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Golden Nuggets: Moving On From Oregon Loss

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Analyzing one of the new MBB recruits.

Oregon v California Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Football

  • Cal missed a chance to join the national conversation after losing Saturday.

“You can’t turn the ball over that many times against a team like that,” Wilcox said about 30 minutes after Cal’s Saturday night loss and about 30 minutes before the calendar flipped to Sunday. “… We had chances for shock plays, big plays. We didn’t connect on them. … Against a team like that, the margin for error is just so much smaller. That’s a talented team, and you’ve got to make those plays.”

Despite the lack of quit this weekend -- there were many, many places for a lesser team to have folded -- it was about as discouraging a performance as you could have asked for, with poor quarterbacking from both guys, and an inability to even slightly inconvenience Justin Herbert whatsoever.

Worse still, was the adjustment of the season outlook. Keeping pace with the Ducks on Saturday would have signaled the presence of a rapidly improving team, raised its ceiling at a once-in-a-decade moment when most of the conference is eminently beatable. In that timeline, Cal keeps control of the game with a revived Patrick Laird. Takes advantage of the Oregon penalties, its missed field goal, the handful of punts they are able to force to eke out a fourth straight win.

I want to live in that timeline; the same one we dreamed about had Cal beat Utah in 2015, that we lived in the night they upset Texas, or Washington State.

  • Instead, we all get this one, counting up the bowl math instead of assuming it a given, again having crashed at the first sign of wind behind their sails.
  • Andrew Wild is not happy with the choice of quarterback(s)

So what exactly has me second guessing the offense just four games in?

Well, for one, there’s the mystery of Ross Bowers. Wilcox was effusive about Bowers’ growth on the field and as a leader in the preseason. Despite rumblings of a legitimate competition under center, the incumbent starter took the heavy majority of first-team snaps in practices. It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around that — the promise he showed last season — and the fact that he’s been designated to a baseball cap and a headset after one underwhelming half against UNC.

Wilcox has been consistent in his rationale that Garbers and McIlwain both brought more as runners and force defenses to account for a more dynamic offense. Clearly that’s the case with McIlwain, but Garbers’ 16 attempts for 66 yards over the past two games likely don’t have defenses quaking in their boots. Furthermore, Garbers’ 58 percent completion rate and 3:3 TD:INT ratio when you remove lowly Idaho State from the equation make him look like a straightforward hinderance.

There’s been no indication that Bowers has suffered some sort of injury from the heavy hits he took in his brief time on the field against the Tar Heels. So if this call was made purely because of on-field performance, I’m still having trouble reconciling Wilcox’s decision in my head.

We would anticipate that Garbers would get his fourth straight start on Saturday night in Tucson against Arizona (2-3, 1-1 Pac-12), but Wilcox did not confirm that.

Asked on Monday whether Garbers would continue to be the starter, Wilcox replied, “We have a plan in mind.”

That suggests there is an outside chance that McIlwain could get his first start since transferring to Cal from South Carolina. He was the more effective quarterback on Saturday, rushing for 123 yards and getting more playing time than Garbers against the Ducks.

“I thought they came to the meetings with an open heart and mind, and I think everybody in the program looked at what we could have done better and (how) to take advantage of some of the opportunities that we had, and then moved on and came out and had a really good practice,” Wilcox said. “Everybody was disappointed, no doubt about it. But nobody is discouraged because you see the things when we’re doing them right — and not even perfect, don’t have to be perfect — but just staying in rhythm and not making those critical errors, what we’re able to do against a good team and where we’re going as a team, as a program.”

Misc.

  • Commitment analysis for not-so-newest (another committed to Cal a few hours ago!) Men’s Basketball recruit in D.J. Thorpe who announced he’d join the Bears last month.
  • Three Golden Bears are ready for post-season action with the Oakland A’s!

go beArs!