can get.  The program has to get to a point of being able to set a goal of competing for the Pac-10 title every year, but as fans, it’s unrealistic to expect that it will happen every year.  However, if Paul Wulff can’t get us to that point?  Then we can make some noise!

Thanks for reading, and Go Cougars!

Matt Wessel

And thanks to Matt as well.  If you, dear reader, have an idea for an article or feel strongly enough that you want to write it yourself, please feel free to drop us a line and let us know.  Enjoy your day, and GO COUGS!

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