Rating the Bears: Cal at UCLA Football

Hello 2020, my old friend...

You half-expected this, didn’t you? 2020 has been an utter cesspool of a year and we Cal fans are rarely spared misfortune. So when it was announced on Friday that the team was going to be playing UCLA on the road in fewer than 48 hours (at 9am, no less!), a completely flat performance was a reasonable outcome. Unfortunately, UCLA’s embarrassingly flat start only lasted about half the first quarter.

Despite those three hours of misery, a decent number of you clicked our insta-recap article and filled out our Rating the Bears form, which makes its debut on Write for California after ten years (!) of running this series at our old home CGB. In this series, we review readers’ evaluations of the team’s performance in the previous game. Sometimes it’s a delight. Sometimes it’s not. This is clearly the latter.

Most of those scores were pretty abysmal. Special teams seemed to be the only bright spot in an otherwise terrible day. Sheahan’s technique of slowly rolling out before punting did a pretty good job of buying the coverage team enough time to surround the UCLA returner and forcing a fair catch. Opponents returned nearly one-third of the Bears’ punts in 2019, which helped drop our net punting to 36.6 yards, among the bottom-ten in Power 5 teams. On Saturday, none of the Bears’ 6 punts were returned, preserving our 39.7-yard average with 0 return yards. I realize I’ve been talking about punting for quite a while, but there’s not much else to say about this game that isn’t profoundly depressing.

Speaking of profoundly depressing, our predictions of a win against the 0-2 Beavs have dropped from 78.8% a couple weeks ago to 51.3% now.

Ratings Comparison

This is eleventh game we’ve played against UCLA since starting this series, so we have a wealth of data against which to compare Sunday’s ratings.

And the comparison wasn’t quite as bad as I had feared! Of course, that says more about how poorly we’ve fared against UCLA in a handful of recent contests (2018, 2013, 2011) than it says about how well we played on Sunday.

Compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era, however, this looks pretty bad.

Not the worst, but definitely a bottom-five loss.


As is tradition, we hand out three sets of awards each week. We recognize the most optimistic and most pessimistic scores of the week, along with those that fall closest to the community average.

Old Blues

First up, it was the worst of times…

Sunshine Pumpers

And those who gave the Bears the highest marks of the week

The Voice of Reason

Finally, we have those whose scores were closest to the average scores reported at the beginning of this article. Usually those qualifying for this award score somewhere in the 2.5-5.0 range. So, uh, I don’t know what was going on with y’all. Looks like the Bears weren’t the only ones out of sorts on Sunday. But at least you participated; I completely forgot to fill out one of the ratings forms. Oops!

And now we turn to your exceedingly rosy thoughts about that debacle in the Rose Bowl on Sunday.


Any comments about the gameday experience?

HaasBear - I woke up, made coffee, and let disappointment consume me.

Not15characters - I started the morning with coffee and switched to vodka shots in the second quarter.

Drew Haroldson - Had a veggie omelette with a side of berries. Audibled at game time to skip the mimosa. Physically, I feel great post game.

Bowlesman80 - Loved that the band, CGB, is back together on a new, unadulterated platform. Watch on FS1 until, uh, I just could not "bear" to continue. This was not even a "Cardiac Cal" moment. More like a familiar reiteration of the superiority of the south.

BearlyThere - Not how I wanted to see my Bears on a Sunday

Any comments about the pass offense?

Sacman701 - Utterly ineffective. Counting sacks, we had 92 yards on 39 attempts. Double the yardage, and that's still an awful day. Garbers was inaccurate and made poor decisions.

TD_24 - Well its hard to pass when your O line that's returning literally everyone can't even block a f'ing piece of paper.

Tangtpt - Pretty obvious that the offensive line and running game were not having it today. Seems like they should've rolled Garbers out for his passing game sometime in the 1st half. Touchdown drive was nice.

1988goldenbear - No time for Garbers, bad throws even when he had time, bad drops (still!!!). All we had were WR screens, and the WRs couldn't get any separation from the DBs in single coverage.

Not uglier than David Shaw - It stayed in Berkeley

Any comments about the run offense?

ASAP Bear - What's with all the empty sets?

AndyHogan14 - Slightly less terrible.

No username - Will benefit by an improved passing attack

1988goldenbear - ucla keyed on the run game and dared us to throw. Our O-line was totally overmatched all game long. The only decent runs were by Garbers.

Goldenone - Predictable and almost nonexistent because of lack of O-line push

T-Funk911 - I like our RBs and I think Aristotle Thompson was a good hire. This poor performance was on the O-line.

Any comments about the pass defense?

Goldenone - Pretty bad, actually

Tangtpt - Not bad. Entire defense was getting gassed I'm sure by early in the second half.

T-Funk911 - Marcel Yates is a bad coach. I never understood this hire from the beginning.

TD_24 - I mean aside from the one INT, I'm certain even Zach Maynard could've made some of these throws in these huge ass windows like why is Elijah Hicks playing safety what in the hell man keep him at corner.

Drew Haroldson - Games are win at the line of scrimmage. DTR was able to sit back and pick apart the defense.

Not uglier than David Shaw - Glad to see Bynum get a pick, but other than that, pass defense was non-existent. Especially the TEs killing us.

Any comments about the run defense?

ASAP Bear - Here a missed tackle, there a missed tackle, everywhere a missed tackle.

AndyHogan14 - Meh.

Azulviejo - Our D line got their ass whipped. The LBs did not know where to go.

Justbear - Worst tackling since Buh's defense

Texashaterforlife - sloppy tackles and sloppy pursuit angles

BrooklynBear - bad, bad tackling

Any comments about the special teams?

1988goldenbear - Blocked punt! And the first career FG! And we successfully punted a bunch of times! Kick-off coverage wasn't so good.

Drillerbear - Started out promising with blocked punt but Cal had such poor field position that the punter couldn't kick the ball far enough to keep UC A Lay from getting the ball near midfield.

T-Funk911 - Special teams was really bad last year. It looks slightly improved but our punting is still pretty bad.

Sacman701 - Not the problem. We blocked a punt and made our only FG attempt.

AndyHogan14 - Didn’t lose us the game.

ASAP Bear - Only group I didn't give a 0/100 for the game because of the blocked punt. But still, our punter looks iffy.

Any comments about the coaching?

ASAP Bear - Not optimistic about the Musgrave offense…

Go Eat A Taco - With a new OC and offense one can't expect the offense to hit its stride in the first game. But that offense was putrid. Perhaps by the 3rd or 4th game the offense will have some rhythm.

Not uglier than David Shaw - WTF happened? UCLA had the same amount of prep time as us, so that’s not an excuse. We got bitch slapped and didn’t punch back. Musgrave after one game and 10 points might be a downgrade from our last OC, I hope this game was a one off and we get our shit together before next week.

No username - Too soon to tell

Tangtpt - Hard to criticize when they only had basically a day to scheme, but it's not like Wilcox & Co. were not familiar with the opponent and their scheme.

TD_24 - Well I mean this was not the offense I witnessed Musgrave man when he got the Raiders going in 2016, this inability to adjust and have a want to reminded me badly of the 2018 Cal offense mixed with the 2017 Cal defense.

Any comments about the overall performance?

HaasBear - Our linebackers and tackling need to improve or we won’t beat anyone.

None - Need to bury this and move forward.

Go Eat A Taco - When you start the game by blocking a punt and getting an interception but only get 3 points out of it, you know it's going to be a long day.

Sammy25 - The deck was stacked against them, but that was awful.

Drew Haroldson - It was disappointing and we need to learn from it. Big picture, this season doesn’t matter and I hope we are able to turn this into a positive for when games do mean something again.

Texashaterforlife - 2020 in a nutshell. A giant %$#@%!!!!

Thanks for participating, everyone! I pray to Oski that next week’s ratings are more favorable…