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Cal vs. UCLA positives: Golden Bears defense not great, but opportunisitic

What were the positives from the Cal vs. UCLA game?

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Avinash Kunnath: The Bears probably had no right to be in that game, but when they had the chance they were opportunistic. Cal had seven turnovers all season and came up with three crucial ones that put us back in the game. And they all set up the Bear offense with great field position to put us back in position to win.

The defense didn't tackle particularly well and gave up tons of yards in the screen game, but give credit where credit was due--UCLA went 2 for 13 on 3rd down (they're around 45% for the season), which halted most critical Bruin drives. Also they adjusted and played much better in the second half after barely being able to stop UCLA in the first half, allowing only one touchdown and two field goals.

That wide receiver corps is so talented. There were so many great catches today in tight coverage, highlighted by the Harper one-hander.

As annoying as the kickoffs were, the punts were excellent. I think almost every Cole Leninger punt pinned UCLA at their 20 or inside it. That was a big factor in keeping the Bruins offense in check.

LeonPowe - Despite losing, this was a bounce back game after being listless and non-competitive against UW. Our defense was terrible in the first half, but came back with a strong performance in the second, despite being down to walkons and second/third string guys. 3 forced turnovers after several games of none. I don't even have to mention Goff and the wideouts. And like Avi mentioned, Leninger was great.

boomtho: I thought there were a fair number of positives this week. First, I thought our offense did a nice job being opportunistic. We weren't able to consistently string together long drives, but we took advantage of the UCLA turnovers to stay in the game. Our WR's also made a number of tight, contested catches where Goff put the ball in really nice places. Like Avi mentioned, Leninger also had a nice game with 5 out of 8 punts downed inside the 20 yard line.

Berkelium97: My positive is a bit more big picture than something simply observed during the UCLA game.  A bit of backstory:  I attended this game and it was the first game I have attended at the renovated Memorial Stadium.  This also marked the fourth consecutive game I've seen in person that ended in a Cal loss.  The others in the streak were the '09 Poinsettia Bowl, the '11 UCLA game, and the '11 Holiday Bowl.  Those games were all the kind of losses where you drag yourself off the seat at the 0:00 mark and sulk out of the stadium and towards the car.  What's different about this year is that Cal football is (UW game notwithstanding) still fun even during a loss.  This season is the most exciting we've had in years, win or lose.  And if we can't challenge for the Rose Bowl on a consistent basis, I simply want Cal football to be fun again.  I'm quite surprised at how much fun Cal football has been this season.  Although this game was a loss, it was the kind of game that makes you think there is hope for this team.  As Twist kept mentioning after the game, this team is far ahead from where most of us expected prior to the start of the season. For the first time in many years, the future for Cal football is not dreary.  In fact, it's pretty bright in terms of entertainment value.  For the first time in a while I even look forward to games we'll probably lose (like this week's Oregon game).

Ruey Yen: Like Berkelium97, I haven't been back to Memorial for a game in a long long time. Actually, the last time that I was in Memorial for a game, it was the 2004 Big Game where people (but I had reservation about it) thought we are going to the Rose Bowl despite us having another game against Southern Miss.

For this game, the main positive has to be us winning the turnover margin. To be fair, the Cal offense has been rather tame in this game. Without those turnovers, I don't think we would have scored as many points as we had.

It might not have been "Nick Harris for Heisman" good, but Cole Leninger had a great day.

Leland Wong: I agree with Avi here. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Namely, I think the defense deserves a lot of credit for a game that I bet is getting them a lot of flak for poor tackling overall. Still, I'd like to recognize some of their play as being a positive. Turnovers can often be written off as sloppy play by the offense, but I think all three turnovers by UCLA were truly takeaways by Cal players who made smart plays to get their hands on the football to knock it free or Cameron Walker jumping in front of a pass for a critical interception.