This game could have been worse. It could have been better, but it could have been worse. The Dawgs will be kicking themselves for the bullet wounds to their own feet, though I would imagine that will be quite painful so I advise the Huskies to not use their led-infused feet as weapons.
Anyways, five turnovers doomed Chris Petersen's Huskies. Three were from the freshman quarterback, and another was from a true freshman receiver. It could even be argued that Dwayne Washington's fumble was partially due to the quarterback exchange not going smoothly. Yet, the game wasn't out of hand. It was close. It came down to the final possession each team held.
Things got off to an ominous start when a miscommunication in the Washington secondary led to a 31-yard catch for Darius Powe, though it also ended in Jared Goff receiving the first of many hits - five total sacks for the defense.. It brought Cal into a favorable location to be aggressive on fourth down, on Washington's side of the 50. The extra attempt didn't result in a first down for Cal, as a challenged spot by Sonny Dykes confirmed Cal being short, and Washington took over with four plays of their own - though one was called back due to an offensive pass interference penalty.
The following drive began with yet another not-promising sign when both Azeem Victor and Darren Gardenhire were banged up on the initial play. Gardenhire stayed in, but Victor went to the sideline and was replaced with Scott Lawyer for the rest of the drive. Cal still wasn't able to make it into the endzone against the Budda Baker and Victor-less Husky defense, settling for three.
After Jake Browning single-handedly carried the Huskies last week with zero running game, he was allowed to take a drive off as Dwayne Washington had 71/71 Husky yards on the next drive. He took the ball up the middle, he bounced it outside, and ultimately danced in the purple of the end zone for six.
Running back Vic Enwere showed up on the next drive, as Cal was able to mix in the running game, punctuated by Enwere breaking at least three tackles on a 12-yard touchdown run, dragging Huskies with him into the end zone. Dwayne Washington didn't get a chance to respond as he didn't touch the ball on either of Washington's next two drives. One was just an unsuccessful drive, while the next Husky possession lasted a single play.
Pinned down almost at the goalline following an emotional four-down stand by the Husky defense, UW dialed up a deep pass off of play-action. Marvin Hall was streaking across the field against a single Cal defender. Browning wasn't able to lead Hall properly, and defensive back Darius White was able to get the right read on the ball and step in front of Hall intercept it.
After another defensive stand to force a field goal, Dwayne Washington finally got another touch, though it only went for a yard. Browning completed his next two passes, but the second was subsequently fumbled by wide receiver Isaiah Renfro for the third Washington turnover of the first half. Goff broke Washington's season-long streak of not allowing a passing touchdown with a 28-yard dart to Bryce Triggs to put the Bears up 20-7 for the final score of the first half.
Cal began the second-half scoring after the Dawgs were unable to muster any points on the opening possession following the break. A four-play, 62-yard drive finished with a frisbee toss on a crossing route to Goff's favorite target, Kenny Lawler.
All was not lost for the Huskies, as Browning completed all seven of his pass attempts (though one was for a loss) to tight ends and Jaydon Mickens, leaning on the on the experience of his elder teammates. The drive finished with a fly sweep out of the Jeff Lindquist package to Chico McClatcher in the red zone. The defense followed it up with a score of its own when Sidney Jones scooped an Enwere fumble for a score.
The teams traded field goals, and Jake Browning had a chance to bring the Husky offense down the field for a game-winning drive. Just under three minutes left, two timeouts. The offense wasn't able to come through. Two pass plays were dialed up, but the ball never left Browning's hands. on third and 11, Browning was flushed out of the pocket by a three-man rush. Rolling to his right, he unleashed a pass to an area with more defenders than receivers. It ended up in the hands of the Golden Bears. Goff was able to run the clock out, and the game was done.
Tackling hasn't been a major issue for the Huskies until today. The Dawgs struggled to wrap up the ballcarrier, whether it was a running back, receiver or, most surprisingly, the quarterback Goff. It got worse as the defense was stuck on the field for extended periods due to offensive ineptitude, but it was troubling, especially the inability to bring down Enwere. It oftentimes took three Huskies to bring him down, and even then he still was able to drive for two to three yards after the initial contact. It showed up on Enwere's touchdown run and also on the second-to-last play of the game where Goff fell forward for a first down. A pocket passer fell forward after being hit twice.
- Jared Goff has been getting a lot of draft hype recently. I am not a scout by any means but it doesn't take a scout to see that he has the tools to be a high draft pick. He has touch and he has arm strength. He has the ability to work through his progressions. He has good presence in the pocket. Basically I am listing good traits for a quarterback to have and he has all of those ones.
- Sidney Jones is really good. He has the ability to be a third Husky cornerback drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft in the last several years. He is a true sophomore but is already trusted to shadow top receiviers. The secondary as a whole is already really good with the ability to be even better next season with the gang returning. Baker, Gardenhire and Jones are all true sophomores. Kevin King is a junior, Brandon Beaver is a junior. The entire defense is young outside of Cory LIttleton and Travis Feeney. The chance is there for them to be even better next year than they are this year. Despite Cal dropping 30 on them, this defense is pretty dang good.
- Turnovers. Five of them. Two for Cal. It was the difference.