Cal Football Analytics: Of Beavers, Backups, and Axes

It be that way sometimes

Well, that wasn't fun.

If you followed our live stream from the game, you might've noticed me dip out around halfway through the 4th Q. I left my apartment for 10-12 minutes and returned to Oregon State up by 4 and just in time for Chase to throw his game-sealing interception.

Leaving the game, I already saw Cal turtle again, insisting that a rushing game that yielded 1.1 YPC is a key to salting away a one-score win.

Bill Connelly's SP+ dropped Cal 23(!) spots overall to 78th overall, with the offense finally ranked ahead of the defense (69th and 82nd, respectively). (Special teams not ranked ...)

Per FootballOutsiders, we're 80th overall with the offense 92nd and defense 52nd (to quote Leo McGarry, "and I think these numbers is soft!"). There is an evident decline in the statistical profile of the team, especially on defense, into mediocrity.

Before we delve into the game's numbers, note that we started this game missing :

LT1, RG1, RT1, OLB1 (opposite of Goode), NG1, RB1, TE 1 or 2. We lost our C1 less than halfway through the game. The team, especially the offense, was thrown to the wolves on late notice. I came in expecting a rout, and yet we were competitive!

Some offensive numbers:

  • Chase's numbers were decent, 7.5 YPA, 6.79 AY/A (7.86 if we remove the final INT) during the game. Both numbers would slot him around the middle of the NCAA pack (43rd YPA and 69th at AY/A). Most of his passes came out of 11 personnel, with 21 and 12 personnel coming in a distant second. What is interesting is that 1st down playcalling during Oregon State was aggressive with a 60:40 pass:run split (50:50 in the 1st Q).

  • Something worth concern is the following LHS/RHS split, this could be driven by OL play not allowing Chase to adjust his body to the RHS, but it's something worth looking into as teams gameplan against us.

  • The rushing game is of concern. However, whether it is running power (man on man run blocking downhill) or zone running (simultaneous movement of the line in one direction to create cut-back lanes), the loss of 3 to 4 starting OL spells doom. This showed in the running game that only generated paltry returns in the 2nd half of the game (18 rushes for 34 yards and 1.9 YPC, basically if any RB were to jump from the LOS and land like a long jump, they would yield roughly the same amount of yards on avg).

  • I understand where Wilcox stands on the theory of keeping leads: run the clock, don't tip the offense's hand, rely on the defense, and grind the clock down. However, this attitude fails to account for the fact that the defense isn't playing as well as it used to and that the strength of the offense runs through Chase's arm, not the rushing game.

  • On 81 Cal plays, Oregon State had 15 HAVOC plays (2 sacks, 9 TFLs (!!), 2 INTs, 2 PBUs). The TFLs are worrying, but I think it's the function of the OL being in constant flux.

  • I think whatever happens against Furd, the cohesion on the OL, and how they prevent TFLs will dictate whether we will have a successful offense or not.

Some defensive numbers:

  • Another game where Hicks, Bynum, and Woodson are ahead of the ILBs in tackles with the other corner Chiggy matching them is not a good sign in this scheme.

  • On the other hand, Cal did generate 10 HAVOC plays (1 Sack, 5 TFLS, 2 INTs, and 2 PBUs) on 51 OSU plays for a HAVOC rating of ~20%. That's an excellent mark, most of it being driven by Cam Goode's 3 HAVOC play performance (0.5 sack, 2.5 TFLs).

  • Gebbia gained 89 of the 147 yards passing on four plays alone (without them, he's 8-16 for 58 yards and 4.6 YPA), Jermar Jefferson gained 140 of his 196 yards on two plays (56 yards on 16 attempts for a 3.5 YPC). The defense failed itself in stopping the big play. Whether it is Kuony Deng not covering TEs or the defense not finding its fits on run plays and being washed away.

  • Special teams... I won't talk special teams. It just looks like Jamiseon Sheahan is still trying to figure out how the college game's pace and speed, and that football gods hate Nikko Remigio.

Some Furd data points:

  • SP+ has Furd 62nd with the offense 52nd and defense 69th.

  • FootballOutsiders has Furd 66th with their offense 38th and defense 85th.

  • On a spreadsheet, Furd has been showing themselves as a more effective offense than Cal's. Assuming David Mills comes back for the Big Game, his one-game sample of a 5.8 YPA and 6.2 A/YA puts him right in the middle of the NCAA pack.

  • Austin Jones is generating a disappointing 3.2 YPC, it would be laughable if it weren't better than Cal's overall rushing avg. of 2.7 YPC.

  • I have to end this article early due to Thanksgiving shenanigans, don't worry, I am going to my girlfriend's place whose whole household has been basically on lockdown since March as well.