I think a lot of people expected Cal to exorcise some demons this season. While there is no question this game presented an opportunity to shed some baggage and some bad labels, the reason I predicted this game as a loss was precisely because unlike many, I did not (and do not) think this team was (or is) ready to take that next step.
This is not a criticism of the coaches or players. It is simply a recognition that the team, coaches, injuries, opponents and schedule, as currently configured, do not add up to Cal going down to the Tuscon and all of sudden breaking trends and defying logic. In fact, I think the team is playing a bit better than I expected in certain respects, but is generally performing about like they should given that "configuration." That said, this loss still stings because it feels like more of the same.
Before getting to some thoughts on the game, consider the following facts:
1. The o-line started the season with only 2 starters with meaningful starting experience.
2. No WR ever had meaningful playing time prior to this season, let alone starting a game.
3. Our NT and one DE are sophomores and are first year full-time starters - Arizona was DE's second start.
4. Arizona was the FS's second start.
5. Arizona was RG's second start.
6. One CB is a first year starter.
7. Our backup CB and backup FS (rotating in on 3rd down) are a soph and a RS freshman.
8. We are breaking in a new defense, a new offensive coordinator, a new DB coach, and a new WR coach.
9. The QB position is not settled.
Setting aside the schedule and matchups vs other teams, when you consider those facts, it is not difficult to imagine this team struggling a bit on the road and having some growing pains. Just some perspective.
Now onto the game.
1. 27 points (even with a pick 6) should be enough to beat Arizona.