Rob Hwang: Mediocre. Heart-Wrenching. I haven't jumped aboard the coaching-change-train yet, but coming out of a bye week has not been Cal's strong suit with Sonny. If the season continues this one-win-then-one-loss formula while scoring 25+ every game, It'll be tough not to question the defensive recruiting and coaching.
Ruey Yen: B. Golden Bears have had a couple of memorable big wins over Texas and Utah so far in 2016 which earns the favorable grade from me. More importantly, the Bears were right there with the chance to win in all three losses. The losses have also come on the road, which makes them a bit more excusable.
Sure, the defense has had several stretches when they were basically non-existent. Nevertheless, the Cal defense have also made just enough plays to keep the Bears in games. This was essentially the best case scenario given the thinness in linebackers this year.
Looking ahead, the tougher 2nd half schedule as well as the injury problems may sink this year. The Cal offense overly depends on graduate transfer QB Davis Webb and Chad Hansen, but now both are hobbled, in addition to Vic Enwere. Should the Bears make another mid-level bowl game in 2016/17, they would need to really earn it. The way that the team has consistently competed in the first half, I would not be surprised if the Bears do find a way to get there.
boomtho: Assuming something like a C+ is average (#nogradeinflation)... I'll give Cal a C+. The team has notched two wins that were better than I thought they'd be able to accomplish (Utah and Texas), which in my grading scheme, only offsets the hugely disappointing OSU loss.
To break it down further, I'd say the offense has earned a B+. They replaced some relatively important folks (you know, only the #1 overall pick in the draft and just about everyone who caught a pass last year), and have performed pretty darn well against some good defenses. Obviously the OSU game stands out as a huge exception, but broadly speaking, I've been very happy with the offense.
I'll give the defense a D+, since I'm not really grading on a curve relative to expectations. Per Nick's column we're worse than 100 in defensive S&P, and while there have been some GREAT moments (Utah goal line stand!!), that is more than countered by the whole damn OSU game and the death by a thousand cuts against SDSU.
Lastly, I'll give coaching a B-. The offense has been great, and Dykes appears to have built a really good culture, but Dykes is still a pretty damn questionable game manager, and the team coming out so flat against a bad, bad OSU team has to hurt them. To the second part of the question, my opinion of the coaches really hasn't changed. Dykes is a good offensive coach, Spav is a pretty damn talented OC that is going to skew too pass heavy at times, and Kaufman has done a decent job simplifying the scheme, though he's coached up the LB's in a really questionable way and the DL has not been disruptive at all.
Kevin Wu: Defeating. Literally, like we've so much unnecessary defeat. Davis Webb has been a nice surprise. Chad Hansen has been a nice surprise. Our RBs are playing alright. D-Rob and Stovall will be oh so good in the coming years - this year will be all about development for this guys. Our defense has been garbage. I really thought our coaches would improve that side of the ball. But, we just don't have enough good players on defense, they can't tackle in the open field (like really?!!), and they get tired as the game goes on. Other than the amazing end-of-game stand against Utah, I'm not sure if I can remember super meaningful moments from our defense this season. We were supposed to be better than 3-3 at this point, but we're not. Feels like other recent Cal football seasons all over again.
atomsareenough: C-. The Texas and Utah wins were nice, but there's no excuse for this team to lose to a team like Oregon State. Zero. None. The utter lack of run defense or timely adjustments to compensate for it is also pretty hard to come up with a reasonable explanation for. All three of our losses have been eminently winnable, and when a team turns so many winnable games into losses, ultimately that rests on the coaching staff.
My opinion of the team essentially similar in that I think it'll go as far as our defense will let it, but my hopes about the ceiling for the defense this year have changed for the negative. There's still time to improve, but I'm not holding my breath at this point. I think we need to make some staff changes on the defensive side of the football and hire some better coaches, better recruiters. I'm pretty much done with Kaufman and Tate.
Dykes has turned the culture around, and I think he can be counted on to put a top-25 offense on the field consistently, but we're at a point now where unless he makes a real change aimed at improving the defense, this is about the most we can expect from our team under his tenure. Good character, lots of effort, lots of points, and lots of games that can end up going either way.