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Evans Hall: No, Bears No...

Please send hope to Piotr in D.C. for this upcoming season

NCAA Football: California at San Diego State Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

What can I say, Cal football was so close and yet so far. Even if Webb was able to find Hansen in the endzone on the last play of the I would be bemoaning the lack of efficiency on the offense and the utter lack of rushing defense (SDSU avg. 7.0 ypc with Donnel Pumphrey running for 9.7 ypc). Nick Kranz had a great breakdown of the game that is worth reading. One thing of note, is the fact that according to the data, Cal performed in the 76th percentile of possible performances on both offense and defense.

I apologize for the table formatting, the new posting system is giving me trouble this week.

California Golden Bears 1-1 (0-0 Pac-12 North)

Overall

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 39.2 20 36.0 119
Points Per Game 45.5 20 38.0 108
Offense Defense
Category Avg. Rk Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.31 49 1.46 111 1.26
EFFICIENCY Success Rate 48.5% 32 41.8% 80 40.2%
FIELD POSITION Avg. FP 33.3 42 26.4 31 30.1
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.33 85 6.33 122 4.65
TURNOVER MARGIN EXPECTED 1.38 33 Turnover Luck (PPG):
-0.95
ACTUAL 1 35

Here we can see the offense maintaining its high rank in the S&P+ rankings. This is mostly due to the fact that although we’re not top 20 in any of the Five Factor rankings, we’re top 50 with the passing game being top 20 in efficiency and the rushing game in the top 20 in explosiveness.

The defense is where I go “No, Bears no.” I’m going to have to cut to chase and say that these are Andy Buh numbers ( to recap, in 2013, under Andy Buh Cal ended with the 114th S&P+ defense). This is due to... well everything across the board. The only stat where Cal is above avg. is in preventing explosive passing plays... sadly this is mostly due to the substandard quality of QBs we’ve faced in the last two games.

Cal’s Offense and Defense

Passing

Offense Defense
Avg. Rk Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Passing Success Rate 52.2% 16 41.3% 77 40.2%
Passing IsoPPP 1.30 96 1.37 54 1.48

The passing offense is a similar to the previous year: highly efficient in procuring the needed yards at each down but it can’t break out a big play. However, when needed the big play through the air was pretty rare. We can see both of these exemplified in the X’s and O’s. The screen passes give us 3-5 yards at a minimum. This substitutes an efficient run-game well, however, with each of these screens we’re missing out on a go/fly/deep route for Robinson who simply outruns whatever poor soul he’s playing against.

However, as per the two exceptional gentlemen from “The Pod is on the Field”, Webb has been taking chances for a home-run on the outside, but there was a lack of passing through the mid of the field (this can be confirmed by the low numbers posted by Stovall and Veasy 4 catches each).

Rushing

Offense Defense
Avg. Rk Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing Success Rate 39.1% 89 42.2% 87 41.0%
Rushing IsoPPP 1.36 18 1.52 121 1.08
Opportunity Rate 45.3% 24 42.2% 102 39.7%
Power Success Rate 100.0% 1 71.4% 65 69.0%
Stuff Rate 18.9% 69 15.5% 105 18.6%

Here we can an encouraging stat: with each run Cal has a relatively good chance of breaking out for 10+ yards. Here is a discouraging stat of the same vein: Cal allows a big run even more often than it breaks out one DC Kaufman remarked that it was both scheme and technique that lead to these issues... Furthermore, the rushing defense is in the bottom quartile of the nation in all of the categories, except for the “Power Success Rate” where the defense is only 65th in the nation.

Match up against: #11 Texas Longhorns 2-0 (0-0 Big-12)

Overall

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 37.7 32 28.6 55
Points Per Game 45.5 20 27.0 79
Offense Defense
Category Avg. Rk Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.20 85 1.29 84 1.26
EFFICIENCY Success Rate 47.9% 35 37.7% 58 40.2%
FIELD POSITION Avg. FP 34.2 31 29.3 71 30.1
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 5.69 28 6.00 118 4.65
TURNOVER MARGIN EXPECTED 2.34 11 Turnover Luck (PPG):
-8.35
ACTUAL -1 77

Texas is a curious match-up for Cal. With a comparable offense to Cal’s as well as a vastly better defense (average vs. terrible). However, once we delve into the Five Factors we can see a few key match-ups Cal can exploit to give itself a chance to win. This include the poor defense within their own 40, a bad rushing defense when it comes to defending explosive rushing plays, and most importantly a poor defense against efficient passing (not as many perks on the defensive for Cal since we’re so bad...).

Texas’ Offense and Defense

Passing

Offense Defense
Avg. Rk Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Passing Success Rate 54.0% 11 40.0% 70 40.2%
Passing IsoPPP 1.69 40 1.19 25 1.48

Looking here we can see a much better passing offense and defense that Cal is going to face. Shane Buechele provides Texas with an efficient passing attack supplemented with a powerful deep ball. It has to be noted that Texas had only 55 total passing attempts, which is nothing compared to Davis Webb’s 72 against SDSU, which means that Buechele takes fewer chances through the air, hence the high completion pct. and can rely on his feet to get yards.

The passing defense will fit in for Cal hand-in-glove where they will limit our explosive plays but will allow us to exploit the efficient plays. This combined with the aforementioned lack of defense within the 40 should open up 5-10 yard touchdown passes.

Rushing

Offense Defense
Avg. Rk Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing Success Rate 44.6% 58 36.2% 52 41.0%
Rushing IsoPPP 0.88 104 1.36 114 1.08
Opportunity Rate 41.8% 48 36.4% 66 39.7%
Power Success Rate 61.5% 85 100.0% 108 69.0%
Stuff Rate 15.5% 37 16.7% 96 18.6%

Everyone has made huge talk about the Texas run game. However, the S&P+numbers aren’t impressed by the Texas ground game, specifically by the lack of explosive plays on the ground with a 0.88 rating. Likewise with the inability of the defense, even after playing UTEP, in protecting against the big running play.

Compare this with the highly explosive rushing offense Cal can have, there is a facet of the Texas defense Cal can exploit: running the ball, and running it often for us to get those big plays. However, I can see us abandoning the run early on since the efficiency match-up isn’t in our favor. This one is a tough one, I think I would still take the 1-3 yard runs on the 1st and 2nd downs since explosive plays are more valuable than efficient ones.

More On Match-ups

Thanks Brad @BradF70 for this aggregate!

Final Thoughts

I don’t know what Vegas is seeing putting Texas as only 4 point favorites. I think it will be a close game till the late 3rd quarter when Buechele finds someone deep twice in a row or Tyrine “18-wheeler” Swoops will literally break our LBs and Safeties in half.

I can see Davis Webb slinging it down the field all day long, avoiding the intermediate crossing routes due to Malik Jefferson manning that part of the field. 80 Over/Under? I would personally take Over for a 100 Over/Under.