SALT LAKE CITY -- California safety Stefan McClure was the last bulwark of defense many times on Saturday during the Golden Bears' 30-24 loss to No. 5 Utah, and the senior defensive back scored four tackles of his own on the day, while fellow starter Damariay Drew laid the wood and came up with nine tackles, despite being hurt for much of the second and third quarters. Drew was replaced during that span by Griffin Piatt, playing in his second game of the season after recovering from a knee injury that ended his 2014 season after six games.
Piatt proved to be a bit rusty, playing out of position on a 17-yard run by Devontae Booker with 4:33 left in the first half. That play kicked off an 81-yard scoring drive for the Utes, which ended with a 54-yard touchdown pass to Cory Butler-Byrd over Darius White, with no safety help up top from Piatt.
Quarterback Jared Goff was then picked on the second play of Cal's ensuing drive, leading to yet another Utah touchdown.
Commentary: Quick Hits
- This is the outcome I had expected -- a close Utah win -- but it certainly was not the way I expected the game to get there. Five interceptions by Goff, that's never happened in his life as a football player. Knowing Goff as I do, as much of a perfectionist as he is, and as obsessive as he is about football, he's going to live in Tony Franklin's office until he has to board the plane for Los Angeles. I've referenced the movie Blazing Saddles in my comments about the game over the past 12 hours: If you shoot him, you'll just make him mad. Goff shot himself in the foot. Now, he's mad. He may not be punch-out-a-horse mad, but this could be what springboards him into the rest of the season.
- Cal woke up this morning still ranked No. 23 in the nation in the Associated Press poll, with the Utes ranked No. 4. You could make the argument that a close loss to the then-No. 5 team in the country should result in a boost for the Bears, but remember: This is a team that just re-entered the national discussion after nearly a decade away from it. Teams that have been poll regulars for the entire season, or for several seasons, get the benefit of the doubt in close losses, and see small "attaboy" jumps in rankings if they come close to beating a top-10 team. Cal isn't there ... yet. But, the wins by Washington over then-No. 6 USC, Washingotn State over Pac-12 North stalwart Oregon and Texas's upset win over Oklahoma all of the sudden make Cal's strength of schedule much better, and Jon Wilner even posted that his most recent AP vote put the Bears at No. 14, so perhaps there is some momentum in the public consciousness for Cal.
- According to the good folks over at our USC site -- USCFootball.com -- Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian was not at practice today, following USC's stunning loss to Washington (the Huskies win probably boosts that road win value for the Bears, though a one-win Texas team probably evens out whatever gains may be made from Washington's win). That makes the Oct. 31 meeting with the Trojans much more interesting.
- Of course, first up is UCLA on a Thursday night. The Bruins are without their two best defenders in linebacker Myles Jack and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, both done for the season. Could that mean less pressure on Goff? Possibly. The offensive tackles did not acquit themselves well last night, particularly Steven Moore. Goff hurried many of his throws because the pocket was collapsing. Now, some of those throws were his decisions, and there was no shortage of drops -- including two from Kenny Lawler that took 14 points off the board -- but Goff's quick release, while a perk for NFL scouts, is the product of him having no time to throw. That's not going to get solved, because if there were better options, they've been tried, and been found wanting.
- I think, given the love that Goff and Lawler have gotten the past three weeks, maybe the redshirt junior recever was reading his own press a bit. He's a receiver. It happens. What doesn't usually happen, though, are the drops he and Bryce Treggs had over the course of the game. At this point, I think both Lawler and Goff have plent of reasons to redouble their efforts and their attention to detail over the next week and a half. There have been other receivers at Cal recently who have read their own press a bit too much, and it didn't end well. I don't get that sense about Lawler.
Game Week Content
- Bear Republic Podcast with LB Coach Garret Chachere
- Cal at Utah: Two Minute Drill
- BTTV: Art Kaufman Talks Defending Utah
- Behind Enemy Lines Chat Transcript
- Key Match-Up: Rock vs. Hard Place
- Bear Republic Podcast: The Good, The Bad ...
- Key Match-Up: Tuesday Special
- Stefan McClure Named Player of the Week
- Chaos In College Football Power Rankings
- What Does Cal Need to Improve vs. Utah?
- College Football Week 5: Top 10 Storylines