New Cal offensive coordinator Al Borges has said repeatedly that he thinks the key to a good offense is the play-action pass. So on the first play of the spring football game, quarterback Kyle Boller faked a handoff to the tailback and threw deep for wide receiver Geoff McArthur, who had a step on his defender. But in what would be quickly turn into a pattern, the precision just wasn’t there, and the pass fell incomplete.
The Cal offense started 12 drives Saturday against their own defense, and didn’t put the ball in the end zone once. The closest they got was on Boller’s last drive of the day, when long completions to McArthur and wideout Sean Currin put the ball inside the five-yard line. But the Bears just couldn’t punch it in, and Boller headed to the sideline to talk things over with Borges.
In all, Boller led six drives, completing 11 of 19 passes for 159 yards and, importantly, no interceptions. But considering the fact that four of Cal’s top defensive backs didn’t play in the game due to injury, the lack of scoring put a damper on Boller’s day.
“We wanted to score on our D, but it didn’t happen,” the junior-to-be said. “We’d have two good plays, then one bad one that would mess up the whole drive. But overall, I think it went okay. We’ll watch the films and see what went wrong.”
Borges expessed confidence that the passing game will be better in the fall.
“What we’ve been doing in practice better than we did today is getting some big plays. We just missed a few throws by a couple of inches,” Borges said. “We’ll get it down. When you shave your groups down to the guys who are going to be playing all the time, those missed passes become completions.”
Although Boller’s progression will be the key factor next year, the Bears will need a solid running game to show improvement. But Saturday’s game was a disappointment in that area as well, as tailbacks Joe Igber and Joe Echema combined to run for just 44 yards on 15 carries. The offensive line, missing center Brandon Ludwig, didn’t open holes for them, and their yardage came almost exclusively from running outside.
“We didn’t run the ball very well today. During the spring it’s been pretty good, but it wasn’t good today,” Borges said. “Again, once we get all the guys in there, it’ll be better, because we’ve got a good line, and we’ve got a good running back.”
With Borges just getting started on implementing his offense and several injuries to key players, it’s hard to draw any conclusions based just on Saturday’s game. But Boller, for one, is ready to turn things around after two losing seasons.
“It’s been too long. I’m sick of going three and eight,” he said.