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Rating the Bears: Cal at Washington Football
An early contender for worst game of the year
By a mere rounding error this game escaped being one of the five worst rated games of the Wilcox Era. For the morbidly curious, the top-five are ‘22 Colorado, ‘21 Arizona, ‘21 Wazzu, ‘19 Utah, and ‘18 UCLA. Let us all hope this ends up being the worst set of ratings of the year, because I’m not sure I can suffer through another 40-point deficit, the largest deficit of the Wilcox Era (in the last 6 seasons the team has only surrendered 40+ points on five occasions, and this was the largest deficit since the abysmal 2013 Big Game). Let’s wade through the muck.
Passing and rushing are both near-mirror images of their counterparts, as the offensive and defensive scores were quite similar. Even the standard deviations are nearly identical. What an awful, awful coincidence.
It gets more awful, however, as special teams’ recent decline hit a nadir with a woeful score of 11.1. I would suggest that it cannot get any worse this week, but I’ve been a Cal fan too long to tempt fate like that. Coaching and overall fare awfully, as one might expect.
After ASU’s injury-plagued start to the season, we ought to be feeling better about our predictions of a win. However, a humbling loss in Seattle has us thinking that Saturday’s game will be a toss-up.
UW has spent most of the last decade as a perennial Pac-12 title contender while Cal has spent most of the last decade…decidely not doing that. Nevertheless, the Bears have had some competitive games against the Huskies in recent years. By comparison, most of Saturday’s ratings were unpleasant.
In an unpleasant reminder of how bad quarterback play has been at Cal since 2010 (outside the Goff-Webb years, of course), Saturday’s ratings fall exactly on the median score for pass offense. Interestingly, the overall score also falls directly on the median. When things go poorly against UW, they go very, very poorly (41-17 in 2013, 31-7 in 2014, 66-27 in 2016, 38-7 in 2017). Everything else fares worse than usual, led by special teams which had the lowest rating against the Huskies by a large margin.
Compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era, things look even more grim.
Every single rating falls below the box, meaning it’s below the 25th percentile. Shockingly, this was not the worst special teams rating (I believe that one belonged to the 2020 Big Game).
You know the routine by now: time for some awards recognizing the highest, lowest, and most average (I mean that in the best way) ratings.
We have our first goose egg of the year!
Watson and Crick. Thelma and Louise. David Shaw and punting from his own 35-yard line. Calamo and Bowlesman join some historic duos by posting their fourth consecutive 1-2 finish. And Renobear88’s ratings indicate that only 3 ratings were above 50%. Ouch.
The Voice of Reason
Winebear wins this one by a large margin as we have no repeat winners on the VoR category this week.
Now let’s review some comments. At the very least, awful losses like these tend to bring out some gallows humor from you all.
Any comments on the gameday experience?
RememberTheCalamo: I really appreciated the commentary on ESPN: "the start of this game couldn't have gone worse for the bears unless their bus drove into the lake". Also the camera work was awful, lots of weird zooming. And they were so focused on their cutaway things like micing up the coach and animations that I think they didn't cut back to the game in time (at least offsides that I had to watch the replay of).
FriscoBear: On paper, starting Finley over Jackson might have been the right choice, but the game is played on the field. Granted, Jackson played against the 2nd and 3rd string, and the O line didn't give Finley as much time as he needed. But when the game matter, Cal didn't execute...except maybe themselves.
BearsWillEndMyLife: My season ticket holder mates reported better in-stadium audio, but worse weather, at Husky Stadium than at CMS. I watched a little more than a half from my living room. Snacks and drinks were great!
Goldenone: Spotting them 14 points killed our chances
sacman701: In my opinion, this was the best uniform matchup of the day. UW should stick to the gold pants and helmets.
diasfordays: It was a great gameday until the game started
Rose Bowl Oski: Woefully instructions alcohol for the way the game began
What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?
RememberTheCalamo: 10/10, the goal is just to put up points right? We were responsible for a lot of points lol
FriscoBear: Little protection for QB1 when game mattered. Some bad/rushed decisions, especially on the pick 6. I'd like to think we are better than what we showed, but need some proof.
BearsWillEndMyLife: If you have two quarterbacks, you have zero. We are absolutely wasting the talent of guys like Jeremiah Hunter. And it looks like we might have a decent TE this year in Endries. It is a colossal failure on the part of Wilcox and Spavital to not have prepared one of either Jackson or Finley to be the starter this year.
Heyalumnigo: No respect for our pass offense. Mostly no safety over the top because they just stacked the box.
sacman701: The protection was mostly ok, and the receivers played well. Finley does not appear to be the answer. He can hit open receivers when he has time, but if that isn't the case he gets reckless and throws picks left and right. UW also dropped a couple of near-interceptions. Jackson did well in garbage time.
BrooklynBear: some of the boundary side roll out concepts were interesting. the late TD to Ott negated by the illegal man downfield was nifty
What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?
Winebear: More runs
fuzzywuzzy: Slightly better
BearsWillEndMyLife: Glad to see Ott back. He and Ifanse are dangerous, but we will be playing catchup so much this year that we won't get to see them enough. If our right guard is out, it will get worse.
HelloBowlesHall: Run up the middle on first down until the game was out of hand was frustrating, but there were some signs of life.
1988goldenbear: Good to have Ott back, and we have a trio that is really solid.
Bowlesman80: This is clearly our strength.
Heyalumnigo: We grinded out some yards.
sacman701: Ifanse and Ott had some good moments but basically the running game didn't do anything especially good or bad. 4.0 yards a carry is ok considering the long run was just 13.
diasfordays: All three backs (four if we count number 0 Larshawn Mynch) were effective which is great to see. O line was effective at opening up lanes, and the backs were decisive. Also, NO HURDLES ATTEMPTED! Yay!
What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?
fuzzywuzzy: I mean...thye're not bad; but they certainly aren't elite, not even close. Penix had siesta-like time to throw some incredibly accurate passes that were very difficult to defend.
BTown85: Great coverages; greater passes….
BearsWillEndMyLife: Please PLEASE coach our DBs to turn their heads. We were in position for more end zone pass breakups if they just looked for the ball. Hearns got the INT because he found the ball. That being said, Wilcox should tip his hat to Penix, and realize his position group will get similarly smoked by Nix, Williams, Ward, and Uiagaleilei, at a minimum.
Goldenone: Could not cope with the athleticism of Odunze and Polk. The lack of pressure on the QB was a problem.
HaasBear: We played decent pass defense but Penix made unbelievable throws all night.
1988goldenbear: It looked like Steve Young to Jerry Rice out there. I guess that's what it looks like when you match NFL caliber players up against a mid college team. They made it look like easy. On the good side, we played well against their 2nd and 3rd team.
Heyalumnigo: Did we have a pass D? I will have to say Penix Jr made some great throws when we did have some good D.
BrooklynBear: We have 3-4 plays per game that are OBVIOUS running plays because a slot WR is covered by an outside WR therefore making him ineligible (imagine Ott in the backfield, 87 off the line to the field side w/ 3 WRs to the field side, 2 on the line) to receive a forward pass. Easy to understand those will be runs! Pathetic by SPAV! Did you see the one passing play where (I believe #96 got to tall and the UW LG just pushed him to his backside)
diasfordays: Overall good coverage, but dimes were reigning from the sky into talented receivers’ bread baskets. Also, not great to see some of our shorter DBs get picked on but that’s how it goes sometimes.
What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?
FriscoBear: With the game being a blowout early, Washington ran more and gave up almost 5 yards per run. That ain't gonna cut it.
BearsWillEndMyLife: Meh, not terrible, didn't do much to help, but not the problem tonight.
HelloBowlesHall: Decent to good, but it didn’t matter in the face of everything else.
HaasBear: Not as stout as it should have been
1988goldenbear: Not bad, probably the best phase of the game for us. There were some large runs, but for the most part uw didn't need to run because their passing game was so dominant.
sacman701: Run defense was poor before garbage time. We were understandably playing them to throw, but we still should have gotten more push and done a better job of sealing the edges.
diasfordays: Sirmon KEO looked good flying around making tackles out there, although the big runs UW occasionally went on were concerning. For the most part I felt relief whenever UW chose to run, for whatever that’s worth.
What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?
fuzzywuzzy: Perhaps the worst unit on the field
GoldenBear88: Awful. We really need a dedicated special teams coach.
KJ1980: No comments fit for prime time. A sad performance.
Bowlesman80: I hate to say it, but we really need a ST coach.
Tangtpt: Something drastic needs to be done. Special teams shouldn't make this big a difference in a game.
What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's performance?
Winebear: Wilcox is what we called a Blocker in the corporate world: holds the role and collects the check but won’t ever develop into the winner the role needs. His boss is another Blocker. What to do? You feed your Eagles and starve your Turkeys: cut ‘em both.
BearsWillEndMyLife: Running the ball and keeping the UW offense off the field is a good baseline strategy. If that doesn't work, the next step should be short, quick, high-percentage passes to move the chains. Finley thinking he's going to go toe-to-toe with Penix in a gun-slinging contest is either grounds for immediate benching to keep the game manageable, or absolutely stupid coaching preparation. This game was out of hand in the first quarter because of the coaches not being able to react to what was happening in front of them. And, moreover, see my comments above about having zero quarterbacks.
GoldenBear88: Meh. Cal was simply outclassed by the Huskies in every phase of the game. No amount of coaching can make up for the fact that we lack key playmakers (like QB). Things like this do make me wonder how Utah puts up so many stellar teams. Most of their recruits are three stars who they somehow turn into NFL picks.
HelloBowlesHall: If there was a game plan is seemed like it was super ineffective in the face of miscues and turnovers. What little could be seen (run up the middle!) was not impressive regardless.
Goldenone: Head scratching reliance on Finley instead of SJV, once again special teams was a chamber of horrors so a clear "FAIL" in that department.
Heyalumnigo: If you don't have any good things to say, don't say anything at all.
sacman701: Seeing as Jackson was apparently healthy, I don't understand the decision to stick with Finley and his implosiveness so long. If they wanted to send Jackson a message, they could have held him out for the first series. The one positive is that the players didn't quit on the coaches.
What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?
Winebear: The score did not reflect the performance, it was never really this close and was over at the half.
BearsWillEndMyLife: It's not awful to just be outplayed by a better team. It's awful to gift them free points, short fields, and not even make basic coaching decisions correctly. Our best case scenario this year is 4-8, with squeaker wins over ASU and furd. No bowl but keep the Axe for another year. Is that enough to retain Wilcox? Should the new chancellor fire Knowlton and Wilcox so we have a fesh start going into the new conference next year?
HelloBowlesHall: Reminiscent of sitting in the LA Coliseum and watching USC hand us our lunches. But at least USC knew how to win gracefully. The flea flicker and other stupidity here was just uncalled for particularly as that will be the last memory of that hundred year rivalry. Screw those guys.
space_lab: All three phases contributed to giving up 45 points in the first half, apparently a UW record.
jakewebs: California essentially needed a perfect game to win and instead we got a comedy of miscues, bad coaching, and bad miscues. Our only solace was that this was a road game so all one had to do was turn off the TV instead of sadly trudge out of a cold stadium (aside of course from the loyal Bears in Seattle, sorry y'all!)
Rose Bowl Oski: As horribly as this game started and as bad as the final score was, I still feel like there's hope for this team. They scored 5 TDs against what may be the toughest defense we'll see all year. Take away the 14 points way spotted them, and it might have been an interesting game. UW is the real deal.
Thanks to all of you who participated rather than immediately finding the brain bleach after the game (if you lasted until the end of the fourth). Hopefully next week will be more pleasant.