As easy as it would be to curl up into the fetal position for the rest of this football season, Cal insists it will stay with the “try, try again” approach.
Their most recent attempt to get it right was once again an exercise in frustration. Don’t believe me?
After the Bears’ 24-17 loss at No. 9 Oregon on Friday night, coach Justin Wilcox used that word three times to describe a game where the Bears had the ball at the Oregon 2-yard line with seconds left before being denied.
The Bears are 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Pac-12 at the halfway point of their schedule. They had lost games by five points, two points and in overtime as they trekked north to face the Ducks, who were 13.5-point favorites.
Cal hasn’t beaten an AP Top-10 opponent on the road since 1969.
The Bears haven’t gotten the best of the Ducks in Eugene since 2007.
And Oregon entered Friday’s game having won 15 in a row at Autzen Stadium.
Against that backdrop, quarterback Chase Garbers insisted, “We thought we were going to win the game this whole week.”
After his fourth-down incomplete pass from the 2 — delivered as he faced a ferocious blitz up the middle — the Bears were on the same page about their mindset going forward.
“That’s not who our team is, that’s not the culture in our locker room,” Garbers said. “Our team is very hungry. We’re eager to learn and move onto the next opportunity.”
That would be Colorado next Saturday afternoon at home. After that are a home game against Oregon State and a trip to Arizona. The three games represent Cal's most promising stretch of the season.
Senior safety Elijah Hicks promised the Bears will be ready to play.
“If you’re wondering, everybody’s still a family. It’s just the type of guys that we have. That’s what it’s going to continue to be,” he said.
“You want to win - the goal is to win. No loss is greater than another. It doesn’t feel good to lose and we’re not going to get used to losing.
"What we are going to do is continue to show up to practice and continue to work hard and keep growing and improving.”
Cal played perhaps its best game Friday night, just as it did a year ago in a 21-17 win over an Oregon team that would go on to win the Pac-12 championship.
The offense ran 80 plays, gained 402 yards and, piled up 24 first downs. The Bears won the time of possession battle and played turnover-free ball. The defense squeezed a pair of turnovers out of an Oregon offense that had just two in five previous games.
But there remain plenty of areas that need improvement. Oregon’s speed hurt Cal at times as the defense failed to leverage angles. Cal had 10 penalties for 78 yards, including three holding calls against the offense. And the Bears couldn't close out the game in the red zone.
There will be no quit, Hicks promised in the video above.
“We have a close-knit group of guys — the locker room is fine,” he reported. "To be honest, we’re confident we can play with anybody. The confidence isn’t going to go anywhere.”
Cover photo of Oregon's Travis Dye running through the Cal defense by Jaime Valdez, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo