Jonathan Okanes stated that Mike Mohamed’s presence would’ve done very little, but I disagree. The inside linebacking position is the most important part of defending the Pistol, because those are the guys who make the majority of the tackles while the outside linebacker slows down the quarterback. D.J. Holt was probably our best defender tonight with sixteen tackles and nearly a forced fumble. Mohamed’s replacements, J.P. Hurrell, Robert Mullins and Steven Fanua had only ten combined.
Just as important, Mohamed coaches the team on the field. He would have recognized the tendencies, he could’ve played and coordinated what type of plays Nevada would have ran, he would’ve been the steady hand for a Golden Bear defense not prepared for the gimmicky pistol attack. It was clear that no one else could handle that responsibility, as it took nearly one half for the Bears to finally contain the Pistol.
And some of the details on Riley.
There was the inability to time things. Riley then took one sack on 1st down when he should’ve thrown the ball away. He overthrew Keenan Allen by miles on another play. There was the disgust Sofele showed when Riley overthrew a wheel route to him in the corner of the end zone—a play he had nearly overthrown Vereen on the week before. There was something wrong with that Jones fade route in the end zone that Miller broke up—it never looked completely right from the get-go, and Cal had to settle for a Giorgio Tavecchio field goal. There was the delay of game penalty he incurred on the last real meaningful play of the game to turn a 4th and short into a 4th and long. These mental errors are the sort of things I expected from Riley two years ago. Except I’m still seeing them now.
And there was the pick-six, the critical play in the game. To that point Cal had been running the ball fairly well. But his audible to throw a stop pattern outside to Alex Lagemann was ill-advised, and the throw itself lacked zip and control. Marlon Johnson recognized the audible, hid a little behind Jones so that Riley wouldn’t see him, jumped the route, then raced 65 yards to the house to give Nevada much-needed cushion. All the momentum the Bears had up to that point disappeared, and the game reversed back into the Wolf Pack’s favor, where it would stay.