Passing: A- Jared Goff is much, much better than I thought he would be. He's accurate, efficient, and incredibly poised. He's the most comfortable QB we've had since Aaron Rodgers. He rarely makes bad decisions and has an uncanny ability (for a freshman) to turn botched plays into big plays. The future is incredibly bright for Cal with Goff at the helm. His only--and admittedly minor--flaw is a tendency to overthrow receivers on deep routes. Whether it's an accuracy issue or a QB-WR timing issue, I'm sure it will be less of an issue as time goes on.
Rushing: C- Inconsistent blocking has held back the running backs. Khalfani Muhammad has been a pleasant surprise while Brendan Bigelow has been somewhat disappointing. Bigelow reminds me more and more of Jahvid Best: give him great blocking and he'll be one of the best RBs in the nation. When the line doesn't open up gaping holes, however, he struggles to pick up more than a couple yards. Daniel Lasco showed a promising ability to churn yards with lackluster blocking; he could help bring some consistency to the running game this season. Additionally, the Boehmcat looked promising against Ohio State.
Playcalling: B+ These are some very smart coaches on offense. They seem to have a great grasp on the little details, an area where Tedford's staff struggled over the past few years. Goff's fake punt was a terrific example. This kind of cleverness has been absent since the early Tedford years. They have some work to do in the red zone, however. I'm surprised they haven't called more fade passes from the bone in the red zone. Goff obviously has the accuracy to make this work, and it's a great way to get our receivers in one-on-one matchups.
Tempo: C We've shown brief periods of uptempo play, but the offense rarely feels like it's moving with urgency. The uptempo pace really helps out the running game by limiting defensive substitutions and catching the D off guard as it tries to get set quickly. I hope they can pick up the pace as the season goes on.
Passing: A- : The short an intermediate passing game has definitely paid huge dividends and it is the passing game that has kept Cal relatively competitive. The long ball needs some work, but that will come with experience. Harper and Treggs are the real deal, Goff is solid as true freshman, and everyone else is good, giving us great depth in this department.
Rushing: D : We're averaging just over 100 yards a game, which given the explosive and deep stable of backs that we have, isn't great. 3.1 yards per carry and only 3 TDs with a long rush of only 33 yards is just not good at all. I don't expect Cal to be a run it down your throat type of a team, but given how good the passing game has been, the rushing game should definitely be doing better.
Playcalling: B+ : I've been mostly pleased with how well things have gone with playcalls. The fake FG and punt were fantastic, and most of the time it seems like Dykes and Franklin have the right idea and are not at all over matched. As the team improves, I look for the playbook to open up to the full extent (see Bryce Treggs and others saying we're running most but not all of the plays) and things will really take off.
Tempo: C : It seems to me (Northwestern "injuries" notwithstanding) that we haven't really hit the fast tempo that was advertised. More often than not the snap gets off with the playclock somewhere between 15-20 seconds left, which is a decent pace, but not warp speed at all. Again, I think that as the team improves and grows, this will get faster and we'll see a really fast offense take off.
Passing game: A-/B+
The passing game, along with special teams, has been a bright spot during Cal's rough start. Goff hasn't been perfect, and there have been a fair share of drops and bad reads, but so far, so good for having such a young QB and young receivers.
Our rushing isn't quite as bad as Oregon State, but we're just incredibly inconsistent here. For as talented as our tailbacks are, we haven't seen a whole lot of productivity yet running the football. I feel like this is partly bad luck, with guys needing to break one more tackle to bust a big run, and partly bad blocking up front. Hopefully we see some improvement soon.
I like the willingness to be aggressive, the trick plays, the boldness. I think the playcalling has mostly been appropriate. We've passed a lot, but then we've been down big pretty quickly and haven't been good running the ball, so you have to go with what works. My only real complaint is that the "take a shot after a turnover" play has gotten too predictable.
Well, we're obviously faster than last year and we're running a lot of plays, but as Sam Fielder points out, we're not at full speed just yet. I don't expect us to go warp speed all the time, but it seems like we've only seen the Bears put it into top gear a few times. When we have, it's been pretty successful.
Goff has been a great surprise and even Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper have impressed me so far. For the most part, we've looked great throwing all kinds of passes, even if the short-range seems to be our bread and butter for now. Goff has performed well enough to cement himself as our starter and squash the doubts our fans had. Sure, he's missed some targets with the deep passes, but he's also been able to hit his receivers in stride on several of them--something we haven't seen in awhile. It would be nice to see some of the other and younger receivers step up so we can exploit the variety of body types and playing styles we have, but that's a minor quibble.
This is not the kind of D where the curve saves you. This is an ugly D. Thanks to Sam for doing the research (so I don't have to!) because those are some disappointing numbers. Muhammad has turned in an admirable performance for a true freshman and might deserve passing marks on his own. However, with all the hype surrounding Bigelow and Lasco coupled with our offensive gods of Sonny Dykes and Tony Franklin disclosing their plans to devise plays to maximize the strengths of these backs, we all expected better production. In their final season at LaTech, the Bulldogs called a nearly 1:1 ratio of pass to rush plays and I was hoping to see that balance at Cal. So far, the Bear Raid is looking like an Air Raid.
I like the way we've been starting with the short and mid-range passes to get Goff acclimated before surprising the defense with a deep ball. We're calling plays that emphasize our receivers' playmaking abilities when they have the ball in the open field and reducing the number of running plays until we get our backs going at full speed.
We're either running fast enough to wear down our opponents or fast enough that they have to cheat to catch up, depending on your perspective. The unofficial time-between-plays as measured by the CGB crew suggests we aren't up to full speed yet, possibly because the coaches want to make sure everything is in place rather than make some foolish mistake in a real game.
Cal fans, do you think we graded too harshly? Which CGB Professor grades so easily that his class must be an easy A? And don't forget to share your grades in the comments!