The Sonny Dykes Era has been as
advertised in his first three games as California's coach: the offense is
piling up points, and the defense has been a dud.
Freshman Jared Goff threw for 371
yards and three touchdowns in another prolific performance that was wasted by a
dreadful defensive display in Cal's 52-34 loss to No. 4 Ohio State
on Saturday night.
The Golden Bears (1-2) fell behind
21-0 in the first 6 minutes and allowed 608 total yards – the third straight
week they've given up more than 500 yards – despite Kenny Guiton making his
first career start at quarterback for the Buckeyes.
“I don't really know the answer
to that honestly,” Dykes said. “We have just started so poorly now
for three weeks. It's something that as a coaching staff we've talked a lot
about and talked to the players about. Don't really have an answer at this
point. It's something we're going to have to figure out and get fixed.”
The same formula that got Dykes hired
is starting to resurface out West.
Louisiana Tech led the nation with an
average of 51.5 points under Dykes last season. But the Bulldogs ranked last in
the country in yards allowed (526.1) and 116th in points (38.5) per game.
Cal allowed 508 yards in a loss to
Northwestern and 553 in a close win over Portland State,
which plays in the Football Championship Subdivision. To put that in
perspective: the Bears allowed 500 yards at home four times in Jeff Tedford's
The strenuous September schedule is
not getting any easier, either. After a bye next week, Cal heads on the road
for an even more difficult defensive test at No. 2 Oregon.
“We got to get better. I think
Oregon had like 25,000 yards today against Tennessee,” Dykes said.
The most positive development for
Dykes so far is he has seemingly found a quarterback to lead his fast-paced
Goff just missed his third straight
400-yard game to begin his career. He finished 31 for 53 passing but also threw
an interception in the first quarter to put the Bears in a hole they could
“I felt like we had a good
chance to make some plays early on,” Goff said. “We kind of fell
behind the eight ball there going down 21-0. That kind of hurt. But I was proud
of the way we fought back. We never quit.”
Unlike Goff, Guiton waited until his
fifth year at Ohio State to get his first start in place of the
injured Braxton Miller. Two plays into the game, he was already in the Buckeyes' record book.
Guiton threw three of his four
touchdown passes in the first six minutes, including a school-record 90-yard
pass to Devin Smith, as Ohio State (3-0) rolled to its 15th straight
The injury-ravaged Bears defense did
little to slow down Urban Meyer's spread offense, failing to end drives even
when they came close. The Buckeyes
converted all four fourth-down attempts.
“I think our main issue is eye
progression,” said Cal cornerback Joel Willis, a former wide receiver.
“We keep losing eye progression on the No. 1 receiver and they keep
getting behind us.”
With both teams running no-huddle
offenses for much of the game, the defenses scrambled to keep up. The teams
combined for 86 points, 11 touchdowns and 1,111 total yards on 177 plays.
Goff got little help from the running
game or defense. Brendan Bigelow, who rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns
on four carries last year against Ohio
State was held to 39 yards on 11
carries in the rematch.
Despite that fast start, the Buckeyes only led 31-20 at the half as Goff
threw a pair of TD passes and Dykes pulled out all the stops
On fourth-and-8 late in the half,
Dykes appeared to send the punting unit out. But Goff, who wears the same
number as punter Cole Leininger, lined up in punt formation and threw an
11-yard pass to Stefan McClure that set up Vincenzo D'Amato's 43-yard field
goal on the final play of the half.
“I don't think we're that far
off,” Dykes said. “We're a very young football team. If you just
compare the roster in terms of starters, I think we had two seniors that
started for us today. I think they had like 14, 15. That's a big difference. We
just got to grow up. We've got to improve. That falls on us as coaches to coach
better and bring our players along and put them in a good position to be