Our first roundtables in review. Take a read and discuss below!
What did you think about the game? Initial thoughts of the game as a whole?
thedozen: After the way the game started, it was a relief to have a two touchdown lead by the fourth quarter. Cal turnovers kept UC Davis in it for a while, but this wasn’t really a terrible performance. In the end, I agreed with Justin Wilcox’s comments before the game that he didn’t expect the team to be perfect in its first game action.
DaneStopper: After that disaster of a start, the team settled in and used their physical advantage to wear out Davis. It’s always nice to see a win, but I didn’t leave feeling like there was anything better than last season (except Chris Brown). There’s not a team left on the schedule who we’ll be that physically dominant against. Major deficiencies were evident to me: the D-Line getting gashed down the middle, the O-Line rarely was tested (Davis banked on forcing the offense to make plays) and failed the few times they were, and the QB still hasn’t found his confidence. Overall, rather than excited for the rest of the season, I’m anxiously waiting to see what happens in Seattle.
Rick Chen: Any win is a good one in my book. I was excited to see Kekoa Crawford and Christopher Brown Jr have solid career starts. Compared to last season, we have some great potential to make explosive plays, especially from Chase Garbers who had three throws for more than 30 yards Saturday.
Christopher_h: Usually I don’t lose my unbridled optimism for Cal football until 5 or 6 games into the season, so I wasn’t ready to lose it after just a single bad quarter. Honestly, I felt a sense of relief after this game: Cal started scoring, and I felt more “Whew” than “Heck yes.”
Ruey Yen: Phew! Cal had to have won this game to potentially get to that 7 win threshold to be ensured of a bowl berth. I am just relieved that the team recovered from the slow start and turnovers to manage a win.
Joshua.Morgan: A win is a win, but the events that unfolded during the game didn’t inspire much confidence for the rest of the season. The offense looked bad at the beginning, and despite scoring at the end, they still never really dominated an FCS defense that they probably should have been able to dominate.
Henry Keenan: No need to panic. An early fumble – likely the result of early season jitters and adrenaline – albeit a bad play, is not the end of the world. If anything, it showed that this team has some resilience and mental composure.
Piotr T Le: It’s like a B+ in Econ 134 at Cal. Which in retrospect as expected to be honest, despite hopes for a better outcome. There is a lot of rust and miscues to be ironed out and I think the staff (especially on defense) can find ways to fix what needs to be fixed.
How did the offense perform in your opinion?
thedozen: There were certainly early jitters. Garbers was lucky to avoid an interception immediately before the ball Devon King picked off. However, he did improve afterward in establishing some good chemistry with Kekoa Crawford and Nikko Remigio. Christopher Brown nearly reached 200 yards rushing which is a nice start even against an FCS opponent.
DaneStopper: Better than last year, but they’ll need to keep that up for a whole season. Chris Brown is better than Laird, hands down (and only a freshman). The wide receivers are pretty much, athletically, the equivalent of last year, but at least there’s quite a fair amount of options. Nikko Remigio might be relied upon, which could help. Still, the offense is always judged on QB play, and enough’s been said on that.
Rick Chen: It looked like Garbers had an awful lot of balls batted down. I would like to see him make smarter throws, especially since the offensive line often gave him five or more seconds to throw on plays. Against UC Davis, I would have expected more slant-passes down the middle instead of the messy throws into double coverage down the field we saw. Similarly, the wide receivers should be more disciplined in running their routes, especially against the Washington Huskies. We need tighter play to succeed this week.
Christopher_h: Disheartening to say the least. I really was hoping to see something new in this offense to show that Cal got better on that side of the ball, but it seems like we are in for another year of the defense carrying games. For all that’s said about UC Davis’ offense, this team is far from a defensive stalwart, and probably the worst secondary Cal will face all year. They lost their starting corners and their linebackers. Cal wasn’t even facing the mediocre UC Davis defense from last year, they were facing one even worse than that. If we struggled to score on UC Davis, it’s only going to get worse. Cal can’t rely on wearing Pac-12 teams down the way they did to UC Davis.
Ruey Yen: I think the focus of most Cal fans was on the offense coming into this season; mainly, how much the Cal offense has improved to give the team a shot to be possibly competitive in the Pac-12 North.Unfortunately, I think the answer to that question is still an incomplete. There were moments of brilliance but also bad decisions from QB Chase Garbers. RB Chris Brown had a big game, but can he keep up this much punishment all season long, especially when it’s coming from bigger FBS opponents?
Joshua.Morgan: On the bright side, I thought that there were many positive flashes from most of the players on offense. Garbers flashed the arm strength that we knew he had coming out of high school, the offensive line was pretty good, Nikko Remigio and Kekoa Crawford looked like they can be solid starters, Jeremiah Hawkins looked fast, Chris Brown Jr. ran hard... everyone showed that they have the ability to produce this season.
On the negative side, the unit never really seemed to click all together. Garbers was missing open receivers, and UC Davis bottled us up on many of our basic play-calls. If everything goes right, this could be a decent offensive unit this season. However, the chances of that happening look to be very slim.
Henry Keenan: The offense has a much higher ceiling this season than it did last season. Chris Brown certainly looks like an every down back, and seems to have a future as an NFL workhorse. While Garbers’s play remains inconsistent, his good plays were far better than the back foot lofted TDs/INTs of last season (as awesome as that touchdown pass against USC to win the game last season was, I’d really rather not see Garbers making throws like that on a regular basis.
Piotr T Le: Offense made their share of “oh god, oh why” plays, Garbers having some poor reads on zone-read plays, and the run game now spearheaded by CBJ. I think the offense for the year will look like it did mid/late game against Davis: run heavy to get manageable 2nd/3rd downs and to set puttee play-action (despite all analytical indicators showing that PA plays are as effective with and without the run being established).
How did the defense?
thedozen: Kuony Deng was all over the field and the Bears only allowed a touchdown after Ashtyn Davis was stripped of the ball returning the opening kickoff. Luc Bequette and Cameron Goode chipped in with a sack apiece against a pretty solid quarterback in Jake Maier.
DaneStopper: Meh. They definitely became dominant in bursts, but the vanilla gameplan made it impossible to draw any real conclusions. Kuony Deng will only grow as the season progresses, and I was very impressed with the development already of Elijah Hicks. The D-Line has holes though and didn’t get the pressure you would expect in FBS v. FCS. Luckily, we don’t really face a tough rushing attack until Utah, so keep crossing your fingers we get one of Maldonado/Sui back.
Rick Chen: Although I would have liked to see some turnovers forced by our defense, the group did well, including shutting down the Aggies in the second quarter. The scoreline makes the game look a lot closer than it was, as UC Davis only scored a touchdown because of the early turnover and short field. We should be proud we frustrated a good quarterback.
Christopher_h: If it weren’t for the opening turnover and 21 yard touchdown drive, I’d say they did as well as could reasonably be expected. Like everyone else, I was impressed with Kuony Deng’s debut. Even if UC Davis made a couple of plays, they weren’t able to string long drives together on this defense. I just don’t want to see Cal waste another generational defense the way Cal wasted Cal’s generational offense behind Jared Goff.
Ruey Yen: I agree with others that Kuony Deng had a phenomenal debut.Cal defense looked quite strong in limiting a supposedly good UC DavisQB in Jake Maier. Then again, I was mildly disappointed that the Cal defense did not get that many turnovers nor score any points.
Joshua.Morgan: The defense was really good, but I couldn’t help feeling at least a bit disappointed. I wanted more turnovers and overall wanted to look more dominant than we were. UC Davis had a couple of nice drives at certain points which is something I really did not expect. I am not worried about the defense long-term, but I am hoping they are truly elite this season and not just great.
Henry Keenan: If we give the defense a pass on the first touchdown resulting from the fumbled kickoff, the defense held one of last year’s top scoring Big Sky offense to just 6 points. The secondary looks just as GOODE as last season, which allows Evan Weaver to go for bigger plays knowing he has help over the top.
Piotr T Le: The defense did slightly below their own expectations and right on par of my own (maybe a turnover or two would’ve sweetened the game’s outcome). Evan Weaver looked as mad as my dad did when I would get a B+ or below on any exam/homework. There are issues with run fits and pass-rush (former allowing Davis to run for an efficient 4+ YPC, and latter with only 2 sacks).