1. Cal's had a bit of an up and down season. How would you assess their year going into Big Game? Good, bad, something else?
boomtho: Definitely up and down, and probably a little worse than people expected at the beginning of the year. Cal had a tremendously exciting (some would say TOO exciting) stretch in the middle of the season so far, when 6 games in a row came down to the last possession. In that stretch, there were some great wins (goal line stand to beat Utah at home) and some head-scratching, frustrating losses (at OSU... I was there... horrible). However, since then, Cal has been soundly outplayed by two admittedly very good teams, USC and UW. Those were probably expected losses, though I think the sheer gap in team talent and preparation was still jarring.
2. What's gone right for Cal this season?
boomtho: Lots of close games, lots of offensive firepower, and the emergence of some young players (Demetris Robertson, Melquise Stovall) as stars in the making.
3. What's gone wrong for Cal this season?
boomtho: Complete defensive futility (despite them somehow sealing two games for us), an offensive regression vs good teams (especially in the run game), and continued poor game management from HC Sonny Dykes.
4. Are you worried about Sonny Dykes possibly leaving Berkeley?
boomtho: I'm conflicted about this. On one hand, Sonny has done a great job rebuilding the team culture, academic infrastructure and support, and offensive talent pipeline for Cal, and he's done it amidst the hardest recruiting requirements possible (yes, harder than Stanford!). On the other hand, we've only had one even competent defense, and it was still bad enough to hold us to only 8 wins with the future #1 pick in his final year in college. I think Dykes may have been the perfect turnaround coach, but it might be time to find someone who can capitalize on Cal's advantages, rebuild fanbase excitement, and get us to competing for Rose Bowls.
5. If Sonny does leave, who would you want to consider as the Bears' next head coach?
boomtho: I really have no idea, at all. There's been a lot of speculation on CGB but I've been trying to stay away from it.
6. Where is this program going next year, especially after losing two talented QBs in a row? Or, rather, what's the future for Cal football?
boomtho: Per the questions above, it's really hard to say. If Sonny stays, it almost certainly comes with wholesale defensive turnover. With a relatively light amount of talent on that side of the ball, though, I'm not sure how much difference that can make in one year. On offense, I feel pretty confident that under Sonny, we'll have a top 40 offense (and that's pessimistic) with the recruiting we've accomplished and the system the success has had. Put it together, and if Sonny stays, I think this year looks a lot like this year.
If Sonny's gone... everything could change, but given the unknowns there's no point in speculating.
7. Who are the players that you expect to have the biggest impact in Saturday's game? Who should Stanford fans be on the lookout for?
boomtho: On offense, QB Davis Webb will run the ship, and look for WR Chad Hansen early and often. He's a threat pretty much everywhere on the field, though he's very banged up and may not be as explosive as normal. Around Hansen, 5* freshman Demetris Robertson is a threat to break deep on every play, and there's an even deeper corps or WR backing them up (Stovall, Veasy, Wharton, Rivera).
No answer for defense.
8. Finally, what's your prediction for Saturday's game?
boomtho: Win, lose, we booze. Go Bears.