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BERKELEY — Three things you noticed about Cal from its 37-30 victory over Portland State on Saturday.


Quarterback Jared Goff is very good. He's not good because just he's a freshman playing quarterback. He's good because he's a very good quarterback playing quarterback.

Oh, you could quibble if you were a quibbler. He overthrows receivers on deep patterns. Well, he sometimes overthrows them. Receivers will be running past the coverage, and Goff will unwind and heave that ball and it will go too far. You figure he'll learn. Besides, he does so many other things beautifully.

In the fourth quarter, he ran a keeper up the middle — like a fullback barreling ahead — and he gained 17 yards. A few plays later, he hit Bryce Treggs for 39 yards. He had touch on the pass, the feel of the thing, and he is just beginning his career.

In the game, he threw for 485 yards. The first week against Northwestern, he threw for 450 yards. Before he appeared on the scene, Cal quarterbacks had thrown for more than 400 yards four times. So, in his first two games, Goff did it the fifth and sixth times.

Is he good or what?

After the game, he said the Bears could have played better. No argument with that. He didn't mind overthrowing receivers, he said. "It's almost impossible to be happy with every play." No argument with that.

Although he's just 18, he came off in person mature, poised, a team spokesman. He demonstrated the presence of a quarterback, admittedly an intangible quality.


The Cal Bears are fun to watch, a ton of fun. With them something is always happening.

They are busting off great runs or hitting the most precise passes in the flat or running the read-option like nobody's business. And everything happens so fast — boom, boom, boom. If the Cal offense were a writer, their offense would be one extended run-on sentence.

The Portland State defenders — the team is called the Vikings because apparently a clan of Vikings settled in Portland — well, the Vikings' defenders were falling down all over the place either because they were injured or they were faking injuries to slow down the hyperkinetic Bears or because they were exhausted from the sheer speed of the game and they wanted to roll over and pant like dogs.

The Bears' offense worked so fast on Saturday I couldn't write all their plays in my notebook and had to resort to the ESPN game stats which hopelessly lagged behind. The Bears are a high-speed blast and if you have nothing to do on a lovely fall day, you might consider dropping by a football game in Strawberry Canyon — if your heart can stand the excitement. And there is one other reason Cal is exciting. To learn why please read on.


The gritty eager Golden Bears don't play much defense. You almost get the feeling Sonny Dykes' playbook has 3,000 pages of offense and one or two handwritten pages of defense. This hypothetical disparity leads to the opponent looking very good and making things tense.

Those pesky Vikings scored 23 points in the first half. In the first quarter alone they had 280 yards of total offense.

They had 553 total yards for the entire game — almost obscene. The Cal defense, especially in the first half, seemed tackle-averse, as in they didn't like the hard dirty work of tackling.

Maybe it was worse than that. It's like when the Vikings ran a play, the Cal defense decided to stay on the sideline and watch.

Afterward, Dykes came to the interview room — it's really a stylish auditorium. (Note to Stanford: Spring for an auditorium like this, show some class.)

Dykes doesn't get what you'd call steamed. But he is straightforward and honest and he let his team have it at halftime.

"I challenged our guys, just challenged them to play better. I wasn't happy with our demeanor and the way we competed in the first half."

What did challenging his players involve?

"It involved a lot of four-letter words, screaming and hollering and spit."


Dykes admitted the game's opening was a shockeroo. "I think they scored on the first play of the game or the second play of the game. That jarred us for sure. I was a little bit shocked."

Actually, it was the second play of the game, an 81-yard touchdown pass. That is guaranteed to jar you. The problem, Dykes said, was Portland State didn't show anything particularly challenging in their first game. He said their offense had looked "vanilla."

Against Cal, the Portland offense was Cherry Garcia with sprinkles on top and chocolate syrup. It took Dykes a little while to digest all that. But he did. Cal gave up only seven points to the Vikings in the second half.

That is good except for one thing. Cal was supposed to beat Portland State, obliterate Portland State. Portland is what you call an FCS school — you don't want to know what that means. It used to mean Division I-AA and that used to mean lower level, second level, not as good.

That kind of thing.

And that means Cal had to sweat against this FCS bunch with Ohio State and Oregon coming up next, and they are two distinctly non-FCS schools. You hope Cal practices just a little defense before those games.

Oh, maybe it doesn't matter. The game is guaranteed to excite. With Cal something is always happening.

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