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Rating the Bears: Cal at Utah

The important thing is that it’s over.

Mural wood painting, Velturno Castle
It me
Photo by Albert Ceolan / De Agostini Picture Library via Getty Images

Well, we did it. We witnessed the worst game of the Justin Wilcox era. Worse than the Cheez It Bowl, worse than the 2017 blowout loss to Colorado, and even worse than last year’s still-unbelievable loss to UCLA.

Rating the Bears

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 9.2 19.8
Rush Offense 10.2 18.7
Pass Defense 16.0 23.9
Rush Defense 14.8 24.1
Special Teams 32.1 29.4
Coaching 14.8 22.8
Overall 9.9 19.2
Win Chance at WSU 16.5 (-41.7) 21.0 (+5.9)

Poor Spencer Brasch and the passing game didn’t break single digits while the depleted ground game barely cleared the two-digit mark. The defense earned abysmally low scores, as did coaching and overall. By comparison, special teams had a pretty decent day. Take all those scores, add them up, and you get the worst performance since the 2013 Big Game. Naturally, our predictions of a win against the Cougs have plummeted. Oski have mercy on our souls.

Ratings Comparison

As bad as this game was, it wasn’t the worst game we’ve played against Utah in recent memory. Nope, that belongs to the 2012 game, when we suffered a 22-point loss to a 2-5 Utah team.

Comparing Saturday’s dumpster fire (gold) to other recent games against Utah (blue)

Fun fact: that 2012 game earned a score of 4.2 for special teams and 3.1 for coaching. In that game, Reggie Dunn returned 3 kicks for 222 yards and 2 TDs. We also lost Keenan Allen for the season on a meaningless onside kick in garbage time. Special teams were truly abysmal in that game.

As I mentioned, this was the worst game of the Wilcox Era.

Comparing Saturday’s disaster (gold) to other games in the Wilcox Era (blue)

In every category this was either the worst or second-worst performance since 2017. Fun times.


Good, bad, and rational: we have our usual triumvirate of awards.

Old Blues

First, the worst scores of the week.

Name Grade
1. justbear 0 (0.0%)
1. A$AP Bear 0 (0.0%)
1. SP4294 0 (0.0%)
1. Goldenone 0 (0.0%)
1. Berkelium97 0 (0.0%)
1. Why did I watch this whole game? 0 (0.0%)
1. The REAL David Shaw has been plagiarized! 0 (0.0%)
1. rollonyourbears111 0 (0.0%)
1. wiata78 0 (0.0%)
1. Old Bear 71 0 (0.0%)

Goose eggs for everyone!

Old Blues

Next, the slightly-better-than-the-worst-scores-of-the-week.

Name Rating
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
2. Bowlesman80 520 (74.3%)
3. FriscoBear 445 (63.6%)
4. 1988goldenbear 270 (38.6%)
5. None. Just a CalFBblogger 240 (34.3%)

When I first set this game to record (because I certainly wasn’t going to ruin my Saturday night by watching 3+ hours of that disaster in real-time), the schedule said that Fox Sports 1 was going to air Idaho State at Southern Utah. I’m pretty sure the top three scores accidentally watched that game instead and graded some other team’s performance.

The Voice of Reason

Name Deviation
1. ABVidale 2.93
2. ak_A 4.94
3. Pierrezod 6.55
4. Chicagobear 6.65
5. CoBears 6.70

Two weeks in a row with a winner below 3. At least that’s one bright spot in the last two weeks.

I’m not sure how many synonyms for “terrible” there are in the English language, but I’m sure we’ll find out in this week’s comments.


Any comments on the gameday experience?

  • PooHbears - It was really cold in Rice-Ewhatever tonight.
  • Bowlesman80 - I made chicken tenders and pretended it was the Utes mascot. Note: that juju didn’t work.
  • Goldenlikethebears - Watched the first half at home then went to drink.
  • Oaklandishbear - The past few years, I’ve travelled to the mountain games as my dad lives in Colorado. Now that we are 0-3 in those games, I may have to rethink that. Still, it was a great trip from a personal perspective. My dad met me in SLC and we had a nice visit. Walked around the campus which was beautiful! Did some tastings at two distilleries in town. For a once-in-four-years event, it was worth the trip, until the game started. I’ve never walked out of a Cal game before, but left at the end of the 3rd Qtr after a 3rd and four play call was a long sideline bomb? Couldn’t stomach it anymore...

What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?

  • PooHbears - Receivers would help, as would blockers. Otherwise, all is well.
  • KJ 1980 - This may be Cal’s worst passing offense in 50 years.
  • FriscoBear - No Line. QB did a decent job and actually feel positive about the rest of season IF we get an O Line that can protect him.
  • TJ - Can’t rate- too many injuries to be fair
  • 1988goldenbear - Brasch is going to be good if we can keep him healthy. The roll-outs worked for the most part, but Utah adjusted and blitzed from everywhere once they understood they could easily cover our receivers. The O-line was dominated again. Our receivers dropped a couple of must-catch balls. But this all starts and ends with the O-line. I’d love to see how Brasch does with time to throw and receivers that can get open and also hang onto the ball. It was good to see Garbers without a sling.
  • Jacobs. - Third string QB looked better than I thought he would. Receivers worse than I thought they would be.
  • Bearlygolden - Brasch showed flashes of potential, but they disappeared into the black hole of the offense’s implosion.
  • TD_24 - I mean what is there to say really at least Brasch didn’t get hurt in the fire. I even think Bazakas somehow got hurt which means I’m next on the depth chart.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?

  • Prd74 - No lost fumbles. Best stat.
  • Sacman701 - The one phase of the game that was merely ineffective as opposed to off-the-charts horrible.
  • Bowlesman80 - Well, Chris Brown, as talented and tough as he is, needs blocking. But, wait, despite this known quantity, let’s run, up the middle, the Utes won’t see it coming. Seems like we’d have schemes that would be designed to work within our skill set, but those were, once again, not apparent.
  • 1988goldenbear - O-line was dominated. Utah was in the backfield so quickly and so often it was ridiculous. The wildcat plays were laughable.
  • Rollonyoubears111 - After the O-line continued to give lanes for the line backers and defense lines to get to the backfield faster than shoppers busting into Wal Mart on Black Friday, I refrained from saying anything at the screen. Instead, I gave a big sigh. MJ couldn’t let that pass. “You’re telling me I can’t sigh, now? That’s ridiculous! I have emotions, real emotions, but I’m holding back because I want to stay-- What? I’m a jerk? No I’m not. I just sighed! What? I’m a pretentious arm chair quarterback?! What? How? You’re pretentious!”
  • TD_24 - There were some good runs in the early going...and then in garbage time too when I turned it back to see our final doom.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?

  • Calarchitect75 - Has gone on holiday til next season.
  • PooHbears - This is not how to do it.
  • Sacman701 - Rock bottom. Weak rush, terrible coverage, bad tackling. Huntley could basically do whatever he wanted.
  • Bowlesman80 - Wow, never seen the Takers so rattled. Love this D, but, last night was painful.
  • Rollonyoubears111 - As the secondary got beat on that TD pass, I let out a curse word. MJ, being the tenacious being that she is, looked straight at me. I could feel her stare burning through the side of my head as I tried not to make eye contact. I sat there for as long as I could, looking straight at the screen. Waiting for a ridiculous response, instead I got silence. I turned to her. She just looked away and huffed. “What? I can’t show emotions now? Are you kidding me with- I didn’t curse at you! I cursed at- How was that directed at you? Didn’t you see that play? I- what? I’m not making excuses! What’re you even saying? No, you’re unreasonable! No, you are! I’m going to take a leak now, I’m not just walking away.”
  • BrooklynBear - Maybe the worst game played by #6 and #27. They took some awful angles and on Utah’s final passing touchdown, #27 was beaten by a TE to the pylon. Poor.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?

  • Prd74 - Our boys were run over by their men.
  • FriscoBear - Good performance for them. Weaver is a stud. Imagine where we’d be without him.
  • Goldenlikethebears - Evan Weaver is only 1 man. Deng is another. Goode and Bynum were there with Davis.
  • Bowlesman80 - Well, you try and catch Moss, if you think it’s so damned easy. We looked flat-footed on more than a few plays, but, partly, that could be because of talent. Wow.
  • 1988goldenbear - We were absolutely outclassed at the line of scrimmage, and Moss was ridiculously elusive and fast. Weaver is still a beast.
  • Oaklandishbear - What run defense? Moss is admittedly a beast, but Weaver and Goode missed tackles and we got bulldozed up the middle.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?

  • 1988goldenbear - Acceptable. Must be fun to kick at altitude. Our best play of the game was the missed FG by Utah.
  • Calarchitect75 - Amazing punting!
  • Justbear - We are the best at defending FGs. Everyone misses against us.
  • Sacman701 - I don’t like that we fielded a punt at the 5. Better to let it go, as it’s likely to go into the end zone.
  • Diasfordays - Coutts is back! Maybe? Idk. Pinning the Utes at the 1 was cool. They still scored a TD, but still.
  • CoBears - Coutts got plenty of practice. Only one truly crappy punt I can remember.
  • Old Bear 71 - Gotta get past midfield to try a field goal. Can’t run kicks that are out of the end zone.

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

  • Prd74 - Hard to win when your starters should be third stringers.
  • Sacman701 - The team was flat and unfocused, and some of that is on the coaches.
  • KJ 1980 - No Offense. No Defense. What was the game plan?
  • Bowlesman80 - You know, I think we’re seeing the “cliff” Weaver spoke of. He and we have all seen it before. Though we say it does not happen, how else can we describe it when it seems like a team is whipped, mentally and spiritually? This is the point where coaching and mentoring can make a huge difference. I see Wilcox as effective mentor, but he may see himself as too young to play such a role. These are young men, who have ordinary growing pains and culture shocks on top of the expectations of 1 100+ plus year football program to bear. Good coaching requires as much psychology as football strategy. I can only guess that these coaches have not been successful in keeping out players from “falling off the cliff.”
  • Jacobs. - Off day for defense. Signs that no one on the offensive staff can develop players.
  • Old Bear 71 - Game time or practice/preparation? Not sure that the players if left to themselves might have done better.Oh man
  • TD_24 - They worked with what they had but it still wasn’t good, only like 5 players seemed prepared.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?

  • Oaklandishbear - It was good for two series, and then Utah went 99 yards and eliminated any doubt about the outcome. Getting shutout is embarrassing. I want to think we are better, but how can so many other teams lose players and at least continue to make a game of it?
  • TD_24 - Wait we had a game? I thought 2 teams were supposed to show up to have a game. Good thing Wazzu vs Oregon was also on at the same time.
  • Old Bear 71 - Oh man, that was a painful experience.
  • RememberTheCalamo - Out of five stars it was a poop emoji
  • 1988goldenbear - Worst beatdown in a long time. Absolute domination on both sides of the ball. It never felt like we had a chance once Utah was up 14-0. I’m trying to be hopeful about finding another win this year, but Wazzu looked great against Oregon, and USC, UC Los Angeles and Furd have all turned things in a positive direction.
  • Goldenlikethebears - They embodied the life of a cal EECS major. When you’re best isn’t good enough. At least they tried?
  • Sacman701 - No positives whatsoever. The game was a perfect setup for a disaster: playing a very green 3rd string qb on the road against a good team, the weak after a poor performance in a demoralizing home loss. I can almost give them a pass for not showing up in this game, but they had better play a serious game against Wazzu.
  • A$AP Bear - A couple weeks ago when people were saying we wouldn’t win another game this season, I thought they were overreacting. They weren’t. I absolutely cannot see us winning another game.
  • Prd74 - My cat sat next to me when the game started. Covered her eyes and started sleeping. Never woke up. No cheering or clapping to disturb her. I can’t remember a game with no Cal highlights whatsoever.