We've had two days to rest and recupperate (and some of us, take redeye flights back), so here, with some commentary from Cal head coac Sonny Dykes, are our two big takeaways, plus an extra update on health.
Depth of the defensive line. Though Jerrod Heard carved up the Bears' defense for over 500 yards of total offense, Cal was able to provide pressure both up the middle and off the edge, particularly during the third quarter, and the most remarkable thing was, it was mostly without defensive end DeVante Wilson. We saw Jonathan Johnson, Tony Mekari and Todd Barr stand out, and while James Looney is lucky that his facemask penalty on Heard didn't get him kicked out, both he and Mustafa Jalil were effective, with Jalil getting a sack and a butt fumble.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1589138-cal-holds-on-for-4... The real issues for the Bears arose in the fourth quarter, when Heard led Texas to three scores on four drives. The edge contain broke down, and Heard was able to step up and run up the middle. Whether that was because the Longhorns changed something schematically to take advantage of Wilson's absence or not, it's hard to tell, but it can also be chalked up to the fact that the Bears hadn't seen that many plays out of Heard in two games combined, nor did they know offensive coordinator Jay Norvell's play-calling tendancies, due to his newness at the post.
While the defensive line adjusted well during the late second quarter and for most of the third quarter -- allowing just 112 yards in the third quarter out of the Longhorns' 650 on the game -- something broke in the fourth quarter. The Bears allowed 2-of-4 third-down conversions, 11 of Texas's 28 first downs in the final stanza. That's a concern. It's also a big concern that Cal's offense was mostly silent for the fourth quarter. In fact, this season, the Bears are being out-scored 34-14 in fourth quarters. On the flip side, Cal has outscored opponents 49-0 in the third quarter, so clearly, some adjustments -- on both sides of the ball -- are working. Something just seems to flip in the fourth quarter, and most definitely not in Cal's favor, and that's going to be crucial this weekend in the Pac-12 opener against Washington, which Dykes says, "will be a physical game."
On the subject of Wilson, it's uncertain how long he'll be out.
"He's got an injured foot," Dykes said. "We don't have any idea what the severity is, yet, and he's getting an MRI," Dykes said on Sunday. "We'll know a little bit more about it."
The second big takeaway: Cal can run. Yes, Khalfani Muhammad rushed for 164 yards -- including a 74-yard touchdown run -- but the Bears' tailbacks were certainly up to the task of replacing Daniel Lasco. As a team, Cal rushed for 280 yards -- nearly 300 if you take out the yards lost on the final kneel-down plays. Vic Enwere gushed about the offensive line, which, while it had a spot of trouble with Texas's blitzing off the edge, did plow the way for some big runs, and even the four- and five-yard runs were blocked well, particularly if you look at the tape of the interior.
Cal had so much trouble running through the A- and B-gaps two years ago, and got a tad better last year, but at times, this team looked like it could play, as Dykes said of the San Diego Staet game, old-fashioned, ground-and-pound football. Now, there were about two first downs in the final two drives that the Bears needed to get, but didn't, and one would think that would be ameliorated in some fashion by the return of Lasco.
"Daniel, I would expect him to be back, at some point this week," Dykes said. "I thought he would practice and play last week. We got to the end of the week, and we did not want to set it back at all, so it was great to see the run game. He did more [Sunday] than he's done, and I would expect him to do more on Tuesday, and we'll progress him through the week and see where we are."
Still, though, Cal racked up 26 first downs, with 11 rushing and 12 passing, and three due to penalties. That's a pretty solid night, and a pretty even one. The Bears rushed for three touchdowns, and passed for three touchdowns. Again, very even. Cal also ran the ball (not counting one sack and two team-rush losses during kneel-down time) 38 times, and dropped back to pass 37 times. This was as even a game as Cal has had under Dykes and Tony Franklin.
"I thought we ran the ball well," Dykes said. "We've talked about being able to run the ball to finish out some games, and we weren't able to do that to the extent that we wanted to, at the end, but I thought, for all those 300 yards or something, I think we ran the ball pretty well. Khalfani ran the ball hard, Enwere ran hard, Tre [Watson] did sme good things. It was good. I thought our offensive line played probably as tough and as physical as they have at any point, and that was key."
Jared Goff is OK. Dykes said that Goff -- who got his ankle rolled during the final offensive drive against the Longhorns -- should be able to play against the Huskies.
"He's got a little bit of a sprained ankle, a little bit sore, but he'll be fine," Dykes said. "I think it probably hurt a little bit. He got rolled up, and I thought he responded after that. I did notice he was a bit ginger on it that series, and after that, I didn't see any kind of lingering effect."
Dykes said Goff will practice fully on Tuesday.