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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. Oregon State

Another homecoming game. Another heartbreak.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Oregon State at Cal
Remember what joy felt like? Neither do I.
Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Homecoming games have been particularly cruel to the Bears ever since that Bizarro World goal-line stand defeated Utah in 2016. In 2017 we fell just short in double-overtime against the Wildcats during peak Tatesplosion. In 2018 the team got lost in the tunnel and didn’t bother showing up against an utterly atrocious UCLA team. And this year we let the woeful Oregon State defense look like the ferocious Utah defense in a mind-bogglingly inept performance (speaking of which, who’s excited for a trip to frigid Salt Lake City this weekend? At least the game will end about 6 hours before the snow starts falling).

Let’s get this over with.

Rating the Bears

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 22.1 20.4
Rush Offense 20.2 19.7
Pass Defense 50.8 29.1
Rush Defense 47.8 29.5
Special Teams 44.5 26.7
Coaching 32.6 25.7
Overall 27.8 24.3
Win Chance at Utah 12.1 (-25.9) 21.7 (+4.8)

Over the last several years the offense typically has earned lower scores than the defense, but both are about 30 points lower than they usually are. Special teams were just okay, although it’s nice to see some semblance of a punt return game. I feel like we haven’t had that since DeSean Jackson was terrorizing Pac-10 opponents. Coaching and overall scores suffered, and our predictions of a win over Utah have plummeted.

Ratings Comparison

Comparison of Saturday’s performance (gold) to other recent games against Oregon State (blue)

This was on the lower end of performances against Oregon State in recent years, but it was a strange decade of games against the Beavers. We split the series 5-5 and the average margin of victory was 24.5 points. Other than this game and the equally inept 2016 OT loss, every one of the games was a blowout win or a blowout loss. So this loss was bad, but it pales in comparison to something like the 14-62 loss in 2012.

Comparison of Saturday’s performance (gold) to other games in the Wilcox Era (blue)

Compared to other games in the Wilcox Era, this one fared pretty poorly. During the bye week I reworked the way I generate these plots. I used to do them in OpenOffice but now I generate them in R. The above plot was getting too crowded due to all the data points, and OpenOffice wasn’t letting me make the dots semi-transparent. So I decided to start plotting these in R, because I have much more control over the plotting parameters. However, this comes at the cost of greater upfront time and effort, hence using the bye week to write up the code to build these plots. Now it’s much faster to generate the plots because I simply copy+paste the code and voila. You may not care one iota about these details about my plotting strategy, but I guarantee that you’re enjoying reading this much more than you’d enjoy reading even more about that miserable loss.


It was a loss, so let’s see the lowest scores first.

Old Blues

Name Rating
1. Berkelium97 0 (0.0%)
1. berkeleyecon 0 (0.0%)
1. Fire Starkey 0 (0.0%)
1. David Shaw has a muffin-top neckline 0 (0.0%)
1. Jacobs. 0 (0.0%)

Five-way tie for first! Even David Shaw _________________ got in on the action. I’m surprised more people didn’t submit goose eggs. I don’t think we’ll ever top last year’s UCLA game for most 0s.

Next, the highest scores of the week.

Sunshine Pumpers

Name Rating
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
2. Bowlesman80 532 (76.0%)
3. SmcD 442 (63.1%)
4. Goldenlikethebears 415 (59.3%)
5. 1988goldenbear 410 (58.6%)

Go home, Calamo. You’re drunk.

Finally, those with the closest scores to the community average.

The Voice of Reason

Name Deviation
1. Chicagobear 2.81
2. Mitchgobears 4.71
3. Nor-Cal Scott 9.16
4. TD_24 9.92
5. elliott mercer 10.11

This was a weird category this week: we had both the lowest and highest scores of the season qualifying for the award.

Now let’s see how you felt about the game in words. I’m not expecting much in the way of pleasantries.


Any comments on the gameday experience?

  • KJ1980 - Great weather. Nice early start time. Little, if any, football was played between 1130 and 3
  • 1988goldenbear - Crowd looked pretty sparse.
  • Bearlygolden - The most deflating gameday in recent memory.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?

  • Llchapman01 - Inconsistent
  • AAHQ - No imagination, no deception, no misdirection, no quick hitting slants and few quick developing pass plays needed when you are playing a second string offensive line. Time for BB to go.
  • ShanghaiBear - Not bad but the O-line needs to give the QB more time and the QB needs more quick passing plays (slants, bubble screens, etc). Get the ball out quickly to mix it up.
  • Iwasthere4theplay - I’ve been quiet about Baldwin but it’s time for him to go. Modster beat us in 2017 when he came into the game when the starter got hurt. He is not coached well now.
  • Jacobs. - Fire Beau Baldwin
  • elliott mercer - non-existent
  • prd74 - The Oline played like they were not on the same page. Injuries can only be used as an excuse for a couple of weeks. If they are not playing well together, put in others. Can’t be worse. The QB looked under rehearsed and indecisive.
  • Old Bear 71 - The first pass set the tone for the day. That was an easy, must catch toss and oops. Some nice long balls and catches, then some throws behind open receivers. Arrgghhh!
  • Torreys Tacos - I’d like to see Brasch get more reps. Definitely a higher ceiling than Modster.
  • None - Still looking for a QB and an offensive coordinator. Actually, it would be a whole lot easier if we had an offensive line.
  • Diasfordays - Modster can throw IF AND ONLY IF the pocket is pristine. Unfortunately for us, it won’t be that way very often with our (lack of) depth at O-line. Brasch looked decent! Obviously his stats were nothing to write home about but I liked his willingness to sling it. I wonder if we’ll burn his red shirt (I fully expect him to see more time on the field, especially as BB feels his seat warming).

What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?

  • Bearlygolden - Two big problems: catatonic play calling and a patchwork O-line.
  • TCHOP - Bright spots at times but very inconsistent as with the offense overall.
  • FriscoBear - More variation. Running up the middle didn’t work 8 times in a row, why try 9?
  • Sacman701 - There is no running game as such. The backs had 50 yards on 22 carries against a weak run defense.
  • Poohbears - Poor line play leaves no place to run.
  • TD_24 - This offensive line might be the worst thing I’ve ever seen. The “experience” with Daltoso ain’t it right now and we will be lucky to get 10 against Utah.
  • ShanghaiBear - No push / run blocking, no run game.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?

  • Torreys Tacos - Lack of adjustments to cover the short passes over the middle were a major problem early on. Smart teams aren’t going to test the DBs, so you have to cover those.
  • Texashaterforlife - If it is 3rd-and-10 and you are blitzing, do not give the WR an 11-yard cushion.
  • Mitchgobears - Why can’t we cover people coming across the middle of the field.
  • Sacman701 - Kept us in the game, but also allowed Beavs to convert a lot of 3rd downs. Pass rush was good.
  • Poohbears - These guys are not what the hype led us to believe. The poor line does not help at all.
  • ShanghaiBear - Too many receivers wide open. Man / press. A good QB and receiver will always find spots in the zone and with our lack of pass rush, this makes it worse.
  • TD_24 - Fine but systematic breakdowns on misdirection is what killed us in the end, this team needs to be more disciplined when the game is tight and they’ve been out there a while.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?

  • Sidobagga - Not their best, but how are they supposed to do well when the offense offers them no respite from play?
  • ShanghaiBear - Porous and lacking backfield disruption plays.
  • KJ1980 - Solid and very stout. The D was the only reason Cal was in the game.
  • Poohbears - Blown off the ball, the line cleared the lanes for the linebackers to make the tackle.
  • Bowlesman80 - We got pretty beat up here. OSU has some dangerously quick ballcarriers. Of course, we have Deng, Goode, and the Weaver flag, #WeBringThePain, which can also mean a hasty surrender by runners, but OSU figured out how to avoid Weaver on some plays. Not their best day, but this was a VERY good OSU offense.
  • Calarchitect75 - Can only hold the damn so long if Offense doesn’t control the clock.
  • 1988goldenbear - Solid for most of the game, but costly holes during the TD drives. Weaver is a beast.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?

  • TD_24 - Same mediocrity that it usually is. At least we can punt normally like last year.
  • TJ - no thoughts- except stop missing fields goals under 40 yards because given the Cal offense ,there goes games
  • prd74 - Missed field goal was the most glaring problem, but the other areas weren’t stellar either.
  • TCHOP - Good to very good but there’s definitely room for improvement.
  • Torreys Tacos - Thomas needs to get back to his early season form.
  • Bearlygolden - Just OK.
  • 1988goldenbear - Solid enough, but the missed FG in the first half hurt our chances. Punts were better, but why can’t we get a bounce on one of those muffed punts? That could’ve been huge.

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

  • Goldenlikethebears - Ugh. I don’t know if it’s coaching “Baldwin really blowing it on scheme or play call” or just one kick in the nuts after another. I would like to see Baldwin gone. I like Greatwood because our O-Line has improved considering we are playing literal children against seniors.
  • Poorly - I believe Justin is a great head coach with the exception of not firing the offensive coach. Defense coaching a solid
  • TCHOP - Offensive coaching continues to be problematic. It seems to be too conservative at times and lacks imagination and consistency. Needs to be more dynamic.
  • Mitchgobears - The offense was unprepared and couldn’t execute. Poor play calling.
  • Sacman701 - We don’t seem to be doing enough to try to work around the OL’s limitations.
  • Bowlesman80 - I am not sure if out right firing BB is the best choice, but plain vanilla offense just does not work this far into the season. It never does. It did not last year. So, demote Baldwin or make someone else his “co-coordinator”? I throwing out ideas, here, but we need help without deflating team morale.
  • FireBeau - The best adjustment we could have made would have been to leave Baldwin in the locker room at halftime.
  • TD_24 - This should be Beau Baldwin after the game: Aight ima head out. Even I can call better plays hell I ran an inside stunt on madden earlier and caused an int, let me get innovative.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?

  • Alpha1906 - Fire Beau Baldwin
  • TD_24 - I told everyone throughout the week that we would get their best shot and the fact that this kick time called for an upset that was brewing. Few people listened and here we are...again.
  • ShanghaiBear - Lack of early effort and aggressiveness, poor coaching / play calling and getting pushed around on both lines doomed us against a caller dweller.
  • KJ1980 - Our offense stinks. We might not be able to outscore a mediocre Cal intramural touch football team. Or maybe even a powder puff team. Oregon State beat us. This team could lose out. How were we number 15 a few weeks ago? I sat in the stands and was shocked by the lack of any consistent offense. Now I have to come up with a way of blaming this all on Furd.
  • elliott mercer - very disappointing
  • SMcD - the offense was very predictable,didn’t play to Modster’s abilities.Not a pocket passer. The O line could not pick up the rush.
  • BTown85 - Hi, my name is BTown85 and NOW I’m going to judge the rest of Cal’s season based on the last game.......crap......
  • prd74 - Losing to the Beavers is an embarrassing stain on this team’s season. We beat UW? Well we just lost to the last place team. Live with those clippings.
  • Giovanni - I have attended 100’s of CAL football games in person and this was the lowest performance I have witnessed.
  • TCHOP - Disappointing loss. Cal shouldn’t have lost this game. The coaches need to teach their quarterbacks how to protect themselves as best they can when they run the ball. For example; only run the ball when the game is on the line and or on a critical down and for god’s sake only slide feet first when at all possible. It’s better to have no gain on a play than for the QB to be injured and out for the remainder of the game and especially the rest of the season. The offense needs to be able to score a bare minimum of 21 points per game which is really not asking too much.
  • Poorly - I expected much better against the Beavers. Knowing our offense is struggling our defense needed to step in and keep them from scoring and that didn’t happen.
  • 1988goldenbear - Sucked to lose this one. It is almost unforgivable given the importance of the outcome for a bowl, the caliber (prove me wrong Beavers!) of the opponent, and the location of the game. Sad. I hope that Garbers turns into a solid QB like Luton next season...