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Football: Bears create a buzz even in defeat

Sonny Dykes won over Cal’s fans with a touchdown off a fake field goal on the first series against No. 22 Northwestern.

He still hadn’t lost them nearly four hours later after the Golden Bears’ 44-30 defeat in their season opener at Memorial Stadium.

Even while becoming the first rookie Cal coach to lose his debut game at home since Marv Levy in 1960, Dykes showed a crowd of 58,816 this will be a team worth watching.

More importantly, he convinced his young players they can be something.

“I thought we needed to play incredibly aggressive. I thought our players needed to see as coaches we were playing to win, not to not lose,” Dykes said of his decision to use a trick play on the field goal.

“It was important to send that message to our players and, quite frankly, to our fans.”

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The message was received by all a year after Cal staggered to a 3-9 record.

The difference in the game was two interception returns for touchdowns by Northwestern linebacker Collin Ellis, both on passes that were deflected.

In between, there was plenty of reason for hope.

That started with the play of true freshman quarterback Jared Goff, whose 445 passing yards was the most by a Cal quarterback in a regulation-length game. Only Pat Barnes, with 503 yards in a four-overtime game against Arizona in 1996, has thrown for more.

“A heck of a performance by a young kid,” Dykes called Goff’s performance.

“We’ve got a lot to build on with how well we played,” the 18-year-old from Novato said. “We learned a lot of stuff. I had some bad luck, but that’s no excuse. We’ll come back stronger.”

The Bears kept offensive coordinator Tony Franklin on the sidelines for this one — normally he will be in the booth — figuring he could help counsel Goff.

“He kept his composure, even during times of adversity,” said wide receiver Bryce Treggs, who caught 13 passes for 145 yards. “If we would go three-and-out, he came back the next time and made plays. That showed signs of a great quarterback.”

The uptempo Bears ran 99 plays, netting 548 yards, and might have had more except for a series of injuries by Northwestern defensive players that stalled the action.

“It seemed like everytime we got a first down they had an injury,” said Dykes, who acknowleged his team’s rhythm was affected, but stopped short of saying it was an intentional ploy by the Wildcats. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald bristled at that suggestion.

The Bears threw 64 times mostly because they couldn’t sustain a consistent running game. Brendan Bigelow gained 55 yards on three runs to open the game, but Northwestern adjusted and Cal’s backs totaled 56 yards on 25 carries the rest of the game.

“We’re disappointed the way we ran the football,” Dykes said. “That unit up front’s very young. It’s going to be a heck of a unit, but part of their maturation is going to be learning how to finish blocks.”

There were other issues. The Bears were penalized 10 times for 79 yards, including false starts by three different offensive linemen in the same second-quarter series.

They also lost defensive end Chris McCain to a fourth-quarter ejection when he was called for “targeting” Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian. By rule, McCain must sit out the first half of Saturday’s Portland State game.

As a result, the Bears could start that game without as many as five defensive starters. Defensive end Brennan Scarlett (hand) and linebacker Nick Forbes (back) sat out the opener and safety Avery Sebastian (ankle) and linebacker Khairi Fortt (head) both were sidelined during the game.

Dykes had no immediate report on the status of the injured, also including Bigelow (head) and guard Matt Cochran (shoulder).

Jeff Faraudo

  • http://aol.com PeteBear

    Was at the game and been reading the fake injury controversy. Saw clip of SD on the sideline totally losing it. No class. He might learn something from Goff’s comments in post game. Asked whether the thought they were faking it, he passed on that. Asked whether all the successive injuries threw them off, he simply said it shouldn’t have. Thought the booing was tasteless too. What, we are trying to emulate Oregon fans now? As for the rest, good game. A couple of drops and tips from victory. Need a better D-line push on the QB. McCain was a clean hit.

  • 66Bear

    Way to start off the season, PeteyBear. I can’t wait to follow your wussy comments for the rest of the season. Let me guess. You accumulated your vast coaching and appropriate-fan-behavior knowledge in AYSO soccer, where you were responsible for making sure that all the participants knew that it is best to play for a tie and take home an identical trophy. Guess what? In sports and in life, competition is not a hate crime. And if the home-town fans want to shame the opponents for breaking the rules, that right goes along with the price of admission. Go Bears! You’re off to a good start, and the breaks and the calls should even out in the long run. :-)

  • ConcordBear

    I love that our head coach is fighting for his team during the game.
    Sonny will continue to fight because he burns to win and does anything he can for his players.

  • GC

    “I thought we needed to play incredibly aggressive. I thought our players needed to see as coaches we were playing to win, not to not lose,” Dykes said of his decision to use a trick play on the field goal.

    This was the most important statement attributed to CAL’s coaching staff.

  • Gobears49

    PeteBear,

    Sonny didn’t “lose it.” He was just trying to strenuously, without going berserk, indicate to the officials what he thought about their non-calls. All, of at least almost all, coaches do that to try to influence officials to make a future call in their favor.

    Fans are also naturally inclined to boo, which is part of the fun, for most, in attending a game (i.e. let the emotions out to support your team). After all, the Chicago Tribune pointed out that during the game an “injury” occurred on three successive plays. Both the article and the fan comments which follow it, seemed to indicate that at least some of the “injuries” were fake. See the article below.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/college/chi-northwestern-wildcats-hope-to-be-ranked-after-cal-game-too-20130831,0,1018625.story

    You really don’t have a right to complain unless Dykes complained about the fake injuries after the game. He didn’t. In my mind, that is the sole determinant of whether he handled the incident with “class.” Again, making a vociferous complaint to game officials about fake injuries during the game is what all coaches (or almost all of them) do to try to favorably change game official future decisions in the coach’s favor, as is fans booing (which really is part of the fun of attending a game).

  • http://Aol.com PeteBear

    Gobears49,

    Look at the presser tape on Sonny. That was an affirmative accusation by omission. His reported bs comment to NW coach after the game about “destroying the game” was a crybaby move. We don’t need no crybabies. You just line up after the play and snap when the whistle blows. SD was using an excuse scenario for game outcome.
    66Bear, get your facts straight b/4 you talk. Did u watch the tape when the two DL linemen plowed into each trying to sack Goff. You think the 1string LB was making up the bell ring on the play b/4? U don’t know s–t. When you take the high road u have a better perspective and don’t set your team up for “explaining away” failure. My view is SD took the low road and opened up the “we was robbed” front. Fans bought into that. That is not Cal football.

  • cvteach

    The quote was ‘you’re making a mockery of the game’ not ‘youre destroying the game’. Two totally distinctly different statements. What’s hilarious is that you misquoted Dykes while making fun of someone else for not knowing the facts.
    I was actually there and can tell you on one of the ‘injuries’ the d lineman went down on one leg, trainer came out and then he had them check the other. He even forgot what leg it was that was ‘hurt’. He went out one play, was in the next play.
    also, sonny never ever implied once he felt robbed. And yes, northwestern was making a mockery of the game.

  • Gobears49

    PeteBear,

    I could say that somebody doesn’t know s–t and it would be an “affirmative accusation by omission” because I haven’t identified anybody. Maybe you haven’t been around sports long enough to know that coaches know they can get into trouble by stating what they really feel about certain subjects, though generally that is about someone who officiated their game. “Affirmative accusation by omission” is perfectly kosher and, also, by doing so, nobody can accuse Sonny of saying anything about the NW coach.

    You might have a better argument that Sonny somehow crossed a line if you could specifically state who heard Sonny’s “reported” comment to the NW coach. But I don’t think that person has yet to be identified. Without such proof, you really don’t know if Sonny has crossed any line, even though you THINK or BELIEVE he did.

    Though Sonny’s feelings on the matter were clear from how he acted on TV, I did not find them coming close to the line in terms of their being unacceptable. I’ve seen far worse, and many times, including watching a few coaches who throw their headphones to the ground as part of making their point to the ref standing next to them. Sonny did not come close to doing that or anything like it. But he did make sure he made his point as to what was going on and him what penalty he wanted the officials to call (BTW, would love to have someone tell me what that penalty might be, as I don’t have a clue).

  • Gobears49

    Re my prior comment just above, the penalty that might have been called against NW was unsportsmanlike conduct, which would seem to cover almost anything. Can’t call delay of game since the clock was stopped by an official so the “injured” NW player could be attended to or make another fake attempt to get up and then fall down. Again, would welcome other thoughts on this subject.

  • GoBears91

    PeteBear: if you were at the game, you should know full well that the injuries were “suspect” at best. In the series at issue, EVERY single NW player got up and then fell back down with an “injury”. Each time they later walked off with no assistance. (Keep in mind that there was no concern about heat or cramping.) On one play in particular, the NW player got up in front of our sideline, then realized how far he was from his bench (and saw that we had already made our substitutions) and then fell back down to a knee. That pretty much sealed the controversy from our perspective…

  • Gobears49

    PeteBear,

    Maybe you haven’t been around sports that long to know, but coaches know they can get into trouble by stating what they really feel about certain subjects, though generally that is about someone who officiated their game. “Affirmative accusation by omission” is perfectly kosher and, also, by doing so, nobody can accuse Sonny of saying anything about the NW coach.

    You might have a better argument that Sonny somehow crossed a line if you could specifically state who heard Sonny’s “reported” comment to the NW coach. But I don’t think that person has yet to be identified. Without such proof, you really don’t know if Sonny has crossed any line, even though you THINK or BELIEVE he did.
    Though Sonny’s feelings on the matter were clear from how he acted on TV, I did not find them coming close to the line in terms of their being unacceptable. I’ve seen far worse, and many times, including watching a few coaches who throw their headphones to the ground as part of making their point to the ref standing next to them. Sonny did not come close to doing that or anything like it. But he did make sure he made his point as to what was going on and him what penalty he wanted the officials to call, maybe “unsportsmanlike conduct,” which is an expansive term that could cover just about anything, including stopping the preventing the next play from being run in the normal time by faking an injury. “Delay of game” would not work, as the clock would have already been stopped to tend to the “injured” player.

  • CalBearister

    @PeteBear – why is it that complaining about cheating is considered a crybaby move? Seems to me if Pat Fitzgerald doesn’t want to be accused of cheating, next time he shouldn’t have his players take a dive.

  • Uh Huh!

    Hahahaha, JF
    I have to share.
    When I wrote that other note this morning, I had to share with my wife.
    We went out all day and just got back and I had to check if anyone replied to my comments.
    YOU did!
    We loved it, thanks.
    But where was the Holy Schnikies?!
    Next week.

  • http://Aol.com PeteBear

    Re#s 7,8,9–good. We are making progress in the discussion. I did look at the film of the plays. #92 was most suspect and 47 on the sideline play. I found the others quite a bit less so. Two 270+ pounders run into each other full speed chasing goff and fall down; another player is involved in a play, grabs his crotch as he starts to run off, makes it ten yards and then goes down; a d-lb takes a hit and is on his knees w/head down trying to collect himself. So is this all suspect or are we just hitting them hard. Which do you want to believe? Layer on top of that the fact that these are different players. Now you have to establish concerted effort and a plan/agreement to keep the conspiracy afloat. Too long a stretch for me. I played the game and have been in the stands as a student and beyond for more than 40 years and know what it take to establish evidence w/ supporting facts, so I think I know what is going on.
    On SD, I like the guy. That’s why I’m so disappointed. NW coach won’t say what SD said at midfield b/c he doesn’t want to cause SD grief. Read the fb news- everyone is reading SD stmt at presser (“I’d better not say”) as an accusation. You can bet the players are. So, what does that say to them? But for three or four suspect plays in one drive you would have won this game, but u were robbed. BS. They got beat by a slightly better team b/c they didn’t catch a flat pass that skipped off a wr hands, they didn’t get any pressure on a QB they knew was going to pass, they didn’t open holes for the best rb on the field, they blew up one drive by penalties and so on. Say it like it is instead of crying about how we was robbed by suspect sportsmanship. That is why I liked goff so much in the post-game. He said those sort of things (delays whether or not due to fake injuries) shouldn’t have bothered us. I simply wish SD had gotten over his fit on the field and taken the same line. This team can be good enough to win no matter what. I would have much rather seen the team line up, wait for NW to get back to the line eventually, snap the ball at the whistle and shove it down the NW gut. SD needs to be the coach that sets that tone and turns that expectation into a reality. His carping was not lost on his team and was and will be a distraction. Team motto for the week–no excuses.

  • Gobears49

    PeteBear,

    Glad you think we are making progress.

    Also glad you admit that for at least a few plays one could “suspect” that injuries were being faked.

    However, I still don’t get your “crybaby” argument. What if a NW player went down on every play and every one got up and walked off the field on their own power? Then would Sonny complaining to the refs about how the game was being slowed down still be considered to be “crybabying.” I’ll bet even you would not say that. If so, then the issue is when the line is crossed in terms of when there are fake injuries and when a complaint about that is justified. That is all very subjective. Based upon what happened, I believe NW crossed the line and complaints were justified.

    Another point you made was that you think Sonny’s complaints to the refs were a “distraction” to the team. I think the players would have been disappointed in Sonny if he didn’t stand up for his team and make those complaints. The players then saw that their coach had their backs and supported them, which is good for their morale. It is probably not the place for Goff or any other player to complain about it afterwards — that is the coach’s responsibility and choice. But I would not have criticized Goff or any player if they did make some complaint about that after the game. That would just be their opinion, which they are entitled to. What NW did could have affected the outcome of the game and was unsportsmanlike.

    I hope the NCAA views the video of this game to see what happened. A lot of teams, like Cal now does, use the hurry up offense. The TV announcers said it was unfair for the defense to be on the field so many plays with little time to rest, impliedly arguing that what NW did to slow things down was justified. It wasn’t and the defense just needs to be able to adjust to the fast pace.

    I still say that if there is now a rule that a player must come off the field for one play if he loses his helmet during a play, EVEN IF HE IS NOT INJURED, there should be rule that a player must sit out more than one play, perhaps up to three, if time is stopped because he appears to be injured. All very logical, consistent and proportional. Hope the rule is in place by next year.

  • http://aol.com PeteBear

    Gobears49
    ANY time spent this week focusing on what NW might have done “wrong” is a complete and unnecessary distraction. And there will be time spent on this b/c of how SD reacted on the sidelines, what he did or did not say to the NW coach after the game, and what he did not say but very highly implied in the post-game presser. That is on SD’s shoulder and is non-productive. My crybaby characterization is another way of saying excuses are not solutions to problems. He has problems that need to be fixed.

    I am in complete agreement with a rule that anytime an official’s injury timeout is called the player involved must be out for 1 or probably 2 plays.

    I’m ready to move on to the Portland game.

  • Gobears49

    Most likely any of the little time this week, if any, discussing the fake injuries, will not produce any distraction to the team. Sonny seems to be a wily, street smart, kind of guy and he will probably not say anything about it, if asked, probably saying he has already made this statement about the issue, and then ask to talk about the Portland game.

    I do plan on sending an email to Jeff Faraudo to ask Sonny Dykes some time in the future (after this issue has died down) if he thinks a rule requiring a player who is injured and requires the use of an official’s time out, to sit out a few plays on the basis that that is the minimum time to provide a recovery period, ” for the player’s safety,” is something he would endorse. Again, this rule makes sense, since the loss of a helmet on a play requires a player to sit out the next play, regardless of any injury, and an actual injury is more serious, requiring that there should be more time off from play to assure the player is safe to play again.

    A more difficult issue to come up with a solution to the expulsion of McCain. Very frankly, I don’t have a solution to that one. On the one hand, I understand the rule (or maybe I don’t — is the helmet to helmet rule only for hits on QB’s?), but on the other hand, I think most helmet to helmet hits are not intentional. I doubt McCain’s was, but one never knows. Immediate expulsion from the game plus a half of the next game seems to be too severe a penalty. If there must be an expulsion, I think it should be for a shorter period.

    Now on to Portland State Vikings game, winners over that powerhouse Eastern Oregon team. Easily the biggest game of the year for the Vikings, though they do play Eastern Washington later in the year, conqueror’s of Oregon State last week. Would love to see Kline and Hinder play if we get a big lead.

  • Chasin’ Bear

    “If anybody were to question the integrity of myself, our program or our players, I question theirs,” NU coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When our guys get dinged up, they are instructed to go down, not hobble off to the sideline.”

    So why did WR Christian Jones QUICKLY hobble off the field after hurting his ankle on offense in the 2nd Quarter with 3:35 to go?

    This completely goes in the face of what the coach said… Fitzgerald is a liar, plain and simple.