Is Cal football on the right track

wifeisafurd
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A qualified yes. Cal started off wining all its non-confence games against similar quality opposition las year and likely will do the same this year. So you could draw the conclusion that Wilcox & company have not really shown us anything to suggest that they can deliver better than 5-7 this year - yet.

But:

1) The defense is clearly better in all areas and much deeper. They are not going away.
2) The offense has not shown much, but practice reports indicate the offense also is deeper and can run more plays than shown. Statistically the defense is down from the defense last year at this point. Some of that may be deliberate. My guess is we saw a lot more of Malik for example as the season progresses.
3) Special teams (absent placekicking) is more solid.
4) The schedule is better than last year

Now for the qualifications:

1) The play calling seems unusual and is the use of quarterbacks. No one is really sure where Cal is going. Laird seems to be wasted and the usual responses to opposing defenses loading up the boxes have been missing. That said, there may be some potential long run in the QB system in terms of developing QBs with upside, and then will open the play book. I'm only speculating.

2) The BYU game revealed a lot of turnovers and penalties after a clean game against Carolina. Cal doesn't have a good enough offense to be making these errors against better teams.

I appreciate its still early in the season. Thoughts?
FuzzyWuzzy
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wifeisafurd said:

A qualified yes. Cal started off wining all its non-confence games against similar quality opposition las year and likely will do the same this year. So you could draw the conclusion that Wilcox & company have not really shown us anything to suggest that they can deliver better than 5-7 this year - yet.

But:

1) The defense is clearly better in all areas and much deeper. They are not going away.
2) The offense has not shown much, but practice reports indicate the offense also is deeper and can run more plays than shown. Statistically the defense is down from the defense last year at this point. Some of that may be deliberate. My guess is we saw a lot more of Malik for example as the season progresses.
3) Special teams (absent placekicking) is more solid.
4) The schedule is better than last year

Now for the qualifications:

1) The play calling seems unusual and is the use of quarterbacks. No one is really sure where Cal is going. Laird seems to be wasted and the usual responses to opposing defenses loading up the boxes have been missing. That said, there may be some potential long run in the QB system in terms of developing QBs with upside, and then will open the play book. I'm only speculating.

2) The BYU game revealed a lot of turnovers and penalties after a clean game against Carolina. Cal doesn't have a good enough offense to be making these errors against better teams.

I appreciate its still early in the season. Thoughts?
I think so.

Defense - it has been really good, for two games. But is it deeper? We have some quality backups in the secondary but I sure wouldn't want any of our starters, especially Bynum, to go down. And we are woefully thin at linebacker - it seems like it's all first-year players once you get past the starters, not exactly a sign of good depth. Sure wish we had Gerran Brown. Tevin Paul has made a few good plays at DE but I don't have a feel as to whether the coaches have enough faith in most of the backup D linemen to give them snaps, or whether they have generally played well when they have gotten snaps. Lack of depth should be a recruiting advantage - prospect of early playing time.

Special teams - I wouldn't call them solid overall. We've had a muffed punt, a lucky call on an onside kick, an extremely undisciplined running into the punter that could have been disastrous if it were a roughing call, a missed FG that was very makable, and penalties on good kick or punt returns. Kickoffs, however, have been really good, and kick and punt coverage have also been pretty damn good.

Playcalling - let's face it, if the coach calls the EXACT same plays and they all go for long gainers, he's a genius. If they all go for a loss, all of a sudden he is a dunce. I have a feeling that once the OL works out a few kinks, he's going to start looking more like a genius than a dunce. He didn't forget how to call a game once he landed in Berkeley. Also, note that he's working with a few new pieces in key places (QB) and without a few key pieces (Robertson) in others.

Penalties - yeah, the false starts and delays of game need to get cleaned up. Easy to fix. Also, that officiating crew against BYU was smoking something, and made us look worse than we are. There were some phantom holding calls on both teams. It was like the opposite of an Oregon game where they hold us all night long and no calls. Also, the late hit on the BYU DB was a phantom call, and so was the "illegal touching" on the Wharton punt return. In general, I think we will be better than most on the penalty metrics.

I actually think we are headed in the right direction if we can stay healthy (a big "IF") and we can get our OL to start hitting on all cylinders (a likelihood, IMO, if we stay patient).
Big C
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We don't know yet. Opponents are going to be able to shut down this QB running stuff very soon, if we are not able to develop more of a passing game. How much of an upside do Garbers and McIlwain have as passers and can they realize a lot of that upside by, say, mid-October? Stay tuned.
Chapman_is_Gone
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I am concerned by what appears to be the lack of a competent FG kicker, defined as a kicker who, in addition to making the vast majority of shorter kicks, is capable of making field goals of 40-53 yards at at least a 50% rate.

If we truly lack a kicker, it will cost us AT LEAST one Pac-12 win.
heartofthebear
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Yes
We are improving
But every pac-12 program does things to improve every year.
While programs like Oregon, Furd and Washington improved a great deal, we treaded water without a real AD.
Before that it was UCLA and ASU making a jump.
Now we are somewhat behind and regularly lose recruiting battles for coveted players to these teams.

We are improving compared to Cal of the past.
But are we improving relative to the rest of the conference.

So far I don't see it.
We change coaches.
We will non conference games.
But we don't really improve our conference record.
This year I don't expect much difference.
We will win maybe 4 conference games this year (OSU, UCLA, Arizona and WSU).
All of the above teams are having down years or are predicted to have them.

When we beat a good pac-12 opponent having a good year, that will tell me something.

Having said all of that, none of this is on Wilcox, who I really like as a coach.
This is on Cal as a program.
heartofthebear
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That first Saturday in October is going to tell us a lot.
First of all, we will have to be healthy, even after playing Oregon.
And we need to beat a beatable team on their Tucson turf.
That was supposed to happen in 2104 but didn't.

So, just because Cal can and should win, doesn't mean they will.
alarsuel
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I'm as Nega as they come, but winning 4 conference games this year (7 overall) is certainly an improvement over the 2 (5 overall) of last year.

Also, beating WSU last year doesn't count as a good Pac-12 opponent having a good year? I don't think it meant anything, but we're using your criteria.
wifeisafurd
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IMO the DB depth is as good as I have seen it in a while.

We are also more depth on the d-line than in a while, they rotate guys and the back-ups just continue to make plays.

I would say that Cal is not deep at LB, and will have to rely on some guys who appear to be good athletes but inexperienced if the starters, who are having great years, go down. Hopefully Goode is back soon.

Special teams. Coverage has been excellent, Davis is decent, there was a flub of a punt return, but otherwise that area has been solid, and I have no idea what is going on with the place-kicking, and maybe neither does the coaching staff.

But the bottom line is this defense is not going away.

That said, the conference games will see if the season is a success.
TheSouseFamily
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We are currently in the top 25 in yards per play on defense and the bottom 25 in yards per play on defense. There's no question that the defense is on the right track. The offense, however, seems to be a work in progress. Given that we are undergoing a significant transition at the QB spot, I'd say it's very much TBD. But elsewhere around the offense, it's all known commodities: at WR, at TE, at RB and on the OL. I wouldn't expect to see a metamorphosis in how those positions perform.

Obviously the hope is that the defense sustains iits performance as we get into conference play and the offense somehow finds a way to improve. I have more confidence that the D can sustain than I do the offense finding a solution to get us closer to average. The QB situation is the wild card and how that shakes out could provide the missing ingredient to get us out of the bottom 25 in offensive efficiency.
heartofthebear
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alarsuel said:

I'm as Nega as they come, but winning 4 conference games this year (7 overall) is certainly an improvement over the 2 (5 overall) of last year.

Also, beating WSU last year doesn't count as a good Pac-12 opponent having a good year? I don't think it meant anything, but we're using your criteria.
Yes, if we win 4, it will be an improvement and some reason for hope.
I also think having a real AD is reason for hope.

I'm just saying that hope is future oriented and does not necessarily mean that the results we want will happen this season.

3 or 4 conference wins this season is improvement but not the results we ultimately want to know that we are on the right track long term.

Those answers can't really come with this year alone, but have to come over the next 2 seasons as well.
59bear
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Baby steps. We're improving incrementally but probably a couple of years from being able to compete with the best and then only sporadically. I'm not optimistic that Cal wants to be a truly big time program and suspect we'll never do better than hang around the fringes of excellence with an occasional shot at a title if the stars align. If that makes me a Nega Bear, I can live with that and the frustrations that come with being a cal fan.
FuzzyWuzzy
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TheSouseFamily said:

We are currently in the top 25 in yards per play on defense and the bottom 25 in yards per play on defense. There's no question that the defense is on the right track. The offense, however, seems to be a work in progress. Given that we are undergoing a significant transition at the QB spot, I'd say it's very much TBD. But elsewhere around the offense, it's all known commodities: at WR, at TE, at RB and on the OL. I wouldn't expect to see a metamorphosis in how those positions perform.

Obviously the hope is that the defense sustains iits performance as we get into conference play and the offense somehow finds a way to improve. I have more confidence that the D can sustain than I do the offense finding a solution to get us closer to average. The QB situation is the wild card and how that shakes out could provide the missing ingredient to get us out of the bottom 25 in offensive efficiency.
If the OL improves as expected, we will see improvement in all the other position groups.
TheSouseFamily
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If you're talking about improvement over the next couple of years, I'm definitely in agreement since we seem to have a lot of good young talent waiting in the wings. But if you're talking about improvement this season, I don't see that enabler or a rationale to justify that. It's a healthy, established and experienced group. If we could to point to something like injured guys getting healthy or the schedule getting easier or lineup changes that improve the talent level on the line, I might see a basis for how things get better over the next few months. But other than just getting additional game experience (something that equally applies to every other OL), I don't see anything to make me think things are likely to change.
Uthaithani
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I'm not sure. Dykes improved academics and offense (though offense was inefficient), but defense and game management was horrible and player development was hit and miss.

Wilcox has improved D but O has severely regressed and player development is also hit and miss.

Bottom line I don't think the program is on the right path. A good program develops on both sides of the ball, not just one, and player development is balanced across the team, not just in one aspect.

Good coaching isn't a choice between defense and offense. Good coaching has quality in both. So up to this point Wilcox does not have the program on the right path, just the mirror opposite of Dykes. This seems to be the way Cal athletics deals with things - addressing last year's problems instead of actually building something durable.

This has the look and feel of typiCal football for the Bears.
FuzzyWuzzy
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TheSouseFamily said:

If you're talking about improvement over the next couple of years, I'm definitely in agreement since we seem to have a lot of good young talent waiting in the wings. But if you're talking about improvement this season, I don't see that enabler or a rationale to justify that. It's a healthy, established and experienced group. If we could to point to something like injured guys getting healthy or the schedule getting easier or lineup changes that improve the talent level on the line, I might see a basis for how things get better over the next few months. But other than just getting additional game experience (something that equally applies to every other OL), I don't see anything to make me think things are likely to change.
You might be right. But of any offensive position group, OL is one that needs to be on the same page. One guy screws up and it blows up the play. And it is the one position group that often takes a few games to "gel" as a unit. Given how they performed in the second half of last year, I'm optimistic about improvement this year.

And when your OL is clicking, watch out. Your offense hums, you convert third downs and your defense gets to rest. That has been the Furd's recipe for success for going on a decade now, superior line play.

tequila4kapp
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Of course we are headed in the right direction, even if it isn't perfect.
calumnus
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TheSouseFamily said:

If you're talking about improvement over the next couple of years, I'm definitely in agreement since we seem to have a lot of good young talent waiting in the wings. But if you're talking about improvement this season, I don't see that enabler or a rationale to justify that. It's a healthy, established and experienced group. If we could to point to something like injured guys getting healthy or the schedule getting easier or lineup changes that improve the talent level on the line, I might see a basis for how things get better over the next few months. But other than just getting additional game experience (something that equally applies to every other OL), I don't see anything to make me think things are likely to change.


Two things give me reason for optimism our offense improves this season: 1. Garbers or McIlwain at QB (and increased confidence/experience with the first team) and 2. The potential to more fully use our strengths (like McMorris) and improved play calling.
sycasey
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Probably yes. Wilcox seems to have a good handle on things and the team seems well-coached (especially on defense). They still lack top-level talent in most areas, but that can improve with time. Of course, those things were also true of Tedford at first, so it can also always go south. I remain optimistic for the time being.
59bear
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Uthaithani said:

I'm not sure. Dykes improved academics and offense (though offense was inefficient), but defense and game management was horrible and player development was hit and miss.

Wilcox has improved D but O has severely regressed and player development is also hit and miss.

Bottom line I don't think the program is on the right path. A good program develops on both sides of the ball, not just one, and player development is balanced across the team, not just in one aspect.

Good coaching isn't a choice between defense and offense. Good coaching has quality in both. So up to this point Wilcox does not have the program on the right path, just the mirror opposite of Dykes. This seems to be the way Cal athletics deals with things - addressing last year's problems instead of actually building something durable.

This has the look and feel of typiCal football for the Bears.
It's too early to judge player development as most the roster are still Sonny's guys and not necessarily a good fit for Wilcox. By year 3 or 4, we'll know better although my sense is Wilcox is recruiting to fit what he wants to do and that should lead to decent development over time. Also, the jury is still out on the offense although I agree it has some growing to do. I do think Garbers and McIlwain both looked better against BYU than they did against UNC which I find encouraging. If the defense can continue to hold up, we won't need to score 50 a game to have a chance to win.
TomBear
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You know, I'm looking at this in a bit of a different way than some of you.

I do care about wins and losses, don't question that for a second. But I'm most concerned with whether or not, win or lose, this is a team i can be proud of. You know, how do they act on and off the field, do they play the game with honor, how are they in the classroom etc. etc. etc.?

It's still a little early to say for sure, but I feel pretty confident my answer is going to be yes, So far, I am very proud of this team.
MB Cal Golf
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Agree on all comments - Cal football is on the right track. I think the second half half offense versus BYU is what you will see more of going forward (264 total offense in second half versus 124 in the first half) - love our defense. Also like how we got that first down to win the game - we struggled with that in years past.
OdontoBear66
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TomBear said:

You know, I'm looking at this in a bit of a different way than some of you.

I do care about wins and losses, don't question that for a second. But I'm most concerned with whether or not, win or lose, this is a team i can be proud of. You know, how do they act on and off the field, do they play the game with honor, how are they in the classroom etc. etc. etc.?

It's still a little early to say for sure, but I feel pretty confident my answer is going to be yes, So far, I am very proud of this team.
This is sounding like things are coming together in all phases with this staff. Academics a10, coaching a 9 or 10, quality & compatibility of players near a 10 from what I hear. Liking it very much.
run2win
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TomBear said:

You know, I'm looking at this in a bit of a different way than some of you.

I do care about wins and losses, don't question that for a second. But I'm most concerned with whether or not, win or lose, this is a team i can be proud of. You know, how do they act on and off the field, do they play the game with honor, how are they in the classroom etc. etc. etc.?

It's still a little early to say for sure, but I feel pretty confident my answer is going to be yes, So far, I am very proud of this team.
Some guy once said:

"Winning is not everything and it is far better to play the game squarely and lose than to win at the sacrifice of an ideal."

Andrew Latham Smith
http://www.joeroth12.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaGridiron/
Golden One
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run2win said:

TomBear said:

You know, I'm looking at this in a bit of a different way than some of you.

I do care about wins and losses, don't question that for a second. But I'm most concerned with whether or not, win or lose, this is a team i can be proud of. You know, how do they act on and off the field, do they play the game with honor, how are they in the classroom etc. etc. etc.?

It's still a little early to say for sure, but I feel pretty confident my answer is going to be yes, So far, I am very proud of this team.
Some guy once said:

"Winning is not everything and it is far better to play the game squarely and lose than to win at the sacrifice of an ideal."

Andrew Latham Smith
Then there's the famous coach who said "Winning is everything". He seems to have more disciples these days than Andy.
Bear19
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Wilcox & Co. are getting the most out of the players they inherited.

The coaches won't say "Look - the O-Line players just don't have the ability to enable us to have an upper tier offense. Our top RB is a freakin walk-on. We're frantically bringing in as many defensive players as possible, and in case you haven't noticed, it's our recruits that have the defense playing better. The QBs dykes recruited are simply not Power 5 level capable. The few good receivers dykes brought in all left when they found out we'd actually want them to block on plays & go to class. We're working on our second full recruiting and class, and it's going to take two more years to get the talent needed to realistically compete with Wash, furd, Oregon, etc. So stop living in make believe land where 2nd rate players win at a 1st rate level. Yeah, we're coaching the hell out of these guys, but winning in the Pac-12 requires talent that just wasn't here, from Freshmen to Seniors, when we got here."

Either a new college coaching staff can cheat to immediately bring in top talent, or be forced to build a program over 3-4 years doing it honestly. That's just how college football works.
AunBear89
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Golden One said:

run2win said:

TomBear said:

You know, I'm looking at this in a bit of a different way than some of you.

I do care about wins and losses, don't question that for a second. But I'm most concerned with whether or not, win or lose, this is a team i can be proud of. You know, how do they act on and off the field, do they play the game with honor, how are they in the classroom etc. etc. etc.?

It's still a little early to say for sure, but I feel pretty confident my answer is going to be yes, So far, I am very proud of this team.
Some guy once said:

"Winning is not everything and it is far better to play the game squarely and lose than to win at the sacrifice of an ideal."

Andrew Latham Smith
Then there's the famous coach who said "Winning is everything". He seems to have more disciples these days than Andy.
Wrong again, Onenote!

The coach actually said "Winning isn't everything - it's the only thing." AND, the coach in question wasn't the first to say it. It was probably first said by UCLA coach Red Sanders. It was also a line in a John Wayne movie, "Trouble Along the Way" with Donna Reed. The screen writers admit they got the line from Sanders.

FURTHERMORE, when Lombardi said it, he later clarified that what he really was talking about was "the will to win" or "making an effort."

But don't let any of these FACTS get in the way of your macho, MAGA, "Winning!" attitude!
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." -- Benjamin Disraeli, popularized by Mark Twain
socalBear23
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Defensively there is no question we are headed in the right direction.

Offensively the stats get a little murky. For one, the NC can almost be thrown out. If we played that game in week 3 instead of week 1, we have Garbers starting with the MAC truck spelling him. Also, by losing that game NC gets sent home uninspired. The trend continued against ECU and it will only get worse for NC. Once again, if we played an 0-2 NC team with G-MAC at the helm we could very well blow them out.

The real test comes in weeks 5-8. Oregon, @AZ, ucla and @ Beavs. We come out of that stretch 6-1 or 7-0 and we will know that this program has taken the next step.

Go Bears
Golden One
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AunBear89 said:

Golden One said:

run2win said:

TomBear said:

You know, I'm looking at this in a bit of a different way than some of you.

I do care about wins and losses, don't question that for a second. But I'm most concerned with whether or not, win or lose, this is a team i can be proud of. You know, how do they act on and off the field, do they play the game with honor, how are they in the classroom etc. etc. etc.?

It's still a little early to say for sure, but I feel pretty confident my answer is going to be yes, So far, I am very proud of this team.
Some guy once said:

"Winning is not everything and it is far better to play the game squarely and lose than to win at the sacrifice of an ideal."

Andrew Latham Smith
Then there's the famous coach who said "Winning is everything". He seems to have more disciples these days than Andy.
Wrong again, Onenote!

The coach actually said "Winning isn't everything - it's the only thing." AND, the coach in question wasn't the first to say it. It was probably first said by UCLA coach Red Sanders. It was also a line in a John Wayne movie, "Trouble Along the Way" with Donna Reed. The screen writers admit they got the line from Sanders.

FURTHERMORE, when Lombardi said it, he later clarified that what he really was talking about was "the will to win" or "making an effort."

But don't let any of these FACTS get in the way of your macho, MAGA, "Winning!" attitude!
Boy, you have a perpetually belligerent attitude.. Unfortunately, you don't know what you're talking about, once again. I'm referring to my high school coach, who said exactly what I quoted. See, you really don't know everything, in spite of your self adoration.
AunBear89
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Keep on spinin' , onenote.

I call BS on your famous "high school coach." But I guess you truly believe that EVERYONE else on BI knows exactly of whom you speak... Riiiiight.

Maybe you are confusing your famous "high school coach" for this:


Or you are thinking about attending this conference:
Join us at the Winter Meetings of the Profession.

Please - do enlighten us - who is this famous "high school coach" with so many disciples these days?
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." -- Benjamin Disraeli, popularized by Mark Twain
Golden One
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AunBear89 said:

Keep on spinin' , onenote.

I call BS on your famous "high school coach." But I guess you truly believe that EVERYONE else on BI knows exactly of whom you speak... Riiiiight.

Maybe you are confusing your famous "high school coach" for this:


Or you are thinking about attending this conference:
Join us at the Winter Meetings of the Profession.

Please - do enlighten us - who is this famous "high school coach" with so many disciples these days?
May the good Lord forgive your many sins, son, for you know not what you're doing.
GivemTheAxe
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socalBear23 said:

Defensively there is no question we are headed in the right direction.

Offensively the stats get a little murky. For one, the NC can almost be thrown out. If we played that game in week 3 instead of week 1, we have Garbers starting with the MAC truck spelling him. Also, by losing that game NC gets sent home uninspired. The trend continued against ECU and it will only get worse for NC. Once again, if we played an 0-2 NC team with G-MAC at the helm we could very well blow them out.

The real test comes in weeks 5-8. Oregon, @AZ, ucla and @ Beavs. We come out of that stretch 6-1 or 7-0 and we will know that this program has taken the next step.

Go Bears

"If we come out of that stretch ... 7-0 we will know that the program has taken the next step".
The "NEXT STEP". Come on now. If Cal goes 7-0 with all of its problems on Offense (not the least of which is the absence of a clear starter at QB) we would have made the equivalent of "one giant leap for
mankind". JW would be the Darling of West Coast coaches and he would be deluged with a ton of offers that we could not match.
Big C
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If we start out 7-0, then finish at 7-5, this board will be in meltdown throughout November and people will be calling for Wilcox' head. Maybe the "lunatic fringe" would even be like this if we finished the regular season 1-4 (8-4 overall).
AunBear89
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Big C said:

If we start out 7-0, then finish at 7-5, this board will be in meltdown throughout November and people will be calling for Wilcox' head. Maybe the "lunatic fringe" would even be like this if we finished the regular season 1-4 (8-4 overall).
Fortunately the imbalanced schedule is set up this way with the (potential) 7-0 before the (potential) 0-5. This gives the coaches and players the chance to grow and develop and build confidence in each other and in the system. So maybe - just maybe - the Bears can move a couple of those last 5 over to the W column.
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." -- Benjamin Disraeli, popularized by Mark Twain
AunBear89
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That is not an answer to my question - but I wasn't really expecting one. Just another information/fact free post from another con.
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." -- Benjamin Disraeli, popularized by Mark Twain
Golden One
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AunBear89 said:

That is not an answer to my question - but I wasn't really expecting one. Just another information/fact free post from another con.
You're the king of BS, Auny.
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