Cal’s a pretty good team, but I don’t think they’re one of the better teams in the Pac-12. What did they do in their non-conference slate except beat up on a couple of also-rans (Grambling & San Diego State) before winning a close one against a Texas Longhorns team having another down year? I’d say the best thing Cal has going for itself (and the sole reason why it finds itself ranked after this weekend) is the relatively easy early schedule. Next week, they host Wazzu, and then the shit really hits the fan (@ Utah, @ UCLA, vs. USC, @ Oregon). It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see them at 5-4 after those games.
What I’m trying to get at is: they’re lucky they faced Washington now, because if this game was being played in November, I bet the Huskies win that game.
Cal is who they are: they’ve got a fairly impressive quarterback (who nevertheless doesn’t seem to ever show up all that well against the Huskies), a couple nice weapons on offense, but all in all they’re just a moderately good football team. Nothing about their defense really scares anybody. They’ll be exposed as the frauds they are in short order.
Which, for the record, is what you could say about every Husky team that’s gone undefeated in their non-conference schedules since 2009.
Even though the schedule is pretty difficult going forward (after this week’s BYE), and even though he struggled in this game, I like Browning’s potential going forward. Remember, this was just his first real conference game. And, in spite of a whole lotta sloppiness, this team found itself with a chance to take the lead late in the game. With some more maturity and experience, this is the type of game we’ll win with more regularity going forward.
I also liked how the defense responded in the second half after falling behind by 20. We forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, then held them to two punts and a field goal the rest of the way. This defense is rock solid right now, and should be a great strength for us in the next couple years.
From the stat sheet, you’d say Dwayne Washington had a nice game on the ground. But, you’ve got to remember that 71 of his 109 yards came on one crazy 5-play, 5-run drive for a touchdown in the first half. If you take that drive out, the Washington running game was pretty pathetic: 21 runs for 37 yards. Once again, the offensive line wasn’t up to snuff, and will need to gel in a hurry if we don’t want to see a streak of 5-6 very ugly games.
Dawgs get a BYE this week, then go to USC on Thursday, October 8th. They can be beaten, but it’s going to take a very clean game.