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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. UC Davis Football
A pleasant outburst of offense after a slow start
Welcome back to the Rating the Bears series! In case you’re new to the site and have not been reading this series over the past thirteen (!) seasons, here’s how it works: immediately after the Cal game concludes Rob will post our Insta-recap article with a link to a form where you can submit ratings of the Bears’ performance. We rate the Bears across seven categories and predict how likely they are to defeat their next opponent. Now that all that hard work is over, we examine the results today. If you didn’t participate this week, make sure to check out the insta-recap article around 4pm on Saturday. And if you did participate, thanks!
Rating the Bears
Below we have the average ratings for each of our categories along with the standard deviation. In case you avoided Evans Hall (RIP) like the plague, the standard deviation captures the amount of variation in our ratings. Large standard deviations reflect a wide spread of ratings while smaller SDs indicate that our ratings tended to be more concentrated around the average.
Rather unusually for a Justin Wilcox team, the Bears’ offense earned higher ratings than the defense. Pass offense was slightly better than pass defense, but rush offense was considerably better than run defense thanks to Jaydn Ott’s stellar debut and the frustrating production from Ulonzo Gilliam. In a rare feat, special teams earned the highest scores of the week. Is this finally the year that Cal’s special teams become a reliable, game-changing asset to the team?
Coaching and overall round out the results with strong scores. And our expectations of a win over UNLV have climbed slightly since preseason. Although after reading yesterday’s UNLV Offensive Preview, my optimism has waned a bit.
As I mentioned, we have been running this series for thirteen seasons, so we have plenty of data to compare to Saturday’s game. Below we compare Saturday’s ratings (gold dot) to boxplots of our historical ratings of other games against FCS opponents.
We had previously used dot plots to visualize these historical ratings, but we started accumulating so much data that the plots became visually cluttered. So now we are using boxplots. For these plots, the blue horizontal line inside the white box represents the median: 50% of the ratings are above that line and 50% are below. The box represents the middle 50% of the data (that’s the range between the 25th and 75th percentiles, or the interquartile range if you’re feeling fancy). The “whiskers” coming off the box capture most of the variation outside that interquartile range and any blue dots represent extreme outliers. For example, that abysmally low dot in the Run Defense category captures that 2013 Portland State game when the Vikings and their offense ran wild against Andy Buh’s “defense.”
Compared to other FCS games, this one featured slightly better-than-usual offense, slightly worse-than-usual defense, and the best special teams performance we have seen. With the coaching rating sitting right on the line, this was a perfectly middling outing for the Cal coaches compared to previous FCS matchups.
Next we use the same type of plot to compare Saturday’s game to all the other games in the Wilcox Era.
Better-than-usual offense! In fact, that pass offense fell outside the interquartile range, so it was considerably better than normal. Other than run defense, every category was better than typical. And once again, that is an outstanding special teams rating.
Finally, it is time to hand out this big pile of awards that has been gathering dust during the offseason. We have three traditional categories: highest ratings, lowest ratings, and ratings closest to the community average.
First, we have the highest ratings of the week.
Ben Franklin once wrote in a letter: “[I]n this world nothing can said to be certain, except death, taxes, and a perfect rating from Calamo.” Same as it ever was, Calamo leads the way with a 100% rating. MBrew3’s 90.4% rating finishes second while spots three through five were remarkably close.
Next, we have the lowest scores of the week.
Only one of these scores is a failing score, so I suppose that’s a good sign. Despite usually earning a Voice of Reason award last season, sacman701 finished with the second-lowest ratings of the week. I finished third, but I only saw the first half so my ratings were probably biased.
The Voice of Reason
Finally, we have the ratings that were closest to the community average.
If you’re really curious about how these are calculated, it’s essentially a standard deviation across all the categories. goldenone leads the way (I think goldenone was a regular in the VoR category over the last few seasons), followed by Kevin and ghThr33. TD_24 finishes fourth, showing that at least one of us on the W4C masthead is reasonable. HAG rounds out the top-five.
Well, enough from me. Let’s see your comments from the game (helpfully gathered by our site manager Rob)
Any comments on the gameday experience?
RememberTheCalamo - My favorite part was the part where we won.
Goldenone - Good to get back to the games without covid scourge
CoBears - Great day to be a Bear, even if Q1 was unpleasant. Important win to start the season, even if some questions remain.
Oski Disciple - After nine months one of their ideas for timeout entertainment was an Oreos eating contest? Pathetic. Did not enjoy the new on field emcee, not that any of the previous ones were much better. Rooting section did only one "Hey Alumni Go" and the students were mostly gone by the fourth quarter. All that said it was great to be back in Memorial Stadium, the band was great as always.
Heyalumnigo - The tailgate breakfast burrito was soooo good. Shoutout to GO. Since my youngest couldn't go, I invited a friend. He told his parents we were going so they got a couple of club tickets for us. We spent the first half in the east end with the group and left at halftime so he could get lunch at the club, then went to sit in the shade over near his parents.
What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?
MBrew3 - Pass protection was poor to begin game.
TKE Prytanis 79 - Great after he settled
Sacman701 - Settled down after an awful start.
Tangtpt - Weird. First half was not good, but they seemed to get in a rhythm in the second half. The fade for a touchdown was a thing of beauty.
What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?
CoBears - Ott is the real deal, finding yards with quick moves and patient running behind blocks. And the line was opening real holes for him. The other backs were not great, but on the whole (after Q1) were acceptable. Looks like Moore will be RB3 pretty soon.
Kevin - Ott is a godsend. Need the rest of the weapons to work, too.
OLD BEAR 71 - OTT to be a vision of the future.
Heyalumnigo - OTT is the man. Granted this is Davis.
What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?
N/A - Earby potentially Hurns 2.0?
MBrew3 - A little softer coverage than I would’ve liked.
Texashaterforlife - good work in progress. Did not seem to do much when only pass rushing 3 DL. Rather see more blitzing once conference games start.
Oski Disciple - Solid. Did not give up any big plays.
What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?
Wiata78 - Marked down for that 60 yard run. Hopefully fixable
MBrew3 - Allowing the big run was the only major issue.
Sacman701 - The biggest problem on the day. There was the one bust where the LBs were missing and the safety took the wrong angle, but even aside from that the Aggies ran better than they should have.
CoBears - Not horrible, but also unproven at this point. The 60-yard TD without a touch was problematic. The 4th and 1 stop behind the line of scrimmage in the otherwise tough Q1 was awesome. Basically, good moments and bad in this one. Hoping not to see the bad repeated.
Heyalumnigo - I missed the one long run they had. Other than that I think we did alright.
What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?
CoBears - Quite good. 65 yard punt that turned the game around from a crud Q1; made all FGs and XPs; and good coverage throughout the game. Refreshing given our history in ST.
Oski Disciple - Excellent in all facets. Nothing to find fault with.
Rose Bowl Oski - One holding call on a PAT that fortunately didn't cost Cal anything; otherwise excellent in all phases -- kicking, punting (great patience and awareness by Sheehan), coverage.
MBrew3 - No problems which is nice.
What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's performance?
N/A - Seeing the creativity in UC Davis’s playcalling made me even more depressed I have to continue watching Musgrave’s incredibly boring offense.
Texashaterforlife - I hope the vanilla play calling is because Cal wants to keep the good stuff hidden until Conference games start; and not because the playbook is vanilla.
ABVidale - The good: Adjustments were made. The bad: Adjustments *needed* to be made. The ugly: The less said about the first quarter, the better.
CoBears - The near match of yards between the teams and reliance on turnovers for the win is not a recipe for winning through the remainder of the season. Both offense and defense still have plenty to clean up, and I worry that better calls, offensive and defensive, in addition to better play, is required to have success throughout the season. I retain faith that we can improve; the student-athletes showed some real promise at times. But we clearly have a lot of work to do.
Rose Bowl Oski - Great coaches know how to break a team out of a funk. Wilcox and co did a great job of keeping the team ready and focused, turning an abysmal start into a comfortable win.
Heyalumnigo - Coaches had a game plan.
What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?
N/A - The score makes it look like Cal was better than they were. Big improvements need to be made…
GrEAT - Concerns from last year carried over to this game: defense allowing long conversions (3rd and 9 yards to go), OL still struggling & Coleman is not a LT (which we knew).
Sacman701 - A little shaky on both sides of the ball, but overall it was fine for a season opener where we were breaking a lot of new players in.
ABVidale - After taking a year off from watching the Bears it was nice to see an (overall) good performance. The team looks good enough to at least get to a bowl game, and likely would have been able to challenge for the Pac-12 North (if it still existed). We'll know more in two weeks after Notre Dame.
Tangtpt - A win is a win is a win.
Rose Bowl Oski - With one game under their belts, hopefully any jitters are gone and the Bears can avoid a slow start next week.
Heyalumnigo - 1-0 so no real complaints. Let's see where we are after week 3.