Washington brings Cal back to Earth, 31-7


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By Ted Lee
Posted Oct 11, 2014
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2017 BearInsider.com

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Daniel Lasco vs Washington

After four weeks when California's offense had established itself as one of college football's dominant units, leaving chaos and destruction in its wake, the Bears found themselves facing Washington, a team that gave up 52 points to Eastern Washington. 

Surely, Cal would take Washington's defense apart, stretch it to the outer limits,  and force the Huskies to win the game with its offense.

Instead, the Bears found themselves shut out at halftime. And for the game they just managed seven points.

And as Washington departed Berkeley with a surprisingly easy 31-7 over Cal, ending for now, the Golden Bears' high-wire carnival act with points galore, fallen yardage records everywhere, and more thrills and chills in a game than some Cal fans might have experienced in a season.

“We did not respond very well to adversity early on in the ballgame, and it was really disappointing,” said Cal head coach Sonny Dykes. “We didn't do a very good job getting our players ready to play, and that is obviously a fault on me. It is the worst performance, offensively that I have been a part of in a long time, and again, that is my fault. We put a good drive together early in the ballgame and got down to the goal line, but we fumbled the quarterback sneak. It seemed like our guys did not respond well to that. We turned the ball over and had some penalties on our offensive line that hurt us. We had an overall lack of discipline, and that was my fault. You have to give Washington credit. I thought they played well.”

Maybe there was an inevitability that at some point the Bears were going to come out flat. They're a young team, they're thin at critical positions, and it really wasn't ever likely that they were going to score 60 points a game a week for the rest of the season. Add to that the fact that Washington was coming off a bye week, and extra week to prepare for Cal and its Bear Raid offense can make a significant difference.

“They did a great job this week of game planning for us,” said quarterback Jared Goff. “Washington, I just have to tip my hat to them, they did a great job defensively in everything they were doing. They weren't letting us get over the top on them too much and we had to do some underneath stuff and run the ball. Unfortunately, we dug ourselves into a hole early and weren't able to get out of it.”

Against the likes of Colorado and Washington State, the Bears were in a position where it was easier to hide sloppiness and mistakes might not have had such severe consequences, but it's not the case against better teams, and Washington showed that.

Although both teams combined for 151 offensive plays, one play changed the momentum of the game – and despite the Bears best efforts to reverse it during the final three-and-a-half quarters they were unable to do so.

In the first quarter, the Bears had driven the ball the length of the field, starting from their 20 and taking it down to the Washington one-yard line. Jared Goff was doing what Jared Goff does, completing passes to Bryce Treggs (10 yards), Chris Harper (11 yards), Daniel Lasco (17 yards), and Maurice Harris (25 yards).

On a second-and-goal from the 1, Goff lined up behind center and attempted to extend the ball past the goal line. Yet as he elevated the ball he never had control of it, the ball bounced off the pile at the line of scrimmage and into linebacker Shaq Thompson's hands – who played high school up the road at Grant High School in Sacramento and was a one-time Cal commit until, well, we won't get into that right now – who broke upfield, ran out of an attempted tackle by running back Daniel Lasco, and headed up the right sideline for a 100-yard return, giving Washington a 7-0 lead.

“I was just trying to make a play,” said Goff, who was 35-of-51 for 304 yards and was sacked four times, “I tried to go over the top and unfortunately it didn't work out the way I wanted it to and even worse, gave them seven points. But it didn't really affect our momentum, it really shouldn't have. Offensively today, I just don't think we did enough and I don't think I did enough today to get us the win.”

“There wasn't a better play than that all game,” said Washington head coach Chris Petersen. “(Shaq) always seems to make a play when we need one.”

But certainly the Cal offense would storm back right? Like they did against Washington State? Or they did against Colorado twice?

Yet the Husky defense was giving the Bears lots of trouble – they were playing the receivers tighter, they were pressuring Goff; the sum of which was to leaving him to try to make short completions quickly and largely abandon the deep pass with which he was decimating opposing defenses all season long.

The Bears have been successful with the outside screen this year, particularly when defenses leave one of their secondary players way off the line, but Washington defended the screen aggressively, allowing for minimal yardage after the catch while knocking down passes and coming close to a few interceptions.

Later in the first quarter, on a 1st-and-10 from the Cal 29, Goff took the snap and attempted to hand the ball of to Lasco. Either Lasco was expecting Goff to pull the ball back or Goff was expecting Lasco to take the ball, but the ball squirted loose and was recovered by Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton at the Cal 29.

On the next play, Washington quarterback Cyler Miles, who was 22-of-29 for 273 passes and gave the Bears all sorts of problems throwing crossing pattern, threw a pass to 6-4 tight end Joshua Perkins, who had Cal's 5-10 Avery Sebastian trailing him, as he made his way to the right side of the end zone.

The Bears now found themselves down 14-0 - a deficit which wouldn't have troubled them in previous weeks but was something they couldn't get past.

In the second quarter the Huskies ground out two long drives – the only two long drives the defense would allow all game – the second one punctuated with an 86-yard Miles to John Ross pass to extend Washington's lead to 28-0 going into halftime.

The Huskies had a 2nd-and-10 from their 14 when Miles threw a short pass to Ross who was crossing from the right side. Wide receiver DiAndre Campbell blocked linebacker Jake Kearney; allowing Ross to run behind him towards the middle of the field. Safety Griffin Piatt took a bad angle and missed an attempted tackle of Ross. Ross sped to the left side of the field where had a convoy of blockers to guide him up the left sideline.

“Honestly, it was just great blocking,” said Ross. “I found a crease, and then I saw it was a foot race so I just wanted to do my job. When I saw that it was a foot race, I knew that I could do it.”

And while the Bears had one of its best halves of the season after halftime, limiting Washington to 112 yards and three points in the second half – which was impressive even though the Huskies were easing up a bit, the offense could never get untracked – either with the one big play that would bring the crowd of 44,449 back into the game, or the lightning-quick strike that would put Washington back on it's heels.

“I feel like we made a lot of adjustments in the second half and held them to three points, so as a defense, our confidence is still there,” said linebacker Hardy Nickerson who finished with four solo tackles and five assists. “At the same time, we have to start faster. We started badly against Colorado, we started badly against Washington State and to have to come back out of a hole that is 28-0 is big time. We have to start stepping up early and making plays early. As a team overall, we know there needs to be work done.”

Even when the Bears scored in the third quarter on a Daniel Lasco three-yard run, closing the deficit to 21, at 28-7, there was more of a sense that while the Bears scored, they was never any threat of them getting back into the game.

While the defense did force Washington to punt on the subsequent possession, on a 2nd-and-9 from the Cal 16, Goff threw a short pass to Trevor Davis who fumbled the ball. The Huskies recovered the ball, kicked a field goal on the drive, bumping the lead back up to 31-7 and after that all that was left to play out the clock.

The loss drops Cal to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-12 and out of their first place standing atop the Pac-12 North. Next up, Cal plays UCLA, which lost to Oregon 42-30 on Saturday.

But as badly as the Bears played, the game did function as a wake up call. Having a 4-1 record is a lofty accomplishment, especially after last year's brutal season, but they'd achieved that record by the barest of margins and with a considerable amount of good fortune. Had they cut out the fumbles and penalties, it certainly would have been a closer game and the Bears could have at least been in a position to pull out late heroics.

They know now they have to play a lot better to beat good teams – something which wasn't all that fathomable last year, and even the loss to Arizona could be attributed to one play gone wrong.

“It was us,” said Daniel Lasco, who had 122 all-purpose yards including a game-high 71 yards rushing about the team's effort. “Absolutely it was us. Throughout the last couple of weeks, we've had so much notoriety; throwing the ball and running the ball and (having) so much success on offense. I think it kind of got to our head. We messed up. Offensively we didn't hold on and we started off rough. The defense was spectacular. They played well enough to win. We had too many turnovers and it's just unacceptable as an offense.”

As easy as it might have been offensively for the Bears during the past couple of weeks, Lasco said it's not as easy as it looks.

"Everyone was saying we can score 50 points easily,” said Lasco. “I think a lot of people bought into it and they didn't realize how hard it is to win a football game and how hard it is to be productive on offense. I think in the end, we needed this. It's hard right now, everybody is struggling right now, but we are going to bounce back tomorrow, have a great week of practice and get ready for UCLA. We can't really harp on t his one loss, we just have to keep our nose down and keep driving and prepare for the next opponent. We still have a long season ahead of us.”

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