Cal’s coaches said this week they hoped the Golden Bears could deliver a more balanced attack Saturday against Portland State.
Few at Memorial Stadium were complaining after watching freshman Jared Goff flood the air with footballs in a 485-yard passing performance.
But in the Bears’ 37-30 victory, the running game once more was not what they want.
“It’s definitely a concern,” coach Sonny Dykes said after the Bears netted 131 rushing yards on 44 attempts — a subpar 3.0 yards per carry.
In a loss to Northwestern the week before, Cal had just 89 net rushing yards on 34 tries, a 2.6 per-carry average.
Dykes said the culprit in Week 1 was the offense line, which didn’t finish blocks well. That wasn’t his complaint this time.
“Today, the O-line played better,” he said. “We had guys in space a lot today. A lot of times one-on-one on the safety and didn’t make a play. When we get one-on-ones, we’ve got to be able to make more than 2 or 3 yards.”
The Bears had two sacks this week after getting none against Northwestern, but Dykes said the play of the defensive line still isn’t what it should be. In particular, he said senior nose tackle Deandre Coleman must provide more.
“We’ve got to get some guys playing better up front,” he said. “Deandre Coleman has been a non-factor to this point. He’s got to play better. He will play better.
“We just haven’t been able to get the kind of push up front that we need. We’ll get that. Deandre’s a heck of a player. He’ll play better and we’ll coach him better.”
Dykes said he doesn’t believe Cal’s tackling problems stem from the fact that the Bears went “live” just twice in fall camp.
“I don’t know that our training camp was much different than most people these days,” Dykes said. “We were running out of bodies, so we were trying to keep our players healthy and consider the welfare of our guys.
“I think we’ll tackle better. It’s certainly going to be a point of emphasis for us. We work it all the time in practice.”
Cal ran about six plays from its “super bone” alignment — with 6-foot-4, 280-pound offensive lineman Bill Tyndall and 6-foot, 235-pound fullback Lucas Gingold in the backfield as blockers.
The Bears didn’t get much from it early, but Goff delivered a 19-yard pass to Gingold for a first down that led to Vincenzo D’Amato’s 23-yard field goal and a 37-30 lead late in the third quarter.
Although frantic offensive the pace slowed after the third quarter — by which time the two teams had combined for 1,000 yards — big plays were a staple on Saturday.
The teams combined for 42 plays of 10 yards or more, 16 of those going at least 20 yards, including five of 40 yards or more.
Sophomore receiver Chris Harper, who had 11 catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns against Northwestern, hardly played in the second half Saturday. Dykes said a sore shoulder and dehydration caused him to not feel well.
Harper finished with four catches for 32 yards.
Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.