Silver Linings Playbook: Can Cal find anything encouraging about the USC debacle?

Thearon W. Henderson

The Bears had humiliating performances on defense and special teams, but at least Jared Goff seems to be getting back on track.

What were the things that upset you the most about Cal's loss to USC? Did you find any silver lining in defeat?

Ruey Yen:
The score and the terrible special team plays are the two obvious glaring negatives from the game. Still, the Bear Raid was able to put together a few drives in the game. Kenny Lawler Jr shined for the second consecutive game. Jared Goff also continued to put up (empty-ish but still) record book breaking numbers for a freshman QB. We are also one week closer to the offseason, where we can all be unrealistically optimistic about the improvements of the players.

atomsareenough: Well, gee. I guess you could say I was upset by the grand scale and immense margin of defeat. That pretty much everything that can go wrong, continues to go wrong. That every week we manage to find new and spectacularly facepalmy ways to get completely blown out and humiliated. That we've lost to USC 10 years in a row. That we allowed nearly 9 yards per carry, 256 yards, and 4 TDs rushing to the Trojans. That we allowed pedestrian Trojan QBs to look fantastic with 17 for 21 passing, for 243 yards and 2 more TDs.

That our offense continues to be incredibly inconsistent despite nearly a year of running it. That the only victories in our beautifully renovated stadium the past two years have been a completely fluky game against UCLA and two uncomfortably close wins against FCS schools. That we are playing an absolutely godawful team in Colorado this coming week and I'm not remotely convinced we will beat them. That we still have yet to go to Palo Alto to play Stanford, and that they are not only one of the best teams in the country, but we just saw them completely dominate one of the other best teams in the country.

There are no silver linings for me from this game, except maybe that the season is one game closer to being mercifully over. I credit our players for continuing to play hard, and I'm proud of them for that. I'm still gonna watch the next two games and pull for our guys, but I think I've had just about all I can take this year. I usually enjoy watching a bunch of bowl games every year just as a college football fan, and heck, my other team, Syracuse, is kinda doing okay and should hopefully make a bowl... but I'm just kinda football'd out right now. Feels bad, man.

Leland Wong: There was disappointment all over our annual loss to USC. How about a school record for points allowed in a season? Tying an NCAA record for punts returned for a touchdown? Allowing USC to put up more points on us than they did on the horrid and hopeless Huskies of 08? USC scoring the most points against us in over 80 years?

Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the loss of all that improvement we saw in the Arizona game. I know football is a very complex system and one shouldn't expect a purely linear improvement from one week to the next, thanks in part to unforeseeable events like the injury to LB Hardy Nickerson, Jr, leading us to play literally the last MLB we have and forcing the coaches to draw up emergency plans in case we saw another injury at that position rather than develop game strategy. Nonetheless, the bottom line is we went from a solid performance in all phases of the game, where it started to seem like everything was clicking, to this embarrassment. Hopefully the players can keep their heads up and keep working for the next game.

The biggest positive of the game is the return to form of QB Jared Goff. If he can continue this level of play, I think the fans will start to feel more comfortable with the bold declaration that he is the program's long-term answer.

Nick Kranz: Special teams was obviously the glaring issue, and it really has been a problem for two weeks running. It's very frustrating that, just as the offense and defense showed the faintest signs of life, that special teams would start slumping so badly.

If you take away those three punt team touchdowns (which, obviously, is extremely tenuous logic) then this is a blowout more along the scale of what happened against Washington or UCLA, and not the 60something point monstrosity that we all saw. This falls under the realm of stating the obvious but this team cannot afford for the few bright spots to dim at all.

Seriously though, this season has been a chore. I wish it were over now so that the team could focus on practicing and getting healthy and letting good players on other teams graduate.

Berkelium97: What's most frustrating is that this team finds new, spectacular ways to lose. We gave up a ridiculous 3 special teams touchdowns and let the conference's third-worst scoring team put up 62 points. We allowed ourselves to get thrashed by a thoroughly mediocre USC offense--don't let all the hype from the announcers fool you, this has not been a good offense at all. They had their most efficient outing of the year through the air their most productive game of the year on the ground. After it looked like the defense was improving (if you can count one data point as improvement), they came crashing back down to earth. As usual, it was a heavy dose of fundamental issues plaguing the defense: missed tackles, bad angles, free-roaming tight ends.

The messes on special teams and defense obscured another decent performance from the offense. Goff looked sharp and the offense managed to convert red zone trips into touchdowns for the second consecutive week. The running game had its most productive game of the year thanks to good blocking and success with some new wrinkles: sweeps to WRs and the speedbone (diamond with both Muhammad and Bigelow). This was one of the best performances of the year against the impressive USC defense. Only ASU tallied more rushing yards and only ASU and Arizona had more passing yards. After several weeks of disappointment, the offense may finally be improving.

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