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Cal Football, Evans Hall Edition: Week 3 (AKA the day I lost a decade out of my life)

My sanity is still trying to piece itself together. The Texas game gave me uncomfortable flashbacks to 2013 and 2014. However, a W is a W. We showed fortitude, hard work, and tons of luck.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game Impressions

(Note: I was pretty drunk and was hosting a housewarming and had to host people with the game in the background)

Oh Fu**!

Oh Fu**!

My soul is still trying to figure up from down, my mind is trying to figure out what it means to live, and my heart... well it is much older this morning than it was last night. Overall, it was an exciting game, a game that will be remembered for a while with its wild swings, brilliant plays by Goff, Lawler et al. However, there were issues that came up during the game that Cal has to address if we are to maintain our win to loss ratio.

First our offense did not look the same with the RBBC going on with Khalfani Muhammad, Vic Enwere, Tre Watson, and JuJu Coprich. The run game definitely was more predictable without Daniel Lasco who is a threat in the air as well as on the ground. Vic needs to work on being a better backfield pass-catching threat especially if he is to become a hot read for his QB in the long run. Khalfani has to improve his ball security, the fumble early on was a 10 point swing that might've cost us the game, but credit needs to be given for the big run where he sprinted till he hit paydirt. The stat sheet shows that even despite being predictable on a lot of rushing plays we are able to produce on the ground when needed, further putting into the grave the myth that the Bear Raid is more air than grit (41 rushing attempts to 27 passing attempts and 280 rushing yards to 268 passing yards).

I have no complaints about our passing offense. Sure, Stephen Anderson dropped a crucial 3rd down pass, however, he has been clutch in so many more 3rd downs and plays I can excuse this lapse (the same way Wes Welker ought to be forgiven for the drop in SB XLVI). Overall, we showed, especially in the 3rd quarter, that we can score on anyone at will if we give Goff enough time in the pocket (2.5 seconds that is). Goff was again nigh perfect with a 27/37, 268 yard (7.24 yards per attempt) and 3 TD performance. I think each Cal fan needs to take a moment to appreciate that what we're watching right now is a masterful quarterbacking performance.

Our defense on the other hand is giving up a lot of yards on deep plays, it looks like there is a lot of miss communication whenever we try to hand-off the deep receiver on a wheel route. It seems like once he passes pass the CB and into the safety's zone the safety isn't arriving quickly enough giving the QB a hole window to throw to deep. At a certain point I knew that either we will give up another deep pass or a huge run by Jerrod Heard, who looks like Texas Longhorn's future marquee QB with his arm talent (20/31 for 368 yards (11.7 yards per attempt), 0 TDs) and ability to burn defenses with his feet (24 carries for 163 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and 3 TDs. I think we simply do not have the necessary athleticism on the field to contain such an athletic QB.

Post-Week 2 Numbers for Cal (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12 North)

S&P+ Overall S&P+ Offense S&P+ Defense
California 46 (+1) 20 (+14) 84 (-13)

(Note: through the first four weeks of the season, preseason projections will carry diminishing weight in the S&P+ ratings.)

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

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.

Overall, it looks like we have held steady vis-a-vis last week's performance. As we go deeper into the season the variance of the rankings will stabilize, but for now the large swings in rankings, as seen in our S&P+ for Offense and Defense, will happen. So what can we deduce from these numbers? First our offense is on fire. Especially due to the efficiency of our offense, for both rushing and passing efficiency we are ranked #13 in rushing efficiency and #4 in passing efficiency.

Efficiency Explosiveness
Rushing 13 39
Passing 4 42

For those who have forgotten, efficiency (or success rate) means that we are able to gain 50% of the necessary yards for a 1st down on a 1st down, 70% of the necessary yards on 2nd down, and 100% of the necessary yards on 3rd/4td downs. Therefore, a high ranking and the associated percentages depict our team's very good ability to move the chains on a methodical basis. This is especially great for an Air-Raid type offense that thrives off bigger plays that vertically challenge the opponent. Sure our explosive plays for both rushing and passing aren't as highly ranked as our efficiency (Rushing IsoPPP #39 and Passing IsoPPP #42), but I believe that those numbers will go up as our offense keeps improving on what is already a spectacular background.

On the defensive side, we can see a large decline in the ranking. This has to do with the fact that Texas was able to hang 44 points on the team after hanging 4 offensive touchdowns on offense against Rice and 3 points on Notre Dame. This isn't a surprising statistics however, given the emergence of QB Jerrod Heard for Texas. I believe that this low ranking will improve once Heard begins to torch opposing defenses all season long showing that the Rice and Notre Dame games were a team trying to figure itself out.

Week 4 Opponent : University of Washington Huskies (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12)

S&P+ Overall S&P+ Offense S&P+ Defense
Washington 58 107 23

As a sum they seem like a run of the mill mediocre team. However, like with Cal, the divide is between their sub-standard offense and their high quality defense. The reason for both maybe the fact that in their sole loss they held a ranked Boise State to a 13-16 and beat a good Utah State team 31-17. The offense across the board looks quite mediocre, with a rushing attack coming off a bad game against Utah State 32 attempts for 74 yards (2.32 yards per carry) and a long of 13 yards and a passing attack lead by a surprisingly efficient QB Jake Browning who in the last game against Utah State had a 22/31 for 368 yards (11.87 yards per attempt) and a 3/1 TD int ratio.

The passing performance was quite good especially if we look at Utah State's Defensive S&P+ where they are ranked as the #38 defense ... This is until we drill down to the passing defense S&P+ of Utah State where we see that across the board they are subpar in defending the pass and really good when defending the run. This was reflected in the raw statistics that I mentioned before.

This also means that if we look at Cal defense's passing defense S&P+ we will see that we ought to expect a similar performance by Jake Browning especially in the area of explosive plays where Cal's pass defense is ranked #108 in IsoPPP.

Compare and Contrast Time

What I think will happen is the same thing that will continue to happen to Cal when we play the rest of our slate for the year: a tough shoot-out where Cal will assert itself on the ground as well as in the air, whilst the defense will struggle against avg. opponent play. The game will have Cal soaring in the 1st and 2nd quarters sputter in 3rd quarter and to falter in the 4th.

Quarters Offensive S&P+ Defensive S&P+
1st 16 80
2nd 19 111
3rd 67 59
4th 63 125

(Note: I believe that a lot of the Offensive S&P+ dip in the 2nd half of the game can be attributed to Cal playing its 2nd and 3rd string defenses). This has been a troubling trend with Cal and its inability to maintain a consistent defensive effort in the 4th quarter. Cal fans can handle a lot, but one or two more Arizona/WSU/Texas type games this season and our fanbase will be watching the games in the nation's cardiology wards.

This game will tell us more about how Cal can handle a good, solid defense while also playing against a true pocket passer in Jake Browning. Keep an eye on the defense playing more disguises in coverage to confuse the young Washington QB, while also keeping the pedal to the metal on offense.

My prediction: Cal 35 - Washington 31