It’s moments like these where I hate to be a fan of a teetering squad. I don’t have the heart to throw up my hands and do away with my team, but what the hell gives!? I’ve been a staunch supporter of the Cal Bears all season, and going in I went as far as to say that they actually have a legitimate shot of making a run toward the Pac 12 title. And yes, I was sober when I made the claim.
My Cal Bears are at .500 (4-4, 2-3) with perhaps the most difficult 4-game stretch to come. How on God’s green earth did we get here? Relax, this is rhetorical. I know full well how we got here. Problem is, how can we get out of this all-too-familiar place? More on that later.
Back to what will be, in my humble opinion, a make or break stretch for Coach Sonny Dykes career at Cal in these next four weeks. Like I mentioned earlier, Oski and Bears have their paws full these upcoming weeks and will define the season one way or another.
This Saturday, the Huskies of U Dub (U. Of Washington) pay Memorial Coliseum a visit. Not only are they the #4 ranked team in the nation, but they are quite possibly the best team Cal will face this year, bar none. Hands down. My faith-o-meter for this one is admittedly low. However, Cal did beat Utah, and Utah gave Washington all they could handle. So, there is a glimmer of hope. Plus, we have home field advantage. Stranger things have happened (See Utah at Cal).
The remaining three weeks we have the Cougars of Washington State, Stanford, and UCLA respectively. I mean, hell, these are all quality programs. Cal is going to have to be on its A+ game to have a shot. All bias aside, offensively, Cal can do it. Davis Webb and company have proven they can hang with the big dogs. However, of course, defensively, I plead the fifth. Eh, I can’t put my finger on it. There are times where there is sound defense being played, in spurts. By and large, this defense is bad. Not historically bad, but by Cal standards, they are
However, defensively, I plead the fifth. Eh, I can’t put my finger on it. There are times where there is sound defense being played, in spurts. By and large, this defense is bad. Not historically bad, but by Cal standards they are underwhelming, to say the least. And I can say that as a fan with the utmost of honesty.
How on God’s green earth did we get here? Relax, this is rhetorical. I know full well how we got here. Problem is, how can we get out of this all-too-familiar place?
The best way to address this question is to understand the problem. Taking the last three seasons into account, Cal usually comes out of the gate hitting on all cylinders. Why? Well, the good ‘ol non-conference schedule. Granted, there have been some competitive teams scheduled earlier on, but not with the level of talent the Pac 12 has to offer. So, what ends up happening is that Cal usually runs into a buzz saw come conference play and the Golden Bears barely escape the regular season by the skin of their teeth. Good offense and bad defense usually leaves a team in the middle of the road. And that my friends, is Cal’s affliction and subsequent result. Mediocrity.
My wife often tells me, don’t complain about a problem. Instead figure how to create a solution. Well, here’s my four-year, $11.4 million dollar solution. Win early. Take advantage of the easier schedule so attaining bowl eligibility won’t be such a daunting task in the waning weeks of the season- as has been the case the last three years. Also, beat the teams you’re supposed to beat! C’mon, Oregon State takes us to overtime and wins! These cats (I mean Beavers) are 2-6! Really?!
The Golden Bears are two wins away from bowl eligibility for the second consecutive year. Quite the achievement for Coach Dykes, I’ll admit. Of course, which of the remaining four opponents will Cal topple to reach the mountain top? Washington? I don’t think so. Washington State? Well, maybe. Stanford? They need to win, but will they? Which leaves UCLA. (sigh) I don’t know folks. We may have to take a mulligan and try again next year. At most, I see Cal squeaking out at least one more victory. Maybe if we were to grab a win when we were supposed to, this wouldn’t be such a tall order. But these are the cards that are dealt.
Like the post’s title, it’s put up or shut up. There’s no sugar coating it. It’s frustrating to see our season come down to must wins…again! When will we learn? Despite the odds, I’m going all in and going down with the ship if need be. Best believe, I’ll be standing near the life rafts though.
Featured image courtesy of John Martinez Pavliga/ Flickr