What are your overall thoughts on the season?
HydroTech: I think this 2018 season represents a mixed bag of expectations for me. Prior to this season I was thinking that Cal was going to be a 4 win team. So from a pure wins standpoint, this season exceeded my preseason expectations by a lot. But expectations change throughout the season, and as it became apparent early in the season that Cal had a great defense my expectations rose. Now, with the season over, I would say that this season was a bit of a disappointment. Cal dropped two or three games which they could have won and probably should have won. I think most Cal fans and the Cal Football team itself, can’t help but imagine the “what if” scenario in their minds. Cal could have been the Pac-12 North champs this year. It’s not a stretch to say that. Despite the mid-season follies that plagued Cal, I’ll try to enjoy the 7 win season, the defeat of USC, and the bowl game, regardless.
ragnarok: Partial success. 7-5 and heading to a bowl is definitely progress for the program, and so at least meets, if not exceeds, preseason expectations. Ending the streak against U$C, whatever turmoil that program is currently undergoing, definitely qualifies as a success, and is so far the highlight of the year. But the losing streak to the Furd extended to 9 years in a row, the home loss to UCLA was about as ugly and disheartening as I’ve seen in the last two decades, and the overall sense that the offense is as bad as the defense was under Sonny Dykes leaves us with a program that needs to continue to progress as we head into Year 3 of the Wilcox era.
Piotr T Le: What I expected, but now how I expected it. I was thinking this team was a 8/9 win team (bowl included) pre-season. However, as the events transpired, the schedule was much weaker than expected and so was the Cal offense. Holding the expectations of the opponents constant we lose 1-2 more games, holding the expectations of the Cal offense constant we’re winning 2 more games.
Joshua.Morgan: Overall this was a successful season. A ton of missed opportunities (Arizona, WAZZU, whatever happened against UCLA) and another loss to LSJU do hurt, but wins over USC, UW, and overall an establishment of a true culture and identity for this program is a massive success to me (not to mention the bowl game).
thedozen: There were definitely ups and downs, but the team made two lasting memories in beating highly ranked Washington and breaking the curse at the Coliseum.
Ruey Yen: The 2018 Cal Football season has returned the program back to the Golden Bears that was my college years in the early 2000’s, which also retained the same defining characteristics of essentially all Cal teams not coached by Sonny Dykes - unpredictability. Just like how the Bears beat a ranked UCLA team in 3OT in 2000 or a No.3 USC team, also in 3OT, in 2002, 2018 saw the Bears beating the Pac-12 winner in Washington. Also like those teams, Bears lost some winnable games this year, particularly against Arizona and UCLA.
Of course, the program would need to eventually snap out of this unpredictable nature to get to the promise land that is the Rose Bowl. But first I would want an end of Stanford’s dominance in the Big Game in the near future.
MT: Two steps forward, one step back - which is still progress! Any optimism accumulated over the season generated by our defense takes a hit when you consider how much the offense regressed. But damn if our defense isn’t fun to watch.
Rob Hwang: In hindsight, its a success. In the heat of the moment, it leaves me wanting more. There is quite a few games this season were just one or two things/moments in a game and those turn into wins for us. This feeling was not present over the last few seasons. Back to the point though, this season is easily a success. Turning a 5-7 team into a 5-7 team, then a 7-5 team is easily a successful season for a new staff in two years. 4 conference wins is a great success especially when it came against teams like Washington and SC, but don’t get me wrong. We should’ve won more.
Did we exceed our expectations?
ragnarok: Yes? In the preseason, I think most fans would have been happy with 6 wins, a bowl bid, and a win over either U$C or Stanfurd. Consider that mission accomplished. Overall, it’s probably a solid step forward for the program rather than a giant leap.
Piotr T Le: The defense surely did. I was expecting a leap, maybe to the top 30 at best S&P+. But, all in all the defense became elite at the top 15 level on all relevant statistics.
Joshua.Morgan: We really did both. Expectations were around 7-5 for me and many others, but this was not the way I expected to get here at all.
thedozen: I think a bowl game victory would lead me to declare that Cal exceeded expectations, but right now they are close to met in my opinion.
Ruey Yen: Before the season, my relatively optimistic take was for the Golden Bears to be bowl eligible in 2018 as well as score an upset win or two. Bears did slightly better by winning an extra game (but that’s partially due to the unforeseen collapse of the Colorado program). More importantly, we finally ended the losing streak to USC. That victory makes this season a successful one in my eye, even if a win here or there may have meant the Pac-12 championship game and a potential trip to the Rose Bowl. Truth is, with a little bit more bad luck, this year’s team could have very likely finished 5-7 again and be staying home eating Cheez-Its instead during the December.
MT: On defense, yes. On offense, definitely not.
Rob Hwang: I have no idea. This one is hard. My floor for the season was 6, so yes, but just like my answer for the previous question, I know we could have won more and it sucks that we didn’t.