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Rating the Bears: Cal at Arizona

In which we complete a winless campaign against Arizona in the 2010s.

NCAA Football: California at Arizona
This was probably the only time Wilcox smiled during the entire evening.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Another trip to Tuscon ends in agonizing, tortuous defeat. Does that sound familiar? We now have a five-game losing streak to Arizona and haven’t beaten them since that bizarro Foles double-pass game in 2009. In that game we were fortunate enough to be the beneficiary of a very unusual sequence of events (I cannot remember another instance in which I’ve seen a QB flagged for attempting two passes on the same play). Alas, we were on the unfortunate end of some typical Arizona wackiness this week, whose pinnacle was an interception of McIlwain’s pass that was then dislodged into the heavens by Jeremiah Hawkins and then seamlessly recovered by a divinely placed Arizona defender who completed the touchdown. I am very thankful we only place in Tuscon once every four years, although that seems painfully too frequent.

Now let’s see how you all felt about this week’s eye-bleachingly bad loss.

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 26.9 23.5
Rush Offense 46.4 27.1
Pass Defense 72.4 22.6
Rush Defense 70.6 25.3
Special Teams 63.3 23.3
Coaching 31.6 26.8
Overall 31.3 23.1
Win Probability vs. UCLA 49.3% (-10.2) 27.0 (+13.3)

As is becoming worryingly common this season, the offense earns dreadful scores while the defense puts in another solid performance. Coaching and overall fared about as poorly as the offensive scores, suggesting that the great defensive performance was vastly overshadowed in our minds by the chaos on offense. For the second week in a row standard deviations are huge—in the 20s rather than the low-to-mid-teens we usually see—because it was once again difficult to determine how to rate the Bears’ performance. Do we reward the team’s ability to move the ball efficiently on offense or punish the ceaseless turnovers? Should the defense be given a free pass for that oddly ineffective first quarter? Do we reward the defensive coaching staff or punish the offensive coaches?

Finally, our two-game losing streak has lowered our predictions for a Cal win over the Bruins compared to our preseason predictions. This is particularly noteworthy because few expected UCLA to be winless coming into Berkeley. The Bruins’ 0-6 record ought to have greatly increased our predictions of a win. But 9 turnovers in two games will certainly sap our optimism.

Next we will move on to a comparison of this performance and other recent games against the Wildcats.

How did our Saturday’s performance (gold) compare to recent performances against Arizona (blue)?

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, wins against Arizona have been scarce recently. In fact, we haven’t had a single win against them since we started this series on CGB (USC is the only other Pac-12 team we have failed to defeat in this series). Of the five losses to Arizona, Saturday’s was the worst according to our ratings of the offense. That we managed to be even worse than the 2010 team that didn’t score a single touchdown is quite the ignominious achievement. The defense had a pretty strong day, although it was topped by the masterful defensive performance in 2010 (except for Arizona’s final drive in that game). Coaching earned the worst score of all recent games against Arizona and overall was the worst rating by a large margin. That’s particularly painful given how agonizing our recent games against the Wildcats have been.

Surprisingly, this performance didn’t fare as poorly I had expected compared to the rest of the Wilcox era. I thought this would be the worst by a large margin, but not a single one of these ratings was the worst for its particular category.

How did Saturday’s performance (gold) compare to other games in the Wilcox era (blue)?

The offensive ratings were bad, but not quite the worst. That honor goes to the Washington game last season when we failed to break 100 total yards. Defense and special teams were pretty average for the Wilcox Era. Even if the defensive scores are somewhat depressed by the fact that we lost, that these didn’t even place in the top-five is a testament to how consistently elite the defense has been recently. Coaching and overall fared poorly, but they were also not worse than last year’s UW game. They also managed not to fare worse than last year’s blowout loss at Colorado, which is arguably the worst loss of the Wilcox era. However, if we lose to the Bruins this weekend, I expect record lows among a handful of these categories. Let us pray to Oski that we do not have to suffer such an outcome.


Old Blues

I don’t blame anyone for giving this performance 7 bagels.

Name Rating
1. rocksanddirt 0 (0.0%)
1. David Shaw eats buttholes 0 (0.0%)
3. Squatting Bear 80 (11.4%)
4. Notthisyear 130 (18.6%)
5. MadCalDiseaz 200 (28.6%)

Sunshine Pumpers

Did you all even watch the game?

Name Rating
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
2. rpwBIGC 537 (76.7%)
3. SlapHappyBear 529 (75.6%)
4. teepee 520 (74.3%)
5. Nielsen 505 (72.1%)

The Voice of Reason

Owing to the huge standard deviations in our ratings, this week’s VoR winners have some of the largest deviations we’ve ever seen among our top-5. It’s hard to be close to the community average when our ratings are all over the place.

Name Deviation
1. batmortonski 7.96
2. Bearonamo 9.87
3. CoBears 10.35
4. dinan3 10.79
5. clbear 12.07

And now let’s see how you felt about the game in words. I’m sure this will be nothing but pleasantries.

Any comments on the gameday experience?

*There were none that talked about the gameday experience [Not a single person wanted to relive the gameday experience—we’re off to a particularly dark start already!]

What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?

M4ld - B-Mac was actually alright for most of the game. Going for it on 4th and 1 in the 4th made him desperate and that’s when things turned south quickly. I’m certain he plays differently if playing for the win rather than playing from behind. Play calls also probably would’ve been more conservative.

texashaterforlife - I think it would be better to have a good passing QB like Garbers and teach him to run the option than to have an option-run QB and teach him to throw. McIllwain is a decent thrower but not a good one. Specifically his decision making and read-progression needs to improve. And can anyone tell me what is up with the coaching staff in regards to Ross Bowers? Is Bowers injured or in a very bad doghouse?

bartmortonski - Because of his dynamic running and the team’s lack of playmakers, I understand playing mac. The question is how long can you put up with Mac’s poor decision making, below average accuracy and his fumbles. Maybe he gets better, maybe not. After his sample so far, I don’t think he’ll get much better this year, the moment seems too big for him. I don’t think the team gets to 6 wins while we wait for his improvement. Since I’m old and not wanting to wait, I’d rather Wilcox give Garbers a full game whack at it and try to save the small chance of 6 wins this year. I think it’s incredibly important to show improvement this year to keep the Bears on an upward trajectory. If Garbers doesn’t show anything against the Baby Bears I’m not sure what Wilcox should do. I know I’m gonna pray.

1988goldenbear - McIlwain had a really solid first half, and it certainly looked like it was a good coaching choice to start him and run with him. He made some really nice throws. He bailed us out of a bunch of 3rd and long situations due to penalties. But then the second half happened. We had so many opportunities that were pissed away with penalties, turnovers, and more penalties. And more turnovers.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?

NinjaNed - Our running game is alright. But it requires us to have the lead, once we start getting behind, we just start chucking it every play, and obviously that’s not gonna help us in the long run.

CoBears - Our running game was good. Why didn’t we use it with 3:13 to go down by 3? The stats on this game other than turnovers sure aren’t reflected in the score.

M4ld - Laird did well. B-Mac is the star here again.

teepee - Better this game.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?

BearCali - Happy

ak_A - passable, pardon the pun.

bartmortonski - Pray for more pass rush.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?

Rugbear - Again, very good.

CoBears - Also strong. Our LBs were great.

goldenon - Fairly Stout

BearOnAMesa - Mostly decent outside of one or two big plays allowed. The defense as a whole was quite solid but not neither unit was a standout. They deserved a win.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?

Rugbear - Good, but I’d like our guys to slow up their gunners and give Wharton a chance at a return.

CoBears - The field goal at the end to give us a chance was well-executed.

Alboogie - No issue, wished we had someone who could take it to the house.

SlapHappyBear - Like that quick setup FG attempt at the end. Unfortunately, we didn’t recover the onside. This squad is solid.

Squatting Bear - Continue to be solid

What are your thoughts on the coaching staff’s performance?

Rugbear - Defensively great. I’m scratching my head about our offense.

NinjaNed - I don’t understand how we got all those false start penalties, did we not expect the noise and thus practice with it. We started the game without the silent count, so that makes me believe that we didn’t. The O-Line was the worst offenders, the coaching needs to be better to prepare our guys to win. Also I’m not mad for going for it on 4th down in the goalline, but don’t run it from the shotgun, just QB sneak it like everyone else.

Lucky1715 - Horrible. Worst coached game under the Wilcox era. Lots of frivolous penalties, lack of energy, no creativity on offense, lack of discipline. Starting to question almost ALL of the coaches after this week’s performance.

Torreys Tacos - “Awful. Horrible gameplan and failure to adjust. There was a lot more to pick apart than just the typical early burning of timeouts in the second half. The first time I really have major criticism for this coaching staff. I thought the 4th and 1 at the 3 was the tipping point. Get under center and either push the line forward or give the ball to Malik. It’s simple.”

retired QB - Do not understand QB situation, also I think play calling leaves a lot to be desired.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?

NinjaNed - We were obviously the better team, but we have a lot of cracks. We don’t have the maturity or poise to recover from adversity. I want to believe in Wilcox because I think he’s a good coach, but each and every week it seems like a new symptom of the team not being mentally tough enough to win the game. Please fix. Also recruit some 5 star WR’s please. We need to stretch the field.

None - Our defense was great in this game. They gave our offense plenty of chances to score. Overthrown/off-target passes directly resulted in 14 points for AZ... UNACCEPTABLE

Lucky1715 - “Hideous. This should have been a solid victory given the state of Tate and the overall QB situation. We gave this one away worse than we did to USC last year. I blame the coaches first and foremost as the team lacked discipline, innovation, and general energy. We still lack the ability to throw downfield regardless of the player under center. The O line was solid at moments and then the constant penalties in other moments. How many Laird TDs are we going to give away? Lack of great recruiting is starting to show when we play Pac12 teams. Really disappointed in Wilcox and his staff this week (first time).”

teepee - Mistakes killed them. Not only interceptions and fumbles but unforced penalties. It is not acceptable to have 5 or 6 false starts in the 5th game of the season. This game was their’s to win but they handed to Arizona with bad decisions, bad execution and penalties. Sad day for the Bears.

retired QB - This is a game we should have won, but didn’t.

Well, that was...a football game. We can all agree about that. Join us next week for what I hope is a much more pleasant batch of ratings. I don’t think this fanbase can survive a loss to the 0-6 Bruins.