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Cal football: To go for it on 4th down or to punt?

What are your thoughts on Sonny Dykes's 4th down decision making against BYU? What decisions did you like, dislike, etc? What disappointed you about the performance?

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Vincent S: I'll talk specifically about the last one. I think we should've gone for it. The defense hasn't done well against the offense all game. If you expect your defense to make a quick stop, it doesn't matter quite as much where they do it. If your defense isn't going to make a quick stop, you'd rather BYU quickly score so that you get the ball back to score yourself. Punting gives BYU a longer field to run more clock off with.

Also, that false start penalty destroyed our chances. It forced us to call our last timeout, taking away the middle of the field for the rest of the game. It backed us up 5 yards, meaning Goff has to wait longer (behind an embattled O-line) for his receivers to get open. To paraphrase Ted Robinson and Glenn Parker, that was horrific officiating. None of us saw where the false start was. You'd laugh if it weren't so sad

Berkelium97: When forming an opinion, if you find that you're consistently taking a more conservative position than BYU, then it's probably time to re-evaluate your decision-making process.

boomtho: Awful, awful, awful. I think he got pretty much every 3rd and long/4th and short near midfield wrong. He punted from the Cal 41 in the 1st at 4th and 1 and from the Cal 31 in the 4th quarter on 4th and 1. We also had two third and longs near midfield, where we tried long passes (fade routes 20+ yards) and ended up punting on 4th and 8 and 4th and 9, instead of getting intermediate yardage and making it a reasonable 4th down. On top of those bad decisions, he also trotted Langford out for a long field goal after trying a long pass play the play before, again missing the chance to get intermediate yardage.

In addition to the 3rd/4th down calls, Dykes also terribly misused his timeouts at the end of the game. He took a timeout WHEN THE CLOCK WAS STOPPED AND THE CHAINS WERE MOVING.

I can't really express how disappointed I was in this performance. We came out flat at home in a game we needed for bowl eligibility, we let a walk on WR torch us, we continued to bring pressure even when BYU showed great adjustments (RB wheel routes)... I really think the staff cost us this game.

Ruey Yen: I am as confused as everyone else on Sonny's conservative approach with regards to 4th down. I know our offense has not clicked that well in recent weeks, but that is still our bread and butter (especially given how our D is not so questionable). I do think "by the book", in a tie game, you do punt the ball on 4th and 1, but "the book" assumes that one has a competent defense. Besides, we want forward and flexible thinking leader in Berkeley, we shouldn't blindly follow conventional wisdom. As an aside, I don't know if Rubenzer was hurt or something (we probably would be second guessing why Rubenzer is playing on key downs if he was used) given how his most notable contribution in the game was a punt. We were very fortunate that BYU scored as quickly as they did to give us a legit shot to tie the game.

For the rest of the game, the punting on 4th down looked particularly bad in hindsight for us since Cole Leininger had an uncharacteristic off game punting the ball.

Look, I like Sonny and the staff and how they are improving the academic side of things, but the coaches need to up their games this offseason. When we are not as talented physically as many of the other schools in the conference, we need to compensate by our tactics. I am starting to think our unique yards-getting and "fun" offense is not innovative enough.

Sam Fielder: Everyone has pretty much covered the frustration I feel about the 4th ans short calls and the lack of going for it, so I'll talk about what disappointed me the most about this game besides the super conservative playcalls. I'm not sure if Sonny just tightened up under the pressure of the slate of big games but I really feel like his performance and ability to get the team ready for the last 3 games specifically is very disappointing. Against USC and Stanfurd the team came out really tight and never really managed to get themselves back into it, while in the BYU game there was baffling dumb penalty (Pac-12 refereeing incompetence notwithstanding) after dumb penalty. To me, that speaks of a team that just wasn't focused and mentally prepared to play and that's on the coaches.

The other frustrating thing is the lack of halftime adjustments. If you go into the half leading you have to know that the opposing team is going make some moves to change up things and it seems to me that you'd want to make some moves of your own to counter that. But time after time it seems like Cal has come out for the 2nd half and looked completely caught off-guard that the opposition has made some moves to stop them. I think that generally ties into the whole game management thing along with the 4th and shorts and the use of time-outs.

I really like Sonny and his staff and I think they've done a great job in making this team better off the field and working under some tough circumstances. But based on the less than stellar decisions we've seen this year I have to begin to question whether we've come close to Sonny's ceiling or if he can improve as the team does.