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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Cal Defense Fakes Cramps to Slow Down Oregon Blur Offense

Oregon has developed a reputation for being a second half team this season. They were tied at 13 against Tennessee at halftime before outscoring the Vols 35-0 in the second half. They were down 31-24 against Stanford at halftime but outscored the Cardinal 28-0 in the second half. It was 18-6 against Washington at the half and then the Ducks got rolling outscoring the Huskies 35-10 after halftime. Even with all their slow starts and second half comebacks, no defense shut them down in a half the way Cal did.

The Golden Bears’ defense held Oregon’s offense scoreless in the first half allowing just 149 total yards and 43 total plays (the lone touchdown came on a punt return). Oregon leads the country averaging 567 yards per game and 54.7 points per game so to say they were shut down is an understatement. Many critics felt someone would figure out how to stop Oregon’s offense at some point during the season, but nobody figured the team to do it would be Cal, much less utilizing the strategy Cal employed.

At least a half dozen times in the first half a Cal player faked an injury and stayed on the ground after a play in order to slow down Oregon’s offense. Oregon prides itself on playing fast, running play after play without pausing. Their style tires out defenses and makes it difficult for defenses to swap out personnel for fresher bodies. That is as long as the opposing defense doesn’t fake cramps in order to stop play:

So was Cal’s strategy clever or dirty? The ploy worked perfectly in the first half but it would hardly qualify as an example of model sportsmanship. I think it’s a pretty dirty strategy and one the officials should have warned against, threatening delay of game penalties. What Cal did is not within the spirit of the game even if it was effective. Maybe someone will figure out how to legitimately stop Oregon’s offense, but that’s not the way to do it.

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