BERKELEY -- Following No. 23 California's 30-24 loss to now-No. 4 Utah on Saturday, Cal quarterback Jared Goff didn't waste much time getting back to the drawing board. Five interceptions just wouldn't do. Not for him. Not for the Bears. He went in to see offensive coordinator Tony Franklin on Sunday. The team had Sunday and Monday off, but Goff, and several other players, took it upon themselves to come in to talk things out.
"Any time you lose, you want to come back and get that taste out of your mouth," head coach Sonny Dykes said. "Jared, I think, came by and talked to Tony, Sunday, and spent some time with him. They usually roll through here.
"That’s what you want. You want guys to feel comfortable coming by and seeing you, because that’s the kind of relationship you want to have with your players, where they realize that you care about them, you want to see them do well, whether that’s in the classroom or on the football field on Saturdays. They care a lot about this team. The guys are really invested, and it was the perfect balance between hurting, but at the same time, excited and ready to get back out and compete and improve. His state of mind’s fine.
"He’s exactly like our football team," Dykes said of Goff. "He’s disappointed, he realizes that, as a program, we missed an opportunity. He's ready to get back out there, and his performance wasn't indicative of the kind of player that he is, and our performance, offensively, wasn't indicative of the kind of offense that we are."
That's exactly the way running back Tre Watson felt.
"It was definitely a humbling experience, because we were given all this hype and stuff," Watson said. "We don't want guys to start letting that get to their heads. That was definitely a humbling experience."
Both Bryce Treggs and Kenny Lawler had key drops, with Lawler's hands acting as a springboard to one of Goff's five picks. For a group that Goff touted this offseason as one of, if not the best in college football, it was a blow.
"It's definitely a wake-up call for us," Treggs said. "In practice, now, we're paying attention to every single detail, not letting anything slip by. In the past, if somebody were to drop a ball, we'd just assume that, 'Aw, he'll catch that in the game. He'll pick it up on game day.' That was a sign of an overly-cocky team, and we got brought back to reality when we played Utah, so now, we're really focusing on the details, looking every ball into the tuck, and making sure we don't make those mistakes."
Goff has been as precise and as accurate as he's been all season in practice, missing only two throws in one-on-ones over the past two days, and hitting several over-the-shoulder balls for long scores.
"Any time you don't play well, it starts with coaching. We've got to coach better. I've got to coach my receivers better. That's always the deal. If guys aren't playing at their peak level, that's where it starts: It starts with us getting them coached up and doing a better job of developing them and motivating them and all the little things we have to do as coaches. It starts with us." -- Sonny Dykes
"We're sort of treating this bye week like fall camp," said Treggs. "We're getting back to the fundamentals."
During the scrimmage portion of practice -- which saw two picture-perfect back-shoulder deep balls from freshman Ross Bowers -- Lawler was on the sidelines, catching ball after ball after ball from the JUGGS machine.
Treggs -- who saw some action on the outside on Wednesday, as Trevor Davis works back from an ankle injury -- saw a ball slip through his hands against the Utes, late in the fourth quarter, to bring up a third-and-six. Goff converted on the next play with his legs, but then threw an interception from the Utah 35, intended for Lawler.
Though the ball to Treggs was thrown to the opposite side he was expecting, his body language betrayed the look of disappointment in himself that his facemask hid.
"Man, I knew I had it," Tregg said. "There were a couple balls where I felt that, if I was a yard wider on my route, which I should have been, I could have made the catch. We just have to pay attention to those details."
Lawler in particular has been taking the game hard. He's preferred not to do press so far this week, and simply focus on those details.
"It humbled our whole unit," Treggs said. "This second half of the season, you can expect a different unit. It's not like we're sitting here, under .500, or anything like that. We're 5-1. We're still ranked. We still have confidence to us. Utah didn't take all of that away. It's confidence; not cockiness. You always want to stay level-headed. Going into Utah, we were a little bit too high. We got brought back to reality, and we're a lot more hungry, going into the second half of the season."
"From a mentality standpoint," Dykes said, "we're exactly what you would want a team to be -- disappointed, hurt, but at the same time, determined and resilient, optimistic."
For Goff, it's a week away from distraction, after an onslaught of media, interviews, television and radio appearances leading up to the trip to Salt Lake. Now, it's all about football.
"I want to win games. I want to bring us back to where we were, years ago. It’s been on the downslope since five years ago. I want winning to be a common thing around here," Goff said before the season. On Saturday, he looked like he was trying to make up for five years of mediocre to bad football with every single throw. This week, he's been meticulous about the small details. He's thrown even every warm-up throw with a sense of purpose. Every pump fake has been a manifesto, every back-shoulder fade: a statement. He shot himself in the foot, and the rest of the Pac-12 may not be happy that he did.
"He's played lights-out for us. He's made a lot of tough throws, and he's made some throws under durress, and he's stood in the pocket and he's done the things we've asked him to do," Dykes said. "He's done a great job of not forcing balls. He forced a couple on Saturday. I think it was a byproduct of our football team wanting to win really badly. He was sometimes maybe trying to do a little too much. I think it was across the board, at all the positions on offense, not just quarterback, but we're capable of much better. It's our job as coaches to get it out of our players."