Rating the Bears: Cal at USC Football
The highest-rated loss since the one-score loss in Autzen last season
Although the Bears are mired in the longest losing streak of the Wilcox Era, the losses have been more palatable as of late. The Bears hit a low after suffering a blowout loss to a mediocre Wazzu team and an unthinkable loss to a Colorado team that will almost certainly end the season with one win (how charitable: that would be the second year in a row that the Bears gifted a one-win team their only victory). Since then the Bears have turned in more respectable performances against three teams with combined records of 23-4. At this point, being merely watchable is just enough to serve as a merciful distraction from the state of the men’s basketball program.
Rating the Bears
Like last week, we have a previously unthinkable situation in which pass offense earns the highest ratings by far while pass defense earns the lowest ratings of the week. The rush offense and defense earned near mirror ratings. Meanwhile coaching and overall earned their highest ratings of the losing streak. Our predictions of a win over Oregon State have dipped slightly since preseason, but that’s within the margin of error. It looks like we’re still expecting a toss-up in the house of horrors that is Reser Stadium.
Next we compare Saturday’s ratings to the range of ratings we’ve seen against USC since starting this series. Of course, these ratings cover most of the fourteen-game losing streak that came to a merciful end in 2018. Even though Saturday’s performance was a loss, the ratings look pretty good by comparison.
Every single category rates better than usual and pass offense posts the highest rating we’ve seen against USC. That’s an impressive feat considering four years of Bear Raid offense are in these ratings.
Compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era, the ratings are mostly meh.
Pass offense excels, but everything else is rather middling. Every other category sits comfortably in the box capturing the middle 50% of the data.
Three awards, as usual: highest ratings, lowest ratings, and those closest to average.
First up, worst grades of the week.
Only one grade below 50%. That almost counts as a moral victory.
Highest grades of the week.
Same top-three as last week—I admire the consistency.
The Voice of Reason
Finally, the closest grades to average.
sacman dominates the competition this week. Nice work.
Let’s hear how you felt about the game in words.
Any comments on the gameday experience?
KJ1980 - Nice to see the classic Joe Roth jerseys play on West Coast prime time on ESPN. SC built a big lead but the Bear never quit!
Haasbear - Very glad I chose to stay home rather than deal with traffic/parking from both the Cal/USC game and the MLS championship game taking place 3 blocks from each other.
Heyalumnigo - Got a Nations cheeseburger and settled in to watch the game. Pleasantly surprised by the first drive, then felt nothing until the 4th. I thought the INT/TD at the end of the first half would be the death play. But I have to give the players credit, they kept showing up.
1988goldenbear - Renovations at the Coliseum are pretty nice! But amplifying the SC band is super annoying. Do other schools do that? Play your stupid fight song without the speakers. Really glad the Cal band was right next to us and eventually decided to play through the amplified noise.
Tangtpt - Surprisingly good showing. The end of the 1st half killed any chance we had to win that game. I don't have a problem with the play call that led to the Plummer interception at the end of the half. Aggressive play-calling was always going to be necessary against the Trojans. BUT, that ball should never have been thrown. He's got to know that there would be a deep safety out there to grab a ball like that. I really like Plummer...toughest QB we've had since Pawlawski, IMHO, but his OL and OC have not done him too many favors.
What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?
Frisco Bear - When given time, Plummer can get the job done. Still, he is a rental player and I'd rather have Milner in there to accelerate his learning curve for next season today (and hope we don't lose our Wr's and Ott to the Transfer Portal).
Heyalumnigo - Plummer was pretty accurate when he had time. Pretty accurate. Where has this Plummer been? I will have to say, the $C defense is bad and will be the reason they won't sniff a national championship.
Sacman701 - Pass pro had the usual issues, but Plummer threw well and the receivers played well. We did some damage with quick throws, even hit a few deep balls, and got Ott into some situations where he could YAC.
Tangtpt - Generally good except for the end of the first half. Seems like aggressive play calling works for this offense.
What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?
1988goldenbear - Not much there, aside from a few bursts from Ott on the first drive and from Brooks to keep drives alive in the 4th quarter. Glad that Ott got a couple of TD's!
Heyalumnigo - Had a good first drive, then nothing. As the announcers were pointing out, for a quarter or so we tried to run outside and couldn't, so why do it. I guess you need to show it every once in a while.
Bowlesman80 - Please block for Ott, apparently Brooks does not need as much, though.
Frisco Bear - Ott is special. Unfortunately, our O line is a different kind of special. The 5 turnstiles have to be most frustrating thing about Cal Football in 2023 (maybe 2nd to Musgrave).
What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?
Frisco Bear - They bent, but eventually broke. Same with the run defense.
Haasbear - We gave up a few big plays but CW is a monster.
Sacman701 - Torched again. Generally avoided outright coverage busts especially considering Williams' ability to extend plays with his feet, but pressure was infrequent and coverage was generally soft.
1988goldenbear - We gave up a bunch of long completions all game long. There wasn't enough pressure on Williams, and even when there was that dude is really slippery and made some ridiculous completions. It seemed like we had a hard time with their speed, but so much of that is from a lack of pressure.
Tangtpt - Hard to do much against what I think is one of the top 5 offenses in the country, even without two of their best receivers.
What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?
Haasbear - Good enough.
Sacman701 - Not great, SC went for 5.5 a pop. We got very little push up front, and had just one tackle for loss. And we couldn't get stops at the end when we needed to.
1988goldenbear - We kinda sorta contained Dye and his porn-stache, but it always felt like they could get the short yards whenever they needed to. We lost containment on Williams a few times too.
What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?
Frisco Bear - Again, the O line was horrible. On the blocked PAT, the lineman didn't even get out of his stance before his man blew past him. It was like the defender knew the snap count and our lineman didn't.
Bowlesman80 - Our punter and kicker are gittin' it done. Was gratifying to see Ashton Hayes get some touches. Question: Why do we not have more backfield blocking for our punts? Are we trying to punk Sheehan? With our numerous three-n-outs, we are risking his leg every game.
Sacman701 - Pulling off an onside kick makes up for biffing an extra point and some dumb penalties on returns.
1988goldenbear - Higher than usual grade because of that amazing on-side kick recovery! That was a thing of beauty AND OAKLANDISH BEAR CALLED IT BEFORE IT HAPPENED. Well, to be fair he first called for a pick-6, but still. Not sure why Sheehan keeps getting mauled without a penalty - is it because he is taking all those steps before punting to give our defenders time to get downfield?
What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's performance?
Frisco Bear - Wilcox and company were a lot less conservative. I liked that. When they weren't conservative, the results weren't always favorable (i.e. the pick before the half that U$C converted to a TD in less than 70 seconds) and I'm afraid that it will reinforce Wilcox' turtling back into his conservative shell going forward. Would like to see Milner play the rest of the season. Will take a small miracle for us to see a Bowl Game, so let's take the learning curve lumps now and give us something tangible to be excited for next season...it's always next season.
KJ1980 - Risk taking coaching kept us in the game.
Heyalumnigo - It seems like we did make a small change. Loved the shovel pass while going for 2. I thought we did run that play earlier in the season.
Sacman701 - This was the first game since Arizona that we made good use of our limited offensive resources. I don't think the defensive problems in this game were really on the coaches, as we just don't have the horses to hang with elite offenses. The team also didn't quit after twice falling behind by 20 points, and the coaches deserve some credit for that.
Tangtpt - Where was this offense all season? This team beats Colorado easily and probably beats Washington. So frustrating.
1988goldenbear - It feels like this sort of thing is happening year after year, where we play down or up to the competition. That works great against teams like USC and Oregon, but then we go and get our ass handed to us in Colorado or Arizona (last year). Wilcox has shown amazing loyalty to Cal, and despite this losing string he appears to still be able to get the team revved up. I really want him to succeed, but I don't know that I see that happening.
What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?
KJ1980 - Cal came back but lost. The Bears need a win at Oregon State. Is it possible for us to win in Corvallis?
RememberTheCalamo - Defense forcing 3-and-outs, offense getting first downs? Almost gave goose eggs since I'm not sure that was the Cal Bears I was watching, lol.
Bowlesman80 - Always a pleasure to see snobby rich people glorify themselves over players who are far beyond the athletic talents of their employers. The Spoiled Children culture of smugness is renewed in strength and overconfidence with Lincoln Riley as their lackey enabler. It was worth my time, however, to see a worried expression on Lincoln Riley's face as we closed the gap in the Fourth Quarter. Overall, yet another moral victory, which adds up, along with our many others, to a Mr. Congeniality Award, the drug we are given to accept the 60+ year decline and institutionally-manufactured mediocrity of our football program.
Heyalumnigo - I expected to be turning the game off by halftime, or mid 3rd. But the boys showed up and kept playing hard and $C's not good D kept Cal in the game.
Sacman701 - The offense finally showed some improvement, but the game wasn't as close as the score and ultimately we lost for familiar reasons: ineffective offensive line play and inability to disrupt the opposing offense. Going forward, we might have a chance to upset Oregon State if our passing game can keep clicking, and Furd looks winnable as our defense can contain mediocre offenses.
Tangtpt - This team fights. No doubt about that. I just wish that they could be put in a position to play like that every game, not just when they're on national television against a top-10 opponent.
VermontBear - I'm proud of our valiant Golden Bears.