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Cal Football Evans Hall Analysis: Oregon Week

We goin’ duck hunting... with numbers!

NCAA Football: Utah at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

BYE Weeks are rough. Vic Enwere is out for the season with a broken bone in the foot. At least it gave us time to give Webb and Hansen time to recover from their respective injuries.

Soon enough we will be facing the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks have been on the downswing since the departure of the Marcus Marioto Mariota. The Ducks haven’t been this ripe for the taking in ages.

Matchup against: University of Oregon Ducks 2-4 (0-3, Pac-12 North) S&P+ Overall Ranking: 40


Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 42.4 5 36.1 109
Points Per Game 36.8 28 41.8 124

Oregon? I have heard of them... Legend tells me of a breathtaking, ruthless offense that left opposing defenses breathless. For some reason, the eye test doesn’t show what our number tell us about the offense. According to S&P+ data it is a top 5 offense that has been able to crank out +90th percentile offensive performances in 3 games (Cal hasn’t been able to do so, but we have been able to crank out two 88th percentile offensive performances and Cal is the 12th ranked S&P+ offense).

On first glance, it is a pretty bad defense per S&P+ and if we were to subtract the horrendous performance against Washington it still a bad defense (51 points against WSU, 41 against Colorado, etc.)

Offense Defense
Category Avg. Rk Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.31 50 1.17 30 1.27
EFFICIENCY Success Rate 47.0% 19 49.7% 128 40.7%
FIELD POSITION Avg. FP 29.9 64 28.2 45 29.6
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 5.53 15 5.46 116 4.67
TURNOVER MARGIN EXPECTED -1.52 90 Turnover Luck (PPG):
ACTUAL -1 71

The Oregon offense is similar to Cal’s when it comes to the balance between the efficiency of the offense and its explosiveness: more efficient than explosive. When we dig into the pass/rush offense split we will see that it is the run that is the centre of the offense.

Oregon’s defense... it’s Cal level. Simply speaking: they are the worst in the nation, worst in the nation, in stopping the efficient play. With a 50% success rate it means that Cal ought to be able to chip away at the defense with its capacity to efficiently chip-chip-chip-away at the offense.

Cal v. Oregon’s Passing Offense and Defense

Offense Defense
Avg. Rk Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Passing S&P+ 118.6 29 106.5 49 100.0
Passing Success Rate 42.0% 57 48.2% 122 40.7%
Passing IsoPPP 1.56 48 1.26 14 1.48
Adj. Sack Rate 81.3 91 126.2 36 100

The passing offense is slightly above mediocre in all of the categories. Which allows it to be ranked relatively high, but not at the level we’re used to the seeing in the past. Oregon’s passing offense will pose a threat to the Cal pass defense and will keep it honest even if it doesn’t have the same pyrotechnics it had in the years past.

Webb’s status being less than optimal and with Hansen at less than 100% it will, again, be up to the other elements of the Cal passing offense to pick up the yards against the soft Oregon defense in the terms of preventing the efficient play. So I would expect a short-passing game supplemented by screens to the outside to take advantage of the efficient yards. This strategy is compounded by the fact that they can take away the big play that the Spaviffense thrives on.

Cal v. Oregon’s Rushing Offense and Defense

Offense Defense
Avg. Rk Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing S&P+ 124.0 15 80.2 125 100.0
Rushing Success Rate 51.1% 6 51.5% 124 42.0%
Rushing IsoPPP 1.15 41 1.08 70 1.09
Adj. Line Yards 120.3 18 96.2 81 100.0
Opportunity Rate 47.4% 5 51.1% 128 39.6%
Power Success Rate 80.0% 17 75.0% 99 67.9%
Stuff Rate 13.0% 7 18.7% 74 18.7%

Oregon does what CGB bloggers have begged the Cal offense to do: RUN THE DANG BALL... more than we usually do. Cal’s offense runs the ball 22 percentage points less often than Oregon’s (for comparison’s sake). Considering how soft the Cal run defense is when it comes to stopping the run game with the one and only Royce Freeman... wait, there is Tony Brooks-James... and there is Kani Benoit... and Taj Griffin. Each one of them has multiple touchdowns on the ground with >100 yards a piece and +5.8 yards per carry. I fully expect the Oregon offense run the ball 40-50 times a game with none of the RBs breaking 20 carries. This is going to be very ugly for our defense.

Cal’s group of RBs is much thinner but no less talented with Tre Watson and Khalfani Muhammad headlining the two-man Cal show. With Vic Enwere out for the season with a broken bone in his foot these two shall split his snaps. Both are capable players in the run and in the pass game with Khalfani showcasing good instincts in blitz pick-up. One of them will probably cross the 150 yard rushing mark and the other 150 yards from scrimmage. We have a veteran o-line, it is time we began using them accordingly (AKA 4th quarter of the Oregon State game).

Concluding Thoughts

If the stats dictate stories. With numbers could write gameplans this game would be a run heavy game with both teams being both willing and able to impose its will on the ground with enough passing to keep the defenses honest. Although there isn’t much that these dishonest defenses can do to stop the run.

Of course, numbers cannot overcome the nature of the offenses. Each of them yearn to pass the ball through the air. Davis Webb will want to rebound from the miserable performance against OSU, Chad Hansen will be playing with a chip the size of the giant chip on top of Cory Hall, OC Spavital will want to redeem himself from failing to deliver a proper game-plan against OSU, and HC Dykes will get the rest of the team hyped up to come out hot to win it, and win it big.

We’re unto Oregon and GO BEARS.