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Rating the Bears: Cal at BYU

In which we all agree about the defense and have wildly differing opinions about special teams.

NCAA Football: California at Brigham Young
That face when Ashtyn Davis just destroyed your receiver.
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

What a difference a week makes. After last week’s offensive ineptitude, the California Golden Bears had signs of life as the Toyota Tercel offense sputtered along thanks to Chase Garbers’s reasonably accurate passing and Brandon McIlwain’s slipperiness on the ground. As a result, the ratings for offense grew substantially over last week.

Average Rating Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 62.0 17.1
Rush Offense 66.8 15.2
Pass Defense 84.9 8.0
Rush Defense 85.8 9.4
Special Teams 59.6 22.7
Coaching 82.8 11.1
Overall 78.5 10.6
Win Probability vs. Idaho State 97.2 (+2.2) 4.5 (-5.0)

Both offensive categories climb to respectable scores in the 60s. Meanwhile, the run defense outperformed the pass defense (a refreshing surprise after last year’s periodic struggles defending the run). Special teams had a huge standard deviation because we were split between rewarding the altitude-assisted kickoffs through the end zone and punishing a botched punt return. Continuing a pleasant theme of the Wilcox era, coaching earns scores in the 80s.

Our Idaho State predictions ticked slightly upward. Interestingly, the standard deviation is half of what it was in our preseason predictions. For whatever reason, we’re much more certain in the outcome of this near-certain win.


We now turn to our awards and begin by recognizing the most optimistic raters.

Sunshine Pumpers

Name Rating
1. David Shaw is a ballbag 700 (100.0%)
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
1. Goldenbears02 700 (100.0%)
1. rocksanddirt 700 (100.0%)
5. Old Bear 71 632 (90.3%)

Our favorite President of the David Shaw Fan Club leads the way as four of us gave the Bears perfect ratings. Generous? Certainly. But I’ll allow it because road wins in (former) Mountain West venues have been depressingly elusive over the past decade.

Old Blues

Name Rating
1. MadCalDiseaz 370 (52.9%)
2. Goffuhninny 383 (54.7%)
3. Two-oh 400 (57.1%)
4. LeonPowe 420 (60.0%)
4. kev dog 420 (60.0%)

Every single one is above 50%! That’s a pretty good sign when the most pessimistic raters still give the Bears decent scores.

Finally, we have those whose scores were closest to the community average.

The Voice of Reason

Name Deviation
1. CoBears 3.82
2. bearanamo 4.35
3. goldenone 4.40
4. FrmrG8r 5.02
5. SlapHappyBear 5.54

The top four all would have won last week’s VoR outright. Nice.

We’re not done yet because we have comments this week! Thanks to Rob for going through them all and picking some to include in this post. And thanks to me for not being an idiot by forgetting to include a place to submit comments on this week’s form.

Gameday Experience

Rollonyoubears111: That Cal visitor section looks like a pediatric slice of pizza that’s served at Pump it Up. It’s small, but gets the job done. Kudos to those Cal fans who braved the etoh free game!

Auricursine: While whiskey remained an option to drink during the game, we were able to stick to milder alcohol content thanks to the D.

Cugel: I was in Provo for the game, BYU fans were hella loud and focused, and the atmosphere throughout the game until mid fourth quarter was electric (picked up again during their “comeback”). BYU fans are the nicest in college football, they handed out free ice cream to the entire Cal visiting section at the end of the first quarter. Pluses: Intelligent, non-drunk fans to talk with. Minuses: exactly zero tailgating, well unless you count “Cougar Tails” inside the stadium. Insanely loud sound system at full blast throughout the game - not counting the beginning of the game & halftime, their band played maybe 30 seconds.

Passing Offense

Rugbear: 66% for 214 yards with two INT’s. Except for the INT’s it was respectable.

Willis Chong: We have a functional passing game. It worked for what we were doing. We got that big play when the coverage left Noa wide open, but we still don’t have a deep threat. Hopefully, we can start getting our tight ends involved a bit more soon. Maybe next week?

CoBears: The two touchdown throws were good. There were a few more good throws mixed in from both quarterbacks. But we certainly aren’t going to scare many teams with our passing.

RememberTheCalamo: McIlwain and Garbers have range that Bowers doesn’t have. But Webb and Goff have spoiled me for the accuracy I have come to expect from college QBs.

HAG: Not very impressive. Nice pass on the first TD. 2nd TD was underthrown but we got lucky because the defender got crossed up. McIlwain has a cannon and squeezed the one pass into Noa amongst 4+ defenders. He seems pretty accurate as well.

Rushing Offense

justbear: Whatever gets us first downs, it worked and we got the W, but let’s set up some 100 yard games for Laird

CoBears: Good mix of quarterback runs, laterals on the RPO, and Laird runs. BYU often seemed off-balance. But not a ton of success in the traditional run game. And the fumble for a scoop and score sucked.

CalBear91: The OLine did a great job overall, preventing any sacks I think. Laird was limited, but the QB duo won the game running for us.

sacman701: Very weird to see the QBs as the primary threat and Laird as an afterthought, but 189 yards on 4.8 a pop is nothing to sneeze at. It may be less likely to work now that opponents will have more film on McIlwain.

Pass defense

justbear: Excellent. Best DBs since 2009.

Goffuhninny: I still have Dykes PTSD and yet we are so strong


Auricursine: Oh my, our feels like we’re wakening from our long nightmare. Are we?

Old Bear 71: Heh, heh. Pass on Bynum at your peril. He’s going to end the season with at least ten picks. Several more pick sixes are in this D’s future.

Goldenlikethebears: We can haz nice things

Run defense

David Shaw is a ballbag: Dream Weaver is DESTROYING teams!

sacman701: Our DL isn’t very disruptive, but it held up well enough to stop most runs short of 5 yards and set up 3rd downs where BYU had to throw. Tackling was generally good.

Goldenlikethebears: Its a bit...stuffy.

San Diego Oski: Squally Canada might have the best name in college football, but Cal did a great job of bottling him up after the first drive.

Special Teams

Rugbear: Except for the fumble we were awesome. Wharton will not make that mistake again.

LeonPowe: Equal parts yikes and yee-haw!

Coaching Staff

justbear: Excellent coaching on D, overall good game management by Wilcox and Baldwin with the lead.

Willis Chong: A better called game. I disagreed with a few decisions, but those were mostly toss ups without a really good option. It was nice that the coaching staff started to play towards our strengths of pass defense and a solid churning running game.

BearOnAMesa: One thing this staff does consistently well is make adjustments at the half. Turnovers aside, the offense was a lot more fluid and diverse in the second half, and the pass rush was noticeably more effective in disrupting BYU. Prevent defense was nicely aggressive too, even though BYU did convert a couple frustrating fourth downs. Decisions on when to punt or not on fourth down all felt sound, though the specific playcalling wasn’t always the best.

Lucky1715: Better. But questioning Tuiasosopo’s abilities right now. We have 3-4 QBs and none of them can pass over 20 yards with any level of effectiveness or consistency. They are telegraphing reads and making some fundamental mistakes compared to other QBs with similar experience and skill. QBs MUST get better. Coach Baldwin’s play calling was better (then again, not too worried there), and Coach Alexander is a god in my personal opinion with that secondary.

Overall Performance

rocksanddirt: only one stat matters. W

dmh65: Without grade inflation, they earn an A, given where they were coming in to the game, on the road, overcoming turnovers, finding some offense and dominating on D.

BacherBear: Coming in to this game, I wasn’t a huge fan of the 3-headed quarterback idea, but the effect of having only 2 quarterbacks on the field really surprised me. For starters, I was not expecting to see Bowers sit through the whole game, but Garbers and McIlwain got the job done well by themselves. I know some will argue about the momentum on the field, and switching out QBs mid-drive interrupts the QB, etc. However, I disagree. Having two quarterbacks on the field caused the BYU defense to have to constantly switch things up, and while they did do an admittedly decent job of keeping up with it, we won, and not every team will be able to handle it. What if this double QB method could be channeled into a strength, not something we have to fix? I mean hey, you can’t argue with the results, right? 2-0 feels great.

CalBear91: Wonderful

sacalum: Keep on winning!

Thanks for participating! See you next week after the Idaho State game!