What would you consider the biggest (or hidden) culprits in Cal's defeat to ASU? What factors concern you the most going forward?
boomtho: Well, let's start with Webb's two picks - especially the pick 6. That's not to say that he's the sole cause (far from it) as I think he still played a pretty good game... but those picks reinforce the rep on him coming in, and they came at a pretty inopportune time in the game.
Second, I think our inability to run the ball really hurt us in the second half. After averaging nearly 6 YPC in the first half, we averaged only 2 in the second half. This left us with a lot of 3rd and longs which we did not do a good job converting.
Avinash: Yeah I'm with boomtho. Arizona State's big second half adjustment was to switch entirely to a nickel. Four down linemen, two linebackers. And we could not run the stupid football against six in the box. 1.9 yards per carry, and it probably only upgrades to 2 to 3 ypc if you add in sacks to the equation.
On almost all our run plays, one of the five offensive lineman just constantly blew an assignment over and over and we broke no big runs because a DT would blow up a guard or a tackle would whiff on his cut block. That allowed the Sun Devils to guard four wide receivers (and particularly with Chad Hansen) with five defensive backs. Guess how that turned out for much of the second half. You're not going to win many football games if you can't run the football at even odds.
What are the silver linings we can take from Cal's defeat to ASU? What players stood out to you with their performances?
boomtho: First, I think our defense played great... in the first half. They showed a really nice ability to slow down the ASU run game, the tackling was pretty good, and the diving interception was a really nice play.
Second, it's nice to see Robertson and Stovall continue to grow. It's only 4 games into their college careers and they are already very difficult matchups for defenses to grapple with. I'm excited to see how they add to their skills through the rest of the year.
Third, Dylan Klumph had a real nice game punting 6 punts for a ~50 yard per punt average is really impressive - almost Anger-esque.
Last, I thought our OL held up reasonably well against the pressure schemes of ASU. 4 sacks, with one coming at the end of the game, on 56 drop backs is a pretty decent performance. Obviously the run blocking could have been a lot better in the second half, but still a decent performance.
Avinash: Cal has now established themselves as a team capable of hitting 40 points a game regardless of the quality of the opponent. That is going to be a difficult benchmark for many teams to follow, so I'd say our floor for this season is much much higher than the three to four wins people were considering. I'd say at the very least we get five wins overall. Of course we're capable of giving up 40 points too, so our ceiling is probably seven to eight. But breaking even after losing Jared Goff wouldn't be all that bad.