1. What are your impressions of Sonny Dykes and year one of the Bear Raid?
NorcalNick: Sonny has, with rare exceptions, said all of the right things. He's improving Cal's academic issues, he's holding players accountable, and the team seems to be playing hard for him. So that's all great.
That said, the actual quality of play has not been great, obviously enough. But it's almost impossible to pass judgment because of injuries. It was going to be a rebuilding year anyway and the team is crazy young, but against Washington Cal might be down as many as 12 total starters on both sides of the ball. So all you can realistically do is shrug, hope that the coaches follow the right process, and hope that the process starts to bear fruit sooner rather than later.
Kodiak: It's a work in progress. Our previous head coach left us in worse shape than we thought. I like what he's said, but need to see it translate to a culture change off the field and better results on it.
2. Which quarterback do we see on Saturday, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of Jared Goff and Zach Kine?
NorcalNick: Goff's strengths are supposed to be accuracy and consistency, although both of those traits that were so apparent early in the season have waned of late. Kline's strengths is his big play potential, highlighted by arm strength and improved mobility/pocket presence.
I have no clue who we'll see, although by the time people are reading this we might have an answer as the coaches said they would decide on Friday. I'm actually starting to think that Kline is the better choice if only because he's a bit more mobile and that's needed to avoid pass rushers behind Cal's injured offensive line.
Kodiak: No idea which QB will play. When he was playing well, Goff showed a lot of poise and accuracy. He hasn't played well lately; instead we're seeing happy feet, fumbles and forced throws. Kline has the bigger arm and is more apt to make things happen with his feet. He's got more of a gunslinger mentality.
3. The Husky pass defense has struggled the past couple weeks against offenses that spread them out. Will Cal be able to follow suit?
NorcalNick: It's hypothetically possible. Cal's passing attack has looked pretty good at times, especially the first three games of the year. But in Pac-12 play it hasn't been nearly as explosive or consistent, and it's an open question as to why. Certainly, pass protection has declined as offensive line injuries have mounted. But Jared Goff just hasn't played as well either, and that means you might see an entirely different quarterback to start the game. If it's Zach Kline, then all bets are off because we really don't know what to expect from him in a full game.
That said, Cal's one strength is that they have plenty of talented athletes to catch passes, so if the line can protect the quarterback and the quarterback can make throws, the Bears should be able to move the ball. Easier said than done, huh?
Kodiak: This depends entirely on whether you can generate a pass rush. Considering that three grannies on walkers could probably get through our Oline, the odds are in your favor. It's hard for me to be optimistic when we just moved our starting LT to RG, our starting RG to C, brought in a RS frosh to LT and burned the redshirt of a true frosh to start at LG. Confused yet? Just think of how our guys will handle complex protection calls.
4. Who are some less talked about Cal players that we should keep our eyes on?
NorcalNick: I don't think Richard Rodgers gets a ton of attention, but he's been a pretty solid player on offense as an inside receiver. And Khalfani Muhammad has gotten pretty close to breaking a few kick returns for touchdowns, so that's something to watch out for. And Cal's kicker has been pretty good, which I guess is better than the alternative.
On defense? I think both interior defensive linemen are pretty solid, and it's basically the only healthy part of the team. It'll be interesting to see if Washington can run inside at all.
Kodiak: Cameron Walker(#14) is a true frosh corner who has been forced into action at safety. He's learning on the job, but shows good athleticism and instincts. On offense, Coprich is a walk-on RB who has actually been more productive than the more highly rated Bigelow and Lasco.
5. F/+ has Cal's defense at 95th in the country. What in your view has been the single biggest reason for their struggles?
NorcalNick: It's simple and uninteresting, but it's gotta be injuries. I mean, it doesn't help that Cal is transitioning to a new defensive coordinator with a new system, but Cal is currently missing in the general vicinity of 9 players expected to start at the beginning of fall camp. That's insane. Every team has injuries, but they are rarely this severe and so strongly isolated amongst the starters on one side of the ball.
Have you ever followed a team that literally can't play a nickel package because they don't have enough healthy defensive backs? That's Cal football. Have you ever followed a team that has to consider playing former wide receivers AND defensive ends in the secondary because of injuries? That's Cal football.
Now, to be fair, it's worth wondering if the defense would be good if everyone was healthy. It probably would have been merely average. But merely average looks pretty damn good to us right now.
Kodiak: We can't tackle or cover anyone.
6. What's your prediction for this game?
NorcalNick: Washington 41, Cal 20. Cal's defense gets a few stops, but not nearly enough with Cal's offense still very much a work in progress.
Kodiak: Cal wins! Hahahahahahahaha!