Future Not Bright for Cal Bears
At the top level of sports, defense wins. Shaw has concentrated his efforts on building a strong defense. The offense complements that but itís not the first priority. This yearís Stanford team is not as strong as the previous ones under Shaw and Harbaugh but it is still much better than Cal.
I first learned the importance of defense while covering the Raiders, 1967-71. While the ďbombs awayĒ attack led by Daryle Lamonica was great fun, it was the defense that set the tone, setting season records for sacks and yards lost on sacks in 1967, records that lasted until the NFL added two games to the season schedule.
Later, when I was very close to Bill Walsh, I saw how his offense was geared to ball control, which helped the defense by keeping it off the field. He and defensive coordinator George Seifert would meet at the start of each week and determine how much help the offense would have to give the defense. Then Los Angeles Ram coach John Robinson called Walsh ďthe best defensive coordinator in the league.Ē
That message is completely lost on Dykes. He wants to score often and spectacularly with long pass plays that take little time off the clock. His teams at Cal have been much like his last team at Louisiana Tech, which led the country in both points scored and points allowed. That makes for spectacular games but not necessarily successful seasons at the Pac-12 level.
Even before the Washington debacle, the Cal record of 4-1 was deceiving. It took a Hail Mary pass to win one game and Washington State would have beaten the Bears if they hadnít missed what should have been an easy field goal at the end.
Now, the Bears are finished with the easy part of the schedule. To qualify for a bowl, they need two more wins but their schedule for their last five games is UCLA, Oregon, USC (in Los Angeles), Stanford and BYU. I donít see them winning any of those games except, possibly, the last one. And, please donít give me that garbage about ďanything can happen in the Big Game.Ē What almost always happens is that the favorite wins, and Cal will not be favored.
Frankly, I donít think Dykes understands or cares about the importance of defense. I doubt that itís a coincidence that heís able to recruit good offensive players but never seems to have many good defensive players. Why should a good defensive prospect play for him? At the college level, players are all hoping to become NFL players, though very few ever do, so they want the best platform for that.
Dykes has done one thing for Cal: His offense has made games exciting, at least until Washington exposed its weaknesses, so fans are coming to the games. But, the excitement wonít last because quarterback Jared Goff will leave for the NFL after next year, probably as a first-round draft pick.
Meanwhile, Shaw will continue to have successful teams at Stanford because he knows whatís most important Ė the defensive side of the ball that Dykes ignores.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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