On a season opening Saturday at Memorial Stadium, Cal defeated Grambling State 73-14. While it was a dominating performance, Grambling wasn't a fair match.
Grambling has a storied past with many NFL players graduating from their program, but have declined in recent years. As reported elsewhere on this website, however, their program is actively rebuilding.
But not far enough to match up well with Cal on this Saturday .
It was 35-0 after the 1st quarter, 52-0 after the 2nd, and 66-0 after the 3rd. Grambling scored only in the 4th quarter when 2nd and 3rd team Cal players were given playing time.
Cal put up 471 passing yards and 656 total yards; quarterback Jared Goff racked up 309 passing yards in the first half (he did not play in the 2nd) while wide receiver Kenny Lawler pulled in six passes for 69 yards for the game. On the television broadcast, former quarterback Mike Pawlawski declared Lawler to be uncoverable in the man defense Grambling used, and that Cal's wide receiver corps now has four genuine deep threats. "Unprecedented," he said, certainly not in his era at Cal.
Cal's defense that has struggled in the first two years of Sonny Dykes regime, played well this Saturday, limiting Grambling to 297 total yards and several three-and-outs.
Cal achieved three sacks and stopped Grambling in the red zone eight out of 10 times. Cal's D-line, linebackers, and DBs were noticeably more speedy than last season, often gang-tackling Grambling rushers for little gain. Luke Rubenzer, a Cal quarterback last year, played well at safety in this game, hauling in one of Cal's interceptions. He's an athlete who wants to do whatever it takes to get playing time.†
Khalfani Muhammad ran well with several long runs for 92 total yards, finally demonstrating his world-class speed in the open field.
For all the success, Grambling was not a strong match for a Cal team that now seems to be developing a defense with some depth. The next two games vs San Diego State and Texas will allow a more realistic assessment.