Every week Cal Football Blog will look at 5 most intriguing questions before Game Day.
1. Can Cal come back from a loss?
The Golden Bear’s loss this weekend has hurt the hearts of many Cal fans, players, and coaches. However, can Cal bounce back from a game that they could have won? If we looks back at Cal’s record after a loss since the 2007 season, Cal has a record of 9-9 after a loss. However, five of those nine wins have come against mediocre teams and seven out of the nine wins were at home. The other two away wins came against Washington State last year and a bad UCLA team a year before that. This doesn’t look good for Cal when they face Oregon at Autzen Stadium. However, Cal does have a bye week to fix up some issues and game plan for Oregon (though Cal is only 3-4 after a bye week since 2007). The coaches will need to keep the players excited and energized for the next week and a half before facing Oregon.
2. Can Cal perform against other Pac-12 teams?
Cal has a daunting schedule of having to face Oregon, USC, and then Utah back to back to back (both Oregon and USC will have a bye week before facing Cal). All three of these teams have the potential to be ranked in the top 25 before facing Cal. Many Old Blues are expecting DOOM, but folks must remember, this is college football – you just never know what may happen. With the right preparation and execution, Cal has the talent to upset all three of these teams. Most analysts are expecting Cal to defeat Oregon State, UCLA, and Washington State, meaning that Cal should barely make a bowl game this year. Also, if both the players and the fans bring the energy, especially at AT&T Park, Cal will have a great chance at being undefeated at home this season.
3. What has happened to the defense?
Don’t be surprised here. Since, the beginning of last year, good quarterbacks have really hurt Cal’s defense, resulting in big blowouts. Luckily, this year Cal has an offense to keep things close. Pendergast has continued to stress that Cal’s scheme is fine and that the problem is with execution and winning one-on-one matchups. However, Cal’s defensive players are not progressing as fast as Cal needs them to. Trevor Guyton and Mychal Kendricks are doing well, but like the team’s motto this year, it is all about the team and not about the individual. If the other players, especially the talented young players, do not begin to step up on a consistent basis, the production from Cal’s star players will not be enough for a win. Cal must take advantage of this bye week to fix up technique and execution. Cal will see if whether the defensive assistant coaches are as good as Cal hopes they are.
4. What must be done so Cal can score touchdowns instead of field goals in the redzone?
Tedford addressed this issue after the game, saying that Cal’s offense can’t just settle for the field goals. If Cal had scored a couple touchdowns instead of a couple field goals, Cal would have had a decent lead going into the fourth quarter. A dropped pass here, an underthrown pass there, and bad execution everywhere led to missed opportunities that Cal could have easily taken. Many people questioned Tedford’s playcalling and personnel on the goal line that led to Cal’s defeat. However, Tedford wanted to play an outside zone play, where Isi would have the chance to cutback or make a better play than Anderson, but wasn’t given the chance because of bad blocking. Tedford will have his hands full on figuring out different schemes, personnel, and how to improve execution (so pretty much the entire offense). Maybe we’ll finally go for a fake field goal this season?
5. What positives can we take from last weekend’s loss?
Cal’s run defense was very stout in containing Chris Polk to only 60 total rushing yards (though he did receive a 70 yard touchdown pass). The offensive line made much less mental mistakes and were able to give Maynard decent protection throughout the game. We learned that our stars can really play – Keenan Allen amassed 197 receiving yards, Mychal Kendricks had 14 total tackles, Trevor Guyton accounted for 2 sacks, and Zach Maynard threw for a season high of 349 yards passing. Georgio is still perfect on field goals while Bryan Anger averaged 49.7 yards per punt. Even when Cal’s defense faltered, Cal’s offense kept things close, which is something Cal fans have not seen in a while.