Week Two is gone and the Cal Bears finally won their first game after a nail biting 37-30 victory over FCS opponent Portland State. Here are my final reactions to last night’s victory.
The Good: The obvious answer to who was the best part of last night’s game was the play of quarterback Jared Goff. Goff, a true freshman, was able to turn out another all-world performance by going 31-of-51 with 485 passing yards and two touchdowns. What impressed me the most was that he was able to spread the ball around. He targeted ten different receivers, including junior Richard Rodgers and sophomore Bryce Treggs, both of whom had over 100 yards receiving last night. Goff looked like one of the more poised quarterbacks in the nation and is definitely the program-building talent he was hyped as being when he agreed to attend Cal this past February. Also, while the numbers put up by the run game looked a little underwhelming, the play of junior Brendan Bigelow and freshman Khaifani Muhammad has been very understated. There were moments during the game where both players flashed the kind of talent they possess. In a league like the Pac-12, where you need a good run game to have a chance to compete, these two prove that Cal could have a good one during the latter stages of this season. The two combined rushed for 143 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown. The play, specifically Muhammad’s, toward the end of the fourth really mirrored the play of some of the better Cal halfbacks from years past. Whether this kid turns out to be the next Jahvid Best or J.J. Arrington remains to be seen. But, for right now, he looks like a talent.
The Bad: The defense had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of evening. The first half was marred by these chunks of yardage given up by the secondary. The front seven was unable to contain the running attack from DJ Adams and quarterback Kieran McDonagh. When you give up plays of 81 yards, 36 yards, 35 yards and 24 yards with general ease, it’s bad. Not to mention that Portland State plays in the FCS. This doesn’t bode well for the Cal defense going forward. This team will have to face the third toughest schedule in the nation. They won’t win many games giving up those kinds of long plays to opponents. The defense was able to stop the bleeding in the second half, only surrendering 7 points. They made some key stops, especially in the middle of a tightly contested 4th quarter where Portland State had the ball with a chance to take the lead late in the game. Cal was missing a few key defensive playmakers, but those excuses shouldn’t fly.
The Ugly: I don’t want to keep harping on the defense. But the ugliest thing to come out of last night’s win was that Cal gave up 553 yards of total offense. Keep in mind this is to an FCS team that went 3-8 last season. If Cal hadn’t out gained them by 63 yards and the Vikings had been a little better on 3rd down (they went 3-for-12), Cal probably loses.