With a 1-7 record, no wins against Football Bowl Subdivision competition and the worst pass defense in all of the land, suffice it to say it hasn’t been a stellar opening act for first-year coach Sonny Dykes with the Cal Bears.
Cal is surrendering 350.9 yards per game through the air, but defensive coordinator Andy Buh isn’t done tinkering, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
In the Bears’ 41-17 loss at Washington Saturday night, Cal unveiled a new blitz package that went small, replacing defensive linemen with linebackers and defensive backs.
The new look had some success getting pressure on Huskies quarterback Keith Price. But that unit was also the one on the field when Price hooked up with Jaydon Mickens for touchdowns of 68 and 47 yards.
The Golden Bears wound up surrendering 380 yards through the air and 262 on the ground and, well, when you get lit up for more than 600 yards, the odds of winning shrink substantially.
Price still had a big night, completing 20-of-32 passes for 376 yards and the two long scores and running back Bishop Sankey ran wild, finishing with 241 yards on 27 carries and scoring twice, including a 59-yard touchdown burst.
Freshman linebacker Johnny Ragin, one of the subs used on the package, says it’s called the “NASCAR” package.
“We put it in on some passing downs, mainly third downs to get some stops. We were able to get some more speed on the field.”
Dykes wants Buh to keep trying to be creative.
“When you simplify a defense, the offense can get you into matchups,” the head coach said. “When you can predict exactly where the defense is going to be, you can create matchups that are going to be in the offense’s favor.”
There’s no doubt it’s been a tough, tough year for the blue-and-gold. But the struggles in Dykes’ first year illustrate much more the level to which former coach Jeff Tedford let the program decline than serve as an indictment of Dykes.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and Cal football won’t be rebuilt in a single season, either.