It's Cal week, and that always means we get to hang out with the always great SBNation Cal blog, California Golden Blogs. Make sure to check out all their great game coverage, as well as our questions to their answers (if only for a picture of the worst fan ever). Thanks for LeonPowe, Leland Wong, and Berkelium97 for their answers.
1. Cal is two passes away from being 6-1 on the season. Why do I still get the feeling that they're secretly still bad?
LeonPowe: I wouldn't say we're bad per se, I'd put us as middling. Which is way better than the last two years.
Leland Wong: Well, our wins over Colorado and Washington State could have gone the other way and we could easily be sitting at 2-5 right now. I can't say we're a bad team, but we still have a lot of work to do. A few injuries to key players or positions (e.g., every safety to ever wear the blue and gold and key pass rusher Brennan Scarlett) have made the team regress these past few weeks and look more and more like that imitation football team we endured in 2013.
Berkelium97: Are you familiar with the Stanford prison experiement? (And no, I'm not referring to David Shaw's playbook). It was an experiment that demonstrated the profound power individuals adopt when placed (even arbitrarily) into positions of authority. In the experiment, several students were randomly assigned to be the roles of prisoners or guards and lived in a simulated prison environment. Many of those who were assigned to the guard role quickly began to assume excessive and rather sadistic levels of power and began committing abuses against the prisoners within the first 48 hours. The experiment had to be stopped prematurely after only 6 days due to the excessive physical and mental harm the guards inflicted upon the prisoners.
You see, you cannot help but assume we are a bad team because you are in a position of institutionalized power over us. Ever since we lost the '09 game and were annexed us as ATQ South, you have grown to think that we, your humble servants, are entirely inferior to you, our infallible masters. You have internalized this position of power over us and cannot recognize us as anything but your subservient underlings. That is why you still think we're a bad team despite our tremendous improvement this season.
Of course, I do not wish to imply that we're observing and analyzing your every move as we wait for an opportune moment to break free from our chains and reclaim ourselves as CGB. That is not at all what we're doing.
2. After a good start to the season, the Cal run game has sputtered, managing only 120 yards in their last two games, both losses. What does the ground attack need to do to get back on track?
LeonPowe: Aside from going back to playing bad defenses again, I think getting Borrayo and Croswaithe getting back 100% healthy would really help. We're haven't been 100% on the offensive line for the last two games.
Leland Wong: The run blocking is not quite where we need it to be. Even when we were running successfully, our backs would encounter a defender early on and have to break that tackle just to have a substantial run. As we've started facing teams that have recruited better athletes and bigger players, they've been able to take down the Cal running backs on first contact. Our O-line needs to execute their blocks and help take out linebackers and defensive backs if we want to restore our run game.
3. Cal's defense and special teams don't really like to tackle people, do they?
LeonPowe: We like tackling, we just can't. It's depth
Leland Wong: I'd like to believe it's simply that our student-athletes are intelligent enough to have considered the risks associated with football and brain trauma and are simply protecting themselves.
4. Trevor Davis and Chris Harper took nasty hits on the final drive against UCLA, Davis leaving on a cart. What's the status of those two, and how is the receiving corps if neither can play on Friday?
LeonPowe: Davis has a jammed neck, and is out for at least the next three weeks, but he's up and feeling better.
Berkeley, Ca | 6:50 pm pic.twitter.com/1EgLj5CMq1— Trevor Davis (@Trevor9Davis) October 23, 2014
Harper has a bruised back - his status hasn't been publically annouced yet, but he tweeted he'd be playing this week.
For a team as snakebit as Cal, at least with the WR injuries, we're still very deep, but Davis is our field stretcher and KR extraordinaire, so that will hurt. Kenny Lawler, Stephen Anderson, Mo Harris will be around to call catch passes.
Leland Wong: I'm more concerned about our depth at returner than receiver. We still have some other athletes who will be adequate, but probably unspectacular on Friday. Like LeonPowe said, we have so much depth at receiver that this isn't much of a concern. Add Bryce Treggs to the list of guys he named and I think they've all had some highlight-reel catch this season.
5. Cal's pass defense has given up approximately nineteen miles of yards this season. Does this have more to do with the Bears' secondary being really bad, or with the fact that they've played WSU, Colorado, and Arizona, who throw it a ton?
LeonPowe: Why not both? Injuries and all these freshmen making their debuts against Pac-12 passing defenses it's been a double does of bad and prolific passers.
Leland Wong: It's a great combination of both. In these past few weeks especially, every safety on the two-deep has had some significant injury, including losing ballhawk Griffin Piatt for the rest of the season. We've resorted to playing converted WRs there, making it a pretty easy target for opposing offenses.
Berkelium97: It's no secret that our defense gives up light years of passing yards. We're last in the nation in passing yardage allowed and give nearly 20% more passing yardage than the second-worst passing defense. What many do not recognize is that Cal has faced the most passing attempts in the nation, over 50 per game. When you look at stats that account for the number of passing attempts, our defense goes from abysmal to merely bad. We give up 7.5 yards per passing attempt (89th in the nation) and allow opposing teams to average an efficiency rating of 147.05 (108th). These are terrible numbers; there's no question about that. But it's an improvement from 9.4 yards per attempt (121st) and an efficiency rating of 165.44 (120th) in 2013.
6. For Oregonians visiting the Bay Area, what pizza should they eat first, Zachary's, or Cheese Board?
LeonPowe: Cheeseboard is more "Berkeley" but Mariota should eat an entire Zachary's Spinach pie during warm-ups for strength.
Leland Wong: Cheese Board is good, but Zachary's is a religious experience.
Berkelium97: Whoa, whoa, whoa. You're planning on going to the game, right? First, those places are way too expensive. You've probably already wildly overpaid for the face value of tickets, so you need to go cheap. I recommend Fat Slice or La Val's for a good, cheap slice of pizza. Your wallet will thank me when you spend over $100 to park at Levi's Stadium. And if you're planning on getting some pizza, I recommend that you plan on an early lunch, because you're going to spend the rest of your day driving to and then parking at Levi's Stadium. If you grab a slice of pizza promptly at 11am, you should have just enough time to catch the second half of the game.
7. Sonny Dykes has seemingly turned things around in his second year at Cal after a pretty disastrous first year in Berkeley. How did it happen? Was losing so many players in the offseason a blessing in disguise? Did he get his players to buy into his system?
LeonPowe: I don't think either of those are the answer, I think a year of seasoning by Goff, adding in Kaufman as defensive coordinator and all those freshmen who had a trial by fire last year are now sophs.
Leland Wong: I think most of the players bought in early on, but last year was the perfect storm of terrible, particularly with our defense being ravaged by injuries. We were forced to play undersized freshmen--some of them out of position--allowing our opponents to get huge leads early. That put a lot of pressure on our offense. That offense was still adapting to the new system. An offensive line recruited for the pro-style had to learn a whole new system of spread offense, wider splits, and two-point stances, which made run blocking in particular a challenge, eliminating our run game. That put a lot of pressure on our quarterback, who was a true freshman due to some recruiting misses or the inability to properly coach and develop them.
With fewer injuries this year and an offense that's both more balanced and better acclimated to the new regime, things are getting better in Berkeley.
8. Why would you say that TwistNHook is the #1 best person ever in the history of everything?
LeonPowe: Someone paid me $10 million dollars? I don't know why I'd say that.
Leland Wong: Because I'm so sick of the sound of his crying every single time we say something remotely negative about him.
Berkelium97: Why would anyone say that? I certainly did not say that and the NSA's comprehensive record of my emails will back up my claim.