5 Thoughts (plus one) - 2008 Emerald Bowl
California RB Shane Vereen
California RB Shane Vereen
Posted Dec 28, 2008

The national introduction to Jahvid Best and Jacory Harris, the decision to start Nate Longshore, and the poor coaching are all part of the 5 Thoughts (plus one) on Cal's 24-17 win over Miami in the 2008 Emerald Bowl.

5 Thoughts (plus one) ... 2008 Emerald Bowl

California 24 ... Miami 17

GAME RECAP: Cal gets late fumble to lead to win 
- 2008 CFN Emerald Bowl Preview

2008 Emerald Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More

1. The Heisman campaign for Cal RB Jahvid Best officially began Saturday night in San Francisco. He is easily one of the nation’s most electrifying players, a long ball hitter with great vision and burst through the hole. However, if Best is going to reach all of his individual goals, he’ll need more support from the passing game. Nate Longshore is a mess, so his graduation will qualify as addition by subtraction. Still, Kevin Riley didn’t exactly step up when he had his chances during the year. The job will be his entering spring, though freshmen Beau Sweeney and Brock Mansion should be given every chance to pull an upset. This sets up as a huge offseason for noted quarterback guru Jeff Tedford. He needs to develop a playmaker behind center. As amazing as Best can be, he’ll be even scarier if the passing game improves. - Richard Cirminiello          
2. QB Jacory Harris is the future in Miami. The future looks bright. He was sharp in the Emerald Bowl, but even more impressive when you consider he’s less than a year removed from high school. Mature beyond on his years, he looked like a veteran in the pocket and comfortable guiding the ‘Cane offense. Sure, he needs to add more muscle and sharpen his passing skills, but those will come in the offseason. Harris carries himself like a winner, which is going to resonate throughout the roster once he earns more respect from his older teammates. He was locked in a year-long battle for playing time with Robert Marve. The way Harris performed in his first bowl game, he has earned the right to enter spring drills as the starter.
- Richard Cirminiello

Why start Nate Longshore over Kevin Riley? It doesn’t make any sense. Talk all you want about honoring the seniors, the importance of winning the bowl game, blah, blah, blah, but if you’re California, only one things matters and there’s only one thing the program should be working towards: what do we have to do to win the Pac 10 title and go to the Rose Bowl? Longshore is graduating, while Riley will enter spring ball as the odds on favorite to win the starting job. Why not get Riley all the extra work as the No. 1 guy in the bowl practices? Why not let him sink or swim in the pressure situation against a speedy team like Miami? Who cares whether or not the Bears win the Emerald Bowl? How is Cal a better team for having won this game with Longshore under center getting booed every other snap? - Pete Fiutak

4. Give me 11 Zack Folletts and I’ll give you a defense that drives opposing defenses batty. No, he’s not Rey Maualuga or Brian Cushing down in Los Angeles, but I defy you to find a more disruptive linebacker out of the Pac-10. He’s one of those defenders that plays with so much intensity and energy that it elevates the play of the guys around him. With his hand in the dirt, he schooled the Miami tackles, consistently making stops behind the line of scrimmage. And when the game was on the line, it was No. 56 who was blowing past veteran Reggie Youngblood and stripping Jacory Harris to set up the winning score for Cal. Certain defensive players have a knack for disruption. For four years in Berkeley, Follett has been one of those players
- Richard Cirminiello              

5. Brutally bad coaching made this game hard to stomach, from a purely dispassionate perspective. First, let's look at the winning team:
A win over Miami is definitely better than a loss, but Cal fans were reminded in San Francisco why their team hasn't been able to interrupt USC's reign over the rest of the Pac-10. It does need to be said that Jeff Tedford has made Cal football relevant. By that standard, his tenure in Berkeley has already been a smashing success. But since a heaping pile of money is being devoted to an upgrade in Cal's athletic facilities--football prominently included--one can safely assume that lower-tier bowl wins in El Paso, Las Vegas, Forth Worth, and San Francisco are not the goal in Strawberry Canyon.
So, why is Cal not about to topple USC? You only had to watch this game and contemplate why Tedford didn't give the ball to stud running back Jahvid Best on almost every single snap. By throwing far too many passes, Tedford made this game much closer than it had to be. Without a clutch play from his defense--a sack and fumble inside the Miami 10 that set up a game-winning touchdown in the final three minutes--Tedford's team would have failed to exceed a meager 17-point total despite having, literally, the Best player on the field. That's bad coaching. - Matthew Zemek
6. Continuing the coaching post-mortem, let's go to the losing team:
Yes, Miami has a lot of youth at quarterback. No one expected Jacory Harris to become Bernie Kosar in this game. But in a bowl game, a coaching staff should be expected to prepare a quarterback for certain situations that are a regular part of competitive football. One such situation is the two-minute drill.
Harris proved to be spectacularly unprepared, and head coach Randy Shannon failed to intervene when a slow-motion train wreck took shape.
Miami, down 24-17, had the ball near midfield with 50 seconds left in regulation. Harris shockingly stayed in bounds on a scramble when he had every opportunity to get out of bounds. The play ended with 43 seconds left, though, which meant that the Hurricanes--with the use of their final timeout--could have retained an entirely decent chance of mounting a successful drive and tying up the contest.
There was just one problem: Shannon didn't call that timeout, while his young quarterback showed absolutely no sense of urgency.
Harris--following his ill-advised in-bounds scramble--allowed 25 seconds to tick off the clock before receiving the next snap with 18 seconds left in the game. And on that snap, Harris wound up quickly gunning the ball into the stands, the sign of a player who was intent on... what else?... stopping the clock. When Harris's pass actually hit the stands and drew the dead-ball whistle, only 12 seconds remained in the game.
And then... only then... did Randy Shannon call timeout.
The final Miami drive was so poorly managed that the Canes were never able to throw a pass to the end zone. Not even one.
It's not just the players on Cal and Miami who have to improve next season, when expectations will be rightfully high for both programs. The coaching staffs have to bring their A-game if the Bears and Hurricanes are to reach the proverbial "next level." - Matthew Zemek