(Note to readers: Today we continue in our look back at the games in the 2006 season with Minnesota.Â Here are links to our past look backs: Tennessee)Â
All eyes were on Cal and whether they could rebound from the disaster in Tennessee.Â In their way was a Minnesota team which seemed to be on the rise after a 1st week blowout over Kent State.Â Cal more than rebounded by lighting up the Minnesota defense for 42 points and 557 yards.Â Cal QB Longshore displayed why he won the starting job over Joe Ayoob with his ability to throw the long ball with good touch.
While it was true that the passing game of Cal came to life in this game, it was the running game that setup the victory.Â By pounding away at Minnesota with the one-two punch of Lynch and Forsett, Cal was able to open up the passing game.Â Additionally, the defense, which held Minnesota to 10 points (the remaining 7 came off a kickoff return), was able to shutdown the powerful Big-10 run offense of Minnesota.
Forgotten in this game was that it didn’t start out as a Cal blowout.Â Cal went 3 and out on it’s first possession and Minnesota responded with a touchdown drive made up of a long misdirection pass play and the power running game.Â While Cal was able to rebound on their second possession and tie the score at 7, the score remained 7-7 until the 2nd quarter.
The 2006 learnings:
The big learning from this game was that DeSean Jackson had arrived as Cal’s premier wide receiver.Â The Longshore to Jackson connection was in full force starting with the Minnesota game.Â Another learning was that Syd’Quan Thompson was able to rebound from his poor performance at Tennessee and was going to be at a minimum a serviceable cornerback.Â Finally, it was learned that Cal could play a physical run defense.Â While this should have been clear from the Tennessee game, the blowout hid this fact.Â The Minnesota game re-confirmed that the Cal run defense would be strong.
The 2007 implications:
Without Minnesota on the schedule for 2007, nor a team with a similar style of play, the implications are limited to general team performance.Â For one, it was Tedford’s 5h consecutive win in their home opener.Â Hopefully that bodes well for the Tennessee game to open the season.Â On the flip side, it shows just how resilient Cal can be after a big loss and that there is reason to believe that even if Cal gets blown out by Tennessee twice, that there is still hope for the rest of the season.Â Finally, Cal’s defensive line got some time to play backups at the end of this game, specifically Tyson Alualu, and there is reason to be hopeful.
The Minnesota game was the beginning of a long run of wins for Cal.Â How much would we love to see that run start with the opening game of 2007?