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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. ASU

Hello darkness, my old friend...

Animals in a national park Photo by Lino Mirgeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

A regression was inevitable. If you flip a coin once and get heads, that’s not unexpected. Twice in a row? Interesting, but still reasonable odds. Three in a row? Now you’re getting lucky. Four?! Highly unlikely. After winning three games in a row that came down the the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, Cal could not make it four in a row and improve to 5-0. According to our season predictions, we were most likely to be 3-1 going into the ASU game. We didn’t expect a 10-2 team, but with enough bounces in our direction, it was possible. And certainly much more likely if we start off 4-0.

After overachieving relative to our expectations, it’s hard not to dream of achieving something great in the 2019 season. After 4-0, our preseason predictions projected that we would earn 4.4 wins over the remaining 8 games. So we were already on track to be 8-4 or 9-3 rather than the 7-5 we predicted at the beginning of the year. We’re still on track for 8 wins, but a win on Friday would have put us at 5-0, with 9 wins becoming the likeliest outcome for the year. 9 wins! I know, it’s hard not to wonder what could have been...

Rating the Bears

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 36.7 22.0
Rush Offense 52.0 19.4
Pass Defense 50.4 22.7
Rush Defense 45.7 22.6
Special Teams 46.4 25.9
Coaching 46.8 24.1
Overall 44.8 19.4
Win Chance at Oregon 21.3 (-10.0) 24.5 (+8.5)

With none of the scores exceeding the low 50s, it was an unpleasant game. In fact, this was the third-worst game since the start of last season. I’ll spare you the pain of reminding you which two losses last year were worse. Although it earned the lowest score of the evening, pass offense was on track to earn another great score thanks to Garbers’ resurgence. Unfortunately, his injury unexpectedly put Modster into the fray and he did not look prepared as he badly missed several throws and tossed his first career interception. That lack of preparation likely accounts for the abysmal score the coaching category received.

Thanks to the uncertainty at the QB position and a resurgent Oregon defense, our predictions of a win in Eugene have plummeted compared to our preseason predictions.

Ratings Comparison

Compared to other recent games against the Sun Devils, this one was pretty sub-par.

Comparing Friday night’s performance (gold) to other recent games against ASU (blue)

The offensive scores look especially bad given that we scored 40+ on them in 4 of our last 5 meetings.

Compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era, the scores fall somewhere in the below-average range.

Comparing Friday night’s performance (gold) to other games in the Wilcox Era


It’s time to lift some spirits (not the alcohol kind) by handing out some awards.

Old Blues

We lost, so we recognize the pessimists first.

Name Rating
1. TedJefford 0 (0.0%)
2. RoseBowlThirsty 90 (12.9%)
3. fuck this stupid fucking sport 140 (20.0%)
4. the townie 155 (22.1%)
5. Jerseybear94 173 (24.7%)

“fuck this stupid fucking sport,” indeed.

Next, the optimists.

Sunshine Pumpers

Name Rating
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
2. Bowlesman80 550 (78.6%)
3. bearlygolden 525 (75.0%)
4. Goldenlikethebears 491 (70.1%)
5. sacalum 490 (70.0%)

Not even Pac-12 After Dark and that fog/mist floating in the skies could dampen these folks’ sunshine.

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

The Voice of Reason

Name Deviation
1. Kj1980 7.03
2. ak_A 8.29
3. Nor_Cal_Scott 8.42
4. CoBears 9.11
5. Dmh65 9.11

And now your comments about the game.

Any comments on the gameday experience?

  • CoBears - What a disappointing turn in our season. I hope Modster looks better after having some #1 practice.
  • GuMiBears - I’m sorry. I don’t go to the game like normal, but the difference was I also believed in the Bears to win this game. That sure went out the window with Garbers injury :(
  • the beer - Friday night is for high school football. Saturday is for college football. Sunday is for pro football. Make it stop.
  • Bowelsman80 - Well, so many positives, not the least of which was turnout. By necessity, we needed to celebrate and support from our home. For our tailgate, we had Cheez-Its, smashed by Oski; Moonpies to honor Ole Miss; and Oski decorated with devil horns and tails so that outdevil the Devil. I have even made a video of our tailgate with a shout out to CGB. We could not be there, but we felt it from away. The outcome was tough, but not reasonable. Respect to ASU. Go Bears!
  • Dmh65 - I was there.. the crowd just never seemed that into it or energized. Felt that Cal was outplayed even before Garbers went down, and that they were lucky to be tied at halftime. The third Q all running TD drive was the highlight. Our D just couldn’t stop their O.
  • Heyalumnigo - The tailgate was good. Stadium was more full than I expected. Student section looked to be completely filled.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?

  • Sacman701 - The receivers don’t usually drop this many balls. Garbers looked good until he went out, Modster looked rusty and hopefully will be better given more practice snaps.
  • 1988goldenbear - Garbers looked pretty good, like he was building on last weekend and the game was starting to slow down for him. Then that freak injury on a good tackle. Modster will hopefully get comfortable with more reps, but he looked terrible. That pick to end the half was painful. There were at least two drops of must-catch balls too. All around poor game for this facet of the team.
  • Teepee - Garbers looked like he was in good rhythm before he went down. Modster was in a tough spot but truly a terrible performance, particularly for someone who is a grad transfer and has experience.
  • RememberTheCalamo - Modster was 51 of 79 for 671 yards and 4 TDs at UCLA, so he’s not that bad. His poor surprise performance at the end of the first half is forgiveable, but after some time to collect himself at halftime he should have played better. I think coaching and play calling was the real problem.
  • GuMiBears - Great with Garbers. He was turning the corner. Modster does have a better spiral and running speed, but he doesnt have the timing or reads down yet.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?

  • GuMiBears - Fine in spurts. I was surprised Brown and Dancy were able to do 12 straight run plays cause they couldnt do that early on in the game nor late in the game.
  • Texashaterforlife - For a short time in the 3rd Qtr, it was awesome. I wish we did that more in the first half. Eventually, ASU wised up. It will just get tougher unless Modster can prove he can pass it better than he did tonight
  • Bowlesman80 - Well, I thought for sure a whole offense, with combinations of passing and running confusing the opponent’s defense, but credit to ASU coaching for making adjustments. Brown and Dancy seemed to do better when there was better moments of smashmouth blocking to follow, but our OLine seemed bettered on many plays. They better defended the run, once they figured out that we did not feel good about Modster’s pass game.
  • 1988goldenbear - We didn’t have a whole lot going on, aside from that one drive to start the second half. The run game will continue to get throttled until we can punish the opponent with the pass, so this might continue to be a rough season.
  • Iwasthere4theplay - It was working when we were able to throw. When ASU knew we were going to run it wasn’t good. Looks like ASU loaded the box with Brown in the game and tried to force him to the edge since that isn’t his strength. Darcy is looking better every week. One cut and he’s gone.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?

  • Bowlesman80 - Wow, not their best game, but, overall, okay, with a score that is at the high end of our average. Some wide open ASU receivers made me very nervous.
  • Sacman701 - ASU wasn’t able to throw it consistently, but we left receivers blindingly wide open on several occasions and often did a poor job of containing Daniels in the pocket.
  • Poohbears - Little pressure. Soft coverage.
  • the townie - Acceptable I guess. No big plays.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?

  • CoBears - Not good enough. Couldn’t get the stops we needed or that we have gotten in all our other games to date.
  • GuMiBears - Benjamin was hard to put down on the ground. Weaver wasnt getting blocked cause it didnt seem he was able to get Benjamin. Lots of times defenders in the backfield yet cant get benjamin or daniels on the ground.
  • Old Bear 71 - OK when it did not count, really sad in the red zone in 4th Q. That last third and a mile for ASU on the fourth was so dismaying. ONE guy catching the skinny dude would have preserved the W.
  • Teepee - Steadily worn down near the end. The said thing was that Cal was up 17-14 mid-way in the 4th and the defense simply couldn’t get a stop. This game was their’s to lose and they did.
  • 1988goldenbear - It felt like we controlled a really skilled RB for most of the game, but Benjamin imposed his will once the D got tired. That last soul-killing drive was all will, and ASU had more of it than us.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?

  • CalBare - mediocre
  • Bowelsman80 - THOMAS! Another clutch performance. He’s a keeper. Punts are still not everything we’d want, but seem to be improving and there were some close calls on the punt rush, by ASU.
  • Iwasthere4theplay - What happened to Coutts? Our backup was a huge dropoff and the block was huge. Returns were nice.
  • TJ - Not sure
  • Poohbears - Meh

What are your thoughts on the coaching staff’s performance?

  • Ninjaned - TBH I blame this loss entirely on the coaching staff. They did not do enough while Garbers was in to separate us. We were playing hesitant and vanilla schemes. Then we couldn’t keep our team mentally tough to deal with the loss of garbers. The drops were a sign that everybody checked out. We need fire to grind out tough wins and that comes from coaching. Really disappointed.
  • CoBears - Fine choices out of the half, but we had no plan for how to throw the ball at all once Garbers was out. Modster can’t be that bad. That’s at least part on the coaches.
  • TD_24 - Got completely outdone in the 2nd half with their adjustments. ASU kept the balance and Cal just assumed a base defense would work itself out. Their defense locked in on Modster and kept our defense on our toes, and not to the degree anyone was expecting.
  • Iwasthere4theplay - Why did they abandon the quick throws when Modster came in the game? I wasn’t able to guess if they had RPO’s and he was choosing to run the ball or throw deep to an alert but his arm is off. In the 4th he wasn’t even making the sideline throws. I think the defense on the ZR wasn’t ideal. Usually the DE would slide down the line but on the QB keepers he wasn’t able to keep up with him. Maybe a LB scrape or a nickel spy would have worked better.
  • Heyalumnigo - Not great. Not sure what the coaches could’ve done on offense after Garbers got hurt. It looked like Modster wasn’t ready. Should the coaches have gotten Modster more practice time?

What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?

  • the townie - A tale of two offenses. One that moved the ball but didn’t score enough and one that did nothing. D couldn’t bail out the team.
  • Texashaterforlife - If Garbers stayed healthy, I believe we would have won and then had a decent shot at taking Oregon in their own house. The defense also gave up its most points so far this season. A 4-2 record at the bye week now appears realistic. I am having flashbacks to the 2007 season after Nate Longshore went down; and Cal’s slide to barely bowl eligibility.
  • Nor_Cal_Scott - Easily a game the Bears would have won with Garbers. Players did a good job, but Cal did not get any breaks.
  • Old Bear 71 - Our sturdy Golden Bears played hard and tough, but ASU seemed to want it more at the end. Our offensive was pretty ineffective in the 4th quarter. If you can’t pass, then you’re not going to run effectively with much big boys piled on the los.
  • Teepee - Clearly losing Garbers had a profound effect on the tone of the team. But the fact is, had Cal’s defense risen to the occasion they still could have won this game. They continually let the ASU qb escape pressure, look downfield and complete passes -- or make significant yards with his feet. This one stings because the rest of the season has some real challenges. If Garbers is out for the year, we’ll be fortunate to win 2 more games.
  • TJ - Like Weaver said- not enough . With Chase out defense was the only chance. Coaches needed to have another dang play (/ set of plays) when Devon came in and threw the dumb interception.Just amazing how QB’s can do this, but it isn’t all that uncommon. Cal running game obviously needs to be better-could have used it there -or maybe a fake handoff to a RB and then pass back to him . Lobbing that pass in the end zone, high as it was like that to boot, was something the coaches should have said do not dang do, at all costs, unless the guy is open by a mile. Saw video where Weaver said that when Cal blows a game like this for the last 3 years hey then fall off a cliff. Yep, he’s got that right. He was saying they’d better come back strong at Oregon. Yep -but I’m guessing Garbers is out for the season.
  • Iwasthere4theplay - With the injuries we’ve had I think the rest of the season is going to be a challenge. I do like the fact that the team never gives up. They played hard all game. Go Bears!