Here we go. Last regular season game. Last regular season Inside The Numbers. Gonna be a hard fought battle against UW tomorrow. Can Cal pull it out? After the fold, we take a look at the Washington numbers on both offense and defense. We all know they nearly beat LSU and did beat USC early in the year. But its been months since then. How is UW doing and what can we expect from them tomorrow? GO BEARS!
After the jump, Avi and I breakdown the numbers, pass and rushing O and D.
TwistNHook: First up, the University of Jake Lockers:
Well, let's see here. This is OK, but not great. 56% completion rate is not good, it's actually roughly what Riley is doing. 124 Rating is again, not that good. Hes averaging about 232 yards a game in the air, which again is not terrible, but not great. What I see here is a passing attack that could prove dangerous, but also could be pedestrian. And that's the advanced analysis you've come to expect from the California Golden Blogs!
Avinash: At first glance, Jake doesn't look like someone we should worry about. Locker is 81st in the country in completion percentage, T-70th in YPA, and 73rd in passer rating. It makes it sound like we're going up against Carl Bonnell.
However, there is one particular stat that should concern Cal fans: 3rd down. Locker has the fifth best passer rating of any QB in the country on 3rd down (17th in the country in passer rating), and he's converted over 50% of his 3rd down passing plays, putting him right up there with Canfield as one of the best passers in passing situations. He converts 64% of his 3rd and 4-6 situations, nearly 40% of his 3rd and 7-9 situations, and (the most impressive number of all) over 40% of his 3rd and 10+ situations.
A lot of this I think also has to do with Locker's running ability--he's picked up 15 of 39 first downs on 3rd down runs. Although his numbers are a far cry from his fantastic 2007 numbers on the ground, defenses have to respect that ability, so it probably gives him better looks down the field. Sarkisian seems to have made sure he runs with the ball less than expected and trust his arm to throw, and it's paid off. Considering Cal struggled with Luck last week scrambling for yardage, we can expect similar issues with Locker.
Bears fans should not feel safe in any situation. Cal's defense has played very well the past two weeks, but they're going to have to kick it up a notch to prevent getting burned by Locker on 3rd down (the Bears gave up nearly a 46% conversion rate on 3rd down in the month of November). There's a reason NFL GMs are drooling over Locker right now. His ability to complete passes on obvious passing down, his ability to scramble and create plays, a strong ability to throw deep...all of those things are very tantalizing.
TwistNHook: Now, let's look at the rushing stats:
Well, their rushing offense seems pretty good. Not amazingly great, but 4.25 yards isn't that bad. Kind of like their passing offense, it's not great, but it's not terrible.
Of course, they do have a great rushing QB, but that number is dragged down, because a lot of his runs don't always end so well. Here are the individual stats:
Chris Polk is their main RB and is looking pretty good there. Not a lot of TDs, but he does average almost 100 yards a game. 5 yards a carry, flat, is pretty impressive. Locker averages about 30 yards a game running. I feel like our Run D can do fairly well against this team. It has shut down some pretty impressive RBs, like Quizz. And was able to somewhat contain Gerhart. Their Rush O seems fairly good, but, even on the road, I like our Run D in this situation.
|09/05/09||15 LSU||Turf||L 23-31||21||90||4.29||0|
|09/19/09||20 Southern California||Turf||W 16-13||25||71||2.84||0|
|09/26/09||@ 23 Stanford||Grass||L 14-34||19||75||3.95||0|
|10/03/09||@ Notre Dame||Grass||L 30-37||22||136||6.18||0|
|10/17/09||@ Arizona St.||Grass||L 17-24||12||51||4.25||1|
|10/24/09||7 Oregon||Turf||L 19-43||18||104||5.78||1|
|11/07/09||@ UCLA||Grass||L 23-24||15||132||8.80||0|
|11/14/09||@ 13 Oregon St.||Turf||L 21-48||19||116||6.11||0|
|11/28/09||Washington St.||Turf||W 30-0||25||130||5.20||1|
Avinash: Not to mention he's peaking. Four straight hundred yard games, including three against quality defenses (okay, Oregon and UCLA aren't really stout against the run anymore, but still, 116 yards on Oregon State, 8.8 ypc in the Rose Bowl? Might be something to look out for). Not to mention his running style reminds you a lot of the type of backs that could give our sloppy tacklers problems.
"He’s got plenty of upside. He’s a guy who is still learning," UW head coach Steve Sarkisian said. "But the one thing he has is physical and mental toughness. The ability that when things aren’t always blocked great, he fights through it. He continues to fight."
We’ve seen that from Polk all season: the way he puts his head down and pushes his small-but-explosive frame forward; the way he manages to get those extra couple of yards, even with a mass of defenders blocking his way. Heck, on one play Saturday it looked like Polk tripped and fell over a WSU lineman, but he still managed three yards.
"He hasn’t had a bunch of runs where it’s just big gaping holes and he’s running for yards," Sarkisian said. "He’s earning his yards. I think the next step for him is his ability to play at the second level, in the open field once he clears the line of scrimmage, and his creativity with his running style."
Really, Polk shouldn't be underestimated. It seems he has that ability like Vereen to slip off of tacklers and keep on going. Him, Quizz, James, Vereen...boy, talk about running backs it'll be hard for defenses to bring down next season.
TwistNHook: Well, you've made me look like an idiot yet again Avi. Let's move on from the rushing attack and take a moment to glance askew at the Passing D:
Me likee. You might remember that the Stanford D, which was fairly generous for Riley, was giving up roughly 63% of the pass attempts against it. UW is even worse at nearly 65% of the pass attempts. Riley is completing roughly 56% of his attempts, so if he is at 65% during this game, it should end VERY well for Cal. They actually allow 73% completion rating in the first quarter, so I think it is imperative for Cal to jump out to a big lead, hopefully using the reinvigorated pass attack.
142 QB rating against, again, is a very positive number for Cal. Looking at this, I feel like Riley can build on the momentum from the Big Game where he seemed to be playing with a lot of confidence. Notice also that they only have 8 interceptions to 15 TDs given up.
By comparison, note Cal's passing D:
This is a pass D that has been MUCH maligned this year. People have complained endlessly about its ineffectiveness. And, let's be honest, it has not be at the level many Cal fans anticipated it would be at the start of the year. The numbers are admittedly not great in some situations, but, save for the yards given up (surprise!), it is better across the board than this UW passing D.
|09/05/09||15 LSU||Turf||L 23-31||19||11||57.9||172||9.1||0||3||186.05|
|09/19/09||20 Southern California||Turf||W 16-13||22||13||59.1||110||5.0||1||0||92.00|
|09/26/09||@ 23 Stanford||Grass||L 14-34||14||7||50.0||103||7.4||0||0||111.80|
|10/03/09||@ Notre Dame||Grass||L 30-37||31||23||74.2||422||13.6||1||2||203.38|
|10/17/09||@ Arizona St.||Grass||L 17-24||36||22||61.1||295||8.2||0||2||148.27|
|10/24/09||7 Oregon||Turf||L 19-43||22||14||63.6||157||7.1||0||1||138.58|
|11/07/09||@ UCLA||Grass||L 23-24||31||23||74.2||371||12.0||2||2||183.11|
|11/14/09||@ 13 Oregon St.||Turf||L 21-48||31||22||71.0||194||6.3||0||4||166.12|
|11/28/09||Washington St.||Turf||W 30-0||32||14||43.8||116||3.6||1||0||67.95|
No sugarcoating this--these are really bad numbers. Allowing 70% completion rate to four quarterbacks is kind of excusable, considering Foles, Canfield and Clausen are three of the most accurate in the country...but Kevin Prince? Really? Other than knocking around Wazzu's quarterbacks around, they haven't had a great performance since the Furd game...the one where Gerhart rolled over them like the marvelous white stallion he is.
Based on the tenor of their defensive coordinator, Nick Holt likes his players to play aggressive. However, they lack the personnel to play in attack mode the entire way; they just don't have the ability to handle good quarterbacks or even semi-competent quarterbacks and it leads to big big plays. They eventually lead to lapses, ending up with situations like this.
Kevin Riley has had good games this year, had clutch performances this year. A good performance against the Huskies could go a long way towards getting ready for the bowl game against Oklahoma or BYU/Utah (our likely bowl opponents). Consistency is all we want from him now as he wraps up his junior year.
TwistNHook: And now, finally, let's take a look at the UW Rushing D. What does that look like?
It looks OK. Not great, like ASU's 2.5 a carry against. But not redick bad. Of course, notice that the worst section is in the first quarter, so hopefully we can jump out to a large lead based on the solid running game. Cal is coming off of its best running game in a long long time (and that's saying a lot considering how amazing our running game has been). However, it appears that stud OLineman Matt Summers-Gavin is not going to play. This is unfortunate, because he appeared to be a catalyst for the running game when he returned against Arizona and Stanford. So, it is a mixture of bad and good news. UW seems to have a rush D that Cal could handle. However, we said the same thing against OSU and had major trouble without MSG.
|09/05/09||15 LSU||Turf||L 23-31||29||149||5.14||0|
|09/19/09||20 Southern California||Turf||W 16-13||33||250||7.58||1|
|09/26/09||@ 23 Stanford||Grass||L 14-34||51||321||6.29||3|
|10/03/09||@ Notre Dame||Grass||L 30-37||29||108||3.72||1|
|10/17/09||@ Arizona St.||Grass||L 17-24||27||169||6.26||1|
|10/24/09||7 Oregon||Turf||L 19-43||40||259||6.48||4|
|11/07/09||@ UCLA||Grass||L 23-24||40||84||2.10||1|
|11/14/09||@ 13 Oregon St.||Turf||L 21-48||37||178||4.81||2|
|11/28/09||Washington St.||Turf||W 30-0||28||47||1.68||0|
You can see the performance of this defense depends heavily on the running games they face. Toby Gerhart apparently obliterated them, as did the USC running corps, as did the James/Masoli/Barner trio, and so did...Arizona State? Other than that though, these guys have done alright shutting running games down.
With Best, I'd feel a lot more confident in establishing our run game--in open space he'd just outrun half these guys. Without him though, it becomes a little bit more interesting. Although I like Vereen a lot, it's still asking a lot for a guy who ran the ball 43 times two weeks ago to replicate that performance. I don't want him slugging in the trenches--we need the offensive line and our fullbacks/tight ends to block and open space for him to outrun this defense.
Also there's a few interesting numbers that stand out, like who's leading the conference in forced fumbles...
|Name||Team||Yr||Pos||G||Fumbles Forced||Fumbles Forced/G|
The Huskies have forced 15 fumbles (2nd in the conference to the Trojans) and have the three leaders in the conference in Foster, Te'o and Butler. And they got only ONE of those against Wazzu (4 against USC and UCLA, 3 against Oregon State, 2 against Arizona State). Vereen will hopefully be able to protect the ball, but what about the youthful Deboskie-Johnson (who will almost certainly see more carries)? Ball control will be key for our running backs in keeping the offense going.
There's a lot to worry about. We're far away from punching our tickets to El Paso. We've got a tough ball game Saturday and no Jahvid Best to break it open.