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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. North Texas

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Well, that was fun for the first couple possessions.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 North Texas at Cal
The walking dead...aka the Cal offense for the final 50 minutes.
Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After the 20-0 1st quarter lead, did you finally think this would be a blowout win over a team not named Oregon State? Oh, how wrong you were. It’s never that easy under Wilcox. It seems like every time we get a double-digit lead and look to turn a game into a blowout, the offense stagnates and it eventually becomes a one-score nailbiter. Last year a 24-3 lead against North Carolina evaporated in the fourth quarter en route to a 24-17 final score. The Bears could never shake BYU after taking a 14-3 lead last year but held onto a 21-18 win. A 21-0 lead over Colorado last year became a 6-point lead going into the 4th quarter. And of, course, there was last weekend’s game against North Texas.

Conversely, we were one week removed from a comeback after being down 0-10 against Washington in which we notched a fantastic road upset. And that’s not the only comeback we’ve attempted. In 2017, Arizona’s 21-7 lead after 20 minutes disappeared by the end of regulation (fun fact: we lead 38-31 at one point—remember that?). Last year’s 0-14 deficit to the Trojans turned into a 15-14 win for the Bears. This season’s opener somehow turned into a 10-0 Davis lead before the Bears outscored the Aggies 27-3 over the final three quarters. And who could forget Ole Miss’ 16-7 lead after two 70+ yard TD passes in 2017? Those were the last TDs they would score in a 27-16 Cal victory.

Although the go-into-cruise-control-for-50-minutes wins are excruciating, the comeback wins have more than made up for it. Alas, this week was not a comeback. So let’s look at the excruciation in great detail.

Rating the Bears

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 30.2 27.4
Rush Offense 51.3 20.6
Pass Defense 74.2 13.4
Rush Defense 69.4 14.7
Special Teams 73.5 16.3
Coaching 55.1 20.5
Overall 51.1 21.1
Win Chance vs. Ole Miss 53.5 (-6.0) 19.6 (+2.6)

Tell me if you’ve heard this before: Cal’s passing offense earned the worst score of the week and the pass defense earned the best score of the week. Run defense earned decent scores while an ineffective ground game against a mediocre North Texas front seven led to a sub-par rushing offense score. Special teams fared well thanks to Greg “The Leg” Thomas’ field goals. Clearly we were not pleased with the game, as overall and coaching earned scores in the 50s. Whether its grumpiness about this past Saturday’s game or the thought of a Cheez It Bowl Redux as we face a tough defense and lifeless offense, we’ve lowered our predictions of a win over the Fightin’ Akbars/Sharks/whatever-mascot-they-have-now.

Ratings Comparison

How did this compare to other recent games against Group of 5 teams?

Comparison of Saturday’s performance (gold) to other recent G5 games (blue)

Overall, a pretty mediocre performance against pretty mediocre competition.

And how did it fare against other games in the Wilcox era?

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

Right near the median in most categories. During the bye week I’m going to change the way I do these graphs so that there’s some level of transparency in the points. These are getting too difficult to read.


We’re handing out a couple extra awards today. No, not to lift everyone’s spirits. What do you think this is, the Junior College across the Bay? No, we’re handing out some extra awards because we had a couple ties for fifth place.

Sunshine Pumpers

Name Rating
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
1. David Shaw is a vagina 700 (100.0%)
3. rocksanddirt 699 (99.9%)
4. Bowlesman80 550 (78.6%)
5. The Ghost of Joe Roth 545 (77.9%)
5. oskioftarth 545 (77.9%)

There’s no seven-way tie this week...

Old Blues

Name Rating
1. Bearyugly 202 (28.9%)
2. Gobears157 210 (30.0%)
3. floridabear 260 (37.1%)
3. Shittingbear 260 (37.1%)
5. emercer 290 (41.4%)
5. ArchArt 290 (41.4%)

Are you all copying each other’s scores or something? Two ties? This is getting suspicious.

The Voice of Reason

Name Deviation
1. Calarchitect75 5.43
2. ak_A 5.95
3. Berkelium97 6.08
4. CALBARE 7.40
5. iwasthere4theplay 7.55

Fortunately, it’s exceedingly difficult for anyone to tie in their deviation from the community average.


I’m expecting some extra saltiness in these comments.

Any comments on the gameday experience?

  • RememberTheCalamo - Pac12 networks needs to get it’s act together outside of the West Coast. I think a lot of people agree we have a visibility problem and having our games only available on a network that our partner (Xfinity) doesn’t even make available outside of the region doesn’t help. Rent in Silicon Valley for non-existent tech company “synergy” is a real great move by the commissioner.
  • Texashaterforlife - Kinda glad I did not spend money on going to the game; I thought it was an ugly win. I watched the game on DVR after watching Stanford and USC lose their games. From the camera view of the stands, I think many people had the same idea.
  • Louispko - Attendance wasn’t as bad as it seemed on tv, the shady sections were packed. Still one of the weaker atmospheres I’ve been to in the last few years tho
  • Rocksanddirt - It was Alumni Band Day, although we had to be at the stadium for rehearsal way too early, and the athletic department kicked us out an hour before they said earlier in the week, it was a fun time. The sparse crowd was about what I expected for the game.
  • California Love - It was a great day to be on campus for football, crowd was disappointing after win at UW.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?

  • Teepee - What passing game? It has become clear that Garbers looks at his primary receiver and if he isn’t open, takes off on a scramble. It’s also clear that Garbers has no confidence in his ability to throw the ball on a line to a spot -- if the receiver isn’t wide open, he won’t take the risk. If Cal can’t make good throws 15 yards down the field through relatively small windows, this offense is doomed to be as bad as last year. This game was painful to watch because of the non-existent passing game.
  • Iwasthere4theplay - Garbers is a 1-2 progression guy. When he scrambles, the defense lets their coverage go since he rarely will throw on the run. I think they need more intermediate and short routes to help Garbers. There were several deep routes that were open that he passed on. The drop by the TE was awful, especially since Garbers only had 9 completions for the game. Garbers also waits too long to throw; a lot of the routes are at the end before he throws. He needs to learn to throw to green; a QB coach should fix this... I think this game he had a lot of running yards because they mostly play man so the shell had their backs to Garbers. A better defense will shut that down quickly. I think we’ll see P12 teams load the box and let him throw. Crawford only got one reception; not sure how many targets but we need to get him the ball more IMHO.
  • None - Receivers are open but the ball is rarely delivered. Receivers don’t bother improvising because they know the ball’s not coming.
  • TD_24 - CAN GARBERS LOOK UP WHEN HE RUNS. Makai Polk was in a cemetery on his own and Garbers just refuses to look up.
  • Chicagobear - Garbers hold the ball for SO long. Either the receivers are poor, or Garber has no confidence to throw into tight windows.
  • Texashaterforlife - It was barely satisfactory. Much had to do with UNT’s 3-3-5 defense and Garbers taking off to run when no one is open. Is TE Gavin Reinwald going to have more dropped passes than TDs? Anyone want to take that bet?
  • 1988goldenbear - Wondering if the problem was more due to the defensive scheme to shut down the passing options or indecision and lack of conviction by Garbers? He ran so many times - he won’t last the season doing that. The O-line got manhandled by a 3-man front, pretty much all game long. And that drop by Reinwald... ugh.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?

  • Sacman701 - Ouch. After mostly shredding UW, we mostly did nothing against NT. Brown and Dancy averaged barely 3 yards a carry against a sketchy defense. Every team left on our schedule except maybe the Beavs should be able to replicate NT’s scheme. We’ll need to come up with something.
  • Calarchitect75 - Unable to get going the way they have on other game days.
  • Louispko - Blocking scheme didn’t work at all today
  • Old Bear 71 - Big boys up front didn’t do much to make holes.
  • BearMD - When a not so dual-threat QB has the most yards rushing for a team that supposedly has a dual-headed RB monster duo, I think that’s not a good sign. I really hope that they limited the RBs to rest them for Ole Miss and that this rather unimpressive RB outing was just a blip.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?

  • Meeker - Played well. Questionable pass interference calls.
  • Sacman701 - Some very bad moments, but overall we got the better of NT. For the umpteenth straight game under Wilcox, pass defense was the closest thing to a bright spot.
  • Texashaterforlife - One bad play with wrong attack angles (and missed tackles), and another late TD from a worn defense. C+ average. Needs improvement for next week and beyond.
  • Bowlesman80 - Welp, I am subtracting the one out-of-bounds TD, but, even that, looked like blown coverage. Many great, clutch break ups, but, results-wise, not their best day. There were some good pass rushes and penetrations that forced some errors.
  • Louispko - Solid, but gave up more big plays than I would’ve wanted. Considering that’s the strength of the mean green though, it’s slightly more acceptable.
  • Rollonyoubears111 - Hot and cold- the latter thankfully with the young ones “practicing”

What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?

  • 1988goldenbear - We got gashed a few times in the second half, but I can understand that we maybe prioritized pass coverage over run coverage. Weaver is a special dude.
  • Rollonyoubears111 - Would like to see what happens against run first and run most of the time offenses because this is the Achilles heel of the defense.
  • Clbear - Valiant effort but continues to be a concern in the defense as a whole. It’s been 3 games that this has been exploited, and will probably just continue to be so.
  • Oskioftarth - Got soft after 20-3

What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?

  • Oskioftarth - Some nice returns. How is it our coverage is better on line drive punts than high floaters?
  • Iwasthere4theplay - The kicking was fine, KO and punt coverage seemed to be a bit messy but no really long returns. Our returns were pretty good - both Hawk and Remigio had nice runs.
  • Louispko - Greg the leg was once again perfect, punts were good, and we had some good returns. Return coverage also played much better than last week.
  • TD_24 - When do we get Steven Coutts back? Other than that I like it.
  • Meeker - Good punt coverage. Punting left a lot to be desired.

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

  • Sacman701 - Good enough, I guess. The team came out focused and jumped out to a big lead, but the offensive staff didn’t seem to have answers to whatever adjustments NT made.
  • 1988goldenbear - I think we got soundly out-coached in the second half, exactly the opposite of last week. Is it unreasonably hopeful to think that we saved some tricky stuff on offense for the rest of the season?
  • Texashaterforlife - Below average today. Seemed like they mailed it in the 2nd half. Offense reminded me of some bad games from last year.
  • Bowlesman80 - I am truly supportive of this staff and having never, myself, coached so much as Pee-Wee football, I can only measure by results and the team’s spirit. I believe Wilcox is the best thing to happen to our program since Tedford, possibly Mike White, or even Waldorf, but it’s a slow and steady build. We are 3-0. This win did not feel as good as I would like to feel, but it is a “W.”
  • TD_24 - WHY BACKUPS IN THE 2nd QUARTER? that just gave NT hope and that’s all it took. Putrid effort by everyone even Derutyer and Wilcox.
  • Oskioftarth - I’m assuming Garbers is under orders to not turn the ball over when we have a lead. Hence, no spectacular throws.
  • Teepee - I’m not sure if Baldwin has vanilla game plans or Garbers just can’t execute but this clearly was a game that the game plan assumed that Call had the better athletes and that was going to decide the game. Maybe, but it clearly wasn’t working in the second half and there little by way of adjustment.
  • California Love - Ask me after Ole Miss. If we did the bear minimum possible to win and saved some plays for next week, fine. But Saturday’s effort would not beat even one of the weaker P5 teams.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?

  • California Love - A letdown after the UW win. But one week is an eternity in college football and hopefully next week will be more like the UW game.
  • Iwasthere4theplay - Good enough to win, but I think unless our offense improves we will lose some P12 games that we should win.
  • Rocksanddirt - two things matter to me regarding Cal Football generally. In decending order of importance the are: The Axe, ............................................................................................................................, wins.
  • Old Bear 71 - 3-0 doesn’t feel as good after this game as it should. Lots of room to improve on O. D did pretty good on a good O.
  • Louispko - How good is this Devon modster guy that tore us up a few years ago? Just wondering for the near future.
  • Josh Wright - Overall, I was not impressed. I think they took a few steps back today. You should be able to cover the spread against a middle of the road FBS school coming into your house and they barely held on for the win at the end.
  • kJ 1980 - Ole Miss and ASU will tell us a lot. Not fun to watch the Cal offense. Not fun at all. .
  • Gobears157 - Third year in under Wilcox/Baldwin and our previously prolific passing game under Dykes is deep in the gutter. We traded yin for yang in the offense/ defense. Hoping for a more balanced and complete team sooner rather than later.
  • Sacman701 - It was a win, and the defense played well enough. But last week it looked like we had found a nice offensive formula against Washington, and this week the formula didn’t work at all after the first quarter.