Despite Recent Struggles, Golden Bears Confidence Remains High


Confidence was running rampant in the early going of the season for the California Golden Bears, and for good reason. The team started the year with five straight wins, putting themselves in good position for their first winning season since 2011, and for the first time under the watchful eye of head coach Sonny Dykes.

Things started to take a downward turn in the sixth game of the year, when the Cal Bears took on the fifth-ranked Utah Utes. Despite a career-worst performance from star quarterback, junior Jared Goff, who threw five interceptions, the Bears hung tough with Utah and had a chance to sneak away with a win on their final possession. They ultimately fell short, losing 30-24 and dropping their first contest of the year.

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After a bye week to regroup, the Bears traveled to UCLA for a Thursday night primetime matchup with the Bruins, and they fell flat on their face. They were blown out 40-24 in a game that wasn’t really as close as the final score would indicate. The week after, the USC Trojans came to Kabam Field, where they held off a late comeback attempt to escape with a 27-21 victory.

With three straight losses on their record and the season slowly slipping from their grasp, it would be understandable for their confidence to be damaged, with thoughts of doubt and dismay creeping in to beat it down further. But rather, it seems quite the opposite is taking place. even with things not going their way, Bears’ players are keeping spirits high.

On Tuesday, senior defensive lineman Mustafa Jalil provided a little bravado and macho trash talk towards the Bears’ next opponents, the Oregon Ducks. Ahead of the team’s weekly news conference, Jalil showed up with a plate of roast duck , quipping “why not get the feast started?” The duck, and Jalil’s strong comments, symbolized that the Bears won’t be afraid of the Ducks, despite dropping the past six head-to-head matchups.

“This game means a lot to us… we’re ready to win this one.” Jalil added.

In the same news conference, Goff expressed his confidence in an offense that has struggled to find any rhythm over the past three contests. The Bears have scored 69 points in three games, the worst three-game stretch for the offense since Goff’s freshman season in 2013, when the team lost 11 of 12 games and scored 22 points per game. Goff acknowledged the struggles, and said “I think we’re ready for a breakthrough”.

Senior Running back Daniel Lasco stills believes in himself, and his teammates. Lasco said he still feels like the Bears have the “best offense in the nation when we play up to our best”, while later adding “I’m back now”. Lasco missed two games because a ship strain, and in the three games after his return, he carried the ball just 14 times, for 41 yards. Lasco is an impact player, and his presence as a threat out of the backfield is necessary for the offense’s success. Lasco and his teammates both know it.

"“In any offense, you have to have a strong run game to be effective. It takes a lot of heat off of the [quarterback].” -Daniel Lasco"

That’s been true for the Bears’ offense this year. In the team’s five wins, the team has averaged 169.4 yards per game on the ground. In the three losses, they’ve averaged 125 rush yards per game.

Senior wide receiver Bryce Treggs echoed the sentiment.

"“In the future, I think we’re going to focus on really establishing a good run game”"

Treggs was also not short on confidence, saying “We’ll go into Autzen Stadium with all intentions of winning”.

It would be easy for the Bears to hang their heads and let this losing streak define them. Instead, they’re remaining confident and ready to move forward. It’s on them to break the skid.