We all have to learn how to do the football thing together again
Wilcox in his post-game presser stated that he declined because per reports 50 yards was the kickers max and he didn't want to risk a DPI on a fade route. We forget that the drive after the kicker missed a 49 yarder. Wilcox played the probability game with the kicking and bet of #collegeKickers being college kickers.
We had multiple chances at winning the game. Thats the fact. The INT to FGA. The 4th down stop. There were so many chances. the first quarter and our defense gave us MULTIPLE shots. the offense just could not execute and find something that worked semi-consistently in the second half. simple as that.
My overriding sense while watching the game was that it felt like Cal was playing and coaches were calling plays as if they knew they were going to win the game. No sense of urgency, no clever calls, just buy-the-book, let's just go through the motions of what dominant teams do. It's like no one had looked at the scoreboard.
Does all of this mean that we aren't going to the Rose Bowl?
Just wanted to add a short comment about an aspect of your column that hasn't been addressed. As an ex Cal yell leader, under Bob Tuck, probably the most creative and ballsy yell leader Cal has ever had (1970 football season), I want to say it is a shame that actual yell leaders are not given the time, in this day and age of constant stadium commercials and football stadium announcers taking over almost all of the time with their withering announcements and their faux cheerleading, to get the student section involved in doing yells that are directed to the team to help our team win. Even the famous "roll on you bears" was probably canned more than a few years ago. I don't know == haven't been to a Cal game in awhile, but I went I could see the immense changes in interacting with the student section, and not in a good way.. When Cal is rolling student led cheers helped spur on our football team and made it fun for non-student fans to witness that.
Not allowing a creative yell leader and staff, along with song girls, on the platform to engage the crowd has and will continue to lead to less attendance by Cal students at games. Why should a student go to a Cal game is it is not fun and full of real Cal spirit for them to participate in? We need to get away from all of this plain vanilla sameness of communicating with the Cal student section almost exclusively from over the air stadium announcers to have a real college atmosphere at Cal games, which I'm sure even the fans enjoy witnessing, reminding them they are not at a pro game but in a real life, vibrant, college football game where crowd cheering noise, from students and others yelling as loud as they can for their teams to win, particularly from the student section, can easily beat that of any pro football game, especially when the game is close or even when Cal pours it on (though no doubt those games have been few and far between in recent years).
You know....I think there was a reason that 2/3 of the post game questions revolved around....why did you stop running the ball? I disagree with this somewhat- "Almost everybody aesthetically loves a long, sustained drive. The problem is that it’s really hard to consistently execute long, sustained drives. Inevitably you’re going to make a mistake on a play and/or your opponent is going to make a great play, and then you’re behind schedule, and then the drive ends."
The complement to a team with a stout defense is always a ball-control, time of possession, field position, boring but methodical offense. If the other team doesn't have the ball, they can't score. I don't remember seeing one running play where we got less than five yards. Use your tight ends, play action off of that, a few designed QB runs, and you can also compensate when the defense sells out against the run. I'm not saying that you never throw the ball downfield, but understand that it's a lower percentage play, and calling all of those passing plays can be drive killers.
There were poor throws, dropped balls, and a lot of other problems....but I'm going to say that was still one of the most poorly called offensive games I've seen in a long time. I don't get it, it's not like Musgrave hasn't ever utilized a run-first offense, he's actually very good at it. We have a very good O-line, and four backs that could all start for us....every time they were given the opportunity, they showed that.
I have real issues with Wilcox’s decision to run a pro style offense and it ever being successful at Cal.
1. Pro style offenses can be complex and difficult to master due to the lack of practice time and the constant churn of a college football roster.
2. You need a lot of talent to run it successfully and Cal just can’t recruit at the level needed to make it work.
3. Most high school recruits no longer play in pro style offenses in high school. Most high schools have adopted the spread so how many HS players want to go from spread to pro style. The players that do come, you’re often trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
4. You can see even teams like Bama, ND, and just about everyone has moved away from the pro style, college football is evolving. We need to evolve with it.
ST's were bad, really bad IMO. The punter was under duress on each punt, we were fortunate a punt wasn't blocked. How STs continues to be such a liability does not bode well. Hell our punt coverage sucked, how difficult is it to maintain lane assignment?
It appears, to me, that Garbers has no self confidence. Either he himself knows he can't make the throws necessary or he has such a mental block about it that his body won't allow him to make the throws. If we see him pressing in the next game than it is time for a new QB. Simple.
At the very least Cal needs to "see" another QB on the field. At some point this season, Wilcox will need to choose if his livelihood boils down to CG. I'd like to think Wilcox is smart enough to know that he needs to look at other "options". Cuz 4 years w/ the same QB hasn't produced different results.
So here are a couple of thoughts for you that should be included in any analysis (Coaches look at this stuff): 1. How many passes were delivered accurately that were dropped as a total number and percentage of total pass attempts; 2. How many incomplete passes were poor passes as a total number and as a percentage of total pass attempts; 3. How many times was the QB hurried or harassed out of the total number of pass attempts and as a percentage of total pass attempts; 4. How may times on plays that were NOT obvious pass play situations did someone on the o-line change up their stance because the play was actually a pass, and as a result allow the D could read pass? (It happened way more than you think - you can't get away at the college level with cheating on your stance). I think these metrics will lead to a good understanding of our breakdown after our first quarter success. After the first quarter UNR started bringing more guys into the box to stop our run. In doing so they took away our short pass game as well. It forced Chase to throw longer passes, thereby allowing their pass rush more time to pressure Chase. UNR did an excellent job of staying disciplined in pass rush lanes and made it very difficult for Chase to get room to scramble. Our roll out passes gave him more time, but I'd like to see metrics on Chases effectiveness on roll out pass completions. Something tells me he's not Pat Mahomes trying to throw on the move.
This article is dead on…Thanks Nick!
Your postgame thoughts are the highlight of this season so far! I know, low bar, but thanks for reminding me how much I enjoy this article every week! I hope we start to have more happy endings to them as the season goes on!
At least we're not Washington #woof
Cal football instagram always posts final score even if it's a loss. Last Saturday the final post was the half time score and never posted anything after it. That's how embarrassed they were.
Great writeup, as always, from Nick.
Don't see anything in the article commented on elsewhere that Cal should have stayed with he run game that was so successful in the first quarter, in part because our offensive line outweigtht the D-line of Nevada by an average of 30 pounds or so. Best running game I've seen from Cal in awhile because Cal has a slew of good backs (best than the last few years) and a better than average offensive line.
We missed a great opportunity to continue to score if we had stuck with the running game, or went back to it once it was clear our passing game wasn't measuring up. Don't forget, we were up fourteen points and I think led at halftime, so there was more than enough time to switch back to the running game which was so good to start the game.
Excellent write-up but have two disagreements: 1) I am prolly the only one who was ok with declining the penalty. Yes, 3rd & 28 is nice, but with Strong "throw[ing] the ball all over the field" it was highly likely they pick up 10+ on that 3rd down, making it 4th and say 15 or 4th and 10, and a much shorter FG attempt. 2) Not sold on Strong. Still believe that Slovis has a better shot at Sunday work. Finally, Cal's D was fortunate that Nevada had ~7 dropped passes, or the score would not have been close.
College football is dictated by offense nowadays. Its obvious in the CFP with those teams putting up 40 every week, but even at Cal’s level its much easier to be consistent on offense than it is to try to hold opponents to less than 20 and win. Wilcox needs to figure out the QB position this season or his tenure is gonna be as limited as the Bears passing game.