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Rating the Bears, Cal at Oregon

In which we enjoyed the first half of the last game of the first half of the season.

NCAA Football: California at Oregon
Row, row, row your boat, gently up of humans? What on earth is going on here?
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

From here on out, it’s all downhill (or uphill? whichever way is the good way to go), right? Our toughest game of the year is behind us and every game ahead of us is winnable, with possible exception of the trip to Salt Lake City. With only two games over the next four weeks, the Bears’ depleted offense has plenty of time to heal up and get ready to end the second half of the season on a strong note. But first, let’s look back on the final game of the first half of the season.

Rating the Bears

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 47.0 24.0
Rush Offense 33.2 23.5
Pass Defense 78.4 12.6
Rush Defense 63.5 16.3
Special Teams 45.3 23.3
Coaching 58.3 22.7
Overall 59.1 17.8
Win Chance vs. Oregon State 75.3 (-8.2) 20.1 (+10.1)

Following the usual script in the Wilcox Era, defense earned solid scores while the offense underwhelmed. Special teams fared worse than usual thanks to a couple missed field goals and some woefully low punts. Coach and overall were “meh.” Not great. Not terrible. It was an admirable performance given the quality of the opponent, but moral victories no longer matter for the fanbase under this coaching staff. This team is good enough to be competitive in every single game, so the coaching staff receives less and less credit for these kinds losses. It beats the blowouts we’ve suffered to the Ducks over the last two games, but this was still a very winnable game. Speaking of winnable games, we remain optimistic about our chances against the Beavs in a couple weeks (especially after they spend 60 minutes being steamrolled by Utah’s linemen this weekend).

Ratings Comparison

Compared to our last decade of games against he Ducks, this was an above-average performance.

Comparison of Saturday’s performance (gold) to other recent games against the Ducks (blue)

The offense couldn’t match some of the outputs we had in the Sonny Dykes era (that double OT win in 2016, the Santa Clara game in 2014), but the defense was arguably the best we’ve seen since that masterpiece in 2010 (alas, special teams miscues killed us in that game too).

Compared to other games in the Wilcox Era, it was about average.

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

In 2017 this would have been a solid performance. Now? Meh.


It’s always awards season here at CGB, so we’ll hand out our usual trio of awards recognizing the lowest, highest, and most reasonable scores.

Old Blues

Name Rating
1. KillingmeSofele 163 (23.2%)
2. 1brsfan 205 (29.3%)
3. Art the Collector 265 (37.9%)
4. Shittingbear 272 (38.9%)
5. Getting our bearings 275 (39.3%)

Thanks to KillingmeSofele I now have The Fugees in my head.

Sunshine Pumpers

Name Rating
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
1. David Shaw likes weiners 700 (100.0%)
3. BearlyThere 582 (83.1%)
4. Bowlesman 575 (82.1%)
5. Nor_Cal_Scott 446 (63.7%)

At this point in time, I’m pretty sure Calamo and David Shaw___________ are just algorithms that automatically populate these posts with perfect scores.

The Voice of Reason

Finally, those whose scores were closest to the community average

Name Deviation
1. Sammy25 6.22
2. Bearios 6.27
3. BearOnAMesa 7.47
4. Chicagobear 7.79
5. diasfordays 7.89

Usually the deviations that qualify for this award are somewhere in the 3-5 range. We’ve had an unusual number of qualifiers in the 6-8 range so far this season. Are we all becoming more and more unreasonable over time?


Any comments on the gameday experience?

  • Poohbears - It was sunny and warm in Berkeley!
  • Bearios - Fun trip to Autzen; great fans
  • TD_24 - Autzen is one loud venue. I’d hate to be Oregon state when they play there.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?

  • Old blue - Not very good. Passes not on mark and receivers not open. What’s wrong with down field?
  • Mendogriz - Remember the preseason previews, when the general consensus was that the Cal offensive line starters were pretty good but there was no depth? It’d be nice to blame our passing woes on the backup QB, but it’s mostly on the injuries and lack of depth on the line.
  • California Love - Took a step in the right direction in a difficult environment. Modster made better throws, Clark emerging as a productive receiver, Duncan continues to make tough catches.
  • Teepee - I thought Modster took a step forward against a very good Oregon defense. With that said I still think we have major problems on the offensive game planning side of things. It’s like the game plan doesn’t consider who is play or who we play against. Why not use short passes, roll outs, etc. to give Modster a chance to get in. Time and time again the play calling put him in 3rd and long (how many times do you need to get stopped on runs up the middle before you change your strategy?). We have a great defensive scheme and coaching and it is past time to make a change on the offensive side.
  • Texashaterforlife - Modster improved from last week, and Cal has two weeks to improve some more. It is hard to say how much the loss of Cal’s starting center affected the OL protection plan. How many Freshman are we playing on the OL?
  • TD_24 - I talked with my dad pregame on how we needed to take advantage of Modster’s arm strength and we did that...for a half. Gotta keep staying aggressive.
  • KillingmeSofele - Modster teased us early. Our receivers make bad passes look great or drop great passes. Not enough of the former.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?

  • Poohbears - Mini-holes lead to mini-runs.
  • Art the Collector - Hard to run with a weak passing attack.
  • Nor_Cal_Scott - Pathetic. Sure the OL is a patchwork quilt but 66yds? Take out Modsters long of 21 and the RBs were 29 for 45! Paging Ron Gould. Paging Ron Gould.
  • Teepee - Granted the offensive line is really banged up but we didn’t change our run game in response. Running up the middle on that defense on third and one was inexcusable. Those calls cost us momentum when we didn’t have the luxury of losing it.
  • California Love - Struggled to run the ball against a very good run defense. Modster made some good decisions about when to run, but went into slide too soon on a pivotal play.
  • Bowlesman - Another plus for Modster is how well he sells the fake. Rather than a sort of “Hey, oh look, I have the ball” fake, Modster bolts like he’s going around and means business. I seemed to notice his fake fooled some defenders a couple of times and helped open up a run or two. Chris Brown gave it the old college try on the ground and, maybe, got frustrated enough to appropriate that TD pass. Not sure if the complement of Dancy’s dancing would have made a big difference against such a defense, so no shade for Brown and I am NOT going to blame the beleaguered OL. This was not either offense’s night to shine. This was a defensive showdown.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?

  • Teepee - Played well against one of the best qbs in division 1. Davis’ pick was a thing of beauty.
  • California Love - Held Herbert to below average performance, few big passing plays. Davis INT big--flipped momentum.
  • Bowlesman - Takers gonna’ take. Between pressure on Herbert and tight coverage, our passing D made a Heisman candidate not show his best look for the scouts and Heisman voters. Honestly, I do not know how they do it, especially considering the questionable eyesight and judgement of P 12 refs, but somehow our secondary usually avoid penalties, despite playing tough and tight. Honestly, it’s an art and a joy to watch these guys work. Did everybody notice that, once again, nobody scored more than 24 points on us? Again, I loved the silence of Autzen, as one could hear their minds churning “But our offense in the best...” My schadenfreude was an unlooked for pleasure.
  • Nor_Cal_Scott - Probably their best game of the year against one of the conferences (and country?) best QB’s who only passed for 214yds.
  • Sacman701 - Fighting Herbert and his crew to a draw (6.5 yards per attempt, one sack, one pick) is a decent day’s work. Kept the Bears in the game.
  • Texashaterforlife - I think we should play more man-D and less zone. Cal was not bad considering Oregon had an experienced, talented OL. But our DL and front seven need to get their hands up to try to bat down some passes, which Oregon’s DL did to us.
  • TD_24 - Now this is the Cal pass Defense I’m used to seeing. Press Coverage, fighting hands, and most importantly turnovers. Here’s to a turnaround for rest of the season.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?

  • KillingmeSofele - Fairly good.
  • BearOnAMesa - Gashed early but toughened up a fair bit. Not Oregon’s strongest point but it wasn’t a liability.
  • TD_24 - I mean we just flat out exposed and tired out by the end. Maldonado needs to be in shape because while Johnson is good, he’s just not quite big enough yet and it’s starting to show. Gotta also tackle at the point of attack better, some runs got an extra 2-3 yards just by effort for Oregon.
  • Sacman701 - The Ducks got the better of us here, with their three backs collectively averaging 5 yards a pop.
  • Bowlesman - Welp, when you’re up against a legit Heisman candidate with an elite receiver corps, you don’t expect a run. But I guess Oregon was giving the Takers some respect, as they should have, and upped their run game. Our D line and LBs did a noble job, but the dual threat of elite runners and defending the pass, plus Oregon’s time of possession became a bit more than most any D could fully contain. That being said, we saw some epic stops, a few within the redzone. I am proud of our overall D, which almost won this game for us.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?

  • KillingmeSofele - Punting is terrible. Thomas had a very bad day. No return game. Blocking is awful. Why is ST so bad?
  • BearOnAMesa - Bad, top to bottom. Coutts doesn’t seem 100% and Thomas was uncharacteristically off.
  • Sacman701 - Only one of seven punts were returned, but otherwise terrible. The FG unit was brutal, and kick coverage was poor.
  • Teepee - Cal needs to rethink its punting game in a real hurry. We get no height on kicks; at time we are lucky and get a good roll but too many times we give up field position. We have the worst net punt average in the Pac-12. We don’t have the firepower to keep making up for a bad punting game. The two missed field goals hurt but you never had the sense that Cal could steal this game even if they were made.

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

  • BearOnAMesa - Good D, abysmal O, piss poor ST. But winning was theoretically in range most of the game.
  • Art the Collector - I can’t believe that we haven’t been able to produce better QBs. Offensive coaching needs an upgrade (Baldwin)!
  • Texashaterforlife - Playcalling wasn’t bad; maybe more end around and toss sweep runs. It is hard to judge the offense with the injuries to the OL.
  • Sacman701 - They did well to stay in the game until the last few minutes on the road against the league’s best team.
  • Bowlesman - I like everything about Wilcox. His style, grace, and shrewdness are a wonder. It has to be hard for a coach to be up against his alma mater, not to mention namesake, so I am willing to give him some credit for feeling internally conflicted, but not once did I have the feeling he was letting up on Oregon. Indeed, I am sure being in such a position is the same gut-wrenching conflict felt by Herm Edwards last week; honestly, I thought Herm Edwards might outright apologize for beating the Bears. It’s okay coach, we understand. So, Wilcox and DeRuyter called an awesome game. Still trying to figure out just what to make of BB’s playcalling, but, again, this is the best defense we will have faced all season. I think we surprised them and ourselves in the first half, but only a fool would think that was going to last, once Oregon’s defense realized it couldn’t just phone it in. This was a tough one and I think everyone put out their best performance, though people are going to want to blame BB. By the way, if you’re blaming BB, how many points did Auburn score on Oregon’s D? Hmmm.
  • California Love - This was perhaps the most difficult game on the schedule and the coaches had a game plan that gave us a chance to win and had the players ready to compete. Held Oregon’s vaunted offense to 17 points, Auburn didn’t do that.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?

  • BTown85 - Hi, my name is BTown85 and I’m going to stop judging Cal’s entire season based on my emotions resulting from our most recent game results. Please join me!
  • California Love - We were supposed to lose about 33-10 (pregame show was unanimous on that one). Instead, we competed hard and had a chance to win. The takers were back and the passing game showed improvement over last week.
  • Old Bear 71 - A tough loss to a really talented and powerful team, that was not on their game for much of the contest.
  • Bowlesman - I am, oddly, happy and enthused. We can all stop bashing and questioning Modster, but, of course, I guess that’s how we vet our QBs. I seem to remember everyone calling for Modster or even Modster’s back up with Chase’s first starts, then, with Ole Miss, they shut up. We can’t let the result of this game drive our support. It’s how they played that’s important- they fought with heart and courage; I am proud of these guys, warts and all. I think Oregon let the bye week and the media get into our head. I hope we do not do the same thing as we ready for Oregon State. This team, this coach are both different and, even though my “Old Blue” mind resists optimism, I cannot help but be encouraged and hopeful for this season. Oh, thank you, Mike Pawlawski for repping Cal and Leinart and you other has-beens, “Kiss our, uh, Oski.”
  • Sacman701 - Not too bad considering the opponent and location. The defense was back to normal (strong against the pass, average against the run) after shaky game against ASU. The offense is banged up and ineffective right now, but it took some baby steps. The bye could not come at a better time for this team.
  • Art the Collector - We blew this one. Poor offensive execution, couldn’t stop the run and no after half adjustments. Missed opportunity.
  • Diasfordays - All the emotions. Disappointing yet impressive. Great effort to have us within reach, but at the same time it felt like the game was over once Oregon took the lead.
  • BearlyThere - That was the best team we’ll face all season. And I thought we were in it until the end. Mod had hiccups but generally — greatly? — outperformed expectations. We need depth, but coach Wilcox will get us there.
  • KillingmeSofele - Defense overall was stellar. The offense is garbage. Baldwin needs to go. Receivers have stone hands. The o-line was bad and penalty prone. Modster is not the guy.