No one is more excited than Cal that a new college football season is at hand.
“I can’t stress how happy we are to have last year in the past and to be where we are now,” sophomore quarterback Jared Goff said Wednesday at Pac-12 media day. “We can see the growth — mentally, physically. It’s a different team. It’s not even remotely the same team as last year.”
Coming off a 1-11 season, the Bears open Aug. 30 at Northwestern. Coach Sonny Dykes said fans will have no trouble seeing the difference in his squad.
“We were so bad last year, I think the improvement’s going to be pretty obvious,” Dykes said. “We weren’t very competitive last year in a lot of games. That’s going to be the biggest difference, competing in games, giving ourselves an opportunity to win.
“What happened so often last year is midway through the first quarter you’d look up and we were down by 21 points. I think it’s going to be obvious to everybody — our fans, our opponents — that we’re going to be a much-improved football team.”
The Bears were winless against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents and their defense allowed nearly 46 points per game.
Goff, who passed for a school-record 3,508 yards as a freshman, said the 2013 fiasco was an offseason motivator, but that players are no longer dwlling on the past.
“It’s behind us. We’re no longer thinking about last season,” he said. “We’re excited to move forward, make a new brand for ourselves.”
Certainly Dykes, in his second season, would like to do that. He arrived at Berkeley last fall after building a repuation as a top offensive coach at Louisiana Tech, but the success didn’t immediately translate to the Pac-12.
“In our profession, you are kind of what your record says you are. You from being pretty smart to being pretty dumb overnight,” Dykes said. “It’s a tough thing to live with. It’s a hard thing for a coach to go through.
“We took a lot out of it, learned from it. But you’ve got to put it behind you and move on. I think our players have probably done that in some ways than our coaching staff has.”