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1. First impressions vs. lasting impressions
Well, that wasn't very well-timed.
In Sonny Dykes' first season in charge at California, his freshman quarterbacks struggled, his efficiency offense was woefully inefficient, and his defense gave up bigger big plays than almost anybody in the country. The Golden Bears beat Portland State, then watched as the rest of the conference surged into fifth gear and left them behind.
The average Pac-12 team improved from about 50th to about 28th in the F/+ rankings last year, and two years after ranking 42nd, California fell from 77th to 103rd. The result: Cal's first one-win season since the last time someone other than Jeff Tedford coached the team (Tom Holmoe went 1-10 in 2001, then Tedford was hired). That's not the type of bookend a program normally tries to achieve.
The 2013 season was one of faulty first impressions. Early in the year, Cal looked full of promise. The Bears started the season by scoring 30 points and gaining 548 yards on what was supposed to be a solid Northwestern team, but they threw two pick sixes in the second half and lost by two touchdowns. Two weeks later, they put up 34 points and 503 yards on what was supposed to be a national title-caliber Ohio State team.
Then the promise expired. After averaging 34 points per game in their first three contests, the Bears averaged 16 over their next five. And when the offense got its bearings in November, the defense collapsed, allowing 50 points per game in the final four.
A team full of supposed promise lost eight of nine conference games by at least 17 points. Average score against Pac-12 teams in the F/+ top 20: Opponent 52, Cal 17.
So now Dykes hopes the false first impressions can continue. Here's where I insert the predictable paragraph about how plenty of great coaches have overcome awful first seasons before. Here's where I mention George O'Leary going 0-11 at UCF in 2004 and Lou Holtz going 0-11 at South Carolina in 1999. Long-term, a coach's first season on the job doesn't always mean that much. But whereas Cal appeared to have a hill to climb heading into 2013, the Golden Bears are now staring up a mountain. They might end up alright, but one figures it might take a while now.
2013 Schedule & Results
|Record: 1-11 | Adj. Record: 3-9 | Final F/+ Rk: 103|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Adj. Score||Adj. W-L||5-gm Adj. Avg.|
|31-Aug||Northwestern||59||30-44||L||26.1 - 33.7||L|
|7-Sep||Portland State||N/A||37-30||W||22.2 - 59.3||L|
|14-Sep||Ohio State||9||34-52||L||35.9 - 28.7||W|
|28-Sep||at Oregon||5||16-55||L||17.8 - 17.6||W|
|5-Oct||Washington State||53||22-44||L||28.5 - 31.4||L||-8.0|
|12-Oct||at UCLA||15||10-37||L||18.3 - 28.5||L||-8.6|
|19-Oct||Oregon State||42||17-49||L||19.2 - 40.9||L||-5.5|
|26-Oct||at Washington||18||17-41||L||26.8 - 33.2||L||-8.2|
|2-Nov||Arizona||25||28-33||L||30.8 - 21.9||W||-6.5|
|9-Nov||USC||11||28-62||L||34.9 - 53.6||L||-9.6|
|16-Nov||at Colorado||95||24-41||L||19.5 - 37.7||L||-11.2|
|23-Nov||at Stanford||3||13-63||L||27.1 - 40.0||L||-9.5|
|Points Per Game||23.0||96||45.9||124|
|Adj. Points Per Game||25.6||91||35.5||112|
2. One unit improves, the other regresses
In terms of its performance against the baseline, Cal was about the same team for most of the season. There were high points (hanging with Ohio State, nearly upsetting Arizona) and low points (losing by 32 points at home to Oregon State, losing by 17 at Colorado), but on average Cal was about 10 points worse than an average FBS team in September, October, and November.
But whereas both the offense and defense were a few points below average in the first eight games, one unit improved while another regressed late in the year.
- Adj. Points Per Game (first 8 games): Opponent 34.2, California 24.4 (minus-9.8)
- Adj. Points Per Game (last 4 games): Opponent 38.3, California 28.1 (minus-10.2)
The Cal offense wasn't great late, but the Bears did average 424 yards and 23 points per game against a mostly solid set of late opponents.
But the defense went from bad to awful. USC averaged an unholy 9.8 yards per play, scoring 62 points and gaining 499 yards in just 51 snaps. Colorado averaged 6.6 yards per play (which is almost as bad as allowing 9.8 to USC), and Stanford averaged 8.6. Cal finished the season with some of the worst big-play numbers you'll ever see. The Bears allowed 217 gains of 10+ yards (122nd in the country), 81 of 20+ (125th, dead last); they were balanced breakdown artists, too, allowing 29 rushes of 20+ yards (119th) and 58 passes (122nd). It was as if Cal's safeties occasionally forgot to take the field.
Defensive coordinator Andy Buh was demoted, then left Cal altogether; his replacement, Art Kaufman, is nothing if not a veteran. He's been the D.C. at Louisiana Tech (1992-94), Ole Miss (1995-00), Arkansas Tech (2001-02), North Carolina (2011), Texas Tech (2012), and Cincinnati (2013). He's got some work to do.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||38.2%||103||Succ. Rt. +||90.4||94|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||31.4||98||Def. FP+||98.4||76|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||3.7||109||Redzone S&P+||84.5||109|
|Q1 Rk||77||1st Down Rk||57|
|Q2 Rk||73||2nd Down Rk||92|
|Q3 Rk||65||3rd Down Rk||62|
3. Pace vs. (a complete lack of) efficiency
Operating at an average pace, a team with Cal's run-pass ratios in 2013 would have averaged about 74.3 plays per game. Cal averaged 87.1. Only BYU's offense moved faster. But as with BYU, the Bears had a bit of an efficiency problem. Here's what I wrote in BYU's 2014 preview:
BYU had big plays to go around and operated at a breakneck pace. So where did things go wrong? BYU's biggest issue was in simple efficiency: the Cougars didn't make enough mundane plays to go with the big ones. The downside of pace is that if you go three-and-out, you go three-and-out in the blink of an eye. Do that enough, and your defense suffers.
Cal, however, was an exponential BYU -- the good was better and the bad was much worse. BYU ranked 59th in Success Rate+ and 27th in IsoPPP+; Cal ranked 94th and 22nd. The big plays were enormous and nearly non-existent. And the three-and-outs and turnovers were infinite.
This is an area where a little bit of improvement can lead to a lot of it. Pace is a cumulative thing, a tactic packed with risk and reward; if California can improve its efficiency numbers to even BYU levels, and if the Bears can cut just a couple of three-and-outs per game off of the averages, they could flip the effects from their own defense to opponents'. And with a dramatically improved level of overall experience, those efficiency numbers really could rise.
Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Jared Goff||6'4, 195||So.||4 stars (5.9)||318||529||3488||18||10||60.1%||30||5.4%||5.9|
|Austin Hinder||6'4, 200||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Kyle Boehm||6'3, 225||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Cole Webb||6'0, 180||Jr.||NR|
|Luke Rubenzer||6'0, 185||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Khalfani Muhammad||RB||5'7, 170||So.||4 stars (5.8)||74||445||4||6.0||8.1||37.8%|
|Daniel Lasco||RB||6'0, 210||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||67||317||2||4.7||3.8||40.3%|
|Jeffrey Coprich||RB||5'8, 175||So.||3 stars (5.5)||40||156||1||3.9||1.9||40.0%|
|Jared Goff||QB||6'4, 195||So.||4 stars (5.9)||29||123||1||4.2||2.5||51.7%|
|Austin Harper||RB||5'6, 160||RSFr.||NR|
|Kenny Portera||RB||5'10, 170||RSFr.||NR|
|Tre Watson||RB||5'10, 185||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)|
4. Give the ball to Muhammad
The 2013 season was one of experimentation for Cal. Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, a spread offense veteran who came with Dykes from Louisiana Tech to Berkeley, surveyed a landscape of inexperienced skill position players and basically gave them all a shot at one point or another. Cal had five running backs with at least 35 carries and nine wideouts with at least 10 targets (five with at least 40).
The results were mixed, but of the running backs, then-freshman Khalfani Muhammad showed the most promise. He had 25 carries for 184 yards and two scores during Cal's final three games, and while all five Cal backs finished with approximately the same efficiency numbers (they all had Opportunity Rates between 37.1 percent and 40.3 percent), Muhammad more than doubled anybody else's explosiveness potential. His per-target receiving averages also dwarfed that of any other running back.
With the departure of Brendan Bigelow to the pros, Muhammad is now the leader of the remaining foursome. That could be a good thing. The ball distribution in a fast-paced spread like this will always be relatively even (especially if incoming four-star freshman Tre Watson quickly lives up to his billing), and Muhammad won't be getting 20 carries per game any time soon. But the more touches he gets, the higher Cal's offensive upside becomes.
|Bryce Treggs||WR-H||5'11, 185||Jr.||4 stars (5.9)||126||77||751||61.1%||21.6%||65.9%||6.0||-207||6.1||83.3|
|Chris Harper||WR-Z||5'11, 175||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||111||69||846||62.2%||19.0%||62.6%||7.6||-5||8.6||93.8|
|Kenny Lawler||WR-Z||6'3, 190||So.||4 stars (5.8)||65||37||351||56.9%||11.1%||55.6%||5.4||-127||5.7||38.9|
|Darius Powe||WR-Y||6'3, 220||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||40||25||231||62.5%||6.8%||55.2%||5.8||-76||5.7||25.6|
|Khalfani Muhammad||RB||5'7, 170||So.||4 stars (5.8)||24||14||178||58.3%||4.1%||57.1%||7.4||0||7.1||19.7|
|Stephen Anderson||WR-Y||6'3, 215||Sr.||NR||24||14||125||58.3%||4.1%||55.6%||5.2||-53||6.5||13.9|
|James Grisom||WR-Z||5'11, 180||Sr.||NR||16||10||169||62.5%||2.7%||45.5%||10.6||46||13.2||18.7|
|Daniel Lasco||RB||6'0, 210||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||14||11||74||78.6%||2.4%||45.5%||5.3||-47||4.7||8.2|
|Maurice Harris||WR-X||6'2, 195||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||10||7||100||70.0%||1.7%||14.3%||10.0||19||20.0||11.1|
|Bryce McGovern||WR-H||5'10, 205||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||1||1||34||100.0%||0.2%||N/A||34.0||24.5||N/A||3.8|
|Drake Whitehurst||WR-H||6'6, 215||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Trevor Davis||WR-X||6'2, 180||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Jack Austin||WR-Z||6'3, 210||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Raymond Hudson||WR-Y||6'3, 235||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Erik Brown||WR||6'2, 170||Fr.||4 stars (5.9)|
5. Youth becomes experience
Quarterback Jared Goff is no longer a true freshman. The offensive line returns eight players with starting experience (74 career starts). Because of those two sentences alone, Cal's offense should be a bit more stable in 2014.
But of those five running backs and nine receivers referenced above, three backs and seven wideouts return. And only two of the 10 combined returnees are seniors. Continuity just wasn't a thing for Cal last year; that won't remain the case for long.
While recruiting hasn't been outstanding in some units, there is a wealth of former four-star recruits here. As I like to say, recruiting rankings expire at some point, but lord knows there have been glimpses of four-star potential here and there. Muhammad was excellent late in the season. Bryce Treggs had 30 catches for 348 yards in September before trailing off. Kenny Lawler had 20 catches and five touchdowns (as a freshman) in November. Darius Powe was perhaps Cal's second-best receiver in October.
Of course, the highest ceiling among the receivers might belong to a former three-star guy. Chris Harper hinted at high potential with 19 catches for 250 yards in the last four games of 2012, then caught 37 passes for 558 yards and four scores in the first five games of 2013. Opponents adjusted, then Harper suffered an injury late in the year, but the potential is obvious, and the catch rate is high.
As one would expect, Goff was terribly hit-or-miss as a true freshman in what may have been FBS' best conference in 2013. His production was sporadic -- a graph of his week-to-week passer ratings would be seismic -- but he survived. And now, with experience and potential all around him, he'll be asked to thrive in 2014.
|Jordan Rigsbee||C||6'4, 315||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||24|
|Chris Adcock||C||6'3, 295||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||16|
|Steven Moore||LT||6'6, 295||So.||3 stars (5.6)||11|
|Alejandro Crosthwaite||RG||6'4, 295||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||9|
|Christian Okafor||RT||6'6, 325||So.||3 stars (5.6)||5|
|Chris Borrayo||LG||6'3, 310||So.||3 stars (5.6)||5|
|Matt Cochran||RG||6'3, 310||So.||3 stars (5.7)||3|
|Brian Farley||LT||6'7, 285||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||1|
|Donovan Frazer||RG||6'3, 290||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0|
|J.D. Hinnant||C||6'4, 280||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Aaron Cochran||LT||6'8, 355||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Myles Bunte||LG||6'7, 320||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)|
|Vincent Johnson||LG||6'5, 275||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||44.8%||95||Succ. Rt. +||104.4||44|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||25.6||123||Off. FP+||94.4||115|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||5.1||120||Redzone S&P+||103.6||44|
|Q1 Rk||98||1st Down Rk||86|
|Q2 Rk||83||2nd Down Rk||75|
|Q3 Rk||81||3rd Down Rk||81|
6. The defense just never had a chance
The California offense went three-and-out a lot and created sketchy field position in a league that features all sorts of high-tempo offenses. That meant that even a good Cal defense was going to give up points and yards and wear down after a while.
Add to that the full-season absence of defensive end Brennan Scarlett (wrist injury), the almost-full-season absence of safety Avery Sebastian (Achilles), the half-season absence of cornerback Stefan McClure (knee), and minor to moderate injuries to almost literally every linebacker and cornerback on the roster, and you've got a defensive disaster on your hands.
Walk-on Isaac Lapite and converted receiver (and freshman) Cedric Dozier saw a lot of action in an offense-friendly league, and Cal was without its best defensive end. So yeah, it goes without saying that the pass defense was awful. The Bears ranked 105th in Passing S&P+ and 106th in Passing Downs S&P+. And while they were pretty efficient against the run, if you got to the second level of the defense, you were probably going to get to the third and fourth as well.
It's almost a shame that Andy Buh didn't get a second chance to try to prove himself last year. He might not have succeeded, but almost anybody would have failed as Cal D.C. in 2013.
In 2012, Art Kaufman inherited a Texas Tech defense that had struggled with depth issues and ranked 115th in Def. F/+ in 2011; with his guidance, a more experienced, healthier unit improved to 64th. It's never smart to predict improvement of 50 spots in the rankings, but one can see how a more experienced, healthier unit could find its footing in 2014, especially if it gets fatigue and field position help from the offense.
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Brennan Scarlett (2012)||DE||6'4, 265||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||9||30.0||4.1%||6.0||2.5||0||2||2||0|
|Kyle Kragen||DE||6'2, 240||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||12||22.5||3.3%||4.5||3.0||0||0||0||0|
|Puka Lopa||DE||6'2, 260||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||12||11.0||1.6%||3.0||2.0||0||1||1||0|
|Todd Barr||DE||6'2, 250||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||9||6.0||0.9%||3.5||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Antione Davis||DE||6'5, 250||Jr.||NR||8||4.0||0.6%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Mustafa Jalil (2012)||DT||6'3, 305||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||7||4.0||0.6%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Sione Sina||DE||6'3, 265||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)|
|Marcus Manley||DT||6'2, 295||So.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Tony Mekari||DT||6'1, 270||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)|
|Jonathan Johnson||DE||6'2, 235||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Trevor Kelly||DT||6'2, 315||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)|
Real life interrupts sports talk sometimes, and it is impossible to provide smooth segues in between. But while we can talk about Cal's tough season on the field, and we can talk about the Bears' chances for redemption this fall, the Cal squad has been going through a different, far tougher struggle this offseason.
Ted Agu passed away at a local hospital after a training workout in the Berkeley Hills. He was 21 years old. [...]
Agu was a walk-on to the Cal football team who earned his scholarship this past season. The junior from Frontier High in Bakersfield was a true Golden Bear in every sense. He was an honor roll student all four years in high school and brought that success with him to Cal, finishing with a 3.28 GPA last semester and making the Pac-12 All-Academic Second Team. He has made a few tackles off the bench in a few games this season, and his positive presence was felt all throughout the locker room.
Before he passed away, before he became an unwitting pawn in an unfortunate statement by Bret Bielema, Ted Agu was a hard-working football player, good student, and great teammate. He shouldn't be gone, but he is, and that's a heartbreaking shame.
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Jalen Jefferson||SAM||6'2, 220||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||11||55.0||8.1%||6.0||2.0||1||2||0||0|
|Hardy Nickerson||MIKE||6'0, 225||So.||3 stars (5.6)||10||49.0||7.2%||5.0||1.0||0||1||1||0|
|Michael Barton||MIKE||6'0, 230||So.||4 stars (5.8)||11||48.5||7.1%||9.5||2.0||0||1||0||0|
|Jason Gibson||WILL||6'2, 210||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||6||3.5||0.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Johnny Ragin III||LB||8||1.5||0.2%||1.5||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Nathan Broussard||MIKE||6'3, 235||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Maximo Espitia||WILL||6'2, 215||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Edward Tandy||MIKE||6'1, 225||So.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Raymond Davison||LB||6'2, 220||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)|
|Sam Atoe||LB||6'0, 220||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Devante Downs||LB||6'3, 240||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Michael Lowe||FS||5'11, 205||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||12||54.5||8.0%||3.5||0||1||5||0||1|
|Cameron Walker||CB||5'10, 180||So.||3 stars (5.7)||10||54.0||7.9%||0.5||0||0||3||1||0|
|Damariay Drew||FS||5'11, 205||So.||3 stars (5.5)||12||40.5||5.9%||1||0||0||3||1||0|
|Stefan McClure||CB||5'11, 200||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||5||22.5||3.3%||1.5||0||0||5||0||0|
|Joel Willis||CB||5'10, 185||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||10||19.0||2.8%||0.5||0||0||3||1||0|
|Cedric Dozier||CB||5'10, 180||So.||4 stars (5.8)||12||15.0||2.2%||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|Avery Sebastian||SS||5'10, 195||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||2||8.0||1.2%||0.5||0||1||0||0||0|
|Darius Allensworth||CB||5'11, 190||RSFr.||4 stars (5.8)|
|Trey Cheek||CB||5'10, 175||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)|
|Caleb Coleman||CB||5'11, 185||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|David Garner||SS||5'9, 190||RSFr.||2 stars (5.2)|
|Darius White||CB||6'1, 185||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)|
8. Young play-makers
And here's the awkward segue back to football talk.
Scarlett returns in 2014, as do upperclassmen Kyle Kragen, Puka Lopa, and Todd Barr. They won't make for one of the Pac-12's best defensive end units, but they should improve on last year's results. But Cal ranked 15th in Adj. Line Yards last year, and tackles Deandre Coleman and Viliami Moala played large roles in that; Coleman graduated, and Moala declared for the draft, however, which leaves junior Mustafa Jalil (who missed 2013 with a knee injury) and a bunch of new pieces to flesh out the two-deep. That could result in regression when it comes to run efficiency.
Meanwhile, the top three tacklers at linebacker and six of the top seven in the secondary are back, and of those nine players, only one (safety Michael Lowe) is a senior. It might take another year of seasoning for this defense to come together overall, but if there's a bright side, it's that this year's returnees, from front to back, were some of last year's most successfully aggressive players.
And while Cal probably won't fix its leakiness in a single offseason, the Bears might at least make some big plays to go with the ones they allow.
Sophomore linebackers Hardy Nickerson and Michael Barton combined for 14.5 tackles for loss, ends Puka Lopa and Todd Barr had three sacks in minimal opportunities, and five sophomore or junior defensive backs (Cam Walker, Damarlay Drew, Stefan McClure, Joel Willis, and Cedric Dozier) combined for 3.5 tackles for loss and 16 passes defensed. The return of senior safety Avery Sebastian can't hurt from a stability standpoint, but the youngsters are the play-makers here.
|Cole Leininger||6'1, 200||So.||69||42.9||2||25||14||56.5%|
|Jared Goff||6'4, 195||So.||3||40.3||2||0||1||33.3%|
|Khalfani Muhammad||KR||5'7, 170||So.||46||21.9||0|
|Bryce Treggs||KR||5'11, 185||Jr.||7||19.6||0|
|Bryce Treggs||PR||5'11, 185||Jr.||20||2.0||0|
|Chris Harper||PR||5'11, 175||Jr.||2||9.0||0|
|Special Teams F/+||116|
|Field Goal Efficiency||11|
|Punt Return Efficiency||88|
|Kick Return Efficiency||110|
|Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency||75|
9. A field position disaster
It was a perfect storm of awfulness in 2013. The offense went nowhere at breakneck speed, the defense couldn't keep 11 healthy players on the field, and the special teams unit could neither cover nor return kicks. Cal had the least efficiency punting game in the country, kickoffs weren't far behind, and return success was non-existent. This is a good way for a struggling team to do itself some favors; Cal did itself none. And with the loss of automatic place-kicker Vincenzo D'Amato, Cal has to replace its only special teams strength, as well.
2014 Schedule & Projection Factors
|4-Oct||at Washington State||68|
|1-Nov||at Oregon State||43|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-5.6% (75)|
|Two-Year Recruiting Rk||37|
|TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin*||-15 / -12.9|
|Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.)||14 (8, 8)|
10. Progress away from the win column
I think Cal will improve in 2014. A more efficient offense should be able to take advantage of the pace it sets, and a defense that is simply healthy should at least improve back to the 60s or 70s in the Def. F/+ rankings. After bottoming out in 2013, the rebound begins in 2014.
Well, it begins as long as you're not simply looking at wins and losses. Granted, the presence of Sacramento State assures the Golden Bears of one win, and Colorado does have to come to Berkeley this year. That's probably two. But most of the other beatable opponents on the schedule -- Northwestern, Arizona, Washington State, Oregon State -- play host to Cal, and even if the Bears undergo significant improvement (back to, say, the 70s overall), they'll still be underdogs in as many as 10 games this year.
They'll still finish the seasno with five projected top-30 opponents in their last seven games. They'll still be playing from behind.
You can overcome bad first years and faulty first impressions. But at a time when so many Pac-12 rivals are taking huge steps forward, it was not a great time for a lost season. Sonny Dykes has success on his record and could eventually craft a strong team in Berkeley. But even in the best-case scenario, it's going to take him a while.