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Cal vs. Washington positives & negatives

Cal improves to 4-0!

Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

1. What are the positives to take from Cal-UW? What excites you the most from this performance?

Nik Jam: Getting a road win over a team that has a lengthy winning streak against you takes character, even if the home team isn't all that great. Even though it was on a fourth down, it was good to see the offense clinch the game. In games like Arizona last year, and Texas this year, the games are remembered for the defense blowing it but it was incredible how the offense faltered when all they needed was a few first downs (or you know, a score) to seal the deal. This time, a key dive by Goff prevented us from holding our breath for the final minute.

Defense is showing a lot of improvement and forced a great deal of turnovers and only had one bad drive.

Piotr T Le: I truly believe that we can rely on our defense now to help us during games. We ought not to lean on them just yet, however, we can rely on them to help out with key-turnovers, gritty play and being able to shake-off bad plays. There is definitely much more maturity on the team right now.

Benwemer: Obviously the 4-0 start and getting a huge road win. The defense continues to force turnovers and I love it! Kyle Kragen was an animal and Darius White's interception showed very impressive ball skills.

I thought Vic Enwere ran the ball well, he had a couple of really tough runs that were almost beastmode like.

Avinash: Cal won two straight games on the road without Daniel Lasco! That is a crazy sentence to even ponder before this season started. Lasco is our only good three tool running back and the Bear Raid is running at 85% at best (runner, pass blocker, pass catcher) without him in there. Vic Enwere is a road-grader, but he's not a great pass catcher and he still has to get better at pass protection, so teams are pretty much playing to run in short yardage situations and running downs (ditto Khalfani Muhammad and Tre Watson).  I'm excited to see this offense with him back in there, since I believe it'll increase the effectiveness of the other 3 even more.

More importantly for Cal's chances this season, the defense is finally looking like a real defense. Forcing fumbles, rushing the passer, getting interceptions. Cal has forced TWO FIVE TURNOVER GAMES this year after having no four turnover games the last two and a half years! Even in the midst of the Jerrod Heard Variety Show last week, Cal ended up with two turnovers that turned into 10 crucial points that swung the game in our favor.

Ruey Yen: The opportunistic Cal defense, as a unit, was the obvious star of the game for the Bears. However, I am reluctant to read too much into this given how raw the Washington offense was.

The biggest positive to me was how the Cal offense managed to do what they couldn't last week, mainly Goff's run to pick up that first down to ice the game. The team performed better than last week and blew less of the three possession game. Hooray for improvement, however little.

Anytime that you can have a lesson and still come away with a win, it's great. I think our guys know that they still have plenty of improvements necessary to really challenge for the Pac-12 title. It should be another focused week of practice.

Finally, it is a relief to finally end the long losing streak to Washington. Now if we can just do the same to USC and Stanford...I hope I am not asking for too much.

LeonPowe: We're 4-0 with 2 road wins! The turnover heavy defense! Kragen pushing through the o-line and chasing and pressuring and sacking Browning. Team Darius holding it down at corner. The entire defensive backfield not watching wideouts run past them.


Also, Matt Anderson nailing his field goals.

Leland Wong: Gotta agree with Ruey here. In part because I'm lazy, but also because it's true. Wash didn't play well offensively, but it's great to have multiple games where the defense was able to carry the team despite our offense having trouble executing.

In particular, let's highlight Kyle Kragen for playing out of his mind and registering 1 pass break-up, 2.5 sacks, and 1 fumble forced.

Like I said, I think some of our takeaways were due to poor play by the Dawgs, but five takeaways is just fantastic.


How great was last Saturday? Let's re-watch some of our favorite moments.

Posted by Cal Bears on Monday, September 28, 2015


OK, phew, that's out of my system. But seriously, there were a lot of positives. Number one was the incredible turnover generation by our defense! Kragen/Downs got it started in the 1st, and we had a number of really nice turnovers - for my money, the bets was the play Darius White made on that long ball to pick it off. Like Leland said, special shoutout to Kyle Kragen, who turned in a monstrous performance, including a beautifully deflected screen pass in the 1st quarter.

My second positive was the FG kicking. 3/3 on kicks, all of them big - good job Matt Anderson!

My third positive, which may seem a bit weird, was the performance of our top 3 RB's. Vic, Khalfani, and Treused 38 carries for 158 yards, which works out to "only" 4.2 YPC. Against a stout, talented UW defense, though, that was good enough to keep the chains moving and buy our passing game enough passing lanes to be successful. The RB's ground out, tough, hard-won yards without Daniel Lasco, and that bodes incredibly well for the future.

KWBears: We won!  Jared Goff is a beast and has that almighty clutch gene.  Our offense - when clicking on all cylinders - is pretty darn formidable.  If we can just get Lasco back, we'll be a tough out for anyone.

2. What are the negatives to take from Cal-UW? What worries you the most from this performance?

Nik Jam: Second game in a row with a costly fumble, and both fumbles were by two different guys. This cannot happen anymore.

Washington may not be a good enough team to really confidently say our defense is going to be good enough to beat the elite Pac-12 teams.

Benwemer: The oline worries me a little, Goff got beat around. Also the second half offense needs to finish games. This game really should not have been this close.

Berkelium97: Sonny Dykes is not allowed to challenge plays anymore.

Ruey Yen: It was great to see Jared Goff being able to take some contact and get that key final first down. However, he clearly got too much contact from the various times when he got sacked by the very good Washington defense (huge credit to Goff not fumbling the ball though). Yes, the Cal OL was facing some injury issue but their play simply need to be more consistent.

Hopefully, now that the Bears have survived the Washington D, they can fare better against other schools' not as great D and shred them.

Also another week, more special team issues with bad kickoff. That aspect of the game really shouldn't be this hard.

Piotr T Le: Efficiency suffered. Although we did convert 50% of our 3rd downs, our ability to capitalize on 5 turnovers really showed. I understand that the Washington D-line is dominant at times, however, when we face Utah it will be much of the same for our o-line. We need to be able to execute and convert. We should not be beating UW decisively from a statistical standpoint and still have to wait till the very last minute with bated breaths and halted hearts.

Avinash: Cal upgraded from "blowing a three touchdown lead" almost completely to "almost entirely blowing a three touchdown lead." Will this team ever let us breathe during a 4th quarter? It's great that Cal is protecting these leads, but the Bears need to learn to finish games. The UCLAs and Utahs of the world will beat us soundly playing that way.

The vertical set pass protection has worked out really well for us the first three games, but it started to get blown up against Washington, particularly on the edge. The run game had expectedly low averages per play. Additionally Brian Farley's status is in question, meaning Aaron Cochran might be baptized by fire at left tackle.  With a bunch of tough defenses lining our October, Jared Goff is going to have to take his hits and survive if Cal is going to keep the awesome start going.

LeonPowe: The oline allowing UW's defensive linemen straight running shots at Jared Goff. He's a tough guy, but we need to keep him upright for any chance of success.  Kick offs - I'm not complaining about the squibs, I'm complaining about the NEED for squibs. From Coach Dyke's post game radio interview, he hinted that the kickoff coverage was not looking good in practice, necessitating the squibs when kicking into the wind. That is very concerning that something as basic as kickoff coverage - with the depth that we have now in experienced players and Pac-12 level athletes we still can't nail down.

boomtho: It really pains me to write this section after a great Cal win, but CGB duty calls!

First negative for me is the red zone offense. I did like the calls on 4th down, but you have to execute, andUW's ability to turn us away kept the game so much closer than it should have been.

My second negative is that idiotic challenge Dykes used at the beginning of the game - stop it, Sonny!

Third, our kick coverage is seriously awful, and Tommerdahl has basically waved the right flag on that front. We used a somewhat confusing combination of squib kicks and pooch kicks, but nothing really worked great. I wonder if we'll start kicking out of bounds next...

Last, I think our pass protection got exposed a bit today. They weren't awful given how good UW's front 7 looks, but they weren't at the level required for us to compete for a Pac-12 North title, and I think they'd admit that themselves.

KWBears: Our defense has still got a number of holes to shore-up.  We performed admirably against the Huskies, but Browning is a freshman who will make mistakes that more veteran guys won't.  Plus, if U-Dub had more offensive weapons for us to contend with, this game might've ended quite differently.