BERKELEY -- Yes, No. 4 Ohio State ripped off 608 total yards of offense – the most California has allowed all season – and yes, the Bears only tallied 132 rushing yards -- but, just in case you can stand any more, here's our Fifth Quarter (we almost assuredly won't score as much as the two teams did in the first stanza, though).
1. Best Defense is Still Not a Good Offense
Want a distressing number? While there were some dubious defenses in Jeff Tedford's tenure, those teams only gave up more than 500 total yards four times at home. Cal has now done it in all three games this season.
"We've talked about it; we talked about it after doing it two weeks in a row," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "We felt like we had a trend that was coming, and I think it's more than a trend. We've got to address it and get it figured out and see what's going on."
Of great concern for the defense is the fact that the Bears allowed a season-high 332 rushing yards to the Buckeyes, who previously had a best of 263 yards against San Diego State.
"Getting run by, I don't know that that's a scheme issue, as much as it is those guys made a play on us, and that's kind of what happened," Dykes said. "First play of the ballgame, they threw a wide receiver screen, we filled, made a tackle for a short gain, and the second play of the game, they got us on the fox, where basically, they faked the screen and the guy turned it into a vertical route and just ran past us. From a scheme standpoint, I don't know what we can do differently. It's something obviously that we need to talk about."
Of the 16 plays for 10 yards or more that the Bears gave up on Saturday, 10 of them came before halftime. For the second straight week, Cal was burned for a long touchdown on the second play from scrimmage.
"That's certainly not a good way to start," said Dykes. "We have just started so poorly now, for three weeks. It's something that, as a coaching staff, we've talked a lot about, talked to some players about it, don't really have an answer at this point. It's something we're going to need to figure out, obviously, and get it fixed."
While Cal piled up 503 yards of total offense, and freshman quarterback Jared Goff went 31-for-53 for 371 yards and three touchdowns and one pick, the Bears still couldn't out-race the No. 4 Buckeyes when it came to points.
Goff threw into double- and triple-coverage five times, unofficially – far more than he has in either of his previous two games, and his 58.5% completion rate was his lowest of the season. He also very nearly was intercepted three times, with balls dropped by Christian Bryant and Bradley Roby.
"I felt like there were chances we had there to score two or three more touchdowns that we kind of slipped on," Goff said. "There were a few turnovers that we had that we shouldn't have had, just stupid plays by myself. There were a few plays there that could have changed everything. It's kind of hard to explain. We get a slip here and we get a break here, anything could have been different and we could have stayed in that game a little bit longer."
Bryant did, though, get an interception. With 6:17 left in the first quarter, just after the Bears had forced and recovered a fumble by Guiton on a handoff, Goff stepped up and threw from his own 33 to the Ohio State 25 off a flea-flicker from Bigelow, and threw it right into the waiting hands of Bryant.
"We've got to start better," Dykes said. "That's going to be a big point of emphasis for us as we move forward, and obviously something that we've got to get corrected. With the schedule that we're going to play, we can't get down 21-0 to people."
Quarterback Kenneth Guiton was a big part of that quick-strike start to the game for the Buckeyes, going 7-for-11 in the first quarter for 165 yards and three touchdowns, picking primarily on the left side of the defense.
"I really never was told I was going to start or everything," said Guiton, who started his first football game since he was a senior in high school in 2008. "All week, I was with the ones, so I kept the mindset like I was going to start. Today, when I got the nod, I was just ready to go. I always try to prepare. The coaches came up with a great game plan. We actually hit them deep a few times early, and I think that opened up a lot more for our offense. I was nervous, but I thin being nervous helps you prepare harder."
Goff, when asked whether the game felt out-of-control before it started, was quick to answer.
"Not at all," he said. "I felt like we had a good chance to come out there and make some plays early on. We kind of fell behind the eight ball there, going down 21-0. That kind of hurt. But, I was proud of the way we fought back and we never quit. Offensively, we never quit. We just stayed with it and kept doing our thing."
2. Power Outage
Brendan Bigelow was completely stifled, and it was apparent Ohio State was keyed on him from the get-go. On the Bears' first play from scrimmage, true freshman defensive end Joey Bosa smoked the junior tailback for a loss of two, setting up the first of three three-and-outs for Cal. In fact, the Bears had only four drives of at least 10 plays, and nine drives of nine plays or fewer, largely because of a non-existent running game.
Bigelow was held to a paltry 39 rushing yards on 11 attempts, with a long of nine.
Daniel Lasco turned out to be Cal's leading rusher, as he got the bulk of the carries in the fourth quarter, toting the rock 10 times for 64 yards, including a 16-yard gash and a short touchdown run. But, at that point, Ohio State was up, 52-27, and the game was long since out of reach.
The element of the rushing game that worked the way it was supposed to, though, was the debut of Kyle Boehm in the wildcat formation, which we predicted earlier this week. Boehm carried the ball four times for 14 yards and was very effective.
The rest of the Cal rushing game, though, was not. The Bears totaled 132 net yards on 37 rushing plays, with a long of 16, averaging 3.6 yards per carry.
The biggest absence, though, was the Bear Raid tempo. While Cal had averaged 97 offensive plays over the first two games, the Bears only ran 90 plays on Saturday, with only 37 after halftime.
"Part of it is we got behind 21-0, and it's hard to sit there and run it a bunch," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "But, we ran it good enough to get ourselves a chance to win."
3. Big Time Players Make Big Time Plays …
In our game day preview, we cited two players in particular who would be big factors for the Buckeyes, and neither was quarterback Braxton Miller, who wound up not playing a single down. Those two players: receiver Devin Smith and "pivot" back Dontre Wilson. Smith caught the first two touchdown passes of the day from backup Guiton, a Buckeyes program-record 90-yard score on the second play from scrimmage, and then a 47-yarder on the second play of Ohio State's second drive. Those two drives, by the way, totaled four plays and 0:58 on the clock.
Last year, Smith averaged 29.5 yards on his six touches against the Bears, and this year, he caught three balls, but he made them count, ripping off 149 yards, averaging 49.7 yards per touch. Those first two scores put Cal in a hole that wound up being inescapable.
"Devin has world-class speed," Guiton said. "Sending him on deep routes in man coverage, we're going to try to exploit that. I saw him beat his man and he can do the rest."
Wilson averaged 11.8 yards per carry on the ground, and caught three passes for 48 yards, and when he wasn't in the mix, it was Jordan Hall as the bullet in Ohio State's version of the pistol that shot Cal's defense in the heart.
After Wilson softened up the Bears early on, Hall came on strong in the second half, rushing for a total of 170 yards on 30 carries, with 86 yards on 20 carries coming after the half.
"I see myself as a big time playmaker, as a game changer," Wilson said. "Every time I get in, I tell myself that. Without having Braxton, we lose that threat of running by the QB. They bring me in to stretch it out and just make a big play when the time is needed. Every time I get the ball, I'm trying to show the coaches what I can do."
4. Safety Dance
It didn't take long for starting safety Alex Logan to get yanked in favor of true freshman Cameron Walker (Logan had to exit due to injury, according Dykes) and once Walker and corner Joel Willis came in for Logan and Isaac Lapite, the passing defense was notably better, though stats are skewed because the Buckeyes called 33 running plays to 19 passing plays in the second half.
Logan exited following Jared Goff's first-quarter interception with just over six minutes to go, and Lapite shortly thereafter. Before the switch, Guiton was 8-for-11 passing for 193 yards (a 310.11 passer efficiency rating). Once Willis and Walker came in, Guiton went 13-for-23 with 79 yards and one touchdown pass (a 99.72 PER). Yes, the pair came in right before Ohio State went up, 24-7, but Cal mounted a comeback to bring the game to 31-20 before halftime. Before Willis (who was a receiver last year) and Walker (recruited as a corner) came in, Guiton averaged 17.55 yards per passing attempt. Afterwards? 3.43 yards per attempt.
"When you're playing converted receivers and you're playing corners that were true freshmen at safety and just trying to hold it together with guys, hopefully, those guys played well, and they're going to play better next week than they did today," said Dykes. "Hopefully, they'll be better on Wednesday than they were on Tuesday, and on Thursday, better than they were on Wednesday, and that's going to be our progress."
Walker had his moments, helping to strip the ball from Guiton on first-and-10 at the Cal 28 midway through the second quarter and halting what would have been a sure TD run by Hall up the middle on first-and-10 from the Ohio State 25, holding Hall to "just" 16 yards. Later in the drive, Walker helped stop Guiton on a rush to the right, backing up Khairi Fortt -- who was hanging onto Guiton's foot for dear life – by making the stop on the 6-foot-3, 208-pounder at the five.
That said, Cal gave up 16 plays of 10 yards or more, with six of those coming through the air, and five of those passing plays came before halftime.
While Willis acquitted himself well, he was playing 5-10 yards off of his man at corner, which was a bit conservative, but gave him some room for error.
Late in the game, we also saw Jason Gibson get his first action at safety. Though Michael Lowe did play a bit, don't' be shocked if we see Walker and Gibson get the nod at Oregon in two weeks, given how rush-heavy their offense is.
"We have some personnel issues," Dykes said. "Isaac Lapite gave up a long touchdown. Isaac's really played well for us, and is a kid who plays really hard; he's just not a great match-up for us, and gave up a long play there. We were starting Cam [Walker], who came in and played the whole game at safety. He was a corner, two weeks ago – really, a week and a half ago. He played every snap at safety for the remainder of the game, primarily, as a true freshman corner. Logan went out early, again, and [Michael] Lowe was out, so we were kind of grabbing guys, ‘Hey, No. So-and-So, go in there.' It's just who we've got."
5. More Trickeration
After scoring the first touchdown of the Sonny Dykes era on a fake field goal, Cal was at it again against Ohio State.
Twice this week, during Wednesday's practice, Goff practiced a fake punt, once throwing the ball, and once actually kicking it. The hang time on his lob-wedge shot was quite a bit under 3.0 seconds, so on Saturday, he turned to what he knows best: Passing. On fourth-and-seven at the Ohio State 38, the offense came off the field to a chorus of boos, but the student section perked up a bit when they saw that the No. 16 that was taking the field was no Cole Leininger, but Goff. Goff took the deep snap, and threw to defensive back Stefan McClure for a gain of 11 yards and a first down. The drive ended with a Vincenzo D'Amato 43-yard field goal to get the Bears within 11, at 31-20.
"I was expecting them to call it at some point in the game," Goff said. "They told me to be ready for it. We practiced it twice this week, and it just worked out. Stefan ran a great route, and made a good play on it. I didn't make a great pass, but he made a good catch on it."
Goff also showed some spiffy improvisation at the start of the second quarter, when he was flushed out of the pocket on second-and-three. As Goff was being dragged down, the former high school shortstop tossed a backhanded double-play flip to Bryce Treggs for a gain of eight yards and a first down.
With 8:01 left in the first quarter, and Cal down 21-0, Goff showed great field awareness with the pocket collapsing. On second-and-10 at the Bears' 39-yard line, Goff stepped up and lofted a prayer to receiver James Grisom at the opposing 35, and Grisom took the heave and ran with it for a 61-yard touchdown. It was Grisom's first career touchdown catch, and the second reception of his career.
[READ MORE: Fall Camp Feature: Big Game James]
FIFTH QUARTER: No Defense
Buckeye Sports Top Stories
Francis Determined To Return To State TourneyOhio State target and Pickerington (Ohio) Central point guard Jeremiah Francis is determined to return his team to the high school state tournament in the next two years after…
Buckeye Sports6:34 AM
Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell Unsure On FutureAfter losing to Notre Dame in the Sweet 16, Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell said she had not decided on whether she will return to the Buckeyes for the 2017-18 season or not.
Buckeye SportsYesterday at 6:37 PM
OSU Women Fall In Sweet 16, 99-76The Ohio State women's basketball team had its NCAA tournament run come to an end March 24 with a 99-76 loss to Notre Dame.
Buckeye SportsYesterday at 4:49 PM
Bank Bag: Late March Edition Part-TwoBaseball is close to starting, the NCAA tournament has reached the Sweet Sixteen and Ohio State is in the middle of spring football. Bill Greene is here to answer questions from…
Buckeye SportsYesterday at 11:51 AM
Pro Day Meant Another Opportunity For ElfleinFormer Ohio State center Pat Elflein used Thursday’s pro day as another opportunity to show NFL representatives his abilities.
Buckeye SportsYesterday at 10:41 AM