BERKELEY — The Sonny Dykes Era has been as advertised in his first three games as California's coach: the offense is piling up points, and the defense has been a dud.
Freshman Jared Goff threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns in another prolific performance that was wasted by a dreadful defensive display in Cal's 52-34 loss to No. 4 Ohio State on Saturday night.
The Golden Bears (1-2) fell behind 21-0 in the first 6 minutes and allowed 608 total yards — the third straight week they've given up more than 500 yards — despite Kenny Guiton making his first career start at quarterback for the Buckeyes.
“I don't really know the answer to that honestly,” Dykes said. “We have just started so poorly now for three weeks. It's something that as a coaching staff we've talked a lot about and talked to the players about. Don't really have an answer at this point. It's something we're going to have to figure out and get fixed.”
The same formula that got Dykes hired is starting to resurface out West.
Louisiana Tech led the nation with an average of 51.5 points under Dykes last season. But the Bulldogs ranked last in the country in yards allowed (526.1) and 116th in points (38.5) per game.
Cal allowed 508 yards in a loss to Northwestern and 553 in a close win over Portland State, which plays in the Football Championship Subdivision. To put that in perspective: the Bears allowed 500 yards at home four times in Jeff Tedford's 11-year tenure.
The strenuous September schedule is not getting any easier, either. After a bye next week, Cal heads on the road for an even more difficult defensive test at No. 2 Oregon.
“We got to get better. I think Oregon had like 25,000 yards today against Tennessee,” Dykes said.
The most positive development for Dykes so far is he has seemingly found a quarterback to lead his fast-paced passing attack.
Goff just missed his third straight 400-yard game to begin his career. He finished 31 for 53 passing but also threw an interception in the first quarter to put the Bears in a hole they could never escape.