In which there are some things to talk about regarding the quarterback situation
Dykes said barring injury, he thinks Goff will start the rest of the season. Called him the "long-term" answer— Hunter Hewitt (@HunterHewitt) October 27, 2013
Based on Sonny Dykes' comments after the game, it looks like something has indeed worked out, and that Jared Goff is the guy. Not the guy for Arizona, not the guy for this season, but the guy - the quarterback that they have selected and will be preparing for years to come.
This is a very complicated situation, and I'm not really sure what to make of it myself.
If Goff is indeed the long term choice, then I think I've seen enough this season to feel good about that decision. Several times a game - this one included - he makes throws or decisions that indicate he could be something special down the line, and the complete package could come together even next season, given how rep-dependent the system is. To me, Kline hasn't done as much of this in his playing time -- he has been more efficient at putting points on the board for the most part, but hasn't done much that made me think wow, he could be something.
Yes, the offense has sometimes sputtered under Goff's direction, but it's hard to separate how much of that is on him and how much of that is due to the lack of support he receives in the run game and in protection. For a true freshman, there's a lot to like, and though it would have been nice to have a full Kline start or two to know for sure, I am choosing to trust the coaches on this if that's who they want.
Understandably, a good portion of the fanbase will be disappointed by this development. Less so because of Goff, I think, and more because they fully and wholeheartedly believed that Kline would be that person, want game evidence to be completely sure he isn't, or think he never got a fair shot to be. Unfortunately, none of us have been in attendance during those weeks of competition, so it stands to reason that whatever they're seeing from Goff must have convinced them he is a better choice than anything Kline can offer -- not to mention that the offense's problems probably don't disappear with a different guy running the show.
At the very least, it seems like an extended quarterback controversy is off the table, which is the biggest thing I was looking for.
Jared Goff is the guy, because he is the guy, as Tony Franklin so eloquently put it - and seeing as the staff has decided he is, then we're best served giving him as many snaps as possible.
Other quarterback things...
Obviously if Kline does transfer, though, I do hope he gets a shot somewhere. Tremendous arm talent.
I also fully support the decision to throw Hinder in there as a reward for his hard work, which most people think was the reason behind his appearance. He operated out of the BoehmCat package.
The Kurt Warner look works for Goff. Wearing gloves on both hands, he had no fumbles and still maintained some decent touch on the ball.
In which we talk offense (non-quarterbacks)
In a postgame thought column first, I am awarding plusses and minuses to my OWL grades, because I think that's the only way to really capture how the team played on Saturday.
Some - not much, but some - of the defense's struggles fall on the offense, which has consistently put them in disadvantageous positions. Nine first half punts, including five three and outs is going to make it hard on any defense to succeed. How much of that is the quarterback? How much of it is the line? How much of it is the lack of running game? I have a hard time separating the three myself. One of those three and outs happened because Treggs flat out missed a throw that hit him in the hands, for example.
That being said, it's too early to tell if the Bear Raid is not Pac-12 worthy. Other Air Raid offenses have been productive at major CFB conferences, including the Big XII and up north at WSU, they're starting to head places, so I have a hard time believing it's only fit for small schools right now. Give it a couple seasons -- you know, with a freshman at the helm, some consistent starters and what not --before deciding.
Five straight games below 30 points is probably not what we expected, though, so there's no other way to spin it except that the offensive play was poor.
Whatever changes there were up front clearly didn't make much of a difference - Goff was once again harassed all game, taking five sacks when it was all done. That also doesn't count the immense number of near sacks and pressures he faced, which UW generated with only a four man rush.
Christian Okafor at left tackle didn't prove to be much better than Freddie Tagaloa, nor did Jordan Rigsbee for Mark Brazinski at center. The former gave up at least two sacks, although I understand the motivation behind the second switch - the team desperately needs to develop depth at center, and giving Rigsbee a few games this year to get familiar might pay off in the future.
A couple low snaps were an issue, but what else is new, right?
What is a bit more baffling is burning Borrayo's redshirt. He not only looked ineffective but will also lose a season of eligibility to play what remains? I've never been a fan of burning redshirts late in the year, since there's diminishing returns after the first few games. This was not a redshirt taken by necessity, either - it was one taken by conscious choice, and so far, there's a lot up in the air.
With the team essentially on their fourth center - the backup would have been Cochran, so this is really Brazinski's backup - it's not too surprising that the tempo has suffered. Not sure how big of a deal it is, since I think it's more important to get the first first down before kicking into gear, but that's just me.
In short, not very good. But we knew that.
Darren Ervin ran hard, but like last week, nothing to show he'd be a long term solution. The back who has looked best in this offense has been either Lasco or Muhammad. Not sure why the latter has seen reduced carries the last two weeks.
Yes, Khalfani Muhammad's run was good to see, but let's remember it did come at the end of a blowout, and not against competition of substance. Now, acknowledging the situation that it came in, one thing I liked was the spin move he showed to wriggle his way free - he's been largely a straight line runner all season.
The Fresno Flash - my nickname of choice for Bigelow - seems oddly appropriate now, because the dude has flat out disappeared. Now that he's been reduced to a token package player, he'll probably be back next season, and one thing to keep an eye on with him is if the offense is better able to utilize him at all - or perhaps more accurately, if he's better able to fit within it. The talent is obviously there. Actualizing it, not so much.
There aren't any real complaints to be had about the receivers, who Rob Likens and Mark Tommerdahl have been largely fantastic with. The passes are going to who they should - Harper, Treggs and Richard Rodgers combined for 21 catches - but our receivers in general are really hurting themselves with some ill-timed drops. There were no less than three sure conversions that were mishandled on Saturday.
Okay, one complaint about Rodgers - he sometimes does not run his route out to the sticks.
In which we say things about defense
There were good things, of course - five forced punts in the first half before a backbreaking touchdown allowed before halftime - but like all good things with this year, it only happened in flashes. Such is the nature of a youthful team. Consistency remains the goal.
I have no idea if Andy Buh is going to go or not at the end of the year, since his contract is supposedly still an issue. If he does, I don't think it would be a huge loss or anything, and I certainly won't be against it. This one was another terrible one from his crew - Washington trotted their way to nearly 700 yards. More would have been in sight if the Huskies didn't call off the dogs. Some of the results this year, I've thought were personnel related - Washington State comes to mind. This one, less so.
Any improvements we've seen from the defense this season have really been marginal, and even the run defense, which we thought may have been turning around, was sliced to bits by Bishop Sankey this weekend. He did work mostly offtackle and on the edges, as has been the problem most of the year.
Injuries and youth can excuse a lot of things. The defense allowing 30+ points in all 8 games and 40+ against 5 of 7 FBS foes is inexcusable— Marc Tausend (@ManBearCal) October 27, 2013
The tackling has been repeatedly horrible as well. [Can players be coached to be better tacklers? I've always thought this was something largely individual and that they've known how to tackle their whole lives.]
Johnny Ragin needs more snaps - that much is clear. The couple of times he was spotted out there, he produced losses. I mean that quite literally. 1.5 of his two tackles on the night were for losses, and one sack came when he just flat out burst past the left guard. The explosiveness and the prerequisite athleticism are both there. PLAY HIM.
He spent at least one play with his hand down on the ground as an end, too, which is certainly interesting.
Puka needs to continue to start over Kragen. It didn't show in the stats sheet, but he simply looks more productive out there, not to mention athletic. At least twice, he hit or harassed Price, which is a whole lot more often than we've been used to this year. To his credit, Kragen did have a pressure and a sack of his own.
Deandre Coleman was had more than a handful of impact plays and was very good, as he has been most of the season. I would expect him and maybe Kam to make All Pac-12 in some fashion.
As for the rest of the rotating group of linebackers, I do want to point out that Jalen Jefferson is constantly - constantly - slipping and falling. All season long, he's had guys bottled up for losses, only to fail to make the tackle. It's very nice to have someone in position to force those losses, but less nice to not actually get them. Still, only a sophomore, so it's likely the best is yet to come with that guy. Hardy Nickerson and Chad Whitener split significant playing time overall, which was a change. Whitener looks a step quicker than Hardy, but still needs to add strength to fend off blockers. Didn't notice anything glaringly bad about him, though, so that's a plus, right?
All the backers are just a very youthful bunch that needs seasoning.
Despite a career high for tackles, Cam Walker had his chances at several more. At this point, it's pretty predictable that he will whiff at least once per game, at least. Not all of that is his fault, since it's not his natural position and he's not particularly big, but it's tough to watch. There were good plays from the freshman, though - he came up with a good angle and hit to force Price out of bounds late in the second, for example.
It almost doesn't matter who starts opposite Kam Jackson right now. None of these guys have been consistent enough to hold down the fort. Translation: come on down, future freshmen. Of the DBs Cal has currently recruited, it's hard not to imagine at least one or two in serious contention to play next year. Joel Willis gave up his fair share of catches, missed a few tackles, had a pass broken up - all part of a pretty nondescript evening for him. Lapite came in and got beat deep once. Cedric Dozier got some run toward the end of it.
I am very, very glad Austin Seferian-Jenkins will be gone soon. The Cal secondary was hilariously small in comparison and he has been a repeated nightmare to defend.
In which there is a passing mention of special teams
No major mishaps save for the fake field goal, which was a horrible call. Better to have the offense on the field in that situation, since you're probably not fooling anyone down by that much.
Two major Huskies returns were wiped out by penalty. Good and bad, right?
In which there are some notes that don't fit elsewhere in this column
If you guys are seeing my tweets a lot on the @GoldenBlogs feed, it's usually because someone else on staff is retweeting them. I definitely do not speak for everyone here - I'm just the most active on social media.
I'm also pretty bummed that I may not make next week's home game, which would be my first miss since I started attending them in 2011. Taking a teaching credential test at 7AM, which means I'd be cutting it pretty close. I'll try my damndest to go, though. You probably don't care if I'm at the game or not, but watching it live is far more helpful for analysis/thought stuff than on TV.