California quarterback Jared Goff announced after the Bears' spring game on Saturday that he and his teammates were "done with last year. We're done with everything that had to do with last year."
Maybe. It's understandable that the Bears are weary of even contemplating one of the worst seasons in program history, a 1-11 finish that featured a milquetoast defense and meandering offense that could sometimes move the ball but rarely score.
Spring practices were supposed to draw a barrier line between the past -- coach Sonny Dykes' first year -- and the present and future -- his second season. As could be expected, there was plenty of optimism coming from Dykes and his team as they head into the offseason. Still, a 1-11 campaign leaves scars and residual self-doubt.
When asked about rebuilding his team's culture, Dykes was pretty straight-forward about the arduous path ahead that will require more than a few inspirational phrases.
"We still have a long way to go with that," he said. "I think our guys are still learning what it takes to win at this level. I'm not sure we completely understand that yet. Our job is to teach them."
Dykes said his team improved this spring, particularly on defense. The Bears didn't shy away from full-go contact despite having so many injuries during the 2013 season, and Dykes saw some players take their game to a new level.
"We've kind of found our identity now," Goff said.
That starts with Goff having a deep crew at receiver and a defense that showed signs of, if nothing else, being at least more sound, scheme-wise.
Yet the Bears also need many things to fall into place to take a significant step forward, most critically getting a healthy two-deep to the opener at Northwestern on Aug. 30.
Start on defense. The Bears need DT Mustafa Jalil, DB Stefan McClure, LB Hardy Nickerson, LB Jason Gibson and DE Sione Sina to be back healthy and ready to start or at least contribute. It also would help if sophomore DT Jacobi Hunter resolves the personal issue that caused him to leave the team.
As for the offense, Cal looks forward to the return of OL Chris Adcock, OL Matt Cochran and WR Chris Harper, as well as center Jordan Rigsbee, who hurt his ankle in the spring game. The Bears could really use someone who can successfully deliver a shotgun snap.
Dykes particularly lauded his secondary for improving, with CB Darius Allensworth earning praise. DT Harrison Wilfley also played well, and freshman LB Ray Davison raised a few eyebrows. The combination of Khalfani Muhammad and Daniel Lasco at running back is promising, as is the return of DE Brennan Scarlett.
There are reasons for optimism.
"We're a brand new team now," Goff said.
It's probably best to combine that assertion with Dykes' more sober assessment. Yes, this is a new Cal team, one that should be better than 1-11 in 2014. But it also still has a long way to go.