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Cal Football Advanced Statistics: Cal vs. Idaho State a.k.a. Chad Hansen Bowl

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Starting the season 2–0, as per keikaku. (Keikaku means plan).

NCAA Football: California at Brigham Young Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Overview of the BYU Game:

5.59 AY/A

This was the cumulative AY/A of Chase Garbers and Brandon McIlwain. In 2017, this would tank 97th out of 99 eligible QBs. Right on par with Maryland’s Max Bortenschlager, who in 2017 passed for 10 TDs, 5 INTs and 1313 yards. Not good company to keep. Last week I stated that to win the QBs would need to net 7.5 or above. Despite falling very short of the mark, if we were to remove the INT, the AY/A jumps to 7.25. I think as long as we can limit the turnovers in the passing game the efficiency of the air attack can be sustainable for a 7/8-win season.

One reason that the low total AY/A didn’t hurt the team was that the defense was able to hold Tanner Mangum to:

4.8 AY/A

Cal defense held him to a AY/A that would’ve ranked fourth-worst in his already-poor 2017 season, where he averaged a AY/A of 5.0 and could not even crack the top 99 QBs in the 2017 leaderboard. This number reaffirms that to pass on this Cal defense is to court inefficient offense. With an AY/A of 5.1 for the last two games, Cal can at least know that there is a passing offense in the FBS that is even worse than ours.

3.08 YPC

That was the combined yards per carry of Cal RBs: Patrick Laird, Derrick Clark, and Marcel Dancy. It is easy to see that this is not a sustainable average; after two games, Patrick Laird himself has a YPC of 3.2. He bolsters his production with his pass-catching (6.2 yards per catch, with most of the yards accrued at the BYU game). After a couple of RB carries, it was evident that the BYU front seven was keying on the RBs, hence the usage of the QB runs by McIlwain and Garbersm who combined for 119 yards and a TD (5.67 YPC). It is comforting to know that since Laird is such a flexible player, he still poses a threat as a receiver.

Cal vs. Idaho State

Idaho State was Chad Hansen’s first college football team before transferring to Cal

Cal on Defense

Idaho State went 4–7 in the FCS and 2–6 in the Big Sky conferences (same conference as UC Davis). They won their FBS game against Nevada (3–9 in 2017) 30–28, comfortably leading the Wolves until a late but futile fourth-quarter surge.

The Bengals passing game produced a respectable 7.97 AY/A with 22 TDs and 11 INTs in 2017. Despite this efficacy, the Bengals ran the ball 57% of the time for a 4.1 YPC. Cal should look out for the passing by Tanner Gueller in his fourth year as a Bengal. His most explosive receiver is his brother Mitchell Gueller, who hauled in 36 catches for 896 yards and 8 TDs and is a former MLB minor league pitcher.

Statistically speaking, Cal has to maintain relative dominance. Limit first downs and force Tanner the Second of Idaho to throw to Camryn Bynum, Traveon Beck, and Elijah Hicks and have the starters rest by the third quarter.

Cal on Offense

We gotta make a big play, Wharton has to break out with over 100 yards, Jeremiah Hawkins also has to show his breakaway speed and optimally catch an accurate bomb down the field, and Patrick Laird needs to have a 20+ run or two. Besides those explosive plays, the offense needs to show an ability to sustain drives and keep the ball moving efficiently.

There isn’t much statistics here—if Cal can keep the ball moving and look like an effective offense, it’ll be a good sign. If Cal hits more than one “3 and out” per quarter/half, then we’re in trouble because the Idaho State defense in 2017 allowed 485 yards per game in the air and on the ground against FCS teams and a very bad Nevada team.

Conclusion

Numbers to keep and eye out for:

  • Cal QBs in non-garbage time AY/A > 10.
  • Cal RBs in non-garbage time YPC > 7.
  • Idaho State QBs in non-garbage time AY/A < 6. (ISU threw for a 8.1 AY/A against Nevada)
  • Idaho State RBs in non-garbage time YPC < 3. (ISU ran for a 3.3 YPC against Nevada)

All of these are performance benchmarks for the team that should indicate continuous evolution of the offense and dominance of the defense.