Two Big Wins Reveal Little About Cal

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Correction Appended

It was unclear beforehand what the Cal football team was going to gain from this weekend's game against Eastern Washington.

When the Bears headed into the half up just 24-7, though, they thought the lesson to be taken from the game was clear.

They had taken the Eagles too lightly and should have given a better effort to start the game. End of story, right?


Adjustments simply weren't necessary because the Bears made them before the second half began. There also shouldn't be a call for more effort because the will to win was clearly there. Cal just wasn't as efficient as usual and Eastern Washington took advantage.

What is the lesson then?

The fact of the matter is there is no lesson, because the Bears didn't learn anything from this game that they didn't already know.

They need to come out strong and put teams away early? A 9-1 record last season when they led at the end of the first quarter should have been evidence enough for that.

If there's anyone who learned something from this game, it's the fans.

Scoring over 50 points in consecutive games is impressive, but home victories against Maryland and Eastern Washington reveal very little about this team.

To be more specific, don't pass judgment yet -- good or bad -- on this year's team.

Those who want to criticize Cal, please note that the team is far from operating on all cylinders.

If the past few seasons have taught us anything, it's that the Bears don't really hit their stride until the midway point of the season.

For those praising the suddenly astounding passing game, turn to Saturday's box score. Cal's running game accounting for about two-thirds of the team's offensive yardage.

That's not to say players haven't improved. It's just that a broader perspective on what has transpired the past two weeks should be taken.

The Bears' first win came over a team that needed overtime this past weekend to beat an FCS team. It was also a team that Cal was desperately trying to redeem itself against from the previous encounter.

As for the Bears' second victory, it came over ... well ... an FCS team.

In the end, the past two games will show up as wins on the Bears' record and nothing more. Yes, the players got much-needed repetitions and were able to experience playing in front of a crowd, but answer me this question:

Does the Cal offense benefit that much more playing against the defensive units of the Terps and the Eagles than it does facing its own defense in practice?

These were nothing more than preseason games to prepare the Bears for their real season-the one that begins this weekend when the Bears travel to Minnesota.

The Gophers may be unranked, but playing on the road will certainly test Cal -something they've yet to experience.

Recall that the Bears were nearly winless away from Memorial Stadium last year.

Even after the Minnesota game, though, there won't be a great sense of what this team is truly capable of. As the past few seasons have proven, the second half of the season can be a stark contrast to the first.

So, don't take too much away from these first two games. Cal fans can celebrate the wins, but they should remember that with each week comes a new challenge and that the mark of a great team is whether or not it can withstand each and every one of them.

In other words, fans should have learned from these two weeks that there was, well, nothing really to be learned about this team yet.


Correction: Tuesday, September 15, 2009
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Cal football team was winless in away games in 2008. In fact, the Bears defeated Washington State on the road last season.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Is Jimmy operating on all cylinders? Tell him at [email protected]

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