Head coach Sonny Dykes was interviewed by Rick Neuheisel on SiriusXM College Football Radio, and he had some interesting things to say about Jared Goff, the Cal defense and the Pac 12 in general. The interview can be heard here.
The quotes contain a bit of paraphrasing.
Dykes on Jared Goff:
"We're glad he's on our team. He's a guy who has done some pretty remarkable things in two years. He had to start for us as a true freshman ... he made that jump from year one to year two like he was supposed to, but I think the biggest jump Jared has made was really from year two to this spring. He looked like a totally different guy this spring, so we anticipate him having another big year in continuing to lead this program and get us to where we want to be."
Dykes on if the defense is ready to turn the corner:
"I think, for the first time, we actually have depth. We can look at our players and say we're going to reach the second half of the season and we're not going to be playing walk-on wide receivers in the defensive backfield, and I think that's a big difference for us. As you said, we've just had a lot of bad things happen to us. We lost some players. We didn't have a lot of older players remaining in our program, so we had to play some young guys that probably weren't ready to play; and then when they got injured we were forced to play some guys that did a remarkable job. They came in and played incredibly hard for us and gave us a chance to win some ballgames, but they weren't necessarily ready for this kind of competition we're going to face week in, week out.
We have 16 good defensive linemen ... guys that we think we can win with. We've got 10 linebackers that we think we can win with. Our issue has been the defensive backs and having depth, and we addressed that. We signed eight DB's this year. Those guys have come in, some junior college players have given us some depth and we're in a good spot right now going into the year. We wish we had a little bit more experience back there ... but we have players, we have bodies, we've got good athletes and we expect to make a huge jump."
Dykes on the Pac 12 north and the conference in general:
"Oregon played for a national championship this year ... the teams in this league are incredibly consistent. Stanford has been a team that is pretty unique. they play old-school, hard-nosed, tough football. Preparing for a team like that is always a little bit challenging because they are very good at what they do. Washington has always been a bit of a sleeping giant in college football ... Chris Petersen will do a great job with that program. From top-to-bottom there's just no easy wins. That's what's different about this league, maybe, from the others. The teams in the bottom fourth of the conference ... are way superior to teams in the bottom fourth of other conferences ... it's an incredibly competitive league from top-to-bottom."
A few thoughts on what Dykes had to say:
If Goff really has made his biggest jump between the end of last season and spring, then the rest of the conference should be very afraid of what the Cal offense will be capable of achieving this season.
Dykes appears to be very confident about the state of the Cal front seven, but does not seem as confident in the secondary. Not needing to play walk-on receivers in the defensive secondary is a step in the right direction, though, so hopefully Art Kaufman can get the most out of this deeper and seemingly more talented group of defensive players.
As it pertains to depth in college football, in my opinion, there's the SEC, the Pac 12, then everyone else. The depth in these two leagues blows the other conferences out of the water.
Let's hope Dykes is spot on about Goff and the defense. If so, the Bears should return to a bowl game this season.