By Morris Phillips
The Cal Bears ran 89 offensive plays, amassed nearly 500 yards in total offense and committed just three penalties and one turnover on Saturday night.
But the Bears were blown out, dropping a 41-17 decision to Washington and falling to 1-7 on the season, in which they lost each time by at least two touchdowns.
While the Bears continue to post respectable offensive numbers, their defense has been simply offensive, allowing 643 yards to the Huskies, including UW running back Bishop Sankey’s 241 yards rushing.
Sankey’s 59-yard touchdown run capped a lopsided first half that ended with Cal trailing 24-7. The Bears fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter when their offense pushed the snooze button and went three-and-out on four of their first six possessions.
“Right now, we’re just not executing well enough on either side of the ball that we need to beat a good football team,” Coach Sonny Dykes said. “Washington is a very good football team. We just have to go back to work.”
The Bears continue to deal with numerous injuries and defections, especially in the back seven of their defense, where the team allowed numerous big plays on Saturday. Besides Sankey’s big touchdown run before the half, the Bears allowed UW quarterback Keith Price and Jaydon Mickens to hook up on touchdown passes of 68 and 47 yards, the second of which put the Huskies up 31-7 two minutes into the second half.
Washington came into Saturday’s game off three straight losses to the Pac-12 elite and with numerous injury concerns of their own. The team also paid tribute to long time coach, Don James, who passed away this week due to complications with pancreatic cancer at the age of 80. The emotion surrounding the loss of James appeared to propel the Huskies, especially in building their early lead.
Jared Goff got the start for Cal and completed 32 of 54 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown pass to Chris Harper. Goff played into the fourth quarter and third-stringer Austin Hinder finished up. Goff put up decent numbers, but was sacked five times and couldn’t get the Bears in the end zone, especially critical after the Bears narrowed Washington’s lead to 10 early in the second quarter.
The Bears have dropped 11 straight games to FBS competition and haven’t beaten a Pac-12 opponent in over a year. In addition, the Bears got bad news this week when reports surfaced regarding the team’s poor performance in the classroom. While athletic director Sandy Barbour addressed the academic issues, taking the blame for the player’s deficiencies, Dykes had to answer for the team’s play on the field.
“We’re not about losing or moral victories, but our guys play hard. We have really good kids with great character. I’m proud of them from that standpoint. We just have to get better,” Dykes said.
The Bears return to Berkeley next Saturday to face Arizona, who won 44-20 at Colorado on Saturday.