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Cal Football vs. USC Report Card - Trojan Horsed...Again. For the umpteenth time.

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It's a story as old as time itself. Evil empire threatens all things good, hero rises up...and falls just short at the end. Wait, that's not how it's supposed to end is it? Doesn't matter because that's how Cal/USC has ended for way too long. So what did you think of the loss?

What do you mean this is 12 in a row? I can't even.
What do you mean this is 12 in a row? I can't even.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Berkelium97: Like so many local elections from yesterday (you do realize it was an election day yesterday, right?), we had a pretty low turnout for this week's report cards.  I can't blame you.  A loss like the UCLA loss from last week inspires a flurry of report cards as we all rage into our keyboards about an abysmal performance.  But what can be said about a close loss to a hated rival, our third consecutive loss and twelfth consecutive loss to that team whose name is not worthy of mention?  Not much, it seems.  Even the post-game thread was pretty quiet.  Resigned acceptance seems to be the theme this week.  Acceptance of another loss to the Trojans.  Acceptance that we're not yet ready to contend for a division title.  Acceptance that we blew another golden opportunity to beat a California school.

Let's look over the numbers.

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense .528 .184
Rush Offense .461 .219
Pass Defense .656 .187
Rush Defense .513 .238
Special Teams .523 .245
Coaching .514 .232
Overall .517 .210
Win Chance vs. Oregon 50.16% (+23.6) 25.62

What do we see here? Indifference, mediocrity, ho-hummery.  A reflection of our reactions to another loss to USC.  We have surprising homogeneity across the results, even though most categories have pretty large variation (as indicated by the standard deviations).  In what continues to be a surprising theme this year, the grades for the defense were higher overall than grades for the offense.  It's a shame the offense keeps letting down the defense this season (it's been years since we've said that).  Fortunately, the offense has a golden opportunity this weekend against one of the league's worst defenses. (Ignore the fact that a rainy forecast may hinder our ability to take advantage).  Our predictions of a win against Oregon have soared since the preseason.  We now slightly favor the Bears in Autzen.  Hopefully next week's report cards are celebratory as we reclaim CGB North.

Onto the awards.

As the Bears lost, we will recognize the pessimists first.

Sonny Yikes!

No goose eggs this week!

Name Grade
1. gio 1.17 (16.7%)
2. ChairmanMeow 1.70 (24.3%)
3. Joe Roth Weeps 1.90 (27.1%)
4. Mitchgobears 2.15 (30.7%)
5. goldenone 2.50 (35.7%)

gio leads all doomsayers this week while ChairmanMeow earns a 4th SY award of the year and Mitchgobears earns his sixth.

Sonny Delight

Name Grade
1. Old Bear 71 5.95 (85.0%)
2. mrjpark 5.54 (79.1%)
3. Bowlesman 5.50 (78.6%)
4. Fiatlux 5.20 (74.3%)
5. jadeleo 5.15 (73.6%)

Old Bear 71 leads the optimists this week as Bowlesman earns his 3rd SD award of the year while Fiatlux earns his fifth.  Keep pumping that sunshine!

Finally we recognize those whose report cards were closest to the community average.

The Voice of Reason

Name Deviation
1. sacman701 .0548
2. FrmrG8r .0663
3. ABVidale .0775
4. Deacon Turner .0831
5. ballboy .1017

Sacman702 and FrmerG8r finish first and second as they earn their second VoR awards this season.  ABVidale, Deacon Turner, and ballboy round out the top five.

Now let's put these uninspiring numbers behind us and see what you all had to say about this game.

Sam Fielder: Record low voter turnout here. I'm chalking it up to both Halloween and a burning desire to instead discuss why we haven't extended and/or fired Sonny yet. (I KID, I KID). But seriously, this was the lowest report card participation I can remember. Hopefully a win against Oregon can get you all excited about filling these out again!

GameDay Experience

hardtobecalfan: i'm wallowing. i've never witnessed us beat sc.

GoldenliketheBear: I took a pass from watching this game with people.

sacman701: Fox still doesn't understand that replays which are just close-ups of the guy with the ball don't help the audience understand how or why the play developed the way it did. Football games aren't Baywatch.

goldenone: Frustrating because if the Bears had one more series they might have pulled it out.

Bowlesman: F**k USC!

However, we were in this game to the end and today's performance eased much of the pain of the LA loss. The Bear did not quit nor die!

1017: It wasn't a terrible game to watch. I wasn't huddled in the corner thumb in my mouth rocking back and forth, softly whispering "fight on" to myself. I felt proud of my bears today, even though we lost. For those unlucky enough to not be in the stadium today, particularly in the student section, let's just say our band made their wittle band run away, cape between their legs, crying mommy.

Joe Roth Weeps: A beautiful October day marred by (another) loss to an in-state rival

Jacobs.: Nice day out at Memorial Stadium. Student section held up well throughout most of the game, and really came together towards the end of the game. Alumi's prove to be shade loving slackers who couldn't hold up there end of "GO!!!" "bears..."

lifelongbearfan57: Cal simply cannot or will not play THE MAN! Just not tough enough! Why can Stanfurd play real smash mouth football while the BEARS won't.

The lines were completely dominated by USC. If we could actually run the ball, well the outcome would be different. That's on the O-Line. And the defense could NOT stop the run.

ballboy: Too much red

McOski: It generally sucked.

jadeleo: VERY HOT today, especially in young alumni section.

Lots of fun but disappointing in the end.

gio: disgusted

wiata78: Was expecting a similar experience to last week, so very glad that it wasn't.

Deacon Turner: Countered spoiled children chant with successful capitalist chant. Our team gets its ads kicked every year. Man up! And I graduated Summa Crum Laude!!!

Mitchgobears: I hate u$c.

Old Bear 71:    Ripped my heart out on that Muhammed fumble. After that a sense of dread descended and only threatened to leave after Cal's third TD.

Helton should be ashmed of himself for getting all excited on the short touchdown run when his 360 lb behemoths managed to get a whopping two yards' worth of push. He is bad and he should feel bad. Everyone associated with Uncertified $cholastic Credentials is bad and should feel bad.

FiatLux: I was disappointed with the turnout. 52K is awful for the USC game. I'm not sure where the fault lies here. Noon start (which feels entirely too early)? Have we just completely misjudged demand and are we charging too much for tickets? Are the fans just not into it? Did the UCLA game really bum everyone out that much? The student section was terrible, not showing up until well into the 1st quarter and not even completely filling the section.

Who does get HUGE kudos is the Cal Band for playing every time SC band played. That was great to see / hear.

Having said the above I will say it was an engaged crowd that often was on its feet exhorting the Cal defense and i thought the rousing ovation as the team left the field after the game was a nice touch.

We're just close and it would be so nice to get over the hump. If you look at the stats they're almost completely even, which is reflected in the final score. We're that close.

FrmrG8r: Beautiful day at the stadium

Far too many Trojans but generally well behaved

Nice to be competitive after last week but when this defense holds USC to 20, you HAVE to win!

Frustrating day, again.

Nor-Cal Scott: Noon kickoffs do not allow for a gameday experience. It was nice however getting home before 6pm (shuttle, BART, drive = 2hrs+)

puresilence: USC band :(

CoBears: There's a tear in my beer. In fact, it got pretty watery by the end.

Uthaithani: Dykes deserves an extension. That worthless AD Williams needs to be fired and replaced with an AD who doesn't suck.

Pass Offense

#BearRaid: Was interesting how committed we were to the run early... even after KM's fumble. (argh)

However, Goff's Duck for a pick-six and Lawler no showing and getting jumped on route again were the difference. It hard to give credit to the phase of the game that took us out of the game... then almost clawed us back.

hardtobecalfan: too many INTs from goff. pass protection seemed better but the WRs couldn't do too much. treggs had a good game.

1017: Goff's amazing, this is certain. He had two interceptions, one was just bone head, and the other I felt was just "hey screw it, it's 4th down anyway, and if it works, then it would make the game, if it doesn't, well I gave up some yardage." That interception appeared to me more like a calculated risk that didn't pay off. Can't necessarily fault him for that. But on the whole, he showed the stadium just want he can do.

And then we got Treggs back! He was awesome! And how fitting was it for him to catch a TD pass right after the presentation about his father's hall of fame induction.

Calbeargal: Seems like every week it's either Lawler or Treggs that is "off." This week it was Lawler.

Joe Roth Weeps: It seems as if something is in Goff's head. He's too good to be playing so poorly in critical situations/games.

McOski: Uninspired. What happened to Kenny Lawler? Why isn't Stephen Anderson more involved?

mrjpark: Something isn't clicking between Goff and the receivers, and that needs to stop if we want to win more games. That second interception was clearly Goff making a read and Treggs (I believe) not making the same read. If we need to take control away from Goff and have him just execute the offense like he has been the past 2 years, maybe that should be looked into. One thing is for sure, the offense has been much slower paced this year and I think a large part of it is on that being how Goff is comfortable running it. We can likely go back to super speed Bear Raid if we take a lot of the thinking out of the game for him. While I love that we have such a highly rated QB prospect on the field, I would rather win more games than train another Aaron Rodgers.

FrmG8r: Kudos to Coach Jones for a complete turnaround on the OL. Goff has time to throw and only one holding call all day? It won't get any better with this group. Pick 6 was the difference in the game. Too many receivers wandering around seemingly lost. What happened to the slants?

BrooklynBear: Liked the additional blocking Lasco brings into the clear passing downs. Overall very good play save Goff's 2 INTs. Bring back either of them and the game may have a different ending.

Run Offense

CoBears: Wait, we have a run offense?

Stop coughing up the ball early in games!

I married a Longhorn: It started really well then tapered off after the first quarter. On a positive note, we were able to get 1 or 2 yards when we needed it. Lasco is much more decisive in his running that the other backs.

Chairman Meow: We're not going to win many games against good opponents if they have no respect for our run game. And we need to break the new tradition of fumbling on our first possession with a running back.

Lifelongbearfan57: Sucks! NO real push from the offensive line. Cal has proven running backs who can play. But the line loses too many blocking battles. We don't have a solid blocking tight end or blocking fullback like Tedford had; who would put USC D-Backs and linebackers on their butts. Nope. It's not happening. If there was a bright spot it would have to be Muhammed. Nice to see Lasco playing healthy again. It gives me hope for the rest of the season. BUT PLEASE O-LINE PLEASE! PLEASE! How about a real pancake!!!

Jacobs.: We seemed to have one... at times... apart from fumbling...

But look, the 2 point stance idea of high center of gravity & moving backwards is trying to argue against physics. And physics is still winning, which leads to bad blocking and runnings backs being hit in the backfield.

Bowlesman: Nice to have one, even if not a big and coordinated threat. What was totally absent last week, was reasonable this week. And should Lasco play both ways? Welcome back, sir.

goldneone: Better with Lasco back in the game.

#BearRaid: I liked the commitment. Especially early. Nice to see Lasco back. We need a 100 yard back or a dual threat QB or we'll never beat a quality team.

calinative umstudent: Same run play every 1st down.

and then a delayed handoff on 3rd and short, every single time.

Pass Defense

hardtobecalfan: pass D was not terrible, but when we don't grab INTs, we can't seem to stop them.

sacman701: Not bad. Kessler was 18-22 for 8.5 a pop, but he wasn't able to sustain drives on us as we got a couple of drive-killing sacks and harassed him into short scrambles a few times. No meltdowns in the secondary.

Calbeargal: Kept JuJu on lockdown for the most part, which not many teams have been able to do. Good job by the secondary.

McOski: Pass D held up well save for a few blown 3rd downs.

ABVidale: While Cal did get 2 sacks, Cal's front didn't get a lot of pressure against the U$C o-line.

wiata78: Not that bad. (Compared to last year.) Wish it was better.

Old Bear 71: Better than adequate vs. some insanely talented dudes.

FiatLux: I think our defense overall has improved so much.

Nor-Cal Scott: The "bend but don't break" pass coverage is getting picked apart by good QB's. See all 3 loses for proof. Again, WRs getting ball and Cal defender not within 10 feet.

BrooklynBear: Fantastic. Even on the WR throw our coverage was excellent. By and large the DBs did fantastic against the WR screens. Biggest complaint is that Kessler should NEVER be able to gain yards on scramble. He's just too slow for that to occur.

Run Defense

#BearRaid: Tough day. Our offense killed us. Let SC pound the ball and choke out the game.

hardtobecalfan: got one nice 4th down stop. that's about it.

goldenlikethebear: I could've picked up major yards from the holes the U$C O-Line opened up, and I swim.

sacman701: We won some, we lost some. We made it too easy for SC on their 1st drive of the 3rd quarter and couldn't get a stop at the end, but we stuffed them on 4th and 1 and then on 3rd and 1 on the previous 2 drives. This team seems better conditioned than in previous years.

goldenone: Couldn't stop the Trojans in the final 3 minutes and that sealed our fate.

1017: This defense is like a colander. It blocks as much as it lets through.

Joe Roth Weeps: Got a lot of stops when it didn't matter

lifelongbearfan57: Horrible! Linebackers getting their asses kicked! D-Line - no penetration, not much disruption.

All the wrong schemes against USC power runs. At some point, you should be able to see the guard pulling on Power Bell, especially after they run it 25 times.

jadeleo: Good effort, but interceptions would have been nice.

mrjpark: Same as above. The one thing that killed me (and us) was their inability to complete what was a busted play that ended our game. We fucking had the stop... Other than that, I thought they did well. You're never going to completely stop that USC stable of backs, but they did for most of the game minus a few long runs.

ChairmanMeow: ESPN game callers couldn't have commented better. A good football team needs to be able to run the ball effectively when the only thing they can do is run the ball. A good football team also needs to be able to defend plays when they know almost exactly what's coming for 10+ snaps. We got bulldozed on the ground all day and there was no reason for it to stop in the 4th quarter, so I'd say we aren't yet a very good football team.

1988goldenbear: It felt like we got gashed in the second half even though no single player trucked us like in the Utah game. But we couldn't get the big stop on that last drive to get the ball back despite a couple of opportunities.

Special Teams

I married a longhorn: Our return game did not do well. We consistently started drives within our 20. I recall at least 2 penalties on kickoff returns that really hurt.

FrmrG8r: Blocks in the back on KOs continue to be real killers. The difference between even an average return and starting on your own 8 is huge. Coverage continues to improve slowly.

Nor-Cal Scott: Matt & Cole did a good job kicking. As for our kick returns, we have a non-existent punt return game.

BrooklynBear: Trevor Davis seems too cautious for KRs. Our punt team provides no lanes for run backs. Our kick-off coverage isn't good enough. Difference between USC starting at 18 versus 36 is, well, 2 first downs!

CoBears: Didn't lose us the game

Bowlesman: Lasco a bad-ass. Other than that, this is a mixed bag. Some of the kick receptions would have been better as touchbacks, rather than a runback to the 10-20. Anderson make me nervous, I do not want to be hard on the guy, but many runbacks of his kick-offs put the opposition on their own 30 or better.

hardtobecalfan: we had horrible field position all day. two block in the backs on KO returns. and did any of our kickoffs even reach the endzone?

Jacobs.: Once again the worst unit. Between mind boggling combinations of bad decisions when it comes to trying to return the ball or watching it roll an extra ten yards, and the obnoxious penalties, special teams just turned into a liability.

Coaching

calinative umstudent: Tony Franklin needs to step it the hell up.

#BearRaid: Last couple years have at least been contests... unlike the last 10 years of Tedford. Liked the commitment to the run. Sadly, we came up a yard short on a few early drives.

Not the coaches fault that Goff threw that duck.

hardtobecalfan: at least they kept the kids fighting until the end. i feel like our time outs were mismanaged in the first half. we could have had a scoring opportunity at the end is handled better.

sacman701: Meh. At least the team came out focused this week.

1017: It was nice to see Sonny bring this team back from the disaster at UCLA, and see the team perform the way we know them to. However, I still question some calls, and the defense still isn't up to snuff. How many games to we have to lose at the defense's hands before we call it and say enough is enough? Let's fix this once and for all, and stop being a colander, and start being a brick wall.

calbeargal: Sonny was out-coached....again.

Joe Roth Weeps: I think it's time to be honest with ourselves and realize that for all the good he's done (and he's done an incredible amount of good), Sonny is not the guy to get us to the promised land.

I admire the hell out of how he's so focused on academics, finding the right kind of kid to come and play for Cal, and how he really stresses the importance of our history and the privilege of playing for Cal. And if we would be happy with a perpetually mediocre team that has more integrity than anyone else, I say keep Sonny forever.

But at this point I think even the biggest Sonny supporters have to wonder whether he is the answer. More than that, I wonder whether anyone truly has confidence that he will ever even get a single win against a California rival.

Jacobs.: Wide receivers regressing, running play regressing, OL play stagnant... I really did not think that Cal's offense would be slow and bad in Tony Franklin's third year. What will happen once Goff moves on to the NFL?!?

Special teams... *sigh*

Defense: still better than I had any reason to think they would be. I am glad that the UCLA game was an aberration.

lifelongbearfan57: Dykes- put up or shut up. I'm getting tired of excuses. Looks like Cal is a second rate team with second rate coaches. We're constantly getting out flanked on running plays,we can't seem to make any good adjustments. Some of the play calling was suspect. Look at the defense of Michigan. It's Harbaugh's FIRST year and look how they are playing.Why not CAL! For cryin' out loud.

McOski: We played tough overall, and never quit -- so thats good. The play-calling still seems questionable at times.

1988goldenbear: Good game plan overall, especially on D. The offense is letting this team down, because the D certainly put us in a position to win today. Just a few odd play calls on offense, but they did move the ball well against another really good opponent. Just needed one more possession.

Overall Performance

ChairmanMeow: Pretty much every game since Texas has been a disappointment, even the ones we won. Sloppy, underachieving, disgusting, ugly, embarrassing. This time, I think the guys left everything out there on the field and came up short in a hard fought game. I don't know what's worse: the frustration from a watching a team play under its full potential, or the frustration from seeing that the reality of our full potential means we still can't stack up with the (unranked) U$Cs of the world.

I married a longhorn: The team was ready to play, but the offense keeps struggling. They haven't adjusted to all the man coverage they're facing now, which is frustrating. As good as our WR corps is, we should be winning those matchups consistently.

Old Bear 71: Other than the offensive hiccup of the first int, our Sturdy Golden Bears played a winning football game.

FiatLux: I thought the team fought hard. I thought they were well prepared. SC didn't burn us over and over with any aggravating "why can't we defend that" play. We didn't kill ourselves with lack of discipline and penalties. We DID have one costly turnover (I'd argue the other two weren't "costly."). We lost. It's frustrating. But I thought it was a good overall performance and bodes well for the rest of the season.

FrmrG8r: This is the year of "what if". Throw out the LA debacle and "what if" we don't go minus 3 against USC and lose by 6. "What if" we don't turn the ball over 6 times against the Utes and lose by 6. In a year where a mediocre PAC12 really is up for grabs, "what if". Ah, the education of a new Bear…

CoBears: USC has better players than we do right now, so I'm not shocked by this result, but we had opportunities to win this one and just didn't get it done. I'm so disappointed after the great start to the year that we still haven't gotten over the hump of bowl eligibility. I feel pretty good about our chances against Oregon State, but am losing faith that we have the heart to win at Oregon, at Furd, or home against Arizona State. 6-6 would be depressing, and I hope that this team turns it around and revives the season with a couple surprise wins.

ABVidale: Cal is not a bad team, but it's a team that can't afford to shoot itself in the foot against good teams. Turnovers: Cal 3, U$C 0.

Deacon Turner: Art Kaufman and his crew are the best defensive staff in the last twenty years. Give them a few more years and Cal will consistently be the leader of the PAC.

mrjpark: I'm starting to think that for this specific offensive unit, this may be our ceiling. They're really good, but unfortunately they just seem to be unable to make that last hurdle against teams that have depth in their defense that are all just as big, strong, and fast as them. This could easily be a 9 win team if huge mistakes could be taken off the plate. Like Lawler's dropped TD against Utah that led to a missed FG and 0 points. Or against UCLA, how nobody could make the plays that mattered until it become a blowout. Same today. In a position to win, but just enough mistakes to take the loss.

In the end, I'm happy that this is how we lost. The other team played solid football and capitalized on our mistakes. We played a pretty good game all around minus a few game-changing mistakes, and that was that. Players should go home, think about why it ended up like this, and come out to end the season winning 3 of the last 4.

Thanks to the few, the proud, the Sturdy Golden Bears that filled out the report cards this week. GO BEARS!