Cal’s opponents in the Pac-12 Conference are scoring two touchdowns fewer per game than a year ago when the Bears were among the nation’s most toothless defenses.
So why are they taking a three-game losing streak into Saturday night’s game at Oregon?
Surprisingly, the once-potent Bear Raid offense is to blame.
A year after inspiring the T-shirt, “Stay Calm and #Drop50,” the Bears are averaging barely half that total in conference play. They produced at a 51-point clip through three non-league outings, but their scoring has dipped to 26.6 the past five games, ranking them No. 9 in Pac-12 play.
While Pac-12 games already have generated 19 performances of 40 points or more, Cal (5-3, 2-3) has not scored more than 34 in a conference outing and has stalled at 24 or less the past three weeks while losing to Utah, UCLA and USC. It adds up to a decline of 11 points per game from a year ago.
“We’ve got to score more points,” said Cal coach Sonny Dykes, who says some of what’s happened simply can be traced to facing three opponents who have made appearances in the top-10 of the national rankings.
Senior running back Daniel Lasco isn’t buying the rationale.
“We’ve played good defenses the last couple weeks, but I don’t believe that should be our excuse,” he said. “I believe we have the best offense in the nation when we play up to our level.”
How Pac-12 teams are scoring in conference play (with 40-point games in parenthesis):
1. Stanford (4) 42.5 points per game
2. Washington State (3) 39.6
3. UCLA (2) 37.8
4. Oregon (2) 37.2
5. Utah (1) 35.4
6. Arizona State (2) 34.6
7. USC (2) 30.8
8. Arizona (2) 29.0
9. Cal (0) 26.6
10. Washington (1) 24.8
11. Colorado (0) 25.2
12. Oregon State (0) 17.4
Here is a checklist of possible factors contributing to the Bears’ offensive slippage:
— Familiarity: “Teams are starting to understand their concepts,” Pac-12 Networks analyst Glenn Parker said. “They’re at their best when they’re simple and what they do is based on what the defense gives them. Teams have gotten better at disguising what they want to do in response to the quarterback.”