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Postgame Reaction: Cal-45, Texas-44

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When euphoria turns to nausea.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Chilton will be by much later tonight for his excellent Shooting From the Hip wrap-up.  His cellphone died right along with our souls after a crushing rollercoaster loss.

This is your thread to commiserate, lick wounds and applaud the effort of a football team whose best players are freshmen learning on the job and had to replace two starting safeties ten minutes into the game.  I don't believe in moral victories, but I do believe in a productive loss.  Football is a binary game and binary analysis doesn't do a very good job of conveying improvement and effort.

A few observations:

- The University of Texas has a QB.  #13.  Jerrod Heard.  527 yards of total offense.  Fearless, resourceful, dynamic. Has his head nearly ripped off by the worst facemask I've ever seen, shrugs and rallies for two touchdowns late.  His mistakes were all full speed and he never let them get him down.  Assassin.  He ran a two minute drill at the end of the game like he was Roger Staubach.  He carried the entire football team on his shoulders for four quarters.  Right before the last drive, I saw him smiling and bouncing and he ran over to Charlie Strong, slapped his hand and said,"We got this, coach." Heard was beaming.  It wasn't false bravado.  What most athletes greet with dread, gets Heard off. Strong just broke out in a big grin.  That's what you want your QB to do.  Then Heard went out and managed the drive flawlessly - no crazy attempts to win it all by himself, he took what they gave....until the time was right.

Straight up baller.

Really, Shawn?!

- The OL competed hard and played at a much higher level in Game 3, even factoring in some of Cal's deficiencies.  The two freshmen graded the best of the entire unit, at least in my rewind-during-the-commercials cursory viewing.  We can build on this.

- Welcome to the game plan, Daje Johnson.  Erase the two drops and you're special.  And have another touchdown.

- Jay Norvell, your playbook could fit on a postage stamp and I dig it.  We're aggressive, I liked the wrinkles we introduced and everything we're doing makes sense.  It's clear to anyone what reaction we're trying to build off of each play and I loved the lack of fear in our game planning.

- Our decision to push for a score at the end of the first half will be criticized.  Frankly, it's a coin flip - the game context, opponent and momentum gave plenty of weight to both sides of the argument.  The result doesn't mean the decision was poor.  If we're going to be a team that errs either on the side of caution vs. aggression, I'll pick the latter.

- Our decision to onside kick with 3:00 left impressed me.  Most coaches don't do that.  They just don't get the game theory and they coach on autopilot thinking field position is still a consideration.  Strong played it absolutely correctly. Really pleased to see that.  I know that's very meta, but end-of-game is a big deal.

- Cal's Jared Goff is fantastic.  Machine.  Almost Brady-esque with respect to ball placement in the short passing game.  His eyes are always downfield, he ignored the rush like it was a mosquito buzzing around him, his wheels are better than advertised and he throws with economy.  I was impressed before the game and I'm even more impressed after it.  Did he even have a bad throw?  So obviously a NFL QB.  All of the good teams in the NFL need to start the rumors now so he can fall past the Top 10 and pull an Aaron Rodgers.

- The Texas defense has some real issues - which we've been documenting, before and during the season.  Cal wasn't going to be the game to see improvement.  Losing Haines and Hall didn't help and forced us into some very simplistic defenses and we had to protect against the deep ball with alignment that allowed easy underneath execution from Goff and Cal's running game.  I'll tackle it more in depth later, but our LB play was incredibly poor and, unfortunately, that includes Malik Jefferson.  However, the entire defensive unit played their guts out in the 4th quarter.

- Never trust a hipster.