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Football: Yes, Bears want to win . . . but by how much?

Quarterback Jared Goff, going all politically correct, said Tuesday the Cal football team would be “happy” if the offense scores just seven points in the opener Saturday as long as it beats Grambling State.

“We just want to win,” Goff said of the matchup against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent that is a 431/2-point underdog. “There’ll probably be a lot more stuff to work on after a win like that.”

Senior wide receiver Bryce Treggs was a bit more definitive.

“At the end of the game, if everybody does their job, we should have somewhere around 50 or 60 points,” Treggs said. “That’s probably me being a little bit confident, but that’s really what we believe.”

Acknowledging he has only seen game tape from last season, Treggs said Grambling plays its defensive backs close to the line of scrimmage. Grambling ranked 108th nationally last season among 121 FCS teams in passing yards allowed.

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Football: Grambling tries to re-establish tradition

While Cal was staggering to a 1-11 record in 2013, things were worse still at Grambling State.

The most famous and successful football program among the traditional black colleges of the South, Grambling not only matched the Bears’ won-lost record but went through three coaches and a six-day player boycott that resulted in one of the 11 defeats.

“We don’t really talk about that,” senior quarterback Johnathan Williams said.

The Tigers, who visit Cal on Saturday in the season opener for both teams, are strictly looking forward these days — but always with an eye on their past.

Broderick Fobbs begins his second season as coach of the small Louisiana school after guiding his alma mater to a 7-5 record last fall. Fobbs, 41, played for legendary Eddie Robinson, who won 408 games during a 55-year coaching career and sent more than 200 players to the NFL, many of them before the big Southern schools were integrated.

“We’re very aware of our history,” Williams said. “Coach Fobbs makes sure we understand where we came from. Sometimes it feels like we’re being coached by Coach Robinson.”

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Football: A quick look at all things Cal football

VITAL SIGNS

Coach — Sonny Dykes, third year

Dykes’ record — 6-18 overall/3-15 Pac-12

Last season — 5-7/3-6 (4th in North)

Returning starters — 13 (eight offense, four defense)

Pac-12 media projection — 3rd in North

LEADERS OF THE PACK

Offense — This is now quarterback Jared Goff’s team and he has weapons all around him. Cal’s receiving corps, led by Bryce Treggs and Kenny Lawler, is among the best in the Pac-12, and Daniel Lasco leads a deep group of running backs expecting success behind a more established line.

Defense — Young and overmatched on this side most of the past two seasons, the Bears are looking for big seasons from five senior starters — tackle Mustafa Jalil, end Kyle Kragen, safety Stefan McClure, linebacker Jalen Jefferson and cornerback Darius White.

BUSTIN OUT?

Offense — No. 2 running back Vic Enwere, now 6-1, 230 pounds, gives the Bears a north-south runner with power and a year of experience.

Defense — Sophomore defensive end James Looney, a transfer from Wake Forest, has drawn raves from coaches and teammates for his speed and athleticism.

STAT THAT MATTERS

The Bears are 1-19 against Stanford, Oregon, Washington, USC and UCLA the past four years. In two seasons under Dykes they are 0-10 against those five schools, giving up 46.0 points per game and losing by an average 24.7 points. If Cal wants to take climb the Pac-12 ladder, it will have to beat someone other than Oregon State, Washington State and Colorado.

KEY DATE

Sept. 26: at Washington (tba) — Cal will be coming off a tough nonconference road game vs. Texas when it opens Pac-12 play against a Huskies’ team whose 31-7 win in Berkeley last season was the turning point in a year that saw Cal start 4-1 and finish 1-6. If the Bears wants to climb into the upper half of the North Division they need to win in Seattle.

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Football: Can Golden Bears make Year 3 under coach Sonny Dykes their breakthrough campaign?

There are heightened expectations for Cal football in the third year of coach Sonny Dykes’ regime, and they start at the top, in the athletic director’s office.

“Sonny has told me the third year is the great year in the Sonny Dykes system, ” Michael Williams said last spring on the day he was named Cal’s permanent athletic director. “No pressure.”

Williams did have a smile on his face when he said it, but Dykes’ new boss clearly is expecting more in 2015 after seasons of 1-11 and 5-7.

He isn’t the only one. The media picked the Golden Bears to finish third in the Pac-12 North, and the players are anxious to return Cal to a bowl game for the first time since 2011.

“This third year is the change year,” senior defensive tackle Mustafa Jalil said. “All the changes are put into place that will let us finally get over the hump.”

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Football: Cal elects 5 team captains

In a vote of players, Cal elected five team captains Sunday, and coach Sonny Dykes feels great about them.

Chosen by their teammates were senior safety Stefan McClure (for the third straight year), junior quarterback Jared Goff and senior running back Daniel Lasco (each for the second straight year), senior guard Jordan Rigsbee and junior linebacker Hardy Nickerson.

“If the coaches had voted, I think we would have elected the same five guys,” Dykes told reporters. “These guys are all mature, all invested. I’m mainly more comfortable with these guys than in previous years because I know them better. I know what they’re all about.”

Dykes admitted that sometimes coaches “wince” at the choices players make when asked to vote for team captains, for instance, “because this guy was elected because we didn’t have anybody else.”

That wasn’t the case with this group, Dykes said.

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Football: Farley completes Cal’s O-line puzzle

After weeks of fiddling and reshuffling along Cal’s offensive line, the last piece to the puzzle was picking a starter at left tackle.

That became redshirt senior Brian Farley, who officially was named to the spot last week when the Bears revealed their first fall depth chart. Farley beat our sophomore Aaron Cochran for the job.

Asked what put the 6-foot-7, 290-pounder over the top, coach Sonny Dykes said it was consistency.

“That’s what you want to see from offensive linemen. You want to see toughness and consistency,” Dykes said. “We challenged him, told him, `You’ve got to play more physical, got to compete harder.’ He did that and he’s been consistent.

“He’s always been a good athlete, who can do a lot of the things you want tackles to do. He’s stronger now and I think he’s probably more committed than he’s ever been. And I think his performance is much better as a result.”

Farley recalls the conversation when the coaching staff suggested he get a little more aggressive. But it didn’t really begin to show until last spring.

“Something just clicked after the second year with them,” he said. “I just feel bigger, a little more confident, a little more driven. More kind of a time-is-right thing.”

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Football: Cal kicker job still up for grabs

Cal is taking Saturday off – one week before kickoff in its season-opener against Grambling State – and will hold a closed practice Sunday.

A few notes off Friday’s practice:

Just days after Noah Beito was listed as the No. 1 placekicker on the team’s first fall depth chart, coach Sonny Dykes said sophomore Matt Anderson now is the leader.

“Our kicker today would be Matt Anderson,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes through the week.”

In other words, stay tuned.

The situation has become a bit more clear at punter, where incumbent Cole Leininger finally delivered the kind of performance last week that gives confidence to the coaching staff.

“I walked away feeling good. Cole had a good week, was consistent,” Dykes said. “Cole kind of found what he needed to find last week, and I feel real good about where we are now.”

*****

Dykes is excited to watch senior cornerback Darius White on game day. Last season was a lost cause for the junior college transfer from Mississippi, who was injured on the first day of fall camp, then burned for a 90-yard touchdown pass on his first play against Washington State in his debut.

Dykes said White’s confidence was shaken and he never recovered all season. But he had a strong spring, summer and fall camp and is “settled,” according to Dykes.

“I think he’s going to be one of the elite corners in this league. I think he’s got that kind of talent. He’s playing with that kind of confidence,” Dykes said. “He’s come a long way.”

*****

Sophomore linebacker Aisea Tongilava missed practice Friday because of a non-football toe injury that was still being assessed. Dykes had no report on Tongilava’s prognosis.

Sophomore offensive tackle Aaron Cochran sat out practice Friday because he wasn’t feeling well.

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Football: Bears hope to be faster in 2015

Sonny Dykes wants Cal’s “Bear Raid” offense to be faster still in 2015.

The Bears ran off 87.2 plays per game in Dykes’ debut two seasons ago – nearly matching the pace of his 2012 Louisiana Tech team, which led the nation in scoring.

The Bears backed off a bit last year, averaging 81.3 snaps to rank fourth in the Pac-12 in that category. But they made that work for 38.2 points per game – second-best in the conference.

“It wasn’t close to where we wanted,” Dykes said of last season’s tempo. “We’d obviously like to get faster and more efficient. At times in camp we’ve been close to what we want to see.”

The slower pace a year ago was by design, Dykes said. The Bears added layers to their offense, and the coaching staff wanted quarterback Jared Goff to feel comfortable and function efficiently.

“We felt like at times we rushed him a little bit the first year,” Dykes said. “We were incredibly simple (the first year), then year two we become a little bit more diverse. That slowed us down a little bit, and required Jared to think a little bit more. Now you hope you can be more diverse and still be faster.

“The good thing now is I think he’s probably more comfortable the faster we go.”

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Football: Goff in the record books

Most passing yards by a Pac-12 quarterback through his sophomore season:

1. Jared Goff, Cal (2013-14) 7,481 yards
2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon (2012-13) 6,342
3. Matt Barkley, USC (2009-10) 6,255
4. Andrew Luck, Stanford (2009-10) 5,913
5. Sean Mannion, OSU (2011-12) 5,774
6. Rudy Carpenter, ASU (2005-06) 4,796
7. Andrew Walter, ASU (2001-02) 4,423
8. Steve Stenstrom, Stanford (1991-92) 4,252
9. Alex Brink, WSU (2004-05) 4,196
10. Cade McNown, UCLA (1995-96) 4,122

Most career passing yards by Cal quarterback:

1. Troy Taylor (1986-89) 8,126
2. Kyle Boller (1999-02) 7,980
3. Jared Goff (2013-cur) 7,481
4. Pat Barnes (1993-96) 7,360
5. Rich Campbell (1977-80) 7,174

Most career passing TDs by Cal quarterback:

1. Kyle Boller (1999-02) 64
2. Pat Barnes (1993-96) 54
3. Jared Goff (2013-cur) 53
4t. Troy Taylor (1986-89) 51
4t. Nate Longshore (2005-08) 51

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Football: Jared Goff’s only 2015 goal — winning

By the end of September, Jared Goff should own nearly every significant Cal passing record. But in two seasons as the Bears’ starting quarterback, Goff’s record is 6-18, and that’s not what he nor those around the gifted junior want to see this season.

“I don’t want to be a guy who came here and got a bunch of stats and didn’t win a bunch of games,” Goff said. “I want to bring Cal a winning culture.”

The Marin Catholic High grad has passed for 7,481 yards — more than any quarterback in Pac-12 history through his sophomore season — and 53 touchdowns, so Goff is hardly to blame for the .250 winning percentage he and coach Sonny Dykes have assembled in their two years together.

Being asked in 2013 to lead the team as an 18-year-old freshman hasn’t helped. A defense that ranked as the nation’s worst last year, when it surrendered 61 touchdowns, has been another problem.

Cal’s offense, which scored 59 touchdowns last season, should continue to flourish in 2015 with Goff surrounded by seven returning starters, including senior running back Daniel Lasco, an all-Pac-12 honorable mention last year, and three experienced receivers.

The next step for Goff?

“Now you want to see his leadership,” said Bucky Brooks, a media analyst for the NFL Network. “Does he have the ability to put them on his back and kind of turn around the program by his performance?”

Said ESPN game analyst Brock Huard, “When it matters the most, in those moments when you have to do it, he has to deliver. On those third downs, in the fourth quarter, on those game-winning drives, you don’t have to be super human but you have to be at your sharpest. That’s how you become a first-rounder.”

That’s also how Goff can achieve his goal of joining the pantheon of Cal quarterback greats such as Aaron Rodgers, Joe Roth and Joe Kapp, all of whom directed successful teams.

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