Sep 14, 2013; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears wide receiver Kenny Lawler (4) is unable to make a diving catch next to Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Doran Grant (12) in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
So, does this mean Cal actually has a good football team?
No. But, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have players who can make up a good team going forward.
Arizona has a team that is inexplicably in contention for the Pac-12 South division championship. They have an amazing talent in the backfield, a quarterback who is passable because of his ability to mask his passing deficiencies with his knack for running the ball well and a good-to-pretty-good pass defense. They aren’t world-beaters, but they are good enough to be in the race with better teams (i.e. Arizona State and UCLA).
That said, they were always going to be beatable and they were clearly looking ahead to this weekend’s clash with UCLA when they stepped onto the Memorial Stadium field on Saturday night.
I figured this would be a close game, but I’d be lying if I said I had predicted the game would be this close. It was a five-point game with about three minutes left in the third! Arizona, in theory, could be a BCS bowl team. It’s highly unlikely, but possible. At the very least they have a decent shot to play after New Years Eve! Winning over a team that could sniff a New Years Day bowl would have been a huge lift for this Cal team, staff and fan base.
But alas, it was not meant to be.
I will continue my love affair with Jared Goff’s arm. He’s still the bee’s knees. He passes for 289 yards with four touchdowns (and two picks) and looks like the future. I don’t know if there is anymore of this “lets put Zach Kline in!” business going on in the coaching staff’s head, but there shouldn’t be. He is the guy you need to build around going forward. Next season, when Cal opens the season in Evanston, the quarterback warming up on the Ryan Field sideline to start the season needs to be Jared Goff. Anything else is cause for riot.
Again, the running game was inept. As a team, Cal rushed for 130 yards, but nobody went over 71 and nobody scored. I guess having a recruiting class that includes this kid is a good thing! Either way, if there is a definite issue that has plagued this team, the run game is it. A year ago, it was something Cal was looking at as a bright spot for 2013, now it’s something that ranks amongst the worst units in college football.
You want something positive to look at? Cal’s season is almost over. And the best thing for the fans, players and coaches is to look at 2014. It can’t get worse than a 1-8 (soon to be 2-10) team. I know this isn’t the way the fans wanted the Sonny Dykes era to start. However, the pieces are there, you can see them, that this team could be the foundation to a decent product next year, a good product the next season and (depending on the staff, recruiting class and field) a great product the season after.
Maybe that’s wishful thinking. Maybe it’s just that I am like Special Agent Fox Mulder and I want to believe. Maybe I had too much rum this weekend whilst watching the game. But right now, I believe this team has pieces. They have some things going for them. Winless against FBS opponents or not, this team is just a few lucky strokes away. It starts with Jared Goff, Khairi Fortt, Hardy Nickerson and the Harper-Treggs-Lawler corps. Those guys have enough talent to build around for at least the next few seasons, the onus is on the staff to get the pieces to compliment them and the game plan to let them s