Cal football weaknesses: Defense struggles, Lack of run game?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Bears didn't run enough and got run on a lot in their loss to Northwestern.

Yellow Fever: The running game whenever Bigelow was in after the first series. Maybe try a little bit more play action rather than straight handoffs when Bigelow's in the game if they're going to play him like that, you know? Those draws weren't fooling anyone.

Berkelium97: Line play. The offensive line made its fair share of mistakes: consecutive false starts, giving up a crucial sack when Northwestern only rushed three, inconsistency with run blocking. The defensive line struggled to get any pressure on Siemian in the first half, although they had moments of improvement in the second half.

Leland Wong: There was some disappointment on offense and defense. Offensively, Bigelow started hot, but eventually disappeared, possibly because we focused on stretch plays and runs to the outside and Northwestern quickly adjusted to that. Additionally, there was a drive where we had two consecutive false start penalties, making good field position go bad faster than that jug of milk in my fridge. (I should probably throw that out). It'll take time for the young O-line to feel cohesive, but I was really hoping Dykes's system of having the center in charge of the cadence and the snap count would significantly cut down on these penalties.

The defense definitely gave me more to worry about. We knew we'd be thin in the secondary and that was proven with the TD pass thrown with Isaac Lapite as the man covering the receiver. But, like I said, we knew we'd have depth issues there, so maybe it's a bit of a cop-out to label that a "disappointment." Twist is going to get really cranky if I don't submit a legitimate disappointment, so I'll call out the pass rush from the defensive line being unable to reach the quarterback, especially after we heard reports of some emerging pass-rushers from practice. We also had a lot of missed or broken tackles; I wonder if that was related to the new reduced-tackling initiative. Unofficially, it was reported safety Avery Sebastian left the game as the team's leading tackler with 11 tackles. I know we've used him in run support in the past, but it's pretty worrisome that so many plays got out to his level. Switching to the 4-3 was supposed to help the line make plays, especially the DTs like Deandre Coleman. Hopefully those guys will step up next week.

Ruey Yen: The result obviously was disappointing. The Cal secondary also gave Northwestern way too much room, particularly on 3rd downs. In addition to good Northwestern execution on 3rd downs, I blame some of their high conversion rate on the Cal defense. Also, are there not more standard running plays in the Bear Raid? Northwestern D did not appear to be fooled much at all by the play action or draw plays.

LeonPowe: Lack of pressure on the QB and lack of good carries for Bigelow in the second half. Otherwise those were fluky interceptions - while northwestern is a good team and totally took advantage of them, I think if we hang onto two passes, we have a lot better chance at winning.

HydroTech: Run blocking, run defense, and kickoffs out of bounds.

Charley Lu: Probably Sebastian going down. Avery made it all the way back from a concussion. I hope his ankle injury isn't too severe since we are going to need his energy and his heart.

Vlad Belo: The defense's inability to make a stop and get off the field. I know we will have our struggles (at least early in the season) with a new defense and Northwestern is a difficult team to defend anyway. But it was still disappointing to see as many 3rd down conversions as Northwestern got and disappointing to see the D unable to make a stop at the end when Cal was only down by 7.

atomsareenough: I wouldn't say I was disappointed per se, but the pass rush wasn't great with out Jalil and Scarlett (and McCain later), and the secondary had their problems early in the game. If Sebastian is out for an extended period of time, that's a big worry, even though Demariay Drew played pretty well in his place.

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