Evans Hall: Did Cal look good because we got good, or because Colorado is Bad?

And not Michael Jackson "Bad", just "My date decided to eat durian before the kiss" bad

One idea in Nick’s Monday morning piece:

Write For California
Post-Game Thoughts: Colorado Football
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But it’s also true that Cal held Colorado to their 2nd worst offensive output of the season. So there’s something to the idea that what Cal did to Colorado was more than just badness in Boulder.

I wanted to see if the data supports the conclusions on defense. If you have read my previous piece on this topic the charts will feel familiar:

Cal Defensive Performance by Down

There are two things worth noting here:

  1. The run defense destroyed Colorado’s 1st down rushing, letting off a bit on later downs.

  2. The pass defense shut down the Colorado passing game on 2nd downs with 3rd down passing being mostly suppressed.

Considering Colorado’s down by down tendencies we can see how Cal has shutdown the very bad offense at an epic level.

Colorado ran on 1st down ~ 61% of the time before coming into the Cal game and we made sure that this play selection would result in a 2nd and long forcing Colorado to pass which Cal was ready to do. With the avg. 2nd down being a 8.6 to go and 3rd down being 8.25 with a Median of 10 and 9.

This is very good. Considering Colorado’s non-Cal FBS performance, the defense held them to an extra yard or two more on each down. Might not seem like a lot but a yard is a difference between converting a check down/read route and not.

See below the read route has a depth of 4 yards, needing 4 yards after catch, and 3 is the difference on these catches. Cal has struggled to tackle this season, and giving us an extra yard of space allows for some errors.

Cal Defensive Performance by Quarter

We can see here that Cal shut down the Colorado passing game in Q1 and Q4 with the rushing defense shutting Colorado down in Q3 and Q4.

Not much to say but this falls into the standard Wilcox game where the offense takes a lead and the defense clamping down later in the game with soul-crushing domination in Q4.

Conclusion

To answer Nick’s question and to subvert “Betteridge's law of headlines”, the answer in “yes” Cal did make a bad Colorado offense even worse in both types of plays across downs, and quarters. Note, there is some higher variance of the now sample size of the Colorado offense (46 plays, 22 rushes, 24 pass attempts), but even with this caveat the defense finally put up a classic Wilcox performance we were expecting all season long.

Let’s hope this continues throughout the latter half of the season.