What were the biggest keys to victory for Cal upsetting Texas? What were the biggest positives you saw?
LeonPowe: Chad Hansen. Handsome Hansen. #BiletnikoffHansen. Hansen, so hot right now.
Also, Webb is looking really good. Our o-line (except on the edge) was looking tough. Looney was pressuring all day. Franklin and Vanderbilt came up with some hits and timely tackles. LUUUUUUKKKKEEEE continues to be a ball-hawk. And this team doesn't get down. They play hard.
Also, let's credit special teams - one week after laying an egg - they played almost flawlessly - the one big exception was the punt block. Klumph was hitting missles. Matt Anderson continues to be reliable. Some big returns. Some great tackles by our gunners.
Nik Jam: Defense made adjustments and started to make stops in the second half! As a Raider fan that attended the Falcons game on Sunday, I know that sometimes the defense just stinks the whole game and lets the other team march down the field from stop to finish, with no signs of hope. That final three and out was AMAZING.
Also, the offense kept responding to Texas's scores, which they didn't always do against San Diego State. Very encouraging development for our young players.
boomtho: Biggest key to victory was us having Davis Webb + Hansen/Stovall. It reminds me of that scene from the Avengers - "I have an army", "We have a hulk." Time and time again, Webb and Hansen/Stovall came through on big downs, keeping drives alive or finishing drives with TD. It's really remarkable when a defense knows exactly what you want to do, and yet is powerful to stop it - and that's already where we are in Game 3 with these guys.
The second biggest positive was how our defense stepped up in a HUGE way in the second half. After the fireworks in the first half, holding Texas scoreless in the 3rd was an amazing turnaround. However, our defense wasn't done there - on the biggest drive of the game, the Cal defense absolutely stoned a WR screen before getting to Buechele twice (!!) to force Texas to punt.
Special teams was also definitely a positive game, even with Texas blocking a punt for a safety. Klumph boomed some kicks (including a ~60+ yarder), Khalfani got great yardage on his returns (despite nearly fumbling on his last, which would have turned the game on its head), and our coverage was very solid. Special teams has been a positive in 2/3 games, except for SDSU with the return TD... nice work Coach Tommerdahl, let's hope it continues!
Beyond that, the last big positive was the team's fight/resolve. This is certainly a hallmark of Dykes' coached teams (vs the late Tedford ones, at least), but there were a ton of points in the game where Texas appeared to have made the back-breaking play, only for Cal to storm back the next possession.
Ruey Yen: For the second straight game against a decent opponent, the Golden Bears got the chance to win the game late with everything riding on the Bear Raid offense. It takes a whole team effort (some defensive plays, some special team plays) to be able to do that. Even with the Bears down by two scores, the team kept on fighting. You can feel how the entire team feels like that the Bear Raid can score on anyone fast enough if given the chance. Redeeming the failed drive against San Diego State last week, Webb and company were able to made some key plays to get it done this time (sure, the home field probably helped). Let's see how the success of this game and the expected growing confidence will impact how the Bears execute in Pac-12 play.
HydroTech: Cal's passing offense kept us in the game. Without Davis Webb slinging dimes across the field, I think we would have lost the game. Also, it must be noted that Cal ran 40 pass plays and 40 run plays, for an even 50/50 pass/run balance. (Due to a few sacks going down as rush plays, it was probably more like 42 pass plays and 38 run plays, but close enough.)
This perfect 50/50 pass/run balance is great -- in theory. But Cal was averaging 9.9 yards per pass attempt versus 2.8 yards per rush attempt. I'm all for a fairly balanced attack, except when one attack is working better than the other, then I think it's better to stick with what's working. I think Cal should have passed more against Texas. Nevertheless, I appreciate the very obvious and concerted effort by Spavital (Cal's offensive coordinator) to try and keep things more balanced against Texas than he did against SDSU.
KWBears: I concur with LeonPowe. Chad Hansen's swag was pretty damn amazing. The confidence exuded by Cal's team was undeniable -- that is a huge positive. No more head-hanging like we've been accustomed to in recent years.
Berkelium97: One of the biggest positives was listening to Mark Jones torment Rod Gilmore about being on the wrong side of The Play multiple times throughout the evening. Mark poured salt, lemon juice, and bleach in that wound. It was wonderful.
Seriously, though, the defense was a surprising positive. As Nick pointed out, Texas scored on 4 of their first 6 possessions and only once in their final 9 possessions. While we didn't find a way to stop the run, we slowed it down. And we also turned a previously decent Texas passing game into a pretty poor performance. As a result of those improvements in the second half, we held Texas scoreless in the 3rd and to only 10 second-half points. Did anyone think we'd hold them to 10 points in a half? I certainly didn't.