Sunday, February 19, 2017

Farewell to 2016: California Golden Bears

It was a season of highs and lows in the PAC-12 in 2016. The Washington Huskies turned a major corner, making it to the national semifinal before getting smothered by Alabama. The Huskies were one of four teams that won 10 games or more. On the flip side, half of the teams in the conference finished under .500, including two major surprise teams in Oregon and UCLA. The conference's prize QB, Josh Rosen, was injured for most of the season, and under performed when he was available, and Jake Browning became the new star QB of the conference until being upstaged by Sam Darnold at USC. The biggest story was the emergence of the Colorado Buffaloes, who shocked everyone by winning the South. Here is our farewell to the 2016 season, team by team, in the PAC-12...

California Golden Bears
5-7 (3-6)

2016 Schedule
Beat Hawaii 51-31
Lost to San Diego State 45-40
Beat Texas 50-43
Lost to Arizona State 51-41
Beat Utah 28-23
Lost to Oregon State 47-44
Beat Oregon 52-49
Lost to USC 45-24
Lost to Washington 66-27
Lost to Washington State 56-21
Lost to Stanford 45-31
Beat UCLA 36-10

MVP Offense: QB Davis Webb
Webb provided exactly what was expected for the Golden Bears offense, a big arm to replace the departed Jared Goff who could keep the offense rolling. The offense was never the problem in 2016, as Webb himself passed for 4295 yards and 37 TDs to 12 picks, or just over a 3:1 ratio. He completed 61.6% of his passes, a low number for a Cal offense, and averaged 51.7 attempts per game. He ended up averaging 357.9 yards passing per game for an offense that averaged just a shade over 37 points per game. 
MVP Defense: None
The Cal defense was so attrocious, that it was impossible to identify one single area where they actually succeeded. Defense was merely a suggestion anytime the Bears were on the field. Cal allowed 42.6 points per game, 245.4 yards passing per game, and a whopping 272.83 yards rushing per game. Of course we all know that Sonny Dykes wouldn't know defense if it fell from the sky on to his face and started to wiggle.  Others of Note
Khalfani Muhammed managed to rush for 827 yards on the season, and average 5.44 yards per carry, but also only rushed for 2 scores all season. No Cal RB scored more than 4 times in 2016.
Chad Hanson was one of the better receivers in the nation last fall, posting a line of 92-1249-11, and averaged 13.58 yards per reception. He was good for 124,9 yards per game, as he missed 2 games on the year. He then declared early for the NFL draft. 
Seven different receivers caught at least 20 passes, while four caught as many as 40 or more. 
Eight Cal defenders racked up 50 tackles or more on the season, and the Bears averaged 78 tackles on the season, meaning that the defense spent a ton of time on the field. 
Best Win: Utah 28-23
The Bears rebounded from giving up 51 points to a terrible Arizona State team by beating the Utes, and what was more interesting is that the Bears only gave up 23 points in that win. In two of their four wins, the Bears gave up just 33 points (against Utah and UCLA).  Worst Loss: Oregon State 47-44, Arizona State 51-41
Losing to Oregon State was bad enough, as the Bears had better personnel across the board, and the Bears had better offensive personnel than Arizona State, but the defense completely imploded in both games. Had the Bears had any defensive effort at all in either loss, they likely win both of those games and go bowling.  2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/2 at North Carolina, 9/9 Weber State, 9/16 Ole Miss
There is a new head coach in town, and Justin Wilcox will not allow the Bears to languish defensively like Sonny Dykes did. Wilcox will have his hands full with North Carolina on the road, and Ole Miss at home, but both games are winnable. The Weber State game should be an easy win across the board. 

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