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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. Leland Stanford Junior University Football
Everything in its right place.
First, huge credit to @ayayron20201 for owning the phone that captured the best Cal football photo of the season (close runner up: everything our own Rob Hwang takes from the sideline).
Second, you have to feel happy for the Cal Class of 2023 (except how the concept of a class of ‘23 makes the rest of us alumni feel like we were born in the Pleistocene). Their freshman season (2019) was the most successful of the Wilcox Era and a season in which the Axe came home for the first time in a decade. Although they have since suffered through three disappointing football seasons, they are the first class since the Class of 2010 to have experienced three Big Game victories. And they may have been a missed extra point away from being the first graduating class since 2007 to see the Bears go undefeated against the Lobsterbacks. Ah well, there’s always hope for the Class of 2025, who have yet to suffer a LSJU win.
Rating the Bears
These ratings always get a little inflated during rivalry games due to the sheer joy of triumphing over one of the fellow California schools. I’m not complaining, though. After a six-game losing streak, it’s nice to see respectable ratings across the board.
Special teams lead the way with a solid, all-around performance. Defense also earns solid scores. And in a vintage Wilcox performance, offense earns the lowest scores of the week although they are still quite respectable. Our chances of defeating UCLA (yeah, I know, there’s a typo in the chart) have dropped considerably from our preseason predictions of a coinflip. But the odds may be more favorable if DTR and Charbonnet do the smart thing and sit out for the sake of their health, safety, and the happiness of Cal fans.
As long as the Bears win the ratings will compare favorably against previous Big Games because we started this Rating the Bears series just in time for the nine-game losing streak.
Run offense was about average (albeit it has the highest median rating of all these categories) and everything else was well above average.
Next, a comparison of Saturday’s ratings to all other games since Wilcox took over as head coach.
Other than run offense, they’re all better than usual. Special teams was much, much better than usual
First, the highest ratings of the week.
Three-way tie! I admit it’s hard not to drop 100s across the board in a win over LSJU.
Next, the worst ratings of the week.
Only three ratings were below passing grades—not bad! Although I think DisgustedOldBlue may have turned the game off a little too soon…
The Voice of Reason
Next, those whose ratings were closest to the community average.
After seeing far too many double digit scores in recent weeks, it’s nice to see some deviations down in the 5s and 6s.
Finally, I’m sure you all have plenty of happy thoughts about the game.
Any comments on the gameday experience?
EthanRK - Wish this atmosphere was present every week.
FuzzyWuzzy - So....I've stayed away from any kind of GBear writing this year; I new this year would be a tough one. But I also knew I'd travel up from San Diego to re-live the old times when I was a season tix holder, and it gave me another chance to see my best friend from college. Certainly not a regretful decision, even as I sit here alone in Oakland Airport at 11:30 PM...did not plan that 2:30 start time well ... missed my flight home. Confirmed my status as a lunatic with the missus. And damn...is it possible for the students to NOT roam the stadium stairs during the game? It's fine to your hook up with your classmates, but lets face it - you likely dont know what a football even is,letalone care to watch, but don't block my $60 view doing it, especially while posing for drunk selfies. Other than all this...great to be back in Memorial. Especially when we beat Furd.
Kj1980 - Memorial Stadium was filled. It was a bore until the 4th quarter. Then the BIG fumble return that changed everything. It was a great ending.
Tangtpt - I really, really miss being in a full Memorial stadium. It was full, but not TOO full (at least in Section Q), which was nice. Great energy from the crowd. Leading up to the game I was hoping that most of the tickets sold approaching game day were by Cal fans, and it looks like I was right. Our section didn't sit down for the last 9:00 of game time and it was wonderful! This was the classic Big Game experience that I really miss. I honestly don't know why 'Furd still "supports" (to the extent that they support anything) that awful "band" that they trot out every year. Figure it out...NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR STUPID BAND. IT WAS FUNNY 30 YEARS AGO, NOW IT'S JUST DUMB, AND IT'S THEIR OWN FAULT. SMART PEOPLE MAKE GOOD DECISIONS. STUPID DECISIONS BY PEOPLE IN THE BAND MADE IT WHAT IT IS TODAY...STUPID AND JUVENILE. IT'S NOT FUNNY ANY MORE. BANDS AT HALFTIME ARE ABOUT ENTERTAINING THE FANS, NOT YOURSELVES. End of rant.
What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?
MBrew3 - Incredibly inconsistent, there were some big catches particularly by Hunter, but also too many drops. Plummer had too many 50/50 balls with some bad throws that resulted in interceptions.
Old Bear 71 - Right calls all game. Too many drops and of course a couple of endzone ints by our friend Plummer, but Marvin can move down the field! A few more Yac’s and it would have been a blowout!
Texashaterforlife - Both interceptions were really bad decisions by Plummer to throw it. I would like to see more of Kai Millner in the season finale. Better chance of an honest evaluation on the QB aspects Millner needs to improve on in the offseason.
BigBear82 - Liked how the offense worked hard to scheme with offense coordinator issues. They need to be patient to fit the players into an evolving offensive strategy. I liked how often the receivers were open just need to reel those babies in. Overall, I like how they spread the ball out and used the whole field.
GoldenBear88 - Meh. Some great completions but Plummer shouldn't have even ATTEMPTED those two throws in the endzone that were picked off. Pretty idiotic when all you have to do is throw it away and live for another play.
What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?
Sacman701 - Finally got some room to run, and the backs went for more than 6 yards a pop. We probably should have run more and thrown less.
Bowlesman80 - Again, the same old story, blocking being lacking means our RBs are tackled, again and again, in the backfield. So glad Ott got his TD and Ashton Hayes showed some juice. Hope these talents stay with us. Note: For some reason, maybe it's because Cal fans trashed Furd stadium last year, it was crystal clear that a few officials had a mission to school our team, including calling a phantom offsides reminiscent of the Immaculate Encroachment called on us in the game with the other "blue blood" school, Notre Dame. The Umpire, especially, had body language that indicated some manner of grudge with us, especially Driscoll. Did Shaw or alums call in a favor? FTX to that. FTX=F you, Thanks.
BTown85 - Anemic….until Ott finally found some holes! FINALLY!!!
GoldenBear88 - Lincoln Kennedy (one of the Pac-12 announcers during the game) said in the fourth quarter when Ott was really starting to heat up and the Furdie defense was starting to wear down: "Oh, now I see their [Cal's] strategy in not running for three quarters. They want to keep Ott fresh for the fourth quarter". Since we won, I guess it worked, right? Why they weren't running the ball sooner against the worst run-defense in the Pac-12 is a real head scratcher.
Wiata78 - Ott had 0 net yards at halftime. Finished with 97.
What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?
EthanRK - Keep testing Jeremiah Earby and see what happens!
Heyalumnigo - Bent a lot but didn't really break too much. Came up with a game winning INT in the 4th. Put enough pressure to have a few sacks and rush a few throws.
1988goldenbear - Reasonable pressure today, including some nice sacks. Secondary played well. Scott made up for that missed tackle with that awesome pick, and the defense totally turned this game around in the 4th quarter.
Terence - #takers but Stanford's passing attack is ok - McKee put some balls right on a rope.
Tangtpt - Beginning was rough, end was great. We needed turnovers to win, and we got a couple of very well-timed ones.
What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?
MBrew3 - Overall decent, allowed the one big run early.
Goldenone - Adequate but let Furd get 3-4 yards a carry on most first downs.
FuzzyWuzzy - See...above. They'd get blown out by better offenses, but we're talking about the Furdies here, and the strip and lucky-bounce fumble recovery made this otherwise downright ungodly shitty travel all worth it.
1988goldenbear - Pretty solid, except for the first Furd drive of each half and that one big run on that wildcat play. Heck of a forced fumble that led to the scoop and score, what a turnaround!
Heyalumnigo - Once they figure out when the backup QB came in and he was going to run, they stuffed him, once on 3rd and 1 and force the fumble after that. Furd had yards but I thought the D did well enough.
GoldenBear88 - Outstanding. Arguably the biggest difference maker in the game.
What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?
Heyalumnigo - No missed FGs. Mostly good punts and no real returns. One really good low line drive that must've bounced for at least 20 yards. Really good low line drive kickoff from the Cal 20 after the penalty that the Furd guy had trouble getting let to Furd starting the drive at their 20. Had a couple of good punt returns.
1988goldenbear - Great game for Longhetto, finally nailed a long FG! Everything else was pretty solid.
FuzzyWuzzy - Never pass on Aussie punters. For one, they wear cool boonie hats, even in 50 degrees, at night. Two, they can evade as necessary and get the ball bouncing away even when the blocking fails. 3... two FG's. Nice to see a player resurrect himself.
Bowlesman80 - Longhetto gets in the record books, but gets bumped by the Furd kicker. Respect all. around. And Ashton Hayes made good on his potential. Hope he stays with us.
MBrew3 - Much better performance, made two field goals which was nice.
GoldenBear88 - Good run backs on kick-offs and punt returns.
What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's performance?
Sacman701 - The offensive game plan probably had too many throws and not enough runs, but the defense adjusted well after two bad series to start the game. Most importantly, the team didn't quit despite being down 11 without the ball in the 4th quarter, and the coaches should get some credit for that.
Terence - Simplfying the play calls, getting the wideouts and Jadyn in space to move. Nothing huge changed, but it was such a big difference from last week. Also playing Stanford vs playing Oregon State.
Tangtpt - Can't understand how the team came out as flat as they did at the start of the game. To come back like that in what was the most important game of the year shows a lot, and that goes to coaching. It didn't seem like there was a huge impact after firing Musgrave and the OL coach, but I'll leave that to those who have more expertise than I do.
OskiOfTarth - The no run offense in the first half was a master stroke. Defense keying on your stud RB with no OL to protect/open holes for him? Don’t give them the chance to rough him up.
Bowlesman80 - Honestly, I'd like to say this win redeems all, but, in reality, it just distracts us from some of the glaring future issues: 1. Recruitment/retention (I anticipate the transfer portal breaking down from overuse) "Scotty, break the damned thing, will ya'?" 2. Poor choices for a replacement OC (Can JW find and choose a breakthrough OC?) 3. Learning curve for a new offense 4. The general blase attitude held toward both basketball and football by "Country Club-style" admins. For example, seeing popular sports as bourgeois. Yes, this win is a nice distraction from what may well be the slow death of Cal football. I know Sonny Dykes may be seen as merely bitter, but I do like that he has called out the hobbling restrictions on our popular sports. JW may need to be as brave and, also, not only, say his truth, but insist on the changes needed. Critical moments are looming and the shone of our defensive triumph should not delay addressing these critical needs.
What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?
Tangtpt - Great Big Game win. Hated the slow start, and there were certainly a lot of mistakes that made things more difficult on us, but to come back in a rivalry game to win is a huge accomplishment. This team certainly fights hard every game. If we can just keep our quarterback upright, we would probably be looking forward to a bowl game right now. Instead, we have the Axe...that's going to have to be good enough, at least for this year.
Sacman701 - This wasn't a great performance by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a gritty win in a year where wins have been all too rare. This team has all kinds of work to do in the offseason, but at least they won't go into it with an 8 game losing streak.
Old Bear 71 - Ah, sweet to savor. The Bears got the win they should have per opening spread. And more. So nice to see furd’s #14 having a meltdown after (Earby &) Sirmon ‘s scoop n score.
VermontBear - The Bear will not quit the Bear will not die. Now let's move forward and be Great Bears!
FuzzyWuzzy - We have kept the axe, and did it with a come-from behind, bear-dont't-quit, bear-don't-die attitude. Gotta love that. Man, this airport is EMPTY. I feel shame... GO BEARS
GoldenBear88 - I'm happy because we won at Memorial and the new helmets looked good. I was worried because whenever Tedford tried stuff like that (remember the white helmets, aka, "surrender whites"?) we always seemed to lose.