Ending the regular season on a high note has been a rarity for Cal football in recent years. In fact, this two-game winning streak to close the season is the first such regular-season-closing streak since the 2008 Bears regained the Axe and then steamrolled a winless UW team to close an up-and-down but nevertheless satisfying season. Those Bears went on to defeat Miami in the Emerald Bowl, a likely destination for this year’s Bears, although the Emerald Bowl has since changed names (three times), matchups (from ACC to Big Ten), and locations (Santa Clara rather than San Francisco). College football is indeed steeped in tradition.
Rating the Bears
Season-closing Pac-12 South matchups have been kind to us in recent years, and this weekend’s result was no different. In the 2010s every time we closed the season against a Pac-12 North foe we lost, often badly (average margin of defeat was 22 points!). But we enjoyed some success by closing the season against a South foe, as we notched a 4-1 record against them (the lone loss was on UCLA’s field goal in the waning seconds in 2017).
With a spread of less than 10 between the highest and lowest categories, this was one of the most consistent winning performances we have seen in a long time. Fielding a healthy offense for the second consecutive week, the Bears earned strong scores on the ground and through the air. Likewise, the defense prevented UCLA from doing much on offense (watching DTR consistently run backwards for 10-yard sacks was a thing of beauty). Special teams bounced back from a disappointing couple of outings and the consistently strong performances across the team earned strong scores for Coaching and Overall.
It’s been a tumultuous decade of games against the Bruins. In our four wins we averaged a 23-point margin of victory and our six losses were by an average margin of 16 points. Although this was the narrowest margin of victory in the past decade, we generally graded this as the second-best performance against the Bruins. It’s certainly miles away from that obscene, five turnover blowout loss in 2011 (which was, rightfully, the last time I attended a road game at UCLA).
Offensively, it was a better-than-average performance compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era. The pass defense was about average while the run defense fared quite well compared to the last few years. In fact, the run defense has generally climbed from about 60th in the nation during Wilcox’s first year, up to about 40th last year, and up to about 25th this year.
We have our usual trio of awards.
First, the highest scores of the week.
|1. RememberTheCalamo||700 (100.0%)|
|1. David Shaw is "1 man 1 jar"||700 (100.0%)|
|1. Rocksanddirt||700 (100.0%)|
|4. Cecilia||690 (98.6%)|
|5. rollonyoubears111||650 (92.9%)|
|5. Prd74||650 (92.9%)|
Oh man, I had forgotten about “one man, one jar.” Do yourself a favor and do not look that up. Seriously, don’t do it.
And now our lowest scores of the week.
|1. Oski67||295 (42.1%)|
|2. CJLovesCal||415 (59.3%)|
|3. Poohbears||432 (61.7%)|
|4. Mattcalfan||446 (63.7%)|
|5. Pierrezod||475 (67.9%)|
You looked up “one man, one jar,” didn’t you? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The Voice of Reason
And now, the most reasonable scores of the week (coming from people who are undoubtedly reasonable enough not to look up one man one jar—okay, this is the last time I’ll mention it).
Any comments on the gameday experience?
- Calarchitect75 - Good way to close the regular season.
- FriscoBear - Cal beat a team they should beat. But they also did it on the road against one of their in state rivals in a type of game they haven’t recently won. Maybe with everybody healthy, they are turning the corner?
- Prd74 - Decades of watching Cal lose to teams in turmoil combined with Cal always raising your hopes only to be crushed made this game a perfect combination for a loss. Thankfully this is 2019 and our team took care of business.
- KJ1980 - Cal beat a team that it should have beaten. That is good. We should always win over UC Southern Division. This year, we doubly should have won because UCLA is down. It is nice to beat the spread too. 7- 5 is an okay place to end the season (although I -- and a few other blog readers -- dreamed for more after a 4-0 start).
- Calbear1984 - Wasn’t feeling confident during UCLA’s first drive but then we got into rhythm. Loved that our passing and running game were both effective. I’d forgotten the joy of the long pass... completions and touchdowns. Kudos to CBJ and the rest of the running brigade.
- RememberTheCalamo - Does anyone outside the west coast watch 7:45 PM starts?
What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?
- Rose Bowl Oski - I approve of the more aggressive approach and down field throws.
- Fuzzyuzzy - Garbers and his corps got it done. Not perfect, but could stretch the field, including a nice pass TD
- Texashaterforlife - Nikko Remigio will have a breakout season next year.
- ChicagoBear - I like the short passes and quick release by Garber. Garber used to hold the ball for so long.
- 1988goldenbear - Once Garbers stopped getting passes batted down he did great! No sacks? Kudos to the O-line! We have some weapons - it will be interesting to see how we do with a healthy receiving squad.
- Calarchitect75 - Improved, but still doesn’t have that dagger to the heart capacity.
What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?
- Gobears157 - 1-2 punch looking pretty good
- Lucky1715 - CBJ looked stronger again! Nice to have our OLine back, it shows!
- FriscoBear - Did what they needed to. Brown looked good. line opened some BIG holes for him. No Dancy tonight.
- Bearmarketman - Loved the sequence at the goal line where we ran a power run package three times in a row to pound in the ball. Running game was on point tonight and helped seal the game in the 2H.
- Poohbears - Sure, it was UC Los Angeles, but the blocking has improved. The backs are decent.
- Sacman701 - We’ve struggled with run blocking all year, but we showed that when the line is relatively healthy we can still go to town on a shaky defense.
- Berkules - Absolute aces! 111 yards (6.2 ypc) and two TDs for CBJ, well-designed draws and keepers for Chase, and Collins had a few nice carries. Amazing what a healthy OL can do to open up holes.
What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?
- Prd74 - 6 sacks on a mobile QB were unbelievably great, but not knocking the starting fucla QB out until it was too late for the backup to do damage was key.
- Calarchitect75 - Bend but don’t break won’t work against elite teams.
- Sacman701 - Mixed bag. Pressure was excellent, coverage generally good, tackling atrocious.
- Jacobs. - Got off to a rough start and Ashtyn Davis looked rusty. Good to see him gradually get back in the game and I hope he is rested and healthy for our BOWL GAME!
- RememberTheCalamo - We have a nasty tendency to just sort of forget about one of the receivers if the play goes on for too long. I’d like to see that addressed before the bowl game.
- ChicagoBear - Good pressure on UCLA quarterback - best of season in quarterback pressure
- Oskiwow1 - very good
What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?
- Sacman701 - Solid. UCLA would like to run first (they trucked Furd, ASU, and Colorado all for 200+) and they couldn’t generate anything with any consistency against us.
- Fuzzyuzzy - Other than a few nice runs, they bottled them up well. Every dive play looked like a rugby scrum for no gain.
- Sacalum - We held their big-time runners in check. Great work by the entire defense.
- CaliforniaLove - Excellent. Two years ago, Kelly looked like the best player on the field, Saturday he was pedestrian. The stop on UCLA’s last play was icing on the cake.
- FriscoBear - Fantastic game by the run D and front 8
- Lucky1715 - Stout. 5 sacks is a strong showing.
What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?
- Lucky1715 - Meh. Enough to win but when you go for it on 4th and 8 where a field goal is good enough, it shows the confidence in our ST play.
- Bearmarketman - No news is good news here!
- Louispko - Punts were solid, returns were almost all fair catch/touchback, no action for Greg the leg (besides PATs)
- Bowlesman80 - Well, I think the real reason we did not go for the FG is Thomas’ inconsistency; punts were “okay”; coverage was “okay.”
- Rollonyoubears111 - Always holding my breath when there’s a field goal, but thankfully it seemed ok. Punts are also hot and cold.
- CaliforniaLove - Kicking game a little better. Not much of a return game. The 64 dollar question was whether we passed on the late field goal because we weren’t confident it would get made or because worst case, UCLA would get the ball on their own ten, two scores behind if we ran a play.
What are your thoughts on the coaching staff’s performance?
- Calbear1984 - Overall good but did not like the missed scoring opportunity in the 4th quarter when any score would have put away the game for good. Should not have had to stop UCLA in the last 30 seconds from scoring.
- Sacman701 - We probably should have kicked on 4th and 8 in the red zone: it’s a lot easier to get a TD and a FG than two TDs. Overall, we did a good job of mixing calls up and not being too predictable.
- Rollonyoubears111 - the offensive play calls ranged from great to “huh?”. when our running game appeared to be stout in the 3rd/4th quarter, they went with throwing plays?! otherwise, Chip Kelly has lost his team, so that helped.
- Jacobs. - As I was grumbling about BB and offensive play calling, my wife (Cal alumn of course!) asked me what more I want. We won the Big Game, we are beating UCLA and we are undefeated with a healthy Garbers. So fine, don’t mess up the bowl game and we’ll give you another chance BB!
- Sacalum - I still can’t figure out why we went for the TD instead of a FG on 4th and 8 in the 4th quarter. But, hey -- no harm, no foul.
- Texashaterforlife - good enough to wake up the Cal players after the 1st qtr
- 1988goldenbear - Solid gameplan, good discipline (except for the Weaver unsportsmanlike conduct), good execution. I’m not going to be all broken up if Baldwin is retained, but I certainly would be happy if we get a new OC. The offense looks pretty good now that the kids are healthy.
What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?
- 1988goldenbear - It is always great to win in LA! Two years in a row now... I’m getting spoiled but I hope it continues!
- CaliforniaLove - Finished this tale of three seasons with a solid win. Let’s win a bowl game!
- Sacalum - Can’t complain when we win in LA..
- Sacman701 - The last time we beat Furd, we mailed it in against a Washington team that was out of bowl contention. This time, we kept our focus and played a solid game after a slow start. The offense was functional as it’s generally been when healthy, and the defense turned in another good but not great performance.
- Calbear1984 - WE WON ! (enough said). We now have a team that is effective on both offense and defense. Huge improvement. Everything is heading into the positive - the team believes it can win and is winning even with injuries. The CAL culture is changing for the positive. GO BEARS
- Calarchitect75 - Improved. We should be a 9 or 10 win team IF we stay healthy.
- Rocksanddirt - Stupid penalties kept them in the game far longer than they should have been. Also, DTR should not have been in for that last series, and probably not for the one before.
One game left, Bears. Let’s end the season on a high note.