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The Wrap: Washington dominates Cal, 38-7

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That was not a fun game to watch for Cal fans.

California v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

In one of the more unfortunate games of the season, the Bears met a much better Washington team tonight. While the outcome was certainly not a surprise, the sheer lack of competitiveness from the Bears on the offensive side of the ball is very concerning. The offensive line couldn’t give Bowers any time in the pocket, Bowers continued to struggle reading the defense as well as the pass rush, and the rushing attack ended the game with negative rushing yards. That is right, the Bears had negative rushing yards against Washington tonight. This is even more crippling when you consider the losses of Tre Watson, Demetris Robertson, Kanawai Noa and Ray Hudson on the offensive side of the football. Bowers simply doesn’t have experienced receivers getting off of their blocks and even if they do he is usually staring down two lineman who broke through the offensive line. That cannot be fun.

Nor is it fun to watch. Of all the Cal games this year, this viewing experience was excruciatingly painful. The Cal defense is clearly improved over last year, making great tackles and forcing a very talented Washington offense into plenty of third down attempts. While the Bears ended up on the wrong end of a lot of third down plays, you can make a strong case that their inefficiency in those situations had a lot to do with the offenses inability to sustain a drive longer than 30 seconds. At the end of the first half, the Cal offense had 46 yards of total offense with -19 rushing yards. Cal was fortunate to be down only 24 points going into halftime with that level of ineptitude, not to mention the poor field position that was handed to the Cal defense most drives.

The game only got worse from there with Cal unable to do anything positive on the offensive side of the football. The only flash of hope came on a perfect ball Bowers threw to Hawkins on the outside who proceeded to flat out drop the pass. Ultimately the Cal defense would be responsible for the only points for the Bears this game and the Cal offense would finish the night not recording a single point.

ESPN: An embarrassing night to say the least

It would be extremely remiss of me to not mention a few key lowlights for the ESPN broadcast Cal fans were welcomed to Saturday night. If you missed it, this week Chris Petersen openly criticized the late night game times and voiced the same frustration many of us have had regarding the scheduling of west coast games. ESPN took it upon themselves to make a stand against Petersen and anyone else questioning the benefit of the late night time slots. What conspired was childish behavior from a network that showed little if any empathy for student athletes and came across just as arrogant as ever (the same arrogance that saw them jump into several massive television contracts and overlook the declining number of cable users, a trend that has continued to grow).

The broadcast started off with Mark Jones and Rod Gilmore using airtime to talk over Petersen’s comments and then providing a statistic with no source as to why night games were watched more than other college football games. Then Jones and Gilmore went on to comment about the lack of network options to watch college football games, extending Kirk Herbstreit’s ridiculous stance from earlier Saturday that Washington should be thanking ESPN for showing their games. They then followed that up with a third quarter show that was petty and an obvious shot against Washington.

To make things even worse, the broadcasting duo of Jones and Gilmore spent most of the night making insufferable and unintelligent comments about almost anything besides the actual football game. This included but was not limited to barking in the broadcast, talking about high school baseball teams and acting as though no college football game had ever been shown on any network other than ESPN. The broadcast successfully managed to anger both the Cal and the Washington fan base simultaneously for very different reasons. It was an embarrassing production and one can only hope the Jones/Gilmore tandem doesn’t return to Berkeley this Friday night or perhaps for the rest of the season.

Quarter by Quarter Breakdown

Q1:

Cal started with the ball and unbeknownst to everyone would have their most successful drive of the first half on their first possession. That ended in a Bears punt and Washington methodically drove downfield. Once in the red zone, Derron Brown would drop perfectly into the passing lane and jump Browning’s route to the Washington receiver in the end zone. Brown couldn’t hang onto the football and that dropped interception proved to be very costly for the Bears, not to mention the amount of daylight he had in front of him had he caught it. The next play Browning would hit Hunter Bryant on a pass that looked like it was initially intercepted but Bryant did a good job of making the play a virtual toss up, tie goes to the receiver. 7-0, Washington.

The next drive Cal would go three and out, a common theme of the evening. The Bears punt coverage did an excellent job containing Pettis all evening, much to the chagrin of Rod Gilmore and Washington would end up going three and out on the possession. The Bears took over after a Washington punt at their own 16 yard line. The Bears ran a nifty first down play that included a great fake and Patrick Laird gained nine yards. Yet Laird would get hit hard at the end of the play and fumble the ball giving Washington excellent field position for their upcoming possession.

The Bears defense would hold again, highlighted by a great tackle by Evan Weaver to bring down the ever elusive Myles Gaskin on an outside run. The Huskies settled for a field goal that would miss wide right and the Bears recovered from the turnover beautifully.

Alas, the next Cal possession would be a quick three and out and the Bears would punt the ball right back to the Washington offense.

Q2:

The Huskies would start this drive at the 50 yard line after a strong return by Pettis. Washington drove downfield before the Bears defense would stiffen up once more and hold the Huskies. Browning initially hit his receiver for a first down but after review it was clear the receiver never had the ball and thus it would be fourth down. The Huskies elected for the field goal, 10-0 Washington.

The next Cal possession the Bears would nearly instantly go three and out, giving the ball right back. Every Cal fan knew the Bears were in trouble at this point because the defense had been on the field for what felt like the whole game. It simply became a matter of time before the Bears defense couldn’t contain a very talented Washington offense. What unfolded in the next few possessions ending up being exactly that.

Browning would lead the Huskies down field, finding Pettis and Hunter consistently. The Bears defense would rally for a few stops and inevitably break on third downs. Eventually the biggest break would be on a third down play where Browning squeaked by the defensive line to score from 21 yards out. 17-0, Washington.

The next Cal possession would be yet another three and out with Washington taking over at the Cal 27 after another Pettis return. Four plays later Gaskin was into the end zone, 24-0 Washington and the game was nearly over. How bad was the Cal offense in the first half? Take a look below:

Q3:

The Huskies started with the ball and the Cal defense rallied again. Tevin Paul would come up with a huge sack on Browning, giving the Cal offense another chance to make a game of it. The Cal offense had a flicker of life, responding well and gaining just their second first down of the night on the first two plays. The next play Bowers would find Jeremiah Hawkins running down the sideline with five yards of separation and only the end zone in front of him. Hawkins would unfortunately drop the pass and the Bears would punt the ball back to Washington.

The next drive Washington would execute the back breaking drive for Cal, utilizing both Gaskin and Browning to wear out the Cal defense. Browning would hit a total of four different receivers on the drive, capped off with a two yard touchdown pass to Justiss Warren. 31-0, Washington.

The next possession Cal would go three and out, punting the ball away again to Washington. The Bears defense would once again stand up and this time James Looney would make a huge play for the Bears. Browning hit Pettis but Looney knocked the ball out of his hands and Darius Allensworth picked it up and ran it back for a touchdown. Without the Cal defense playing as well as it did, the Bears might have been shut out entirely. 31-7, Washington.

Q4:

The last scoring drive of the night would feature Myles Gaskin finally breaking through the stout Cal defense. The Bears held Gaskin, who prior to the evening was averaging over seven yards per carry, largely in check. At long last it was too much and Gaskin topped off the evening with a seven yard score just four minutes into the fourth quarter. 38-7, Washington.

The remaining highlights of the fourth quarter involved Chase Forrest showing signs of life against the Washington second team defense which for what it’s worth is still one of the stronger reserve units in college football. The final Cal drive would stall in the red zone, leading to a poetic botched field goal to finish the game. After long last, the game concluded in Husky stadium, 38-7 Washington.