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Cal football positives and negatives against San Diego State

What looked good and bad on Saturday?

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

What are the positives to take from Cal-San Diego State? What makes you more confident in this team going forward?

LeonPowe: I thought all three levels of the defense looked solid. Got some pressure from the front four. Some good tackling at the second level. Lots of passes defended and a couple of picks from the secondary. Yeah, the first quarter didn't look good - but we knew our defense was starting from the bottom. And everyone said, if we can improve to average, we'll be a good team. I think the team was making plays.

In terms of offense, the running game looked pretty good running against the 3-3-5 - especially late, with Lasco and Enwere eating up the clock. The passing looked slightly below normal, but the two drives bracketing halftime were things of beauty.

KWBears: We got another W and we won by a very large margin.  That's all great stuff and things to be happy about.  Our defense has been very impressive these past two games, and that's very encouraging for Cal fans moving forward.

Sam Fielder: I think that one of the huge takeaways from this game as that the team didn't panic or fall apart when they fell behind early or struggled a bit on offense. Both sides of the all are finally good enough to make up for some miscues on the other side. An early hole doesn't mean immediate doom and a few misfires on offense doesn't mean we're all of sudden down 3 touchdowns. That's huge and makes me much more confident going forward.

Nik Jam: Very solid defensive effort. It was nice to see them rebound from the easy touchdown they allowed in the first quarter. It was good to see the offense not panic and hold their heads down despite trailing for the most of the first half. Unlike Colorado 2014, where once the offense rebounded the game became a shootout; Once Cal took the lead, they were able to keep it for good.

Keegan Dresow: Cal won with defense on a day when their opponent set the tempo early.  San Diego State sought to shrink the game in order to keep it close, and accomplished that goal in the early going.  Cal's offense was not in rhythm early.  But the defense gained strength as the game wore on, allowing the offense to finally assert its will.  It has been a long time since Cal enjoyed a defense led victory.

boomtho: Positives: First, a win over a pretty good FBS team! Second, our defense carried the day. Like LeonPowe mentoined, all 3 units contributed - DL got pressure and disrupted the QB's, LB's were 'flying around, real physical' and the secondary had a number of nice plays. In addition, we were facing a likely NFL-caliber RB, so that makes the defense's performance even more impressive.

I also am glad to see our run game play well. Lasco averaged 6.5 YPC... and still averaged less than Vic!

What are the negatives to take from Cal-San Diego State? How does this make you more worried about the team going into the future?

LeonPowe: Kickoff coverage was weak. The punts were fine, but the timeout miscues and running into the punter, and Anderson slipped on the the field goal, but special teams is worrying.

Offense never really got into a passing rhythm, aside from those two drives.

Berkelium97: The special teams unit was a mess.  We wasted two timeouts (one in each half) trying to get the punt unit set.  We suffered some silly penalties like the kick-catch interference and a procedural one (false start?).  The kickoffs were short and coverage was spotty, so SDSU's average starting position was the 33.  Again Leininger couldn't break the 40-yard mark on his punting average.  And why can't we ever return punts?  It seems like we've fair caught 90% of our punts in the post-DeSean era.  On one SDSU punt, Davis fair caught the ball as 5 SDSU players converged on him while not a single blue jersey was in frame.  We didn't sell out to block the punt that time, so what happened?

I don't blame Sonny for spending so much time yelling at Tommerdahl on the sidelines on Saturday.

We've seen how special teams can turn the tide in a game (the botched onside kick against Arizona last year, our miraculous escape when WSU coug'ed the field goal).  It's likely that special teams will again play a pivotal role in the outcome of one of our games.  I hope we're not the ones adversely affected when that time comes.

KWBears: Daniel Lasco getting a slight injury is not a good thing for us.  Although our RBs have been fantastic so far, we need Lasco's size and experience to help take some pressure off Goff and his receivers.

Sam Fielder: Like Berkelium said, the special teams are not good right now. That has got to change or it will cost us at least one game. I'm still not totally sold on the offensive line yet either. Texas is a huge test for them and we'll know much more next week at this time. But those two areas definitely worry me.

Nik Jam: San Diego State didn't look like that great a team. They committed some sloppy personal foul penalties on offense as well, which helped our defense get off the field. So it still feels like we haven't really been tested. Plus, the offense could have still looked better. Special teams could be a liability.

Keegan Dresow: The aforementioned offensive rhythm issues in the early going may be problematic against better opponents, though starting slow is normal and thus not a negative, per se.  But it is unclear if Cal's defense can repeat this performance against the top offenses of the Pac 12, and Cal (obviously) does not want to spot those offenses big early leads.

boomtho: Like everyone has said, the biggest negatives were definitely on special teams. Poor coverage, bad timeout usage, and a missed short FG... all not good. Also, and this is totally a negative only because Goff has set such an impossible standard for himself... Goff and the offense were definitely a bit off, especially in the first half. Goff missed a few people completely (Powe wide open on the eventually deflected incompletion before the missed FG), he underthrew Davis on what should have been a touchdown, he made a mental error on that pick... and yet still wound up 17/24 for 321 yards with 3 TD's. Dude is straight up incredible.