clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cal vs. USC Report Card - Half empty or Half full?

The first half was about as bad as it could get, while the second half sort of redeemed itself and made things look more respectable than they actually were. It was late on a Thursday night, so people weren't too fired up to talk about it, but here we go with your thoughts about the USC game. GO BEARS!

Harry How/Getty Images

Berkelium97: It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times.  Do an awful first half and a decent second half average into an overall grade of "meh"?  Let's have a look.

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense .495 .167
Rush Offense .465 .166
Pass Defense .195 .150
Rush Defense .709 .151
Special Teams .478 .228
Coaching .467 .186
Overall .486 .145
Win Chance vs. Stanford 60.8% (+27.5%) 26.6

A category on defense leads the way?  I didn't see that one coming.  Besides the solid run defense grade and the lousy pass defense grade, the grades showed remarkably little variation.  In fact, I can't remember a game when so many categories were within three percentage points of one another.  I guess a lousy half and a decent half do average into a grade of "meh."  If USC ran this same exercise, I wonder if Sark's coaching grade would be lower than Sonny and friends' grades.  Sark certainly did his best to give the game away.  I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that he managed to fail in that task too.

Our chances of beating the Lobsterbacks have nearly doubled since preseason.  Our impressive rise and their delightful fall have certainly contributed to this increase win likelihood.


And now let's hand out some awards.  First we have an editor's choice award!

We're pleased to hand out the Which teams have beaten USC in the last 11 years? award to the unsurprisingly named Everyone in the pac-12 has beaten USC except for Cal in the last 11 years.  This individuals report card was as follows:

Pass offense Everyone in the pac-12 has beaten USC except for Cal in the last 11 years.
Run offense Everyone in the pac-12 has beaten USC except for Cal in the last 11 years.
Pass defense Everyone in the pac-12 has beaten USC except for Cal in the last 11 years.
Run defense Everyone in the pac-12 has beaten USC except for Cal in the last 11 years.
Special teams Everyone in the pac-12 has beaten USC except for Cal in the last 11 years.
Coaching Everyone in the pac-12 has beaten USC except for Cal in the last 11 years.
Overall Everyone in the pac-12 has beaten USC except for Cal in the last 11 years.
Chance of beating Stanford Everyone in the pac-12 has beaten USC except for Cal in the last 11 years.

Darkness won on Thursday, so our first set of awards this week goes to the pessimists.

Sonny Yikes

Name Grade
1. NMGB 1.71 (24.4%)
2. rollonyoubears111 1.82 (26.0%)
3. sec119 2.10 (30.0%)
4. ososdeoro 2.30 (32.9%)
5. crystallogrobear 2.40 (34.3%)

We have all new faces among the Sonny Yikes recipients this week and they are led by NMGB (presumably Nasal Mucus Golden Bear).  Everyone's favorite doctor rollonyoubears111 finishes second followed by sec119.  I'm pretty sure Section 119 at the Oakland Coliseum had a better view of the game than the poor saps in the visitors section at the USC game.  Finally we have crystallogrobear (another CGB chemist?) in the fifth and final spot.  Welcome to the dark side, friends.

Sonny Delight

Next we have those who tuned in during the second half.

Name Grade
1. Rose Bowl Oski 4.50 (64.3%)
1. CalBear91 4.50 (64.3%)
3. sf-gigantes 4.45 (63.6%)
4. wifeisatroj 4.35 (62.1%)
5. puddlejumper83 4.10 (58.6%)

Rose Bowl Oski earns a third Sonny Delight of the year.  CalBear91, sf-gigantes, wifeisatroj, and puddlejumper83 are all new faces for the Sonny Delight award.  I feel especially bad for wifeisatroj.  Hopefully your wife didn't brag too much about the victory.

The Voice of Reason

Next we have those whose report cards were closest to the community average.

Name Deviation
1. sacman701 .075
2. Nor-Cal Scott .089
3. Berkelium97 .097
4. 1988goldenbear .098
5. sup_doe_library .104

sacman701 earns his 3rd Voice of Reason of the year and 1988goldenbear earns a second VoR this season.  Otherwise we have new faces, with Nor-Cal Scott in second, everyone's favorite CGB writer in third, and sup_doe_library in fifth.  Great job being so reasonable amid a bizarre, up-and-down game.

And now let's turn things over to Sam and the comments.  Meanwhile I'm going to try to figure out which Pac-12 teams have beaten USC during the last 11 years.

Sam Fielder: A season low in people filling out report cards. I blame the late Thursday night game and the horrible first half which combined with the loss means no one really wanted to relive that.  I don't blame you.  But there were some observations to gain from this so let's take a look at what you all had to say!

GameDay Experience

wifeisatroj: Hate ESPN announcers. Not that fond of Starkey, but better him than ESPN.

crystalogrobear: I missed the first half, which turns out to have been a good idea. I actually enjoyed watching the second half of the game, with the exception of that ridiculous taunting call on McClure. That was stupid of him to do that right in front of the ref, but it was also a stupid call by the ref - don't they see what every player is doing after every play? That penalty may have been solely responsible for USC clinching the game.

Young_bear: 2 biggest plays-- McClure boneheaded taunting and the las u$c touchdown-- McClure needs to know better and I don't even know what happened on that touchdown.

Dishonor on your Trojan Cow: The first quarter went so poorly that I honestly just stopped caring for the rest of the game. Hope is a trap, my friends. A bear trap.

Everyone in the pac-12 has beaten USC except for Cal in the last 11 years.: Everyone in the pac-12 has beaten USC except for Cal in the last 11 years.

1988goldenbear: Fought through nasty traffic to get to the Coliseum, had an enormous turkey dog and got settled in. Sat in the Cal crowd for the first half (in Section 3) but then moved to some seats smack in the middle of Section 6 at the 30 yard line for the second half. Amazing to think that I had forgotten what a bunch of absolute assholes the old crusty Trojan fans are, but I was reminded of that within minutes. But it was nice to see our kids fight to the end and put some pucker in those assholes.

prd74 - Beat Stanfurd: Thursday night 6PM game time. Hell for most people, but for a retired Cal fan, not bad. I was so ready for this game. I wish the team was, too. The first half was a 2013 flashback. The end of the game was a 2014 rerun. Close but no cigar. Thank You Bears for not giving up. Saved me from having to watch Grey's Anatomy with my GF. Beat Stanfurd!

osodero: It was my birthday and the team did nothing to make me feel any younger.

Echoofsilence: Attended the game with friends with free tickets courtesy of r a Mercury insurance promotion. Had some burgers at The Habit on campus, and walked over to the Coli through some very rowdy SC "fans". Understood why recruits love their visits there... Ultra VIP treatment. Gourmet meat carving stations, their own entrance, etc. Also, they have an ENOURMOUS screen! They pump in music to get the crowd going on 3rd downs... You know what I think we need the same thing.Money. USC fans around us were actually chill and mellow, although we weren't cheering very loudly since we were in the nose bleeds.

KMac: The Coli was empty, good job scheduling a Thursday night game at 6 pm. The officiating was unbelievable on both sides of the football, 250 penalty yards?!

Uthaithani: The most competitive game against SC in 10 years, that's obvious improvement. We still struggle with the pass and our pass rush is awful, but our defense is improving and I love this team's heart.

NickT: Classic. It was brutal, frustrating, painful, but then that ray of hope shines through only to have Hannah Montana sh*t all over it.

Coachbear: Absolutely terrible.  ESPN was so bad that I had to turn off the sound to watch the game. Is Jesse Palmer a good example of a SEC education?

In my opinion, to call him a moron would be a compliment.

Pac-12 officials did not disappoint. The replay in the Pac-12 is nothing but a farce as we have seen game in and game out. Larry Scott needs to clean out this rats nest and fine some somewhat competent officials. Put people in the replay booth that don't appear to be fixing games. Who are you going to believe the replay official or your lying eyes?

Pass Offense

wifeisatroj: Wonder if we'd have started out better on our home field. Guess we'll find out next week.

Justbear: If we are going to beat USC, we need to play a near perfect game, especially the offense (with the way USC can score easily on our D).  Where was the offense in the first 20 minutes?

Got out coached again. Coaches need to discipline their players more those two penalties on the O-Line most likely cost us 14 points.: Never gave Jared enough time to even through the ball. Guys on the O-line fought hard just got beat by size and athleticism!

osodero: Too many long developing plays, which looked like it spooked Goff. Ended up making some nice plays, but never when it was really needed. Thanks Mr. Borrayo, for practically losing us the game with that stupid head slap, which itself wasn't even executed properly.

darthdatagnan09: Who were those impostors in the 1st half?

sacman701: Pass pro was a problem all night, although Goff eventually got it going in the second half. SC's defense tends to fade late in games because their scholarship cuts have left them with very little depth. Still, they have a pretty good D all things considered, and 5.8 yards per attempt with 3 TDs and no picks isn't bad.

Rose Bowl Oski: Happy to see Lawler able to contribute after missing 7/8 of the Oregon schools, but disappointed that Davis did not seem find any traction last night.

rollonyoubears111: I was expecting #8 to go out there early on because of SC's future 1st round draft pick D lineman-child. This would of made them question the pass rush vs option/run. Instead, what I feared would happen against UW happened. Goff looked uncomfortable, and the D was exploiting this early on.

sup_doe_library: Forgettable day for the pass offense. WARPIGS got overwhelmed up front by a physical USC D-line. Goff struggled early and it's clear the footprint for disrupting his rhythm is to put him on the grass.

Run Offense

sf-gigantes: Run offense was better than expected. Lasco had some good runs in the second half.

Fuxxywuxxy: Can't grade to high due to that untimely fumble, even though Lasco scored and ran hard. For the most part, we couldn't do sh*t until the 4th quarter, probably because the SC players couldn't wait to get their celebratory twerk on.

Justbear: It's hard to run against USC Front 7. I wish to see Enwere more. Could have been effective.

Uthaithani: Lasco is establishing himself and the OLine is better at run blocking. It's coming together, we're on the right track. Just not all the way there yet.

Rose Bowl Oski: Lasco found a little room to run in the 2nd half, but his fumble really deflated the defense one play after the Nickerson pick. I was pleasantly surprised to see Muhamed have some success on limited carries.

Pass Defense

jimb0rz: (deep sigh) *gazes into the distance*

Got out coached again. Coaches need to discipline their players more those two penalties on the O-Line most likely cost us 14 points.: Had 2 great interceptions of course one called back but defense forced turnovers and the offense can never seem to execute on defensive turnovers. Has to be really demoralizing for the defense to have to go back out next play.

1988goldenbear: I sure hope Agholor leaves for the NFL after this season. Kessler had his way with the pass defense, which was not unexpected, and we had no answer for their bigger, faster WRs. We need to find a way to generate pressure. That one sack was a welcome sight.

Jacobs.: I think it is fair to say that while we have several good receivers, U$C only needed one great receiver to beat the snot out of us. ouch!

Echoofsilence: Horrendous. We had ZERO pass rush, so our dbs were put on islands sometimes and couldn't match up when we blitzed Darius White was put on Agholor in single coverage and couldn't keep up. We just couldn't keep up with their WR talent.

KMac: There were lots of miscues that really boil down to coaching and scheme.Nelson Agholor was targeted on almost 50% SC's passes, why was he not shadowed on every play? We gave receivers 10-15 yard cushions which SC turned into 8-10 yard bubble screens. USC Ran two reciever stacked formations frequently in this game. Cal often countered by putting one man over and not shading a safety, this burnt us more than once.

ugh: It's maybe worse than last year. I felt so bad for Avery when he slipped on that 2nd Half TD, but I think we should do what USC has done. Convert some of our WRs to DBs next year. we have to. We're not getting that much deeper, even if we get some hot shot freshman recruits.

NMGB: All 6 Cal CBs I remember playing kept getting juked out of their socks again and again, especially after short sideline throws. NONE of them could tackle. They were not only noticeably smaller and weaker but also slower. Out-physicalled and out-maneuvered for the entire 1st half until condoms eased up on the gas to preserve starters for Ucla. Steve Williams in '11 & '12 was really small but could definitely cover and learned to be a good tackler (w/ exception of 255 lb. TEs). Now, these guys have no tackling skills, no cover skills. Greg Burns was supposed to be an august DB coach. Or are we that untalented? How can ALL these corners be misses?

Coachbear: It's become a joke.

Not completely the DB's fault. You cannot give any teams QB 31/2 hours to throw the ball. Every team know CAL D-line rushes straight up the field.

Kaufman needs to wake up from his trance and start stunts, twists, loops. and blitzes from the front seven. We have gone ten games and his game plan has not even come close to working. You have nothing to lose.

At least try to mix up the offensive lines blocking assignments. I 63 years old and could throw for 300 yards with that much time (HA HA). Do something!!!

Run Defense

hardtobecalfan: decent, especially when they chose to run inexplicably on 3rd down. at least we didn't make buck allen's heisman dreams come true, unlike agholor. and that safety was sweet!

Dishonor on your Trojan Cow: By far the best part of Cal's game. U$C running backs ran for just over 100 yards, and for 29 minutes the Bears run defense was responsible for the team's only points. If only they had help from anyone else.

prd74 - Beat Stanfurd: Stout enough to whisper "Beat us with the pass if you can." Apparently SUC was listening. Beat Stanfurd!

heyalumnigo: Very good pretty much all game long. I gave them a .9 because of the safety and the fact that the run D outscored the offense for the first 29 min of the game.

OddOSki: Run defense is good. They've got to bring that kind of game against Furd next week.

sup_doe_library: Solid. The only part of the game in which Cal played well. Jalil's safety was a big play, and holding Buck Allen to such low #'s should be a point of pride.

Special Teams

sec119: The punt downed at the 1 was nice, but the niceness of it was completely negated and then some by the drum major performance that represented a fake punt.

Fuxxywuxxy: I love that pooch punt being downed at the one. Otherwise...we should confer with Rich Rod on onside kicks because we seem to take games down to the wire a lot

osodero: Oh my God, the penalties. Monumental stupidity. For once the kicking game was kind of smart, though. Except that every onside kick we try seems worse than the last over the past 20 years.

BTown85: Well, they were sure "special!" I think maybe it's a good thing they crapped the fake punt so SMac didn't get injured in the backfield when he got buried.......

sacman701: Vastly improved over last year's SC game. Goff's short punt was outstanding. Far too many penalties, though.

ugh: I like the fake punt playcall. Even though the actual scheme sucked. How Dykes thinks Stef would have gotten a 1st down is beyond me. But I totally stick by the decision to squib to these good returners. I love that we held Agholor to 0 return yards.


sf-gigantes: Aside from that horrendous fake punt call, I really liked what I saw from this coaching staff.

crystalogrobear: McClure's penalty is ultimately on the coaches. There were clearly good adjustments in the second half, but that penalty killed it.

jimb0rz: Looked flat and plain awful for the first half coming off a bye week. Inexcusable. I guess good adjustments at halftime since we almost made a game of it. But still too little too late.

hardtobecalfan: need to coach discipline and tackling. and executing better right out of the gate. and not getting so chippy that you get called for dumb penalties.

The Tale of Two Halves: Good adjustments but not good preparation.

rollonyoubears111: Poor coaching on both sides and on both teams.  The team needs to learn from emotionally charged games where the opposing players will get into the heads of their opponents.  That's when mistakes and penalties happen.

The adjustments on both sided of the ball came too late in the game.  Also, clock management always seems to be an issue in the 4th quarter.  If you want to score, you need to get at that line quick.  Tell your players to run out of bounds if you can.  Get your plays ready BEFORE the ref places the ball down!

NMGB: If these coaches are not able to *recruit* Pac-12 level CBs, DLs, OLs, then this team will always remain middle-of-the-road, producing video game numbers while beating the bottom third of the conference but being manhandled in the trenches and relentlessly carved in the passing game by upper half teams. They can only coach up 3-star athletes so far.

Overall Performance

AlohaBear: Seems like we played two games. Lost the first one 31-2, won the second 28-7. Unfortunately, we don't end up 0.500 on the night.

sec119: Last year was a learning experience. This year was the year to rebuild. Next year we'll have to get in the business of actually winning these types of games. No taunting, no losing our cool, the shiny newness of being competitive will have to wear off ... just gotta get out there and win these games.

Jacobs.: Defense, for all its flaws, once again plays for quarters. Offense, for all its greatness once again decides to take a couple of quarters off. Perhaps starting Rubenzer and run, run, run might be a substitute plan for the first half? We can put Goff and the WR's on in the second half?

heyalumnigo: The results were much better than what the first 28 min of the game looked. I'm so impressed that the players keep playing hard even when going down big quick.

BTown85: Frustrating. You can't take THAT LONG to get going and hope to win against a mediocre team, and USC isn't a mediocre team......

darthdatagnan09: Not what I wanted but what I expected. BEAT FURD!

NickT: This one stings too much to praise the moral victory. That being said, a win next week and all is forgiven. GO BEARS!

CalBear91: Damn it

NorCal Scott: A solid comeback in the second half shows this team has the mental fortitude to fight and win. As I said after the last game, Cal teams of the past would have rolled over and died when the score was 31-2 late in the 2ndQ. Dykes is building a program with the toughness & character it will take battle for the division title. "The bear will not quit, the bear will not die."

OddOski: This was a rough game because it was a team that played inconsistent, undisciplined football. If Cal can put two halves of good football together they can beat any team they face. Still proud of their fight though.

Thanks to everyone that took the time to fill out a report card.  You all are the best.  And now, let us turn the page and focus on more important things, LIKE GETTING THE AXE BACK! GO BEARS! BEAT STANFURD! GO BEARS!