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Cal Advanced Stats: Cal v. Washington

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The “And then it gets worse” two game stretch of the season.

Washington v California Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Note: Intro to Advanced Stats article from 2015.

Note from our very own Nick Kranz to highlight and contextualize the the 2 of the 3 wins Cal has had earlier in the season.

This is another reason for the decline in the S&P+ ranking for Cal. As the teams it defeats decline in their ranking, so does Cal since S&P+ is opponent adjusted, the achievements on offense against Ole Miss and NC become less impressive, likewise on the defense.

Even USC has been shown to have major flaws in its roster and scheme that WSU pounced on and capitalized on the flaws of SC’s offense and defense to win an upset at Pullman. (Which allegedly is still drowning in Fireball).

This series of statistics from the game portray an basically impotent rushing offense which should’ve given Bowers the support he needed. By forcing the Cal offense to be unidimensional Oregon was able to clamp down on Cal’s passing game despite losing a key player of their defense to an ejection.

Yet, there was one thing that Cal was able to do that the last week article predicted: got big plays, but failed miserably to get any “move the sticks” yardage during the game. This stalled a lot of the drives and forced quick 3 and outs or short TOP drives which forced the D to face the Oregon fast paced team with short rest periods.

Despite the Oregon team suffering major injuries on offense, the Cal D was not able to contain the explosive run game, despite the disappearance of a deep passing game, Cal was unable to find a way to capitalize on the unidimensional Oregon attack, the same way Oregon D did on Cal.

California Golden Bears, 3-2 (0-2 Pac-12 North): S&P+ Overall Ranking: #77 (down 12)

Overall

Cal Overall Week 5

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 30.6 54 31.5 84
Points Per Game 34.8 78 35.3 83

The offense and defensive S&P+ values are closer to intersecting, with the offense taking a quicker plunge from a top 20 ranking while the defense is slowly moving up the ranks.

Cal still has a 39.2% chance of winning 6 or more games this season.

Offense

Cal Offense Week 5

Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
41.30% 85 41.80%
0.9 67 0.91
34.40% 102 39.00%
56.50% 106 68.90%
25.60% 123 19.30%

The offense is pretty bad. I haven’t written this phrase as a whole for the offense since 2014, and ever in the history of this blog. The occasional explosiveness of the offense is more of a product of the scheme that allows players to force DBs to pick and run with paired deep patterns (ex. pairs of deep switch patterns that allow for either the slot or outside WR to gain a step on the DB. However, one cannot spam this play design like a teen on Madden.

Cal Rushing Offense

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing Success Rate 41.30% 85 41.80%
Rushing IsoPPP 0.9 67 0.91
Opportunity Rate 34.40% 102 39.00%
Power Success Rate 56.50% 106 68.90%
Stuff Rate 25.60% 123 19.30%

The lack of a usable run game was evident against Oregon where Cal was unable to get a successful run game going, it has been an on going issue especially without Tre Watson in the fold. I miss the Cal O-Line of 2016.

Cal Passing Offense

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Passing Success Rate 34.00% 109 40.30%
Passing IsoPPP 1.54 46 1.46

Yet, as bad as the rushing offense has been... Cal passing offense has been even worse. The lack of Ray Hudson at TE and now with Demetris Robertson out for the season, it is hard to see a path of the Cal passing offense to get better in the efficient game. Ross would’ve done better with 2016 under his belt as the starter, behind a solid O-line and Chad Hansen as a reliable target. Now he has a much more depleted line and WRs.

Defense

Cal Overall Defense

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Success Rate 47.60% 120 40.30%
IsoPPP 1.02 26 1.17
Avg. FP 32.8 120 29.7
Pts. Per Trip in 40 3.97 43 4.41

Cal defense was not granted the best of field positions in the last couple of games. Add the fact that Cal is 2015 defense level bad at stopping efficient plays, it can die a death of a thousand cuts if it fails to obtain a turnover. As the field shrinks inside its own 40 it is easier for Cal to control the field and clamp down on the opposing offense.

Cal Rushing Defense

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing Success Rate 53.00% 126 41.80%
Rushing IsoPPP 0.73 22 0.91
Opportunity Rate 44.20% 120 39.00%
Power Success Rate 88.20% 121 68.90%
Stuff Rate 15.30% 114 19.30%

Any smart OC in the Pac-12 needs to be fired on the spot after they face Cal if they fail to run the ball as much as they pass against Cal. With the way the statistics are shaping up for Cal, no matter the scheme or design, there isn’t much that can be done if the DL isn’t large enough to plug the run lanes. I shudder to think what Bryce Love may do to Cal’s rushing defense in the Big Game.

Cal Passing Defense

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Passing Success Rate 42.60% 91 40.30%
Passing IsoPPP 1.34 48 1.46

The situation is no more rosy when the passing game is involved. And not much to say.

Cal HAVOC

Category Team Rk Nat'l Average
Category Team Rk Nat'l Average
Std. Downs Run Rate 56.60% 82 58.90%
Pass. Downs Run Rate 27.00% 108 33.80%
Overall Havoc Rate 14.50% 94 16.60%
DL Havoc Rate 1.50% 125 4.20%
LB Havoc Rate 6.90% 8 3.70%
DB Havoc Rate 4.60% 83 5.50%
PD to INC 35.10% 58 33.50%

Cal’s HAVOC rate is highly dependent on Downs and Davidson doing their work as ILBs with PBUs, TFLs, Sacks and turnovers. Yet they cannot make up for the lack of the same production from the DL. A product of having the 4-3 DL play 3-4.

Washington Huskies, 5-0 (2-0 Pac-12 North): S&P+ Overall Ranking: #7

Overall

Washington Overall

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 39.5 7 18.1 11
Points Per Game 55 10 13.5 4

This is the equivalent of getting your ass kicked in academics by a UCLA admit, and then having to face a Berkeley admit thereafter? This is the rough equivalent of it. Washington faced some easy opposition in the 5 games it played, with the best being ranked 51 S&P+.

Offense

Washington Offense

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Success Rate 51.90% 8 40.30%
IsoPPP 1.31 20 1.17
Avg. FP 32.2 32 29.7
Pts. Per Trip in 40 5.34 17 4.41

Jake Browning is back and he is as efficient as he was before. Even without John Ross he is able to produce. With the run game being top 25 the Huskies are poised to be pose a multidimensional challenge for the tired Cal defense. One key to shutting down the Husky offense could be forcing Browning to pass to anyone but Dante Pettis who has 30% of the targets.

Washington Catch-Rate

Player Pos. Ht, Wt Year Targets Catches Yards TD Yds/ Catch Yds/ Target Catch Rate Success Rate Target Rate
Player Pos. Ht, Wt Year Targets Catches Yards TD Yds/ Catch Yds/ Target Catch Rate Success Rate Target Rate
Dante Pettis WR 6'1, 195 SR 40 27 368 6 13.6 9.2 67.50% 47.50% 29.90%
Chico McClatcher WR 5'7, 181 JR 13 10 128 0 12.8 9.9 76.90% 69.20% 9.70%
Hunter Bryant TE 6'2, 239 FR 12 10 182 0 18.2 15.2 83.30% 75.00% 9.00%
Will Dissly TE 6'4, 267 SR 12 9 135 2 15 11.3 75.00% 75.00% 9.00%
Myles Gaskin TB 5'10, 191 JR 11 8 98 2 12.3 8.9 72.70% 63.60% 8.20%

Chico McClatcher is another player who can be a nuisance to Cal with his high catch rate. Again Cal WRs are deficient in their catch rates relative to their foes.

Washington Rushing Offense

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing Success Rate 48.10% 26 41.80%
Rushing IsoPPP 1.04 24 0.91
Opportunity Rate 39.00% 67 39.00%
Power Success Rate 69.20% 63 68.90%
Stuff Rate 16.90% 41 19.30%

The running game by Washington is balanced with a 2:1:1 attempt split among the top 3 backs of the Huskies. With Gaskin taking the brunt of the carries for an impressive 7.1 yards per carry.

Huskies are a 50:50 running team which means they are at the bottom of the FBS ranks in rushing on standard downs. Cal should be wary of being sucked into PA plays due to the balanced nature of the 1st down. They may not have Ross but Pettis is a home run threat as well.

Defense

Washington Defense Overall

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Success Rate 40.30% 64 40.30%
IsoPPP 0.67 1 1.17
Avg. FP 26.2 18 29.7
Pts. Per Trip in 40 3.13 11 4.41

Playing this defense will be akin to a school like Rice playing against Cal’s defense. Points will be scarce, the battle in the trenches and for the RBs and on the outside for the WRs fierce. Washington clamps down on explosive plays at a FBS best level. The difference between Cal and Washington is thrice as big as Cal and the average FBS team.

Their “weakness” is allowing efficient plays and that “weakness” is merely 64th in the nation in efficient play prevention. This is true both on the ground and through the air.

Washington Rushing Defense

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing Success Rate 41.60% 72 41.80%
Rushing IsoPPP 0.52 1 0.91
Opportunity Rate 29.30% 9 39.00%
Power Success Rate 57.10% 32 68.90%
Stuff Rate 20.40% 65 19.30%

Washington is capable of forcing teams to have to beat Washington with 1000 cuts and long and plodding drives. The antithesis of what Cal has been able to do on the offensive side. Truly a match-up from hell for a Bowers lead offense. Without the benefit of Robertson or the versatility of Watson... it’ll be a tough one.

Washington HAVOC

Category Team Rk Nat'l Average
Category Team Rk Nat'l Average
Std. Downs Run Rate 55.10% 93 58.90%
Pass. Downs Run Rate 25.00% 118 33.80%
Overall Havoc Rate 19.20% 26 16.60%
DL Havoc Rate 2.20% 107 4.20%
LB Havoc Rate 7.50% 3 3.70%
DB Havoc Rate 6.70% 34 5.50%
PD to INC 47.40% 2 33.50%

Third game in a row Cal will face a defense with a similar HAVOC profile to Oregon and USC. A highly disruptive LB opponent spells trouble for Cal that tries to use the intermediate area to give its playmarkers a chance to catch and go. Like Cal their LBs are the strength of the defense, with a young secondary that matriculated many of its best it will be up to the WRs to win their match-ups.

Final Thoughts

This will be the toughest game Cal will face in 2017. A former CFP contestant with an equally proficient defense and much of their offense returning. Though this will not devolve into a 66-3 affair that Ole Miss suffered at the hands at their own CFP opponent, I don’t expect this to be a win at all.

However, if Cal can bounce back and stay competitive against a bona fide CFP opponent, it would show a lot of promise. Remember that during Peterson’s first year at Washington they lost against a Goff lead Cal at home. Cal can be on the same trajectory real quick, real soon with a good showing.