BERKELEY -- California dropped its first home game of the 2014 season on Saturday, 31-7, and the misery for one of the nation’s best offenses – which came in averaging 50 points per game -- started from the Bears’ second offensive drive.
Washington got out to a quick 7-0 lead thanks to a 100-yard fumble recovery return by former Cal commit Shaq Thompson -- who went with now-Alabama staffer Tosh Lupoi when he left the Bears for the Huskies – on a goal-line dive from quarterback Jared Goff, who had four of Cal’s five fumbles (three of which were lost).
“I was just trying to make a play, go over the top and get into the end zone,” said Goff, who failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time since Nov. 16, 2013 at Colorado. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way we wanted it to, and even worse, gave them some points.”
On the whole, Cal (4-2, 2-2 in Pac-12) came into the game having given up 28 points off of turnovers in the previous five games, but wound up surrendering 21 in just one afternoon to Washington (5-1, 1-1).
“The defense played great,” said Goff. “They played their asses off. We (the offense) gave up 14. They gave up 17, and that’s very winnable.”
The Bears – missing three starters in safety Stefan McClure, defensive end Brennan Scarlett and safety Michael Lowe -- held the Huskies (who came in averaging just over 207 rushing yards per game) to 111 yards on the ground. The screen pass, though, tore up the depleted secondary. Three screens went for first downs and a fourth went for an 86-yard John Ross touchdown with 1:29 left in the first half, to put Washington up 28-0 – the largest deficit Cal has faced this season.
Huskies quarterback Cyler Miles was able to find soft spots underneath in the Cal defense, going 22-for-29 for a season-best 273 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Goff saw his big-play potential and down-field targets taken away, necessitating a shorter and intermediate passing game which played right into the hands of the Huskies’ zone.
Aside from getting the ball out quickly for short routes, Goff also had to contend with an offensive line that was seeing elements of a pass rush that they hadn’t seen yet, particularly left tackle Steven Moore, who gave up three of Goff’s four sacks. All three of those sacks came from Hau’oli Kikaha -- Washington’s BUCK linebacker – who had nine tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss, as well as a forced fumble.
“He was lining up wide, which is something I haven’t seen much of this year,” Moore said. “I’ve got to get better at it. I’m ready to play again, already.”
Tailback Daniel Lasco -- who surpassed 100 all-purpose yards (106) for the fourth time in a row – put the loss squarely on the offense, which produced just 368 yards and was 1-for-4 in the red zone, with one fumble and another goal-line stop late in the fourth quarter.
"It was us. Absolutely, it was us,” Lasco said. “We've had so much notoriety and so much success the last three weeks, it got to our heads. It's just unacceptable, as an offense.”
“We can’t get complacent at all, and I think we might have been complacent and comfortable,” said the sophomore signal-caller.
Safety Griffin Piatt went down on the first drive of the second half, one play after tallying his first career sack.
Head coach Sonny Dykes said that the team did not know the nature of the injury. Piatt was replaced by former walk-on receiver Patrick Worstell.
The Bears next see the field next Saturday against UCLA at 12:30 p.m.