In almost any other season, and perhaps if we get one more win, all we're probably talking about is the historic turnaround the Cal offense made to bring the Bears back to competency this season. Cal averaged 38.3 points, currently 13th in FBS and 2nd in the Pac-12 after Oregon. Their 459 points was a season-high for the program.
And Jared Goff. What a season.
- 35 touchdowns, breaking Pat Barnes's single season record of 31 touchdowns.
- 3,973 passing yards, breaking the 3,508 passing yard mark that Goff set last season.
- Goff's 527 yards against Washington State is the most single-game passing yards by any Bears quarterback, breaking his own record against Washington State from last year.
- Goff's 458 yards against Colorado is now the fifth best passing performance by a Cal quarterback in one game. Goff now has five of the six top single-game passing yard performances of all-time.
- Goff has thrown 53 touchdowns as a Bear (3rd most among Cal quarterbacks) and 7,481 passing yards (4th most).
- Kyle Boller leads Cal w/ 64 passing TDs (Pat Barnes 54). Troy Taylor with 8126 passing yards, Boller 7980, Barnes 7360. Assuming perfect health, Goff should obliterate both records by mid-season next year.
We won five games.
So as great as these stats are, they feel a bit hollow.
We have to talk about the biggest culprit: The atrociously bad Cal pass defense, which is dead last again. This year it hit historically bad levels, which I thought was impossible after last year's reboot of the Benny Hill Show.
Phil Steele tweeted that if BYU's quarterback threw for 277 yards on Saturday, Cal would give up the most passing yards in a regular season ever. Walk-on backup quarterback Christian Stewart had only hit 300 yards in half of his performances, so it wasn't far fetched that the Cal defense might be able to step up and deliver.
They surrendered 433 (and I think it's quite possible that the record was broken on that 83 yard touchdown).
The California Golden Bears pass defense, which started so promisingly, crumbled by the end of 2014. With Cal losing a lot of their defensive line talent from last season and losing Brennan Scarlett midway through the year, the pass rush crumbled. The Bears were able to blitz big and get a few negative plays against BYU, but at the cost of giving up the big play that killed them all year last year.
And the stats just pile up sadly. Here are the record that this Cal defense broke this season.
- Connor Halliday set an FBS record with 734 passing yards against the Bears. Cal somehow won that game because Goff was just as good, Trevor Davis had a historic night in special teams, and WSU missed a 19 yard field goal.
- Sefo Liufau had a good season, but he never passed 320 passing yards in any game this season. Except against Cal, where he lit the Bears up for 455 passing yards and SEVEN touchdowns. SEVEN! If not for a great goal-line stand by the front seven, Cal might not have survived this game.
- Anu Solomon is going to the Pac-12 South title game, but a lot of the damage from Arizona has come on the ground lately. Solomon threw for 520 yards in all against Cal, most of any opponent by a hundred yards, and threw for more yards in that terrible 4th quarter than he has in any of his last five starts.
- Cody Kessler threw for 370 yards. That doesn't sound so bad until you realize nearly 300 of those yards came in the first half as the Trojans rolled to a 31-2 lead, making any chances at victory the remotest of remote.
- Cyler Miles only passed 2000 passing yards in his final week of action. He threw for a season-high 273 passing yards and three touchdowns against Cal.
- No one would say Brett Hundley dominated the Bears, but I do remember a disastrous bit of pass defense near the end of the first half that gave UCLA a crucial touchdown. Four of Cal's opponents averaged a first down a pass attempt.
- Christian Stewart threw for 433 yards and 5 touchdowns, both career highs. A walk-on, backup senior dominated in a game that meant nothing to the Cougars and everything to the Bears.
- Kevin Hogan threw for 214 yards, a pick, and no touchdowns. Glad to see the mediocrity of Hogan still can't overcome this D.
- Receivers that set career highs against Cal: Nelson Agholor (16 catches, 216 yards), Vince Mayle (11 catches, 263 yards), River Cracraft (172 receiving yards), Nelson Spruce (19 catches, 179 yards), Cayleb Jones (13 catches, 186 yards), Jordan Villamin (9 catches, 140 yards), John Ross (4 catches, 118 yards), Jaydon Mickens (10 catches), Dwyane Stanford (6 catches, 103 yards), Jordan Leslie (5 catches, 155 yards), Mitchell Juergens (7 catches, 107 yards)...this goes on I'm pretty sure. I'm tired though.
- Cal surrendered 42 passing touchdowns this season, dead last in the country by a good seven touchdowns. The Bears have given up an average of 37 passing touchdowns in the past two years under Sonny Dykes.
- Cal surrendered 477 points this season, which would be the worst in the program's history if last year didn't exist. Thank goodness for last year!
- Sonny Dykes's teams have now finished three years running with the most passing yards allowed; 340 yards per game at Louisiana Tech in 2012, 341 yards per game at California in 2013, and now 367 yards per game at California in 2014.
- Sonny's 2012 team had the sixth worst scoring defense, his 2013 team had the second worst scoring defense, and 2014 was fifth worst.
- On four of five Sonny's teams, they have had a bottom 25 defense in yards per play. Two of them were bottom 10 yards per play.
Despite only a few noticeable improvements. I doubt any Cal defensive coaches will be let go--we cannot afford to have three different defensive coaching staffs in three consecutive seasons. At this point, this is our staff, and we have to ride with them. I think these coaches have managed to do some good things, and the defense has come up with crucial plays in a few of our wins this season. That is an improvement of sorts from when our defense couldn't do anything except cough up battery acid a year previous.
Still, if this defense doesn't improve and Cal's offense doesn't get wins they probably deserve, I doubt Dykes and company will be able to make it another season.