Seattle is the best, Cal isn’t

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If you’re reading this, you’re probably expecting some commentary or insight into the state of Cal football after its 41-17 loss to Washington on Saturday night. And by you, I’m referring to my editor just as much as I am to the theoretical reader.

Unfortunately, I can’t do that for you.

Here’s what I can tell you: Seattle is a great city. It’s clean, the people are friendly and sitting in a pub in Pike Place listening to Soundgarden is one of the cooler experiences I’ve had in my lifetime and is probably the closest I’ll ever get to experiencing the grunge scene. This is what I’ll take away from my weekend up north.

Here’s what I can’t tell you: anything new of substance regarding the state of the Cal football team. But that’s OK, because neither can anyone else.

As we are now well past the halfway point of the football season, the “what do you think of Sonny Dykes and the new coaching staff” question is starting to get asked with increasing frequency. And unfortunately, nothing the Cal team did this weekend — or has done in the last few weeks — has aided me in answering it.

A couple of things are certain about this squad: It is lacking depth and talent on both sides of the ball, particularly along the offensive line and throughout the defense.

The marquee players simply aren’t there on this team, save for a few skill positions. Any criticism of Dykes and his staff has to be taken with many grains of salt, given that he’s shorthanded on talent in nearly every game he coaches.

But then how can his squad put up 483 yards of total offense yet produce just 10 meaningful points? How can the defense force four straight punts in the second quarter yet spend the other three quarters looking like it doesn’t belong on a Division I football field?

The 2013 Cal football team has shown it can be good. But it has just as much shown it can be really, really bad. Saturday was no exception on either front.

Accordingly, we’re going to just have to wait to see which path it chooses. Until then, trying to label Dykes and his staff as either the correct hire for Cal or a mistake would be an exercise in futility.

Saturday’s game against Washington didn’t provide any sway to the argument, because it didn’t provide us with anything we haven’t already seen. For the seventh time this season, the Bears showed occasional flashes of competitiveness but were ultimately outclassed by a bigger, faster and more talented football team.

Was Sonny Dykes outcoached? Possibly. Could another coach be getting more out of this team? Perhaps. But is there anyway to know beyond pure speculation? No.

“I see definite improvement,” said quarterback Jared Goff. “It’s hard to imagine, but I think we’re really coming together as a team through all this pain and struggling.”

All signs point to the Bears finishing the 2013 campaign without a win over an FBS opponent, which will likely result in numerous angry fingers pointed in Dykes’ direction.

But give him a chance to bring in the players he wants to bring in — the players he knows can run his system the way it’s meant to be run. Then we’ll get some concrete evidence with which to draw conclusions on the decision to hire Sonny Dykes.

Connor Byrne covers football. Contact him at cbyrne@dailycal.org. Follow him on Twitter @ctbyrne91.

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