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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. Washington State

The losing streak comes to a satisfying end.

Washington State v California
Wazzu fans could use a hug after that one.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Seven weeks. It’s been seven weeks since we’ve had a Rating the Bears post where we review a win. That was a good bit of redemption. And speaking of redemption, how about Josh Drayden? After being beaten twice on Wazzu’s game winning drive last year (including the go-ahead TD), he bounced back with a very memorable game. Three tackles for loss on a single drive!

Rating the Bears

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 79.5 11.6
Rush Offense 79.2 12.1
Pass Defense 81.3 13.1
Rush Defense 90.5 10.9
Special Teams 49.5 25.7
Coaching 82.4 13.3
Overall 84.4 11.7
Win Chance vs. USC 60.3 (+6.0) 24.9 (+7.8)

Both components of the offense earned nearly identical and uncharacteristically high scores. Defense earned its usually high scores, but our defense’s only relative weakness ended up being the strongest category of the day as run defense broke the 90-point mark. Special teams was the lone outlier thanks to a surprisingly diverse series of blunders. Coaching and Overall round things out with some solid scores. USC’s wave of injuries and lame duck coach have helped us grow slightly more confident in the prospect of turning last year’s win into the start of a winning streak over the Trojans.

Ratings Comparison

We have seen some wacky ratings in our recent Wazzu games. After Goff’s 5 TD game in 2014, the 37-3 blowout win in 2017, and a series of dominant wins over Paul Wulff’s hapless Cougs in the early 2010s, setting a new high in any category is remarkable. Yet the run defense managed to earn its highest score of the decade against the Cougs by holding Max Borghi to his lowest offensive output of the season.

Comparing Saturday’s performance (gold) to other recent games against the Cougs (blue)

Except for special teams, everyone had a comparatively good day against the Cougs. That’s par for the course in a decade in which we went 7-3 over Wazzu.

Compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era, this was a great performance that borders on spectacular.

Comparing Saturdays performance (gold) to other games in the Wilcox Era (blue)

Run defense earned its highest rating of the Wilcox Era while the rest of the categories fared pretty well. Although the rating for pass defense was solid, we’ve seen several better performances under Coach Wilcox. Thank you Coach Alexander and The Takers.


Time for our trusty triumvirate of trophies.

First, we have the highest scores of the week.

Sunshine Pumpers

Name Rating
1. David Shaw wears a speedo in the shower 700 (100.0%)
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
1. Rocksanddirt 700 (100.0%)
4. Old Bear 71 631 (90.1%)
5. SilverballManiac 600 (85.7%)
5. Jacobs. 600 (85.7%)

Because we broke the losing streak, I’m handing out an extra award this week. Actually, that’s because we had a tie for fifth place.

Old Blues

Next, the lowest scores of the week.

Name Rating
1. dont have 320 (45.7%)
2. Poohbears 442 (63.1%)
3. Sailorbeary 450 (64.3%)
4. LeonPowe 460 (65.7%)
5. KJ1980 465 (66.4%)

Funnily enough, all of these scores would have qualified for the Sunshine Pumpers during the Utah game.

The Voice of Reason

Finally, we have those whose scores were closest to the averages.

Name Deviation
1. risingair 4.23
2. TD_24 4.80
3. goldenone 4.83
4. diasfordays 5.56
5. BTown85 6.01

In addition to expressing your thoughts numerically, I trust that at least some of you can express some thoughts linguistically. Let’s see how that turned out.


Any comments on the gameday experience?

  • Rocksanddirt - Missed much of the game doing other stuff, but what I saw and heard was excellent ownage of WSU
  • Bowlesman80 - PAC 12 Network is irritating, since it seems to have trouble selling ad time to a wide variety of clients, I will go to Starkey. I mean incompetence versus the soul-numbing monotony of seeing and hearing the same ad X3 for every break. So, how was your Gameday?
  • Jacobs. - Kid got sick, then wife got sick then I got sick. Thank goodness the projector was ok!
  • Poohbears - Beautiful day in Berkeley. It got cold, not Salt Lake City cold, but Bay Area cold. The crowd was not bad at all, and stayed for most of the game. Students filled about 1/3 of the section. Move them to the end zone.
  • BTown85 - I flew from San Jose to Portland Saturday night and lo’ and behold! I looked down a few minutes into the flight and saw the bright lights of Memorial below me sometime in the first quarter! What a beautiful site (see what I did there?)!!!!!!
  • Prd74 - Cold night. Hot game.
  • 1988goldenbear - I listened to Starkey call the game as I was on the road, then watched the replay later. Welcome back to the win column! Hopefully this is a season of clusters of wins. Go Bears!

What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?

  • Goldenone - Some very nice throws by Modster who also suffered from a few dropped passes
  • Diasfordays - Modster proved me wrong, and I’m here for it. That being said, having Saffell back did wonders for the O-line, which gave him much better protection, and we already had glimpses of what Modster is capable of with a clean pocket.
  • CoBears - Kekoa Crawford really changes the passing offense, namely that he allows for open downfield passes. As a result, Modster looked a LOT better. Could be the extra practice as well, but either way, the passing offense looked not only functional, but good. That said, there remains room for substantial improvement, as there were some bad misses mixed in there. But this was a refreshing change from the last 4 brutal games.
  • Oskioftarth - Modster played better than I thought possible for him. His wildly off-target misses are a continuing cause for concern against more talented defenses.
  • TD_24 - Now this is the Modster that I saw torch us in 2017, you really love to see poetic justice for the Bears.
  • Calbear1984 - Modster was on fire, then overthrew his receivers and I felt like he regressed. Luckily, he pulled himself together and finished well

What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?

  • Calbear1984 - a work in progress but starting to be a real threat and opening up our passing game
  • Sacman701 - Solid for the first time in a long time. Backs went for more than 5 yards a pop.
  • Driller Bear - Good performances by Chris Brown, Collins, and Modster (particularly late in the game).
  • Goldenone - Somewhat effective for the first time in weeks. We were able to get a few key first downs
  • LeonPowe - It’s good to have a healthy Saffell and a healthy CBJ.
  • Oaklandishbear - Brown must have been happy to have Saffell back! Not sure if Dancy is hurt or not, but DeShawn looked FAST! And smart runs by Modster. Not much to criticize here.
  • California Love - Great to see Brown averaging 5 ypc, 1st TD set the tone. Collins added some spark off the bench.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?

  • TD_24 - I mean we got dragged for yards everywhere but these are the turnovers we’ve been waiting to see open up.
  • Calbear1984 - Very effective on making the play after the catch. Allowed the pass but stopped it short (most of the time).
  • Lucky1715 - We just limited one of the best passing attacks in the country to 20 points. And frankly, it was less than that. Great job keeping WSU guessing. Plus a solid pick!
  • FriscoBear - They bent but didn’t break. The entire defense deserved a game ball
  • 1988goldenbear - Weird game - LOADS of passing yardage but it always felt like Wazzu was a bit short. It’s hard to say we were really effective based on the stats, but the result was certainly acceptable. Good pressure and great tackling. Josh Drayden had some great hits!
  • Oskioftarth - Amazing we got the timely stops that we did. WSU moved the ball almost at will through the air, but hiccuped at just the right time for Cal. A tiny bit more pressure seemed to be the disruptive factor.
  • California Love - They gave up 407 yards, but it was on 58 attempts. Limited the big plays and got two turnovers that led to scores.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?

  • CoBears - Brilliant. Heard a lot of “Borghi is great” before we shut him down. 16 yards on 14 rushes. That is the definition of success.
  • Oaklandishbear - Practically perfect. Borghi had the long run on the first play of the game and then that was it! Granted they don’t run much, but I’m counting the overall performance vs Borghi as “run defense”.
  • Oskioftarth - Borghi is the real deal. Cal’s run defense was near perfect.
  • Texashaterforlife - The Cal defense can look rock solid when they get some rest on the sidelines. Thank the Cal offense for taking some time off the clock and scoring to assist the defense.
  • Goldenone - Bottled up Borghi for the most part. Great hits by Josh Drayden
  • Lucky1715 - Did they even HAVE positive running yards by the end of the game? Don’t think so.
  • Sacman701 - It’s Wazzu, so they don’t run much. When they did, we mostly stuffed them.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?

  • Sacman701 - Placekicking needs to improve. A lot.
  • Bowlesman80 - Ouch. That two points and missed PAT and FG, could have cost us. Punting is pretty good and downfield coverage is very good, though there were a few tense moments during some runbacks.
  • KJ1980 - Two blocked kicks in one game is not good. Good punting but otherwise horrible kicking. Special teams did not give up a big play (but for the blocked PAT returned for 2, something that never happens).
  • FriscoBear - FG Kicker needs to get ball up. Line needs to block on FGs.
  • Goldenone - Misses XP and Missed Field Goal, not Good.
  • 1988goldenbear - Decent game, but what the heck happened on that missed FG? It looked like he almost whiffed on the ball.
  • Oaklandishbear - Yuck! A blocked PAT and FG? A long KO return that shouldn’t have been called back? Worst special teams play of the year.

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

  • California Love - The team looked good on both sides of the ball and was ready to play despite a four game losing streak. Coaches take the blame for poor performances (OSU) deserve credit when the team plays well.
  • Oaklandishbear - Thought Baldwin did a pretty good job, even if Wazzu defense is horrible. And again Wilcox/DeRuyter shut down the Cougs. I liked the 4th downs we went for. Can’t say I hated any of the plays called. Two thumbs up!
  • 1988goldenbear - Welcome back, Beau Baldwin! Where the heck have you been? It was a really solid gameplan, most likely aided by a healthier O-line and a rested and healthier Modster. The defense was gashed all night but made plays when needed.
  • FriscoBear - Really liked that squib kick that almost resulted in a Cal recovery. Game plan seemed to work well. One of the better jobs this year by coaching staff.
  • Texashaterforlife - The coaches looked like they worked thru the bye week this time unlike the bye week back in October.
  • Driller Bear - I thought this was overall the best the coaching staff has done in a Pac-12 game this year.
  • Bowlesman80 - Welp, BB must have heard the pitchforks rattling, because this was perhaps his best game calling this season. I hope the people that had the nerve to hint that Wilcox should be in the hot seat give him some slack, now. We are so damned lucky to have WIlcox and Deruyter!
  • Calbear1984 - Loved that Baldwin made some fun call and plays that were executed well. The defense is AWESOME. So many players stepping up to the plate.
  • TD_24 - If there’s one thing we can expect from the coaches, it’s defending the Air Raid!

What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?

  • Efini - 1 more win bois
  • RememberTheCalamo - Not sure if all the players returning from injuries or coaching adjustments were the reason for our vastly improved play, but this game was excellent.
  • Calbear1984 - Just what we needed after 4 losses. Both offense and defense played well and kept up the CAL energy. They believe!!! which is a HUGE change in CAL football culture. GO BEARS!
  • Sacman701 - Probably the team’s best all-around performance of the year. (Against Washington, the offense was terrible in the first half and the run defense was mediocre all day.) The last three games all look winnable now, although none of them are likely to be easy.
  • Driller Bear - Best performance overall in a Pac-12 game this year.
  • KJ1980 - Cal beat a team that, in the beginning of the season, many Cal football fans thought was a sure win. But with recent losses to Oregon State (another presumed “sure win”) and Utah (a presumed loss but one in which the Cal offense did not appear at all), Wazzou was favored by more then a touchdown. At half, the game was a toss up in my mind. Cal played well in the second half and earned the win. A win is a win but we could win or lose against SC, UCLA, and Furd. The Bears margin for error in any game is thin and, given our field goal kicking, we cannot rely on a long (beyond 30 yards) FG to win a tight game.
  • Prd74 - One of the most fun games in all my years of watching Cal football. Turning the program’s direction in one game was non stop high fiving craziness.
  • Goldenone - We played to the level of our potential and avoided big mistakes for the most part. Added in a few big plays on offense which have been missing for weeks
  • Old Bear 71 - A win needed and got. The O and D were suited up and on the field. They were sharp from the git go. Borghi got one nice run (which, astounding amounted to over half of the Coug’s rushing Total for the Whole Game) and then The Takers took over and “that,” as they say, “was that.” Bears stayed focused, mostly avoided drive-killing penalties, and Played a Second Half! Executed some trickeration and never relinquished a well earned lead.
  • CoBears - This was an important win to get off the schneid after a four game losing streak. It is important for morale, for our bowl hopes, and for the fans who bleed blue and gold. It is perhaps even more important as we head into our U$C week. Another win against $C, while admittedly unlikely, would change the complexion (once again) of the season. Go Bears! Beat the Toejams!
  • Oaklandishbear - Hard not to get so excited about this win, but we needed it SO BADLY and it could have ended up so very differently. Now let’s continue this momentum restart for the last three games!