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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. Oregon
On the precipice of a historic losing streak...
Cal is no stranger to the midseason slump under Justin Wilcox. In 2017 Cal suffered consecutive defeats to USC, Oregon, and Washington before turning in the finest performance of the Wilcox Era, a 37-3 dismantling of a top-ten Washington State team. In 2018 losses to Oregon, Arizona, and winless UCLA preceded a 49-7 win over Oregon State and a huge upset over Pac-12 Champion Washington. In 2020 the entire season was a losing streak until the Bears stifled Oregon for the Bears’ only win of the year. And in 2021 consecutive losses to Washington, Washington State, and Oregon were followed by blowout wins over Colorado and Oregon State. Regrettably, the 2022 Bears’ losing streak to Wazzu, Colorado, and Washington did not come to an end this past weekend against the Ducks.
The only other exception to spectacular conclusions to three-game losing streaks was 2019, where QB injuries led to losses to Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State, and then a 0-35 loss to Utah behind a wildly overmatched Spencer Brasch. That four-game streak ended with a comfortable win over Washington State. Will this four-game streak come to an end this weekend against *checks notes*…USC? Nah, definitely not. We’re headed to the first five-game losing streak under Wilcox, aren’t we?
Rating the Bears
Below are the grades from Saturday’s game. The only impressive thing about them is how narrow the range is across ratings. At least the team was consistent across different phases of the game, I guess…
We have two exceedingly rare outcomes in the results: pass offense earned the highest ratings of the week while pass defense earned the lowest ratings of the week. Run defense earned the second-highest ratings of the week while everything else was in the 40s. Not great. Our already-low predictions of a win over USC have dwindled further. The only glimmer of optimism we may have is that USC let Arizona hang around to the tune of 543 yards and 37 points last week. Alas, the Bears will probably manage only half of that…
Compared to other recent games against Oregon, Saturday’s ratings weren’t terrible.
Both offensive categories and run defense were better than usual while overall and special teams were right in the middle. That reflects how poorly the Bears have played Oregon for most of the past dozen years. Pass defense and coaching fared worse than usual.
Compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era, the scores compared less favorably…
Pass offense was a little better than usual, while everything else was considerably worse. In fact, three categories were in the bottom 25%.
It’s always awards season around here.
First, the lowest ratings of the week.
After Old Bear 71, it was a pretty closely contested race.
Nothing can bring down Calamo: not a four-game losing streak and not even being called “he” instead of “she” in my recap last week. Sorry, Calamo! The rest of you all had surprisingly decent grades considering the blowout nature of the loss.
The Voice of Reason
There can only be one! Participation was so low this week that if I posted the top-five, there would be a handful of Sunshine Pumpers and Old Blues receiving VoR awards too. So this week’s winner is sacman701 with a score of 5.82. Of course, the low participation reflects a lack of enthusiasm in the football program right now. I suppose the only cure for that is a win this weekend! Oh, right. USC. Nevermind…
Once again, Rob helpfully gathered your comments. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Any comments on the gameday experience?
RememberTheCalamo - Calamo was misgendered last week in the ratings recap. Calamo's gender pronouns are she/her. That aside, I flew through the Dallas thunderstorm delays to come to this game and I .... Underwhelmed. If sunshine pumping for cal wasn't what I DO I don't know that I'd keep putting in the time and money. And comments from the old blues around me in the stadium club indicated i wasn't the only one. One of them got up mid third and loudly announced "I've had enough" before leaving. The fact that they are selling mini plans and single game tickets for the clubs tells you the season ticket sales are pitiful (they wouldn't be selling single games if it was only like 25 tickets unsold....). Other than that it was a beautiful day and bobbleheads are my favorite thing.
Bowlesman80 - TypiCal. Low expectations foiled by startling hopeful moments.
Haasbear - Another empty stadium on a beautiful afternoon against a Top10 team. I’m fine if Wilcox survives the season but the problem is at the top. Knowlton is running the athletic department into the ground despite having more institutional support than any of his predecessors.
Goldenone - The stands looked empty at kickoff but folks gradually showed up.
Old Bear 71 - Happy to see the bears on TV. Sat in living room with popcorn and wife and enjoyed the first quarter (except for the int). The second part of the second quarter until MR. Milner came onto the field was excruciating.
What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?
Old Bear 71 - Yes. It seems that the teams we play have an ability to get receivers open underneath line backers and find LOTS of green grass after the catch. Our guys seem never to be in that area, or when they are it is "catch and hit the turf." Baker's catch in stride, albeit Milner's throw was a little behind him, was fun to watch. We live and (mostly) die with Plummer. Kai was a refreshing change of pace and scenery. No pass plays where a zone was loaded with a bunch of guys to keep Oregon over-matched numbers wise. How about a halfback pass? Or a flea flicker? Or, anything besides poor Plummer getting pounded constantly.
1988goldenbear - Plummer had some nice completions when he was protected. Welcome back to Hunter! Millner looked good against the Ducks 2nd string.
Goldenone - Spotty play from Plummer until Kai came in and re-energized the offense. Plummer's passer rating was 113 while Millner's was 219.8
Haasbear - I know he’s gritting out an injury and I respect the heck out of that. However, his play has regressed significantly (likely due in part to the injury). We’re seeing the flaws Purdue moved on from.
Bowlesman80 - So glad we did not play our most effective QB in the early quarters. Wait, uh, why are we not playing Kai?
What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?
Goldenone - Inadequate due to poor blocking
Old Bear 71 - It's is pretty hard to make much progress when defensive guys are two yards into your own backfield before you get the ball. Poor Ott. Also there seemed no razzle-dazzle to give Ott & Co. a chance to beat the D line to the LOS.
1988goldenbear - Couldn't run at all in the first half; figured out how to run a little bit more than not at all in the second half.
Jakewebs - When your backs are getting hit 3 yards in the backfield every single play, this is what happens.
What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?
RememberTheCalamo - It's infuriating that our guys keep leaving one guy open. They're confused by a late crossing route and consistently give up too many yards.
KJ1980 - Cal gave up over 400 yards Not greet pass defense.
1988goldenbear - Made *_insert name here_* look like the real deal. This week, Bo Nix. He looked good, but I think having so many starters out in our secondary helped. The short-middle was open all game long. Still, he hurt us more with his feet. Why was he in all the way to the last possession? Assholes.
Jakewebs - We all knew it was going to be rough, so this was more or less in line with expectations. Nice pick at the goal line to give us hope before Nix and the Ducks reminded us why they are top 10.
What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?
Haasbear - Couple good short yardage stops; many gashing runs.
Sacman701 - Won some, lost some but came up with some key stops to keep the game from getting out of hand. Excluding Nix, Oregon's backs were 27/117 which is roughly a push.
1988goldenbear - Seemed like they had anything they wanted passing over the middle, bubble screens, etc. that they didn't emphasize the run. Or was it our amazing run defense? Not sure.
What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?
Haasbear - The blocked kick was predictable if you have watched any of our last few games.
Bowlesman80 - When the f***k is Sheehan and Longhetto both gonna' get some blocking?
Sacman701 - No excuse for letting a rusher block a field goal attempt from point blank.
1988goldenbear - Made a field goal! Yay! Reasonable containment on kick and punt returns for the most part. Sheehan got trucked but for some reason no penalty?
What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's performance?
Haasbear - Uninspired and hapless. Musgrave should be fired now to hopefully save the recruiting class and give us some time to sell Ott, JMike, Anderson, Terry, and Kai on the programs future.
Goldenone - As usual there were no adjustments on offense after the Ducks figured out what we were doing.
1988goldenbear - Easy to say we were out-coached, but when the talent gap is so big I don't know what else we can do. Offensive scheme looked more aggressive in the passing game, so that was fun. But we have to figure out how to get Ott some room.
Sacman701 - The defensive game plan was good enough to get stops on Oregon's first three possessions. Otherwise, not much to cheer.
Old Bear 71 - Phew, Phew. Stinko. Our staff is overmatched in every department. Out schemed, unimaginative, unable to adjust in game, no risks. I'd like to see some Hair On Fire defense and a Wild and Crazy scheming game plan to present a surprise-a-minute headache for the opposition. Wake up the somnolent!
What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?
1988goldenbear - Predictable, sadly, because although WE WON THE FIRST QUARTER it still felt inevitable that we would lose. Sad Bear.
Old Bear 71 - A few bright spots in a losing effort. I'll keep watching, Next week we'll surprise the Troybilts.
Sacman701 - Not much to say. The offense remains limited by the weak line and the defense can hang with average offenses but not with elite ones, but we knew that going in. Furd looks like a tossup, and one of our non-Furd opponents will have to have an off day for us to finish better than 4-8.
Jakewebs - The game was as expected. The Ducks made a few mishaps in the first half to keep it close, but superior talent and coaching led them to a victory that was all but assured by halftime, even if the score was relatively close. Only way Cal can salvage anything from this season is to immediately can Musgrave and give Millner the reps going forward.
Haasbear - Even with the early lead I had zero thoughts we’d actually win this one. That should say enough.
RememberTheCalamo - These weren't the takers but it was nice to see an interception.