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Cal Football Advanced Stats: Cal vs. Oregon State

Worst-in-the-Pac-12 Bowl

UCLA v California Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

For the second week in a row, the Cal offense has failed to show itself as anything but utterly outcoached. The defense did what they could all season long and were due for a game where they would have to rely on the offense to win.


UCLA’s pass:run ratio. They executed the game plan that Cal should have. Ran the ball relentlessly with Joshua Kelley and let Dorian Thompson-Robinson have easy completions, never forcing him to fit balls into mailboxes.


Total Tackles for Loss by the UCLA defense against the Cal offense. That number of TFLs is an issue for the team since the FSO Polonez offense cannot take negative yards since they put us off schedule.


Cal had its cleanest team game in regards to penalties. After a disastrous two-game stretch, Cal had only three penalties; however, they were painful nonetheless with a hold by Ray Hudson negating another large Patrick Laird run and the targeting call on Joshua Drayden.

Cal (65rd S&P+ Ranking) vs. Oregon State (51th S&P+ Ranking)

Fun fact: Seven weeks in and Oregon remains the only team that Cal has played that is ranked higher than Cal. Another fun fact—in all of its games, Cal has failed to field an offense that would perform above the 30th percentile.

Cal Overall Week 6

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Success Rate* 44.10% 49 38.90% 47
Marginal Efficiency* -3.10% 63 -8.10% 25
IsoPPP* 0.95 127 0.96 7
Marginal Explosiveness* -0.16 126 -0.13 10
Avg. FP 31.6 32 26.9 24
Pts. Per Scoring Opp. 3.26 128 4.41 64

Cal Offense (119th Ranked Offense) vs. Oregon State Defense (124th Ranked Defense)

Cal on Offense, Oregon State on Defense

Category Cal Offense Cal Rk Oregon State Defense Oregon State Rk
Category Cal Offense Cal Rk Oregon State Defense Oregon State Rk
Rushing marginal efficiency* -2.50% 24 6.10% 129
Rushing marginal explosiveness* -0.25 120 0.07 112
Opportunity rate* 51.40% 30 62.00% 129
Stuff rate* 16.40% 33 12.80% 124
Passing marginal efficiency* -3.60% 94 5.10% 125
Passing marginal explosiveness* -5.20% 122 15.50% 58
Passing completion rate* 62.50% 48 63.20% 105
Sack rate* 4.80% 43 1.80% 130

Weakness on weakness from a macro standpoint, Cal can win solely by relying on running the ball consistently and without panic even if down by a score. Oregon State is one of those rare teams that fails to execute at even a below-average level. Besides the big play, Cal should be able to excel at the same level we did against Idaho State.

Additionally, I think that Cal should start Chase Garbers with Brandon McIlwain as a change-of-pace QB, despite the stubborn insistence of the staff in playing McIlwain. With Patrick Laird regaining some of his mojo, we hope to see the offense move towards mediocrity. And with our defense, offensive mediocrity doesn’t just mean winning games—it means winning games convincingly.

Cal Defense (12th Ranked Defense) vs. Oregon State Offense (112th Ranked Defense)

Cal on Defense, Oregon State on Offense

Category Cal Defense Cal Rk Oregon State Offense Oregon State Rk
Category Cal Defense Cal Rk Oregon State Offense Oregon State Rk
Rushing marginal efficiency* -9.60% 53 -3.20% 28
Rushing marginal explosiveness* -0.24 15 0.1 14
Opportunity rate* 48.50% 100 43.60% 101
Stuff rate* 19.10% 68 22.30% 104
Passing marginal efficiency* -6.10% 23 0.80% 51
Passing marginal explosiveness* 5.60% 33 9.40% 98
Passing completion rate* 59.60% 69 63.40% 38
Sack rate* 5.10% 87 11.40% 122

Oregon State will try its best to run the ball. Cal needs to deny Oregon State the efficient run and force their QB to throw the ball more often than 21 passes per game. The Beavers run the ball on 61.7% of standard downs (37th in the nation) and Cal needs to be conscious of the fact that this is a poor match-up for the defense, which allows these efficient runs at a relatively high rate.

The Beavers will definitely look at the UCLA game plan of slowly moving the ball down the field with the run. Oregon State can easily win this game if they can obtain a run:pass ratio of 1:3 while being able to sustain drives. Going back to the previous paragraph, each first down will tell the story of each drive. If Oregon State can get 3–4 yards on the ground on first down, they will be able to control the game despite the gap in S&P+.

To emphasize the point: Cal defense moves up to top-5 status when the opposing offense is facing a passing down (2nd and 7+, 3rd and 5+). While Oregon State is quite good on passing downs (around average on all metrics), they resemble Cal on those downs—and we all know how that looks.

Force Conor Blount to throw the ball and we win the game; let Jermar Jefferson run the ball for 3–4 yards on first and second downs and we’re in trouble.


Being 3–3 after handing the little baby bears their first win of a season is a painful experience. Luckily, Cal is facing the most hapless Pac-12 team and the team as a whole can use this as an opportunity to bounce back and gain some confidence.

However, this can only happen if Cal is able to force Oregon State to pass the ball and give itself the chance to establish a consistent run game to limit the turnovers McIlwain is undoubtedly going make when forced to make plays from the pocket. The Oregon State defense will surely study the way UCLA stymied the QB run game and Cal has to be able to self-scout well enough to have counters to such play designs.


What is your Cal–Oregon State prediction?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Big Cal win
    (27 votes)
  • 41%
    Close Cal win
    (46 votes)
  • 21%
    Close Oregon State win
    (24 votes)
  • 11%
    Big Oregon State win
    (13 votes)
110 votes total Vote Now