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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. Idaho Football
A tale of two halves
Occasionally during this Rating the Bears series we have participants who lament that grades have to span the entire game, rather than only covering the first or second half. This was certainly one of those games, as the Bears spent most of the first half making us wonder if a loss to Idaho truly would be the worst Cal loss of all time. Then the Bears outscored Idaho 31-0 and gave us enough optimism to have a glimmer of hope against the Huskies in Seattle.
Rating the Bears
The table below captures the fanbase’s ratings across several different categories. We report the average rating and the standard deviation, a measure capturing the amount of variation in our responses. And based on the volatility of Cal’s performance this past weekend, some of these standard deviations are considerably larger than normal.
Passing earns the lowest score and the highest standard deviation of the week to reflect a wide range of scores for Sam Jackson’s up-and-down day. Pass defense also earned medicore grades with a large SD, as some raters punished the Bears’ porous first-half zone coverage while others rewarded the lockdown coverage in the second half.
We had plenty of agreement about the run game, however, as both offense and defense earned the highest scores and the lowest SDs of the week. Coaching and overall were middling, likely another reflection of the inconsistent performance. Predictions of a win have dipped slightly thanks to UW’s incredible start to the season and our own inconsistent performances each week.
The Bears have underperformed against FCS teams in recent years and this week’s ratings demonstrate a continuation of that trend. Except for the running categories, all our ratings fall below the typical ratings in FCS games, with several falling well below.
Pass offense and special teams fared particularly badly, while pass defense was the second-worst we have seen since 2010 (hi Portland State!).
Compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era, the ratings fare slightly better.
Running is again much better than usual, while everything else is not too far from the horizontal median line.
Once again we are handing out awards to the best, worst, and least deviant ratings.
First, we have the highest grades of the week. The number in parentheses notes the number of times the rater has received this award in previous weeks.
Calamo earns this award for the ~50th time in a row while Bowlesman80 joins her as the only repeat winner in this category. Except for Calamo’s perfect scores, this was a very close range of award-winning scores.
Next, the worst ratings of the week.
Once again, we have a very narrow spread separating the ratings—only 19 points!
The Voice of Reason
Finally, I take everyone’s ratings, compare them to the average ratings, and use that to compute how far they strayed from the group scores.
Goldenone earns a much better score than the rest of the recipients while sacman701 is this week’s only multi-time award winner.
Finally, let’s have a look at your comments about Saturday’s win over Idaho:
Any comments on the gameday experience?
KJ1980: Best part of the game was the lack of any SEC fans there. Cal rushing O was great. Consistent snd more creative than last week. The weather was perfect. But Zcal came out uninspired against a team that wanted this game bad bad bad. Why weren't the Bears hungry for a W? At least to start the game.
HelloBowlesHall: Speakers better. Two bands (alumni band) were nice and loud. They actually let the bands play, shockingly.
Frisco Bear: Anemic crowd. Hear so much rumbling about "no 1:00pm games" yet, we have one and >30,000 people there.
Darthdartagnan: Typical game day on THE! UC California at Berkeley of California campus. Stadium concessions need pumpkin spice
HaasBear: I woke up at 4:30, got on a plane, landed in San Jose at 8:30, and drove up to the stadium yet I still showed up to the 1st half with more energy than the Bears.
Tangtpt: Crowd size was as expected. PA system seemed to be working better. As a Cal Band alumnus who performs annually with the Alumni Band, I am always deeply and sincerely grateful for the enthusiasm and applause the crowd gives when we perform at halftime, especially after the Script California, and this year was no exception. That kind of response is why the current Cal Band does what it does and why Alumni keep coming back. THANK YOU!!!
What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?
sacman701: Not very productive, Jackson still has a long way to go. Scrambles are a threat, as they were under Garbers.
Frisco Bear: Jackson has little touch on passes beyond 15 yards. Had two throws that miraculously got caught by Bears, when they should have been picked.
jakewebs: SJV makes the throwing part of being QB look hard. If this is what we've got, we'll need to get clever with the playcalls to have any hope in conference play.
Rose Bowl Oski: Need more Trond. Runs great routes, made a nice TD catch
Goldenone: Not very explosive nor consistent, we need to learn to block in screen passes
HaasBear: 108 yards against an FCS team with virtually no threats down the field. If we don’t figure that out we won’t see another win until we go to the farm.
BrooklynBear: We don't run many slants or outs and SJV holds the ball fairly low. also is the Idaho front four better than UNT / Auburn. They seemed to create more havoc than the other two.
What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?
Townie: Keep on truckin’
KJ1980: Super. Resilient. Exciting. Durable. Helped get the W
sacman701: Six yards a pop is good even against an FCS defense. This is where we won the game more than anywhere else.
TKE Prytanis 79: Fantastic that our # 2 and #3 are so stout and that the O line can give them lanes...hopefully there is even more to build upon.
OldSoCalBear: In the 80's there was a cheer "up the middle! up the middle! uhhnh! uhhnh!" That's all we have. Is our o-line too slow to pull and block on outside runs? Or are our receivers/TEs not good enough at blocking?
Goldenone: 254 yards without the bell cow back was impressive.
1988goldenbear: We are really solid in the RB room. Hopefully Ott recovers fully and quickly, and maybe he can teach Jackson V something about running smart instead of going head-to-head vs linebackers.
Oski Disciple: Run blocking still not up to snuff. Maybe was good that we kept Ott out of the game as he was not needed. Isiah and Ashton are both excellent backs. Nice to have depth there.
Tangtpt: I feel like we can be effective on outside runs. We seem to like to pound up the middle a lot, but our outside linemen appear to be athletic enough to be able to block on the outside. Wish we would do that more. That being said, I love how physical our backs are. That might be the toughest unit on the team, with the possible exception of the linebackers.
What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?
KJ1980: A mixed bag. Made the Idaho QB look like Fran Tarkington. Not good
sacman701: Very shaky first three series, but after that we did a good job of playing bend but don't break. 6.1 yards per pass is a decent showing.
cleancutmedia: The only good thing is that our boys have been taught well to strip those balls. Our forced turnovers is what is keeping us alive!
OldSoCalBear: DBs have been average since Coach Alexander left. So frustrating to see all the chunk plays, but I guess they succeeded in preventing big plays.
Goldenone: Got better as the game went on when we were able to pressure McCoy.
1988goldenbear: They worked it out after getting punched in the mouth early. D-line pressure was key.
Oski Disciple: Is Idaho's passing offense that good? Certainly their OLine looked FBS quality. I think we had only one sack. Their QB was extremely elusive. Overall disappointed with our pass rush and secondary coverage.
Tangtpt: They woke up. That first 20 minutes was brutal!
What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?
sacman701: Some bad moments early, but Idaho's running game wasn't much of a factor after the first three series.
Frisco Bear: Pretty good today.
Rose Bowl Oski: Stout
Gobears89: Good tackling, solid effort
TKE Prytanis 79: noice!
Goldenone: Solid throughout the game.
1988goldenbear: Really good. Lost containment on the qb a couple times but they were pretty dominant.
What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?
jakewebs: The wind picking up right before the FG attempt at the end was just cruel on nature's part. Still, definitely an improvement from last week for Luckhurst, I hope seeing the ball go through the uprights a few times helped him get his confidence back.
Goldenone: Hit and miss unfortunately but I do think Luckhurst's last field goal try was good.
Calboy1976: 16 was OK. The miss looked good from our angle.
1988goldenbear: Solid, and that’s a huge improvement from last week. Let’s hope that carries on through the season.
What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's performance?
KJ1980: Cal should have came our inspired. Coaches should have done more.
jakewebs: The team looked completely unprepared for most of the first half and that starts with coaching. California won because they have a far more talented roster, not because of superior coaching.
cleancutmedia: Not a great game. Not a great start. But give kudos for the adjustments after being down 0-17 and getting the boys to never give up.
TKE Prytanis 79: They kept the kids heads in the game and stayed true to the plan even after getting hit in the face...good for them.
OldSoCalBear: I like keeping Ott out. And I like the fact that they fought back after falling badly behind.
sacalum: If the staff made significant adjustments after starting 0-17, then I give them credit.
Oski Disciple: A damn sight better than last week which admittedly isn't saying much. The horrible start was surmountable given the level of opposition but we can't be spotting anyone else on our schedule seventeen points and then expect to win. Coaches need to have the team ready from the get to.
Tangtpt: I hope that there is some holding back of the playbook in the early season, because if this is our actual offense, it might cause us problems getting to 6 wins. I'd love to see more outside runs. The pass offense needs work. Sam Jackson V has some real potential, but he needs to find open receivers downfield. I don't know if it's his vision down field or if the receivers are not getting open, but something has break.
What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?
Townie: The Bears played with their food. Keep it up and it will be a very long season.
KJ1980: A W that was needed. Nothing pretty.
sacman701: What started off as a historic fiasco ended up as yet another mediocre but ultimately good enough performance against a non-marquee opponent. There are plenty of things to correct, the largest of which is that the passing game still doesn't look threatening enough to keep up with the better Pac-12 (RIP) teams. Jackson should improve with experience, but he isn't going to turn into a faster Garbers overnight.
jakewebs: Idaho is a great team but that was still an unimpressive performance. It's still early, but it's looking like another 4 or 5 win team. In a conference of loaded offenses, California (not "Cal Berkeley") has a dubious passing game, unsteady special teams, and a strong defense. In other words, business as usual with Wilcox's California.
Rose Bowl Oski: It would have been pretty awful if both Cal and Furd had lost to FCS schools
Gobears89: Got a win. Not pretty or dominating, but a WIN. We will take any and all of those
Darthdartagnan: Average teams just win. Good teams win in the fashion in which the fanbase expects.
Calboy1976: Whatever adjustments were made in Q2 worked so good job there.
Bowlesman80: Idaho is better than folks want to think, but are we really ready for the Dubs?
Tangtpt: A win is a win. Idaho is a good FBS team, and in a lot of ways, a good test for Cal heading into the UW game. Lots of adjustments need to be made, especially on offense.
Thank to all who participated this week!