Before you get too insanely down on the defense

It's real tempting to get super down on the defense after what happened on Saturday. But I want to point something out. These are Cal's offensive performances this year:

Date Opponent Result Rush Yards Pass Yards Plays Total Yards Yards/Play
9/5/2009 Maryland W 52-13 244 298 64 542 8.5
9/12/2009 Eastern Wash. W 59-7 342 165 67 507 7.6
9/19/2009 @ Minnesota W 35-21 163 252 69 415 6.0
9/26/2009 @ 10 Oregon L 3-42 77 130 68 207 3.0
10/3/2009 4 USC
L 3-30 86 199 65 285 4.4
10/17/2009 @ UCLA W 45-26 289 205 64 494 7.7
10/24/2009 Washington St. W 49-17 309 250 60 559 9.3

Stats courtesy

Was it bad? Absolutely. Should it have been better? No question -- 9.3 yards per play is simply inexcusable. (EDIT, 11:40 a.m.: It's really, really inexcusable when you see the lack of execution on the highlights above.) But with the exception of games against Oregon and USC (pretty clearly the two best teams in the conference), Cal has done some variation of this to everyone they've played, including that much ballyhooed UCLA defense.

This doesn't let them off the hook. But realistically, this defense is simply not to the point of hoping to keep teams from doing what they're used to doing, and having a little perspective can go a long way. The best we can hope for, really, is holding a team to an average performance. We more or less did that against Stanford, USC and Arizona State -- unfortunately, the offense wasn't where it needed to be in those contests.

Doing that again while continuing to generate turnovers (which we didn't do on Saturday) will hopefully allow an improving offense to keep us in a game at some point (made more of a challenge, of course, by the losses of Daniel Simmons and Louis Bland).

What we really need? A team with a bad offense and average defense. Problem is, that ain't happening for a few weeks -- in the next two games, we play offenses ranked No. 12 and No. 15 in total yards. Despite both Notre Dame possessing a mediocre defense and Arizona showing it can be had at times, there's just no way our offense is going to be able to keep up with that.

UCLA, though? Maybe. Washington? Maybe -- more than Husky fans want to acknowledge if this team, especially in terms of offense, keeps growing.

Be patient, folks -- that game where we're in it at or past halftime is coming.

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