Rating the Bears: Cal at Colorado Football
The horror, the horror.
In 2018, 2019, and 2020, the Bears had an impressive winning streak: they defeated the defending Pac-12 champion each year (USC in 2018, UW in 2019, and Oregon in 2020). In 2021 and 2022 a new and ignoble streak has begun: Cal now has a two-game losing streak to winless Pac-12 teams (0-8 Arizona last year and 0-5 Colorado this year). For a program that appeared to be on the upswing during Wilcox’s first three seasons, this is a disturbing regression.
Rating the Bears
If you are a child, pregnant, or of delicate constitution, I do not recommend reading further. These ratings may result in depression, uncontrollable rage, or a deep sense of existential dread. If any of these symptoms last for longer than four hours, please give Bill Musgrave a call.
The good news: none of these are single digits. The bad news: pretty much everything else. The defense had a decent day, but the stain of being associated with such an awful loss pulled their ratings down considerably. Had Cal won 41-20, those defensive ratings would probably be in the 70s. Alas, the offense went out and defiled that poor football field. Both offensive categories as well as coaching and overall earned the lowest scores we have seen in a long time.
It has been an odd set of games against Colorado since we started this series: two overtime games in Boulder, a couple Cal blowout wins, a couple Cal blowout losses, and 14 combined passing TDs in one of the wackiest games of the 2010s.
As a reminder, these boxplots represent the range of ratings we’ve observed recently. The horizontal blue line represents the median and the box captures data between the 25th and 75th percentiles. One thing that stands out about the above boxes is that they are HUGE. The range of ratings in the middle 50% of the data spans over 60 points in some of these ratings. That is a huge amount of variation, which is in keeping with the bizarre set of games we’ve seen against Colorado recently. Compared to the rest of recent Colorado games, the pass defense was better than usual, run defense was a little worse than usual, and everything else was much worse than usual.
Compared all the other games of the Wilcox Era, Saturday’s game fares poorly.
Every single rating is below the 25th percentile (as it’s below the box). Run offense and coaching are the worst scores we have ever seen under Wilcox. Good times.
We have some good news: we’re handing out more awards than usual, which may lift our spirits a bit.
Actually, we’re only handing out more awards than usual because we have an 8-way tie atop the Old Blues awards.
So many goose eggs.
Next, the sunniest ratings of the week. And four of the five earned this same award last week. I don’t know how you can stay optimistic after watching these two eye-bleachingly bad losses.
Only four ratings above 50%? That’s bad.
The Voice of Reason
Next we highlight those whose ratings were closest to the community average.
The deviations are much higher than normal because it’s hard to find a middle ground between the ratings that were all 0s and the rest of the ratings.
And now, let’s see how you felt about the game in words.
Any comments on the gameday experience?
Texashaterforlife - For those of us watching on Pac-12 network: worst Camera operators I have ever seen. And the announcers kept making so many basketball references, I think they were a last minute replacement.
KJ1980 - Painful. Cal was hapless against a hapless team. It made the Cheez Its Bowl embarrassment look like a highlight reel film. Cal has no excuses after this embarrassment. No run game. No special teams game. No pass game. Ok defense against a team with absolutely no offense. Why even be a Cal football fan? Debacle is an understatement. And the team seemed listless in a must win game after the fiasco in the Palouse.
BearsWillEndMyLife - The Pac-12 site never loaded the live video, so I had to use a bootleg site. That should have been my first clue to walk away. I have family in Boulder and almost flew there this weekend for the game. Sheesh.
SG Bear - Stuck in a corner of the only bar that has the Pac-12 Network with dozens of other screens showing what real college football looks like. Watching Cal and Colorado's energy/execution side-by-side to the other programs was depressing.
Heyalumnigo - Drove back from Berkeley Bowl West during the first couple of possessions. Pawlawski was bashing the WR that missed the block on the bubble screen. And the lack of situational play calling. Other than that, just sat in front of the TV and watched the debacle. Had a bad feeling about the Dodgers game after the Cal loss. And I was right.
Oaklandishbear - I love going to Boulder. I get to go to a game with my dad, love the stone brick buildings of the campus, love the mountains, and of course the running of Ralphie is the coolest thing in all of college sports that I have witnessed. And props to Colorado. They were an 0-6 team, and they still (almost) packed the house and were a raucus crowd. They've got a nice band, cheer/dance, even a color guard. WTF is going on in our administration that our support is so shitty. It is downright depressing. If the Buffs are relegating to becoming a Big-12 team in the future of the B1G/Pac conferences, we don't even deserve that and should prepare for the Mountain West or something...
What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?
Haasbear - Unimaginative, predictable, sloppy, and ineffective. A classic Musgrave performance.
Texashaterforlife - Bill Musgrave has to be fired! It should have been done the day after the loss to WSU. Cal should start playing Kai Millner starting now to get him valuable experience for next year, cuz this season is lost.
Old Bear 71 - Yes. I looked at a game today that had one team choose to insert a different qb for one who was being somewhat serviceable. Viola! Game changer! Too bad it was on the opposing team. I think Wilcox et al are terrified of change. Seems to me they cannot fathom that a fresh arm & attitude might spark some on field enthusiasm.
SG Bear - I simply don't understand Musgrave's approach. I think it's head-scratching and inexcusable. We were facing one of the country's worst run defenses and we seemed determined to want to stick with empty-sets that weren't working. Musgrave has been in love with 12 personnel sets and this was the team to use it against and he nearly abandons it. Plummer was sailing his passes so medium-range outs became incompletions. We also used so many under-center set-ups knowing full well that the O-line would break down quickly and Plummer would have to run for his life and be inaccurate. Hardly any screens, flats, or other quick hits to try and get someone in space against a bad tackling team. Only an insane person would try the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome. We had to try hard to lose that game and Musgrave succeeded.
Heyalumnigo - We had a pass offense? Plummer had virtually no time to do anything longer than a 3 step drop. A couple of good passes more than 15 yards including a great pass on the TD. Though I will have to say it seems like Colorado played defense for the first time this season. The interim HC really did his job well. Had them pumped up.
Goldenone - Very mediocre. Plummer has proven he is inconsistent and can't make the clutch pass when he needs to. Also, very little action in the middle of the field because he is afraid of being picked. This limits what Cal can do. WR screens are a disaster on the edge.
What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?
SG Bear - I am livid as to our game planning. Why are we not running against a terrible run defense that is, in general, overmatched personnel wise? Why did we abandon the trap and pull offensive line approach play that mauled Arizona while overcoming Cal's weakness of being beat 1-on-1 on the line? Why is Musgrave running complicated Galaxy-brained fake-reverse counters on 4th down when we've never shown the play before to set up the counter and instantly gives us a two man disadvantage since they're not blocking and actually running toward the actions? In what school of coaching do you do a QB sneak with a non-mobile QB with nearly 2 yards to go? Effing pull a guard to create great violence at the point of attack, and create a seam for a back so that he doesn't dance behind a below-average zone blocking wall waiting for a hole that never comes.
Heyalumnigo - We had a run offense? I just remember one good run play. Everything else was stuffed. Our OL and TE was getting blown up.
1988goldenbear - The only thing I can fathom is that Colorado was so amped up with the coaching change and the chance to win a conference game against a team that always plays down (or up?) to the competition that they were able to tackle effectively for the first time this season. I can't see Ott staying at Cal after going through stuff like this. Why would he?
Oaklandishbear - I don't even know what to say here. Ott gained 12 yds on his first touch, but then we throw three straight times. But then again after that, Ott could never get space. Seems like he was hit in the backfield on virtually every run. And how can we have three attempts to gain a yard on the one drive in the first half where we got to the red zone, and we turn it over on downs? Pathetic.
What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?
Sacman701 - Not bad except for the trick play.
SG Bear - Mixed bag. In general, they were stellar - especially when you consider the injuries that they seem to be playing with. But they broke down more than they should have with some poor execution - which is easy to criticize when you play it back in slow-motion - but devilishly hard to perfect when doing at full speed. Safeties shouldn't be late to McCown's rainbow downfield shots. DBs need to look for the ball and punch through the hands at reception. Middle linebackers with some sluggish reactions to drop back. I liked that Sirmon dialed in more blitzes, but the execution wasn't there as they didn't create enough disruption vs. the amount of times he gambled.
CoBears - Generally, it was acceptable, but the trick play that got us hurt (though not really due to bad coverage).
Oaklandishbear - Generally good, until McCown got hurt and Shrout took over. Maybe the Bears were just gassed at that point. Still did enough to win the game, though, if the Offense had done anything.
MBrew3 - Solid
What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?
Old Bear 71 - Up n down. Up n down. One play stuff everything, next play it’s like touch football.
SG Bear - Pretty darn good. And then they'd break a big gain up the middle. I am also questioning why there is so much rotation at the non-Sirmon ILB position.
1988goldenbear - Solid game, exactly what I would expect from the defense against this caliber team.
Heyalumnigo - There was a stretch where they were running the ball well, but we didn't do too badly.
CoBears - Again, generally acceptable. Their offense, and our defense, was not the real issue here.
What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?
Old Bear 71 - Missed two FG attempts. Make one and no overtime. Offsides on a third and long which was incomplete.
BTown85 - The 2 missed FGs we’re about as bad as they could be without getting blocked.
SG Bear - The kicks that Longhetto missed were long (54, 48) but the second one was butt ugly. Yeesh. Kick-off coverage remains a problem - but water is wet and Cal is Cal. Thank goodness for Sheahan, who has developed from a liability into a punt god.
Oaklandishbear - Punting and Kickoffs were great. As much as I love Longhetto and appreciate he is automatic from within 40, we need better than whatever he is (<30?) from longer distance...
What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's performance?
BearsWillEndMyLife - Every minute Musgrave continues to have a job is a fireable offense in and of itself for Wilcox. This was 10,000 times worse than Arizona last year. Wilcox is looking more and more unprepared and overmatched every week. The decision to hire, and keep, an incompetent and arrogant Musgrave is squarely on Wilcox. The game has long since passed him by.
Old Bear 71 - What coaching? Do you mean the crew that has no imagination, an utter lack of half time adjustment acumen, and a glaring inability to coach talent to reach potential production?
If that’s who we are talking about, I’d say that it was beyond abysmal in the negative direction. They are so deep in a hole they can’t look up and see the bottom.
SG Bear - In general, I don't spout off for some coach's head. The job is difficult and losses are inevitable. But this game was inexcusable. This was the worst offensive game plan that I have ever seen. I can't see us retaining Musgrave with his contract ending at the end of this year. And if he is, I'll be joining the unwashed mob with my own pitchfork and torch braying for heads to roll.
1988goldenbear - Out-coached again. Or maybe out-motivated? Either way, no excuse for our offense to get crushed so completely. I had hope for Musgrave, but he has shown me jack squat this year. Time to move on.
CoBears - 0 points at the half against COLORADO? 13 overall? This was the worst performance I have watched in a while (I mercifully didn't watch the AZ game last year). We looked totally out of sync. Plays that didn't work AT ALL were repeated over and over, like they'd suddenly yield something new. Plays that could take some pressure off (screens, for instance) were apparently not in the playbook? Our run v pass was also way too predictable. This was such a disappointment, and it falls on the coaching staff. That changes haven't already been made is astounding.
Oaklandishbear - If something doesn't change on the Offensive staff, I may not be renewing. We couldn't run the ball, despite the worst rushing defense in the conference. We couldn't throw the ball. If we don't have the personnel up front, something schematically has to change! And I'm sorry, but if we had taken the FG at the start of the second quarter instead of failing on three straight attempts to gain one single f%cking yard, we wouldn't have gone to OT. At that point, 3-0 could very well have been the final score. I don't agree with the call (play call or decision, your choice.()
What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?
BearsWillEndMyLife - It's hard to think of many other Cal losses this inexplicable. Too bad Knowlton has too many other scandals and funding issues to deal with to fire the entire staff, which is warranted after this game.
Bowlesman80 - There is no way this game should have been so close. We make other teams' dreams come true. We're Care Bears.
Sacman701 - The defense played well enough to win, 13 points in regulation is what Colorado averages. In three weeks, the offense has managed to go from 49 points against Arizona to completely nonfunctional. The line looked fine against the Cats, but it hasn't blocked anyone since then.
Delrikki - It’s Cal. This is what they do sooner or later. If you’ve followed them as long as I have 55 years you know you love and follow the bears for the experience in the metaphysics of lising. “How are they going to blow it this time?” This was no surprise. It may be a surprise to you being young.
SG Bear - Jeez, did you watch the game? Pathetic. Ignominious. It ranks up there as one of the worst performances by a Cal team, up there with Arizona 2021, Cheez-Its Bowl, and Utah 2019.
1988goldenbear - I feel sick about that performance. I don't know if this is worth it. Sad Bear.
CoBears - Garbage. I wish I hadn't watched. No real hope for the rest of the season.