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Cal Football Advanced Statistics: Cal vs. TCU

Second tastiest bowl of the 2018 season

California v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Cal (64th S&P+ Ranking) vs. TCU (57th S&P+ Ranking)

Cal Cheez-It

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Success Rate* 39.90% 94 37.50% 22
Marginal Efficiency* -6.00% 96 -8.50% 16
IsoPPP* 0.97 126 1.01 10
Marginal Explosiveness* -0.13 126 -0.09 11
Avg. FP 30.9 42 27 14
Pts. Per Scoring Opp. 3.52 128 4.37 48
Expected TO Margin -2.6 94
Actual TO Margin -2 82

Cal is what Cal is. 1-11 offense paired with a 10-2 defense. I think it is a pity that the defense was wasted the same way the offense was in the last year of the Jared Goff era.

Cal Offense (121st-Ranked Offense) vs. TCU Defense (23rd-Ranked Defense)

Cal on Offense, TCU on Defense

Category Cal Offense Cal Rk TCU Defense TCU Rk
Category Cal Offense Cal Rk TCU Defense TCU Rk
RUSHING S&P+ 94.7 96 110.1 29
Rushing marginal efficiency* -6.20% 65 -8.60% 48
Rushing marginal explosiveness* -0.2 117 -0.13 41
Opportunity rate* 48.50% 54 44.10% 34
Stuff rate* 18.50% 57 23.70% 17
PASSING S&P+ 86 122 114.2 11
Passing marginal efficiency* -5.80% 109 -3.20% 46
Passing marginal explosiveness* -4.20% 124 0.18 57
Passing completion rate* 60.80% 52 55.90% 32
Sack rate* 6.90% 77 7.40% 36

The offense has no points of strength against the TCU defense. On the ground or through the air there will be struggles, especially with the passing offense crashing to the nadir. Will the added developmental practice help the chemistry between Chase Garbers and the WRs/TEs? Will a lot of freshman players with 3 or fewer games played play in the bowl game in the aftermath of the bowl game practices?

One possibility to keeping the ball on the ground and playing time of possession and limiting turnovers. Garbers will keep using his feet to extend drives.

What needs to happen to give us hope for the future is that the offense will show ability to move the ball down the field with efficiency and rhythm.

Quick note: Patrick Laird is 60 yards away from his second 1000 yard season and with his usage rate (10th most touches out of ALL FBS players for 2018) he will reach this mark.

Key thing to watch: first 3 drives, will we get 5 1st downs on those 3 drives?

Cal Defense (12th-Ranked Defense) vs. TCU Offense (99th-Ranked Offense)

Cal on Defense, TCU on Offense

Category Cal Defense Cal Rk TCU Offense TCU Rk
Category Cal Defense Cal Rk TCU Offense TCU Rk
RUSHING S&P+ 110.7 27 95.4 92
Rushing marginal efficiency* -10.50% 27 -4.50% 34
Rushing marginal explosiveness* -0.26 7 -0.17 111
Opportunity rate* 48.30% 84 48.30% 58
Stuff rate* 17.50% 85 21.70% 104
PASSING S&P+ 112.5 14 94.1 98
Passing marginal efficiency* -6.40% 21 -2.60% 84
Passing marginal explosiveness* 0.1 34 21.10% 66
Passing completion rate* 58.70% 60 59.40% 67
Sack rate* 6.90% 47 3.20% 12

Another phase of the game where the defense will play 1st strings. TCU can protect the QB from sacks, but besides that their struggles will be similar to the Cal offense’s. With the Cal defense dominating every statistical point on the advanced stats. Force the TCU offense to pass the ball and put the onus Jalen Reagor and Grayson Muehlstein to win the game. Big note is that none of the top 3 receivers for TCU are taller than 5’11” which provides the Cal DBs with the physical match-up win.

This could be the exclamation point on the strong Cal defensive season, this is the weakest S&P+ offense the Cal defense will face, besides the Cal offense it faces every practice, and could be an absolute bloodbath if Cal maintains the turnover rate it has had throughout the season against weak offenses.


This is going to a rock-fight. TCU is in many statistical ways a very similar team to Cal when it comes to the way they win: by forcing opposing offenses to move at a snail’s pace (Cal allows 4.7 ypp, TCU allows 4.9). With both offenses operating at abysmal levels of efficiency (5 ypp for Cal, 5.5 ypp for TCU), this is shaping up to be a game with a lot of quick changes of possessions with the winner of the game decided by a turnover or a missed field-goal.

Ultimately, a win here is going to be icing on the cake that was this season, what matters is how the team used the practices to develop the players who didn’t get a lot of 1st team snaps and how the glimpses of the future look... all over a bowl of Cheez-its.