Week Six is gone and the Cal Bears lost their third straight game (fourth of the season) against the Washington State Cougars, 44-22. Here are my final reactions to yesterday’s loss:
The Good: Jared Goff was thrown under the bus after the week five loss to the Oregon. He was taken out after six passes against the Ducks. The word was that (no joke) Goff’s small hands were the reasoning behind yanking him so early. I admit, he was not really successful at keeping the ball in his hands, but I felt that this was no excuse for yanking him so early. He needs experience if he is going to be the leader of the Berkeley Bears going forward. Then, after having to watch Zach Kline have a solid outing during the second half of the Oregon game, he had to split first-team reps with the Kline because, in the staff’s opinion, it bared discussion. He apparently impressed enough to get the start this weekend, and he delivered. He passed went 32-for-58 with 489 yards and two touchdowns. This was without help from the run game and from a lackadaisical game by the receiving corps (which let more than one catchable ball fall aimlessly to the ground). Simply put, if there was any doubt after the Oregon game on whether Goff was the right man for the starting job, they should have been squashed after this game. He quelled any fears I had, though I must admit I don’t really think I had many in regards to Goff.
The Bad: The defense wasn’t horrible. That said, I have to give this dishonor to the defensive game plan. Connor Halliday is a solid to good quarterback. That said, he isn’t a great quarterback. And even the greats don’t often throw for 500-plus yards against anyone, let alone a team that plays in an AQ conference. Halliday threw for 521 yards. That is already a big deal and shows a lack of preparation on Andy Buh’s part. Then, what made matters worse, was that it was clear by the second half (and probably earlier) that the Washington State offense was going to be around the passing game. Halliday eventually passed 67 times against Cal, and was good enough to compile a completion percentage of 61. That leads me to believe that Buh never really had an answer for Halliday, because he (like the rest of the people watching the game) knew that Halliday was throwing, and he was still able to destroy Cal. I can’t blame the players, because they didn’t look half bad for a good chunk of the game, but they seemed to be out of position a lot. That comes with coaching. Not to mention that Halliday was able to set a season high in passing attempts, completions and yards. The idea that Halliday had a better game against Cal then he did against Idaho is depressing. The half-time adjustments were non-existant. That’s bad.
The Ugly: The strength and conditioning has to be better for this team once this offseason comes. Watching from field level, one thing that really shocked me (and something that is really hard to notice when watching the game from far away or on television) is how small the defensive line is. I literally couldn’t see the defensive line when they lined up against Washington State’s offensive line. They were bigger, taller and looked tougher. They cleanly kept Cal at bay. I’m sure had McCain or Scarlett or a number of other players had been out there, this may not have been such a big deal. That said, if Washington State is able to have a much bigger, tougher and taller team, imagine what UCLA, Stanford, Washington and USC will look like when they meet up with Cal. And finally, the schedule going forward, looks super ugly. It’s daunting. They needed five wins in the last eight contests to get to .500 and possibly to postseason play. Now, they must win five games in seven contests, with away games at UCLA, Stanford and Washington coming up, plus a November home game against USC, who could be needing to let off some steam and get momentum going into their game against UCLA a few weeks after they come to Memorial Stadium. Needless to say, they needed a win against Washington State. They needed this win, and now, they have to pull off more than one upset to have a shot. I doubt that they will, but this loss really made everything look a lot uglier for remainder of Cal’s football season. Luckily for us, basketball season for both men and women is a little under a month away. See – silver linings.