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Cal vs. #11 Stanfurd Advanced stats in our Evans Hall Edition Week 11

After dominating OSU we face the looming spectre of Stanfurd. Like a ghost of nightmares past, it stalks me on football empty nights, I dream of the axe. I want the axe. WE WILL GET THE AXE DESPITE ALL THE NUMBERS.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game Impressions

It was an expected explosion by the Cal team. Surely the results we exceptional, but to beat a #111 S&P+ team in OSU isn't really good especially with them missing their starting QB. Our offense clicked the way we expected them to perform all year long. Goff showed us a glimpse of his ceiling during the game sans the first quarter. It looks like when he realized that the o-line could hold up to the pass-rush he was able to make reads and show his deadly accuracy. What really encouraged me was the fact that our run game shredded the OSU defense showcasing our depth in the position. This will be much needed against Stanfurd.

Our defense was... troubling? 24 points against 2nd and 3rd string QBs who were able to play without any pressure at all. I tweeted:

The issue looked like the DEs were not able to bull-rush the tackles, nor were able to speed rush around them without giving up the gap between the guard and tackle which would've lead to a wide open hole for the QB to escape through. These struggles seemed to be due to the fact that the D-line suffered a multitude of injuries against Oregon and still hasn't recovered. Our DBs did an admirable job covering the OSU WRts despite the lack of pass-rush. The run defense looked disciplined enough to prevent big gains (sans the one big scamper) and held their own.

Overall, I think we saw the offense's ceiling after the first quarter, quick and accurate passes with deep shots towards Trevor Davis can be a recipe for a strong game by Cal.

Post-Week 10 Numbers for Cal (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12 North)

S&P+ Overall S&P+ Offense S&P+ Defense
California 46 (-2) 22 (+5) 79  (-8)

As it was requested earlier, this is the primer I wrote on S&P+ stats that I will be using throughout the year.

Cal on Offense Cal on Defense
Avg. Rk Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing S&P+ 116 19 99.1 72 100
Rushing Success Rate 47.60% 25 45.40% 91 42.30%
Rushing IsoPPP 0.99 98 1.04 57 1.07
Adj. Line Yards 106.2 44 95.3 85 100
Opportunity Rate 44.70% 11 43.30% 118 39.20%
Power Success Rate 58.30% 106 67.60% 77 66.60%
Stuff Rate 19.00% 58 17.70% 91 19.50%

The overview of the rushing offense showcases a team that can get past the d-line but is stopped between the 5-10 yard range. From what I can see the offensive line is doing much better in the later stage at making the needed initial yards for the RBs to exploit. Therefore, is the lack of explosion due to the fact that past the initial assignment the o-line isn't moving up to the secondary? Or is it a function of our backs who aren't able to make one or two defenders miss for a big one?

The decreasing stuff-rate, which was extremely low mostly due to the Washington game, indicates that the scales may tip towards the RBs not being able to be elusive enough to avoid or shake-off tackles in the secondary.

Player Rushes Yards TD YPC Highlight Yards per Carry Opportunity Rate Fumbles / (Lost)
Vic Enwere 93 467 7 5 5.4 38.70% 2 (2)
Khalfani Muhammad 74 524 1 7.1 7.5 48.60% 2 (2)
Daniel Lasco 65 331 3 5.1 4 41.50% 1 (1)
Tre Watson 46 245 2 5.3 4 41.30% 0 (0)
Jared Goff 24 165 0 6.9 2.9 70.80% 3 (1)
Jeffrey Coprich 14 49 1 3.5 2.3 21.40% 0 (0)
Fabiano Hale 5 24 0 4.8 1.2 80.00% 0 (0)
Cole Webb 3 18 0 6 2.3 66.70% 0 (0)

One of the numbers to look at is the Highlight YPC. This statistic indicates the rushers ability to gain yards after the o-line has done their jobs. We can see that out tame, besides Khalfani Muhammad, have been underwhelming after the o-line does its work. Furthermore, we can see that Khalfani has been able to get more opportunities by the o-line in the rushing game, could this provide further evidence that we are better with a speed-back than with a big boy back like Vic?

This can also show that a more versatile back like Daniel Lasco who can run between and outside the tackles would be more impactful. I am of a belief that with Khalfani the defense has less certainty towards the type of a run (outside v. inside) while as Vic is more of a between the tackles back. It would be interesting how we will implement that 2 RB backfield from the Oregon/USC games with Vic and Khalfani against Stanfurd. I think this will let us force the opposing defense to protect both runs. Especially if Kenny Lawler remains limited we can run 3 WR looks. I would much prefer to have Lasco in Vic's or Khalfani's spot due to his ability to produce out of the backfield in the passing game.

Team Rk Nat'l Average
Std. Downs Run Rate 61.00% 49 59.80%
Pass. Downs Run Rate 31.40% 79 33.50%
Overall Havoc Rate 14.50% 91 16.10%
DL Havoc Rate 4.20% 82 5.10%
LB Havoc Rate 2.90% 111 4.50%
DB Havoc Rate 7.20% 37 6.40%
PD to INC 34.30% 52 32.60%

The Cal defense's footprint shows cases a variety of trends. Cal is more likely to face passes on passing downs, possibly to exploit the small coverage zones that we tend to have between the CBs and Safeties. One of the most troubling statistics, which can hint at our struggles, is the lack of Havic production out of our LBs. This means that our LBs are very sub-par in passes defensed, interceptions, sacks and TFLs. One reason is the fact is the 4-3 alignment of our defense thus reducing the rate of sacks and TFLs. However, this does not explain the lack of coverage related stats. This maybe due to the lack of athleticism to make plays (Hardy Nickerson), or the lack of experience to make them despite the athleticism (Devante Downs).

I would watch out on crossing routes used against us, forcing the LBs to cover WRs who are running at full speed, as well as outside runs/pitches etc that would place our LBs on one-on-one situations that put them in a disadvantage.

Post-Week 10 Numbers for #11 Stanfurd (8-2, 7-1 Pac-12 North)

S&P+ Overall S&P+ Offense S&P+ Defense
Oregon 15 13 46

Stanfurd. Yet again, despite their slow start, the team was able to perform and play at a high-level. The true threat is Christian McCaffrey. He has been exceptional in the running game:

Player Rushes Yards TD YPC Highlight Yards per Carry Opportunity Rate Fumbles / (Lost)
Christian McCaffrey 231 1354 7 5.9 4.7 46.30% 2 (2)
Remound Wright 60 168 10 2.8 3.3 15.00% 0 (0)
Barry Sanders 47 309 4 6.6 9.5 34.00% 0 (0)
Kevin Hogan 46 354 4 7.7 7 54.30% 5 (3)
Bryce Love 21 126 1 6 7.6 42.90% 1 (0)

His workload, vis-a-vis Cal's, is the fact that he has been able to carry nearly as many times for nearly as many yards (231 vs 232 carries, 1354 vs 1322 yards ) as Vic, Khalfani, and Lasco combined. He also carried the ball for 55% of Stanfurd's rushing attempts. He is also #3 in passing targets at 16.7%, (which is marginally lower than #1 and #2 which stand at 17.5% and 17.1%). When we look at more aggregate data for rushing:

Offense
Avg. Rk
Rushing S&P+ 114.5 22
Rushing Success Rate 50.60% 10
Rushing IsoPPP 0.99 96
Adj. Line Yards 106 46
Opportunity Rate 40.60% 49
Power Success Rate 85.40% 5
Stuff Rate 15.30% 13

We see that the Stanfurd's rushing stats are eerily similar to Cal football, however more effective in short runs and able to avoid TFL penetration by the defense. This is troubling considering Cal's inability to penetrate the o-line. (Rush defense stuff rate for Cal is ranked #91). What needs to happen is to tackle Christian down at the first try, which will be hard for the defense. The match-up that I am most wary of is Hardy v. Christian. Will Hardy's smarts be enough to compensate for his lack of athleticism.

On the defensive front Stanfurd has been slightly less than its own self. Despite that, they are a serious opponent. With their ability to contain the run by stopping efficient runs. However, once the rusher is past the initial line of defense the rushers ought to be able to exploit for big gains. The thing is... we're not good at exploiting big gains in the rushing game.

What is a good match-up for us the combination of a low DL havoc rate by Stanfurd's D-line and its mediocre passing defense v. Cal's passing offense. Therefore, the game literally rests on Goff's right arm and the fact that the WRs should be able to hold-onto the ball. Will we be able to keep the box light for our RBs?

Conclusion

This will be a tough game. We are going into the game as severe underdogs, against a Stanfurd seeking to secure its PAC-12 championship game bid after a rough loss, with only a recent win against a weak Oregon State on our resume. This is going to be a hard-fought game, and as long as we are able to start strong and keep Stanfurd from running the ball and having Kevin Hogan sling it we have a chance to win.

I haven't see Cal win the big game during the whole time I have been a Cal football fan. It has been an exhausting slog. I want Cal football to win, because we need to establish that for this year Cal will not only dominate in the classroom, in the awards circle and in educating students out of poverty but also on the gridiron.

GO BEARS!