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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. UC Davis

How did the Bears fare in the season opener against the Aggies?

NCAA Football: UC - Davis at California Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the Rating the Bears series! This is our tenth(!) year running this series, where you all evaluate the Bears’ performance after each game. From 0 to 100, we score aspects of the Bears’ offense, defense, special teams, coaching, and overall performance. And then we look ahead to the following week’s game and compare those predictions to our preseason predictions. Ready to dive into the results? I certainly am. I’ve been waiting for months to cleanse my palate from the foul taste of the Cheez It Bowl.

Rating the Bears

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 45.8 22.2
Rush Offense 79.8 12.4
Pass Defense 73.8 15.8
Rush Defense 70.9 16.3
Special Teams 59.8 22.2
Coaching 61.7 21.6
Overall 59.4 18.0
Win Chance at Washington 25.7% (-13.5) 19.9 (+1.9)

Continuing the worst tradition of the Wilcox Era, pass offense earns the lowest score of the week. All that hope of an improved passing game evaporated in that miserable first quarter. Fortunately, things improved over the remainder of the game. But passing clearly remains the team’s biggest flaw. Run offense earned the highest score of the game thanks to Brown’s productive, bruising performance. Laird had his breakout game against an FCS school en route to an impressive two-year career as Cal’s starter. Let’s hope Brown follows the same path.

As is customary under Wilcox (and still a pleasant novelty after abysmal defenses from 2012 to 2016), run and pass defense earn strong scores. Special teams could have earned better scores if not for Davis’ (Ashtyn, not the Aggies) fumble and Thomas’ missed field goal, but it was still a decent day for Ragle’s players. Coaching and overall earned so-so scores. We’re undoubtedly pleased to earn a win, but the team clearly has work to do if we want to take down the Huskies. Speaking of which, our expectations of a win have dropped a bit since we made our preseason predictions a few weeks ago. This is likely due to a combination of a better-than-expected UW performance against Eastern Washington and a disappointingly sloppy performance by our Bears against Davis.

Ratings Comparisons

We’ve faced several FCS teams over the years, and below I compare Saturday’s ratings to ratings from those other FCS games. Saturday’s ratings are gold while the other FCS games are blue.

Comparison of Saturday’s performance to other games against FCS opponents

We had the worst pass offense and best run offense of all our recent FCS games. Otherwise, it was a fairly average performance.

Next we compare Saturday’s game to all the other games in the Wilcox Era.

Comparison of Saturday’s performance to other games in the Wilcox Era

Overall, it was a fairly average performance compared to the past couple years.


Next we have some awards to hand out! We recognize the most optimistic and pessimistic participants, as well as those who were closest to the community average.

Sunshine Pumpers

The sun never sets on these five.

Name Rating
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
2. StayGolden 616 (88.0%)
3. TD_24 610 (87.1%)
4. Rugbear 609 (87.0%)
5. Texashaterforlife 592 (84.6%)

Hey, where’s “David Shaw _____________________”? I was hoping to see what sort of despicable actions that automaton has been up to this week. I’m glad to see Rugbear up there—keep pumping that sunshine at Husky Stadium this Saturday!

Old Blues

For these five, it was the Cheez It Bowl all over again.

Name Rating
1. Rollonyoubears111 146 (20.9%)
2. Goldenbear70 155 (22.1%)
3. Bearly Legal 220 (31.4%)
3. thechargeless 220 (31.4%)
5. Whatevs 253 (36.1%)

Did you all check out after the first quarter, or what?

The Voice of Reason

Finally, we have those whose ratings were closest to the community average.

Name Deviation
1. chicagobear 5.62
2. dinan3 6.07
3. A$AP Bear 6.48
4. BearlyThere 7.29
5. Art the Collector 7.31

Usually we see deviations in the 3s and 4s. That these were so high but still in the top-five suggests that our ratings were all over the place this week.

After all these numbers, tables, and charts, its time to see how you all felt about the game in words. Oh, so many words.


Any comments on the gameday experience?

  • Alex Ghenis: It was wonderful to return to CMS... Forgot how nice a good home game is.
  • A$AP Bear: The metal detectors are a disaster at the student entrance. There were only 4 detectors for the entire student body. Needless to say, there was a huge backup because of it.
  • Pierrezod: I enjoyed two beers. The alcohol concessions operated smoothly. Leave the full stadium cheering to to the mike men/women - not the paid stadium entertainer. The Cal Band cheer at the beginning of the fourth quarter is terrible.As is “California. Clap, clap, clap , clap, clap.” It sounds like a taunt of the other team, not a cheer for ours.
  • Terracewalk: All the Cal home games should be in the afternoon. Evening games are nowhere near as good.
  • Scott: Yay for beer and friends.
  • BearMD: Metal detectors way outside the stadium? I guess that’s a reasonable get a more secure Tailgate town at the expense of now having to wait further outside the stadium to get through the metal detectors. I also noticed that the down markers were digital now, instead of that slide/flip markers they had. Also, they now have a time clock on the field during timeouts and in-between possessions. Kinda of nice thing to see...5 years or so later than the rest of the conference!
  • CALiforniALUM: My apologies to the Mondavi family. I killed that bottle and a half of wine on my couch.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?

  • ak_A: Meh!
  • 2004-present: Looked terrible early but settled down after the first. Garbers looked far more comfortable in general than he did at any point last year, I saw some authoritative mid-range throws from him that looked real nice.
  • heyalumnigo: Meh. Missed some throws Garbers should’ve had. The TE, I think, dropped a catchable ball down the middle that was a little low but should’ve been caught. No downfield pass attempts (>35 yards). Not sure if it was because Garbers checked out of them, the WRs don’t have blazing speed, or none were called
  • Joe Bandsmen: There were definite signs of growth during the second and third quarters. Throws in stride over the middle and down the sidelines deep were things we have not seen done in years (throwing to tight ends, too!). We also had significantly less drops than we have the past two years from our receivers, a marked improvement on something that plagued us and killed drives many times in the past. There were entire drives where the offensive line looked like a perfect wall which was giving Garbers forever to find his open man, something we have not had with consistency since 2009. We also had drives where the offensive line looked like a sieve. We also had some wildly missed throws and several batted down at the line of scrimmage. We need to clean those things up.
  • Pierrezod: We have some shifty and speedy receivers. I can’t believe we didn’t get Hawkins the ball more - he’s electric. There were some glimmers from Garbers, but I don’t see him improving much with our schedule getting more difficult. I’m giving Baldwin two more games, but I have no idea why. I’m 99% sure he’s an awful OC.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?

  • FlagGuy: Really liking Brown as the running back. A potential safety net for this offense and there was times his running reminded me of Marshawn.
  • A$AP Bear: Christopher Brown Jr. looks like a beast. But we gotta limit his load so we have him down the stretch this season.
  • Don’t have one: Worked great tonight but unclear if it is sustainable against FBS talent.
  • cleancutmedia: Though Christopher Brown had a great running day, I think the run game was still pretty average. The Oline was not opening up many holes. Most of the time our RBs were running into walls only gaining occasional big runs through individual speed or beastmode.
  • Willis Chong: I’ll give them credit. I probably would have given them even more credit if they did this during the Cheez-I(N)T bowl.
  • StayGolden: Wow! The two headed tailback reminded me of Bo Jackson (C. Brown) and Marcus Allen (M. Dancy) on the game Tecmo Bowl on NES (Nintendo) for you young readers. Don’t be suprised if we have a 1000 yard rusher.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?

  • the ghost of Joe Roth: Mediocre day for the takers. They seemed to reluctant to take chances.
  • StayGolden: Keep on Deflecting! Deng looks like he will be a huge leader in swarming to the ball, dropping back on passes and the secondary looks high flying as usual. The defensive backs team as a whole will be their weight in gold in this pass happy league.
  • Uthaithani: Pretty good, but not great. I think they believed their press clippings and thought they couldn’t mail it in.
  • cleancutmedia: 1st half? Better than average. 2nd half. One of the best in college football. The Cal defense we hope to see all year. UC Davis got the occasional open man, but lot of it was their QB throwing really well.
  • sacman701: Davis’ passing attack is probably the equivalent of a decent mid-major, and we held them to less than 4 yards per attempt including sacks. As usual for this team under Wilcox, we won with pass defense.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?

  • Me Gusta Jorge: Our defensive line didn’t control the line of scrimmage enough today against a FCS team
  • sacman701: Davis had about 4 yards per attempt excluding sacks. That’s not exactly getting rolled, but we should do better than that against a team that doesn’t run very well.
  • Lucky1715: Our DLine is a weakness. We’ve lost a lot of experience and big bodies. Can you blame them? But the linebacker corps was strong - especially Kuony Deng, Goode, and Paul! (Weaver’s a given)
  • cleancutmedia: Thought it was average. Though there wasn’t as many yards or runs on paper, they seem to be getting chunks of yard every time they ran, much more frequently then we did. Cal had to earn their yards running through crowds and thru walls... Davis when they gained seem to just stroll out the yards before getting tackled. I was baffled why we couldn’t eat yards in such an easy way like Davis was.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?

  • 2004-present: I’ve seen better. Davis fumbling the opening kick was ghastly, a bad kick coverage and a missed FG. But Thomas hit 2 from 40+ so there’s that.
  • Oaklandishbear: Weakest link tonight. Obviously the fumble and base FG, but also punting wasn’t great. Why didn’t Coutts play? What happened???
  • heyalumnigo: One missed FG. No shanked punts. Got off one or two really good punts even with the rugby punt. Missed FG that was shanked. The first FG (45 or so yards) looked like it would’ve been good from 55.
  • Flag Guy: Terrible way to start, but seemed to play well the rest of the game.
  • sacman701: Pretty solid apart from the fumble on the opening kickoff.
  • dancruz: Improving. I think Remigio may become a real return threat. Its cover units need to tackle better though.

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

  • Flag Guy: I think the play calling was pretty good, and kept the team focused after a terrible first quarter.
  • sacman701: The team didn’t panic after going down 10 early, and the coaches should probably get some credit for that.
  • dancruz: Same thing we’ve seen before. DeRuyter had the harder job but was better at it. Baldwin?
  • Poohbears: Can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. (That means that they did what they could.)
  • Rugbear: Good. The stuck to the game plan, spread the ball around to figure out who’s gonna play, and they kept it real vanilla. (Some of you called it boring...that was on purpose).
  • mendogriz: On the defensive side, everything is peachy. On the offense... not so much.
  • The team came out totally flat, like they didn’t think that an FCS team would punch us in the mouth coming right out of the gates.
  • Willis Chong: They did a good job of prepping the team to go out and get a victory.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?

  • StayGolden: It is a Win. This is a FCS team. The Bears should win this game every time. The Bears played a lot of starters. They could be eating lunch of this smaller non-conference lower Division team, or they are just satisfying their hunger waiting for a bigger plate, that is, of the Pac-12.
  • ABVidale: Sleepwalking through a quarter won’t work against good teams--and there are a bunch of them on the schedule this year.
  • Willis Chong: I’ll wait a few games before I adjust my projected record for the team. Despite the bad stuff, we still won. I wonder how much trouble Ole Miss will give us. I already know UW will give us plenty to worry about.
  • Calarchitect75: mediocre
  • Rollonyoubears111: I guess winning is all that matters, but if you were to grade someone on a pass, then we barely got a c minus with a “I was hoping you were more prepared than this” scribbled underneath. If I were running a code but did a poor job but the patient still lived, this team would barely be on life support. Too harsh? Maybe I am, but that’s what it feels like.
  • Bowlesman80: Hopeful, as the PAC-12 commentators said, it’s possible that we will be better this year, but still not have as good a record.