(The analysis in this post will be short... Graduate School ain't no fun and games)
Despite being the evidently superior football team the game still went down to the wire where we snatched the win with a spectacular play. In this case, despite statistically dominating Washington in every significant category: time of possession, turnover battle, yards, 3rd down conversion rate, and penalty yardage, we still needed a bone-headed throw by a Husky true freshman QB, and a gritty rush by our pocket-passer QB on a 4th and 4 to win the game.
Overall, the game went the way I expected it to go, although with more inefficiency on short-yardage plays and key red-zone possessions than I expected. As per tradition Cal's O-line struggled to keep the impressive Washington D-line from completely taking over some plays by attacking us from the edge and from the middle with Elijah "Danny Shelton 2.0" Qualls. However, with the right mix of quick passing, Goff-brilliance and clutchness, and real gritty rushing by Vic Enwere who got them big boy yards during a lot of the plays.
Despite sporting a quite impressive 24/40 342 yard (8.6 y/a) 2/1 TD/INT game pitched by Jared Goff, as well as a gutsy performance on the ground against a truly physical and punishing D-line by Vic and Co. It was the defense that kept taking, and taking, and taking away from the Huskies for a total of 5 turnovers! Despite a slow start, as per tradition, the defense showed its ability to shake off bad plays and went back to work with the Kyle Kragen being released upon o-lines and opposing QBs.
Our special teams... remains special. The speed is there, the desire is there, but the inability to put together a good coverage play and odd kicking choices have reared its ugly head. Two positives however: 1. Kicker Matt Anderson nailed 3/3 FGs with a long of 41 giving us a glimmer of hope in regards to our kicking game, and 2. Jared Goff showed his ability to be a competent pooch punter against Texas last week thus forcing the Huskies to plan for those plays during key 4th downs. The latter was key for us on the very last key play of the, on 4th and 4, the Huskies had to play the pooch punt, the run, and the pass.
Overall, there is a lot of positive and negative to take out of this game. But one thing remains... WE ARE UNDEFEATED IN THE PAC-12 NORTH.
Post-Week 4 Numbers for #24 Cal (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12 North)
|S&P+ Overall||S&P+ Offense||S&P+ Defense|
|California||36 (+10)||31 (-11)||57 (+27)|
(Note: through the first four weeks of the season, preseason projections will carry diminishing weight in the S&P+ ratings.)
Quick notice, do take a moment to skim through the Cal specific page for the advanced stats, it is marvelous and it can give great insight into the nitty gritty details of how we are performing as a team. From now on, the main source for my advanced statistics will be this page. With the wealth of new information, each week I will pick out a few stats I feel are interesting and discuss them in the context of previous games and later on talk how these numbers speak vis-a-vis our next scheduled opponent.
We're unto this game. As we can see, Cal continues its climb the overall S&P+ rankings despite a dip in the Offensive S&P+, on the other hand our Defensive S&P+ took a large leap this week after a drop against Texas.
The key reason for the decline in our offensive S&P+ is the fact that "Points Per Trip in (Opponent's) 40," where we are ranked 60th, took a nose dive due to the last game. Other offensive stat that is hurting our performance is our seemingly inability to get "Power Success Rate" runs (this means being successful on 3rd and 4th down with 2 yards or less to go) we were able to convert 47.4% of those runs for a whopping... 120 overall rank, as well as a high Stuff Rate (where the runner is stopped on or behind the line of scrimmage) of 21.5%.
All three of these stats point towards 1... or rather 5 culprits = The Offensive Line. They need to be able to stop the interior pass/run rush to help us win. Because stuffed runs mean long 2nd and 3rd downs, low "Power Success Rate" means that we're more unidimensional on 3rd and short trusting our Goffensive commander to make more plays when it is necessary, and out high adjusted sack rate means he will get a lot of hits especially against the elite D-lines of Utah, UCLA, and USC.
Week 5 Opponent : Washington State Cougars (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12)
|S&P+ Overall||S&P+ Offense||S&P+ Defense|
Overall WSU has hit a post-good/great QB dip in this year's performance. Not much can be said about the WSU team, they are bottom quarter/third in the FBS in nearly all meaningful offensive and defensive statistics sans the 0.0 Passing Down Sack rate (#1) for their offense as well as their decent offensive Success Rate (#34). On the other hand, their ability to create havoc (Pass Deflections, TFLs, Sacks, Interceptions etc) with their LBs is elite (#1 in the nation). Finally their ability to limit big passing plays is also quite good (#17). These stats however, have to be taken with a big dose of salt. Their last 3 games were against a FCS Portland State (a 17-24 Loss), and two underwhelming FBS teams: Rutgers (2-2, #102 in S&P+ Ranking) and Wyoming (0-4, #125 in S&P+ Ranking)
However, despite these positive, all else is a complete mess, the Cougars have been underwhelming against the run on all downs (#128 in the nation) as well as against the pass (#94 in the nation).
Compare and Contrast Time
I can see our offense taking advantage of the WSU defense and going all out on them on the ground. We have a set of very reliable RBs that ought to give the WSU team fits. Of course they are familiar with our schemes since Leach, Dykes and Franklin are related via the Air Raid offensive scheme. However, just because they are familiar with the schemes doesn't mean they will be able to stop us. Let me be direct: they should not be able to stop us when we have the ball. Our wide receivers and QB are too talented to stack the box against, however, with their run-stop woes they have to be able to stop the RB-Gang of Lasco, Big Bad Vic, Khalfani, Tre Watson, and JuJu.
I can see this being a blow-out, led by our running backs (gut feeling: two of them will rack-up 100+ yards). Our defense should be able to contain the WSU passing attack by breaking up passes or stopping the receivers once they have the ball in their hands.
Finally, let's look at how we are doing on a per quarter basis. As you may recall from the pre-Washington write-up, the team had been very inconsistent between quarters. This time we can see a more even performance:
|Quarters||Offensive S&P+||Defensive S&P+|
|1st||28 (-12)||111 (-31)|
|2nd||20 (-1)||42 (+69)|
|3rd||33 (+34)||42 (+17)|
|4th||16 (+47)||128 (-3)
As we can see, our offense lost a step in the first quarter, but became less volatile between quarters. Our defense still begins and ends games badly. In terms of Defensive S&P+ we are the worst 4th Quarter team in the nation. Everyone who watched the last few Cal games knows how bad we can be holding on to leads. I kept telling my roommate (who went to University of Oklahoma) that despite being up by 21 I was still nervous. (Sidebar: he was around when both Bradford and AP where there. I can only imagine how fun it was to be a Sooner during that time, something akin to being around Cal when A-Aron Rodgers and Beast Mode were around).
My prediction: Cal wins 56-21. #Drop50