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Cal football biggest issue: Coaching, player execution or talent?

Which of these three issues concerns you the most after the UCLA loss?

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Piotr T Le: What I can say? Like literally. All of these were an issue in one way or another. We weren't able to scheme a good defense to force UCLA to be unidimensional when they had the ball. Perkins ran through us like Cafe 3 Coffee through my digestive system. Rosen looked as if he was passing the ball around during the Rosen family reunion and not during a D-1 game.

Player execution? Bad, across the board we had dropped interceptions, poor pass-blocking, poor run blocking at the point of attack, bad drops, and uncharacteristically bad throws by Goff. Finally, the talent levels. We were not able to physically match-up against UCLA's depleted defense or massive WRs. Duarte looked like TO on the field catching passes with our DBs bouncing off of him like cotton balls.

A.W. Johnston: Coaching. We have played our worst games coming out of bye weeks and it continues to make little sense to me. Utah came out of a bye and showed new defensive formations that threw off our quarterback for most of the game. We come out of a bye week and have the flattest performance of the year. Awful, awful game from the coaches this week.

KWBears: Player talent. While our coaching talent is certainly not on par with UCLA's superior coaches, that alone was not enough to doom us against the Bruins. Our O-line has been disastrous of late, and it was just more of the same against UCLA. Our D-line has been porous against the run, too - but other teams attacked us more through the air and that's how our D got all those inflated numbers up until UCLA. UCLA figured out what to do - attack both of our lines, and they won all night long with that strategy.

Nik Jam: When you get beatdown like Cal did you must consider all the possibilities. The coaching called some weird plays, including a deep pass on third and 1, the fake punt attempt, and some weird time management in the fourth quarter (which has ALWAYS been a downside of Dykes).

The execution wasn't great. Too many times receivers dropped balls and the defensive line whiffed on potential game saving sacks. That could be a talent thing too, our offensive/defensive lines just don't stack up with their defensive/offensive lines. Even with UCLA having injuries they still outplayed us.

Berkelium97: I've seen plenty of discussion about how our talent in the trenches is inferior to theirs and how that played a big factor in the loss. I am not convinced. Arizona State averages 3-stars across the O-line starters and has finished behind us in recruiting rankings three of the past five years. That didn't stop them from running for almost 200 yards against the Bruins and surrendering only one sack. Arizona has finished behind us in recruiting four of the past five years (and averages 3.2 stars among its O-line starters), but they ran for over 350 yards and 6 yards per carry against UCLA and only surrendered one sack. When equally or less talented lines can perform like that against UCLA, we cannot point to talent as an excuse.

What's particularly concerning this season is that we seem to be getting worse at the skill positions. In recent games when Daniel Lasco has been injured/limited, his backups continue to drop passes and misread blitzes game after game. Widely praised as the best receiver corps in the conference, the WRs have recently been prone to drops and had difficulty gaining separation. Several of these shortcomings (especially drops) cannot be blamed on quality of opponent. If the ball hits both hands, there's no excuse for dropping it regularly, whether the opponent is Grambling, UCLA, or Alabama.

Keegan Dresow: Our offensive line struggled with UCLA's athleticism and physicality, and our wide receivers could not get separation from UCLA's defensive backs.  UCLA is a good team with a high volume/efficient offense - those factors are enough to account for the margin of victory.  UCLA is - in my opinion - the best team that Cal has faced this season.  The sky is not falling - UCLA is a good team.

boomtho: If I had to rank them in order, I'd say talent played the biggest role, followed by execution, followed by coaching. UCLA dominated us in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and I chalk that up mostly to talent and execution - I don't really know how we could have schemed for Kenny Clark and had a successful day running, for example. However, this is very worrisome for me, because it implies that Sonny's system might be fundamentally unable to help beat a physically superior team... which it seems like every California school will be for the forseeable future.

mpeters10: I think it was a mixture of the three. To not play better coming out of a bye week is bitterly disappointing. For whatever reason we have not played well after bye weeks under Sonny Dykes. Also, the players need to refocus and start executing on a play to play basis. Dropped passes, missed blocks, overthrows, dropped interceptions, etc. We aren't good enough to win games against the top teams in the conference when we aren't executing the fundamentals. Finally, why can't we recruit better offensive linemen? We've sent a ton of them to the NFL, so it's not like we can't sell that. Perhaps it has something to do with the odd vertical set blocking scheme.