“By the numbers” content this recent week initially featured the Louisville Cardinals, a 2014 season surrounded by a hint of luck and a cakewalk of a schedule.
We shimmied out west to then track down the Washington Huskies, a program creeping its way up the ladder, yet somewhat straddled on the fence in the PAC 12.
We’ll saunter down a ways to the University of California to recap 2014, while operating on what 2015 holds for Sonny Dykes’s Golden Bears.
17 – more touchdown passes by quarterback Jared Goff in 2014 than 2013.
You had to have even a minuscule idea that the sophomore from Kentfield, California would shine in an offense primarily noted for slinging the pigskin on 95 percent of snaps.
Sonny Dykes resigned from Louisiana Tech and was forced to rejuvenate a program, piecing together segments to manufacture a bright puzzle. We at Today’s U feel that if Goff continues to improve via experience and maturity, a Heisman dark horse may arise in 2015.
Remodeling and correcting mistakes in the pocket, the sophomore built off of an honorable 2013 season.
Touchdowns? Doubled. Interceptions? He’s obviously sought out some comfort in the fast-paced, high-moving environment of the prototypical PAC 12 offensive game plan, turning the football over three fewer times than he did in 2013. As for other stats, yards per completion increased by a shade over a whole yard (7.8), while total yards through the air fell just shy of 4,000.
Inflated or genuine? Not to sell Goff short, but Cal’s game manager managed 280 yards or more passing in eight of the 12 contests he started. Aside from a route of Sacramento State, he failed to hit that number when facing the defenses of Stanford, USC, and Oregon State. Dismembering the PAC 12 defensive backs all year, he only notched more interceptions than touchdowns in a lone game against Stanford.
4 – receivers returning in 2015 that caught 400+ yards and 5+ touchdowns in ’14.
With a wide receiving corps full of experience and dazzling statistics, Cal could contain the most prominent threats in the conference.
Outside Stephen Anderson, Kenny Lawler, Chris Harper, Bryce Treggs and Trevor Davis should contribute to another passing offense inching near the top five once 2015 concludes.
Defenses will obviously have halting the endless aerial attacks at the forefront of preparation, but Cal’s offense could be balanced enough to keep the opposition honest with running back Daniel Lasco, a junior who scampered for 1,115 yards in 2014.
While they mimic a team like conference foe Washington State in terms of strategy and their blueprint, don’t be surprised if the Golden Bears utilize their running game in 2015 to keep defenses off balance.
8 – times Cal was an underdog by Vegas odds.
Touching slightly on the topic of situational football, the Golden Bears fared quite well when Vegas highlighted their opposition as favorites.
Of the five victories, three came when Cal landed in this slot, being an underdog of at least 3.5 points in each contest.
On the opposite side, Dykes opened as the favorite four times in 2014, resulting in a split at 2-2 (1-3 against the spread).
The schedule consists of potentially five or six opportunities where they may be favored to win by sportsbooks, so it may be the proper time to fade. However, who knows if the experience comes into effect for competition next season.
6 – road games for Cal in 2015
They wasted no time in getting to work away from home a season ago, as Cal was victorious in three of the five contests on the road. With an Arizona Hail Mary with no time remaining in week 3, the Bears could have easily improved that number to 4-1.
Traveling to Palo Alto, Texas, Washington, Eugene, UCLA, and Utah, I fully expect that glamorous record to plummet, as I see the Bears as a .500 team on the road (and even that would be fortunate).
So which route is Cal heading regarding program prestige?
It’s tough to put my finger on. The post-Desean Jackson era has seen the Golden Bears in the bleak shadows of the PAC 12, but with success comes recruits, and in recruits you’ll find elite contributors, and so forth. Your old-fashioned trickle down effect.
While it may take a stretch of winning seasons, the main objective for Dykes is to string together victories and continue to stick to the agenda of chucking the football.
When your defensive is non-existent, your options remain severely limited (tell me you haven’t heard that before regarding a PAC 12 team).