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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. Washington State Football
A surprisingly ordinary set of ratings for an extraordinarily chaotic game
Has it finally happened? Have the Bears finally completed a shocking transition back into the Sonnyball Era teams of the mid-2010s? During conference play the Bears have surrendered 44 points per game. Over that stretch we have seen offensive explosions and equally shocking tendencies to allow double-digit leads to evaporate nearly instantaneously in the fourth quarter. When it goes wrong, we get something like the USC game. When it goes right, we get an outcome like last week’s Wazzu game.
Rating the Bears
Below we have the fanbase’s ratings across our usual array of categories alongside standard deviations, or representations of how much variation there was in our ratings. For such an up-and-down performance, those standard deviations are surprisingly small this week (by comparison, the SDs in last week’s Oregon loss were around 30).
Jaydn Ott and the ground game led the way with the highest scores of the day (and that’s despite some fumbles). Special teams finished second-highest with another set of solid scores; that’s a welcome reprieve from the struggles in the first half of the year. Most other categories finished with solid scores in the 60s, except pass defense’s lowest grade of the week. The decline in pass defense over the last several years is remarkable. Looking ahead to this weekend, our predictions of a Big Game win have dipped slightly since preseason. However we still heavily favor the Bears in this one.
It has been a wacky set of games against the Cougs since we started this series. We have seen defensive rockfights, offensive explosions, and several wildly one-sided fights. As a result, the spread of prior scores is rather large.
Compared to recent matchups against the Cougs, this one was mixed. Offense was better than usual, defense was worse than usual, special teams were better than usual, and coaching and overall were exactly in the middle of previous ratings.
Compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era, these ratings look pretty good.
Other than pass defense, everything finished with better-than-usual-scores. Run offense and special teams were both right around their respective 75th percentiles, but nothing was distinctly bad or good last week.
As always, we have our usual slate of awards to give away.
First, the top-five highest scores of the week. The number in parentheses next to the name represents the number of previous appearances in this award category.
Old Bear 71 shakes things up this week by breaking up the typical 1-2 finish by Calamo and Bowlesman.
Next, the lowest ratings of the week.
The floor was high this week, as some of these scores would have earned Sunshine Pumper awards last week.
The Voice of Reason
Finally, the raters closest to the community average.
A week after seeing some alarmingly high scores in the double digits and teens, this week’s leading entries were back to the usual range of scores (usually the top-five score 3ish to 8ish). That is likely aided by the much smaller spread in ratings this week.
Onwards to the comments of the week.
Any comments on the gameday experience?
KJ1980: Cal won because of scores off of turnovers. That spotted us 22 points. We lose without the turnovers. Cal was lucky to win
HaasBear: This was a battle of two teams who could not get out of their own way.
Cal v Navy '63: Blabber mouth ESPN commentators. Wasn't sure we were watching the same game!
Old Bear 71: Ah, the joy of an “at the stadium” experience!
Came with the Mrs. from North Carolina and it was completely worth the trip! A Bears win is so hard to find. Special bonus to be with son’s family and even see Twist! (No, I would punch him ; ).
Goldenone: Nice game and it was good to see the crowd filing in during Q1. On TV at kickoff memorial looked like a Ghost Town
HelloBowlesHall: Good energy for a small crowd. We really wanted a win after this tough season.
CoBears: Beautiful day; important result; but turnovers nearly lost it for us (again).
heyalumnigo: First tailgate in the new spot. Great weather. Great friends. Great food. Cal win. What else is there?
What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?
The Ghost of Joe Roth: Fernando’s lost fumble was a huge moment for wsu but overall he was solid.
Old Bear 71: Nando puts the ball on the hands. Receivers mostly held on. When they do: Two TD’s!
sacman701: Dinked and dunked fairly well, but we had just one explosive play, two sacks, and some misfires at crucial times. With all that, we struggled to move consistently against a shaky defense. Mendoza has a long way to go.
CoBears: Mendoza has moments, but needs to learn to step up into the pocket to avoid the rush from behind. The fumble at the start of the second half was solely because he didn’t do that. He looks pretty good, though, and gives me some confidence for next year.
Willis Chong: Mendoza got away with quite a few bad throws. Still he made enough plays in the first half. I guess the coaching staff was too afraid to let him loose in the 4th quarter because of possible turnovers. Well, we coughed it up anyway.
Rose Bowl Oski: Seems like we should have been able to do better against their weak DBs
sacalum: Nothing spectacular, but mistake-free -- and that counts for a lot.
What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?
The Ghost of Joe Roth: JAYDN OTT!!!
KJ1980: Ott is a strong runner. But his fumble in the end zone, which we covered, and in the 4q, which we did not, hurt. The one we lost tightened the game up considerably.
1988goldenbear: Having Ott for a full game is key
fuzzywuzzy: In Ott we must trust. Gotta give higher ratings for breaking 1000, for giving us an offensive TD, for not being out indefinitely with injury, and for finding a way to get some tough yards when we needed it. Knocked off some points for two fumbles, one with particularly timing, the other at the goal line.
CoBears: Ott is awesome, but the fumbles weee disappointing and a problem. I have faith it was an anomaly.
heyalumnigo: I didn't realize Ott averaged over 4 YPC (if you ignore the long 50 yard run). For some reason, I thought it was fewer carries than that. Although I guess he ran the ball in almost 50% of the offensive plays.
sacalum: Jaydn continues to be a shining star. He is so much fun to watch, but two fumbles? Driscoll played heads-up football scooping up Ott's fumble and scoring.
Tangtpt: Jayden Ott is my king!!! He just does his thing and does it well. Gawd, I hope he stays!
What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?
The Ghost of Joe Roth: Good to see so many sacks but still not great
KJ1980: Ward is a good QB. Cal got a rush on home but he still hit his yards. Our secondary is weak.
HaasBear: The good, the QB pressures. The bad, wide open receivers. The real bad, blitzes getting there but not completing the play allowing big plays.
1988goldenbear: We allowed too many big plays, but 6 sacks is fantastic!
fuzzywuzzy: Other than the sack/fumble, this pass defense -one with some bets on it - is like that creepy old rope bridge, barely hanging on, that you need to cross over the ravine to get to safety on the other side. If you don't cross, you'll be forced to choke yourself silly by opposing fans, but the chances are good it will give way, sending your head crashing into the bar table.At least the cute waitress feigns empathy for you, but really, has no idea why you put yourself through this.
Old Bear 71: Tough enough. When Cam Ward is On he’s hard to stop, but our guys did what was necessary (Bearly).
CoBears: Seemed like we did OK, but the stats (and time on the field) say otherwise. Ward is good, though, so my grade may be low.
Willis Chong: Look, Cam Ward is a good QB, so not all the blame is on the pass D. Got pressure but never seemed to be able to sack, at least consistently
heyalumnigo: Bend don't break I guess. it took 34 completions on 59 attempts for Ward to get 354 yards. The one longer TD in the back left corner of the N endzone was a really good throw. Not sure what the coaches did but there was pressure on Ward. Seemed like he held the ball on too long to try to make something happen which caused the fumbles. @Maybe he has small hands@
sacalum: We gave up a ton of yards, but the Coug QB threw 60 times, and our long-lost pass rush was dominating at times. Best QB harassing I've seen in years.
What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?
HaasBear: Our interior linebacker play was tough most the day. On countless plays our ILB’s were just waiting to get blocked rather than attacking the point of attack.
1988goldenbear: We took advantage of the Wazzu fumbles, but we gave up way too many yards on the ground.
Old Bear 71: Haha, a couple of scoop n scores makes any defense look sweet. Also we we not subjected to big chunk run after big chunk run.
wiata78: Hard to really say since WSU doesn't run the ball.
CoBears: Mostly good, except for a key drive where WSU ran it down our throats down 3 scores unexpectedly. Stats inflated for WSU because of that drive.
Willis Chong: They gashed us up the middle. Then Cam Ward would run it up the side as we lost contain. ESPN2 said we had a spy, but it seemed like that spy was hardly in position to stop a 7-9 yard scamper
heyalumnigo: Seemed like the run defense was good. Also kinda a bend don't break. 3.4 average yards and the long was on a QB scramble. We still can't stop the short yardage runs.
What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?
KJ1980: The special teams did not hurt us this week. WSU missed two! Field goals. Bad stuff
HaasBear: Our special teams was better than Wazzu’s today and that was the difference.
1988goldenbear: Luck went our way on the FG’s - I’ll take it! We don’t seem to have a firm grasp on how to handle punts, and it felt like Wazzu was way too close to breaking a return for big yards.
fuzzywuzzy: No disgusting returns on us, so there's that. Shouldn't fair catch at the 5, tho.
sacman701: Nothing stood out. At least we aren't giving up stupid kickoff returns anymore.
CoBears: Fair catch at the 5? Coverage had me concerned a couple times again, too.
heyalumnigo: No missed PATs. Decent KO return coverage. ESPN box score has Luckhurst getting a PAT, but I assume that's wrong.
What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's performance?
The Ghost of Joe Roth: Well, not terrible
HaasBear: We just gave up 39 points to a team that Stanford held to 7. I don’t see how you conceivably keep anyone on the defensive staff this offseason.
1988goldenbear: Giving the ball to Ott is an easy decision (and nice when it works). Pressuring Ward is also an easy decision (and nice when it works).
Calboy76: You won. Beat the Indians and the traitors of Westwood the next week
Old Bear 71: They had the Bears ready to play. The Bears won the game. That is their job. Have ‘em ready, win the game. Check. Check.
wiata78: Decent coaching could have made this a lopsided Bear victory.
Willis Chong: Offense can very turtley at the end. I know Wilcox gets that way at the end of the game but we need to play toward our personnel, which cannot sustain a grinding running attack without someone like Ifanse. We only won because we did enough in the first half to pushing Wazzu for their mistakes
Rose Bowl Oski: Loved the decision to go for it on 4th down even though we were in FG range
sacalum: Whoever let the dogs loose on the defensive line saved the day.
What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?
The Ghost of Joe Roth: A win is a win! Let’s go bowling!
KJ1980: Cal won. I line that. Cal win. I line that. But it should have been easy with a 42-24 lead in the fourth quarter. It was not easy snd it could easily have gone the other way.
Cal v Navy '63: We've suffered so long, year after year. Always the same "almost grabbing defeat from the hands of victory" performance. Being a Cal fan is like having a disease. Is there a Native American curse on Strawberry Canyon?
1988goldenbear: Needed a win, and there is nothing wrong with having luck on our side for a change.
Calboy76: Exciting. But can't we blow somebody out of the building once in a while?
Goldenone: A win that was satisfying but too close for comfort
sacman701: LIke the ASU game, this was a typical pre-pandemic Wilcox game despite the high score: the offense was inconsistent and frustrating, and the defense bent a lot but mostly didn't break (Wazzu ran 97 plays, the longest of which went for just 25 yards) and made just enough big plays to eke out a win. The best sign was the emergence of the pass rush and of Reese in particular. Furd struggles to protect the passer, so this may be a good matchup for us.
HelloBowlesHall: Messy game, turnovers both ways and refs with highly questionable calls not ways (but I really do think heavily favored WSU but it could be blue tinted glasses). Lucky to pull out a W, this is the sort of close game we typically lose.
wiata78: We were really lucky to win, but then we were quite unlucky to lose a few times, so it's about time luck went in our favor.
Bowlesman80: This seems a historic constant to me: Cal goes into autopilot mode with a late lead. I would love to us keep a wide lead into late in the game. In 40+ years, I have rarely seen us show this killer instinct.
Willis Chong: A win is a win. To paraphrase Dumb and Dumber, "so there is a chance." Gotta clean stuff up for Big Game though
heyalumnigo: Any Cal win is good and means we're still bowl eligible!
Rose Bowl Oski: The Cougs coug'ed it multiple times. They may have run 40(!) more plays than Cal, but 3 of those plays led to 21 points for the Bears
sacalum: Bittersweet to play our last Pac-12 game at CMS.
Thanks for participating! Check back Saturday evening to submit your Big Game ratings. Go Bears!