Rating the Bears: Cal vs. Nevada Football

Yet another agonizing loss to Nevada

Welcome back to the Rating the Bears series! In this weekly series we take a look at the fanbase’s ratings of several aspects of Cal’s recent performance. In case you missed it, you can find the link to fill out the Rating the Bears form on the insta-recap post that goes live as soon as the game is over.

This is now the twelfth season we have been running this series. Way back when it started, Cal was riding a 12-game winning streak over Nevada and hadn’t lost to the Wolf Pack in 107 years (a 2-6 decision in 1903 to the team formerly known as the Nevada State Sagebrushers). We have now suffered three agonizing losses in a row to the Wolf Pack and I’m starting to hope I never see them on Cal’s schedule again in my lifetime.

Rating the Bears

We begin with a table with the average and standard deviations for all the ratings categories.

Things generally went well on the ground on Saturday. When the Bears were running the ball or Nevada was trying to run the ball, we were generally pleased with what we saw. Passing was a different story. Garbers’ struggles tanked the pass offense score and Strong’s ability to throw NFL-caliber passes into tiny windows for his usually well covered receivers (except for big tight end #19 who always seemed to be open) helped drag the pass defense score to the wrong side of 50. Special teams were mediocre as always and coaching barely escaped earning the worst score of the week.

Thanks to all that goodwill squandered in the final 45 minutes of the game our predictions of a win over TCU have been cut in half from where they were just three weeks ago.

Ratings Comparison

With 12 years of data, we have plenty of data points against which to compare Saturday’s performance. First we compare it to all our other games against G5 foes.

We have some excruciating losses in here (all three Nevada losses, that fiasco against BYU in 2014, the SDSU loss in 2016) and yet this one managed to earn some comparatively abysmal scores. Worst pass offense, third-worst coaching, second-worst overall. Not a great way to start the year.

Compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era, this performance was not rated favorably.

No wonder he seemed annoyed during Tuesday’s press conference.


As part of this weekly series we hand out awards for three categories of report cards: the most optimistic, the most pessimistic, and those closest to the average.

Old Blues

First, the most pessimistic graders of the week.

Can’t say I disagree…

Sunshine Pumpers

Next, the most optimistic graders of the week.

Calamo must have passed out in a pool of drunken delirium after the first quarter.

Voice of Reason

Finally, those whose scores were closest to the average ratings.

And now we turn it over to your comments.


Any comments on the gameday experience?

  • 1988goldenbear - Loved being back at Memorial! It has been way too long!

  • Old Bear 71 - As a Bears fan since freshman treks from Cloyne Court up the hill to Old Memorial in 1965, I still relish the game day vibe whether I’m now retired at home in NC, or in New Memorial with family. College football is still a mostly amateur game and upsets and surprises abound weekly. On a weekend where the entire P-12 North was out coached, outplayed and generally looked terrible (you too Orygun), I think of the excitement the FCS fans enjoyed. I have been in on that a few times when Cal has won unexpectedly -Washington recently. The feeling is wonderful and will be one of their best memories for a lifetime. I hate losing a winnable (already won?) game, but I was happy staying up ‘til near 2 A.M. and text chatting with my son and the amazing Golden Bear faithful. I love our Bears and hope we will get some wins, but only with high character, academically prepared players. I will never wish for guaranteed wins of o a $EC/U$C type program that is little more than a minor league NFL team. Our players worked hard, did as coached and were badly let down by their coaches. This was certainly Not primarily on our sturdy Golden Bears. The D kept “high powered” Nevada at 22 points? We shoulda won handily. So, in closing, I’d like to thank all the fine peeps at WFC and everyone who posted anything last night. I’m glad to be part of a world class institution, received a great education, and proudly wear Cal gear everywhere. GO BEARS! Beat TCU!

  • Wiata78 - It was great to be watching a Cal game again. I mostly listened to Starkey, who did better than the last time I listened to him. He made a lot of mistakes, but caught them himself. Or maybe he was secretly prompted by his Pal.)

  • Jerry - Good student attendance. Curse the PAC 12 for the late start

  • Terence - If we crush Nevada's defense via the ground, I vote we should continue to do that.

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - Stayed at home due to COVID concerns, wanted to hurl my phone through the TV multiple times

What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?

  • Haasbear - We don’t have a pass offense.

  • None - Average. We need more explosive plays.

  • SonofaBlue - It's ridiculous that Cal still cannot develop a consistent passing game. Multiple easy, short, wide opens throws were missed on 3rd down and the int was BAD.

  • Diasfordays - Looked shaky at best. An insult to the RB and OL rooms to keep forcing the ball through the air.

  • Goldenbear88 - Barely functional. No down field threat whatsoever.

  • Mrjpark - This offensive lineup just can't separate or score, and hasn't been able to for 4 years. Looking forward to 2022 when we'll have higher athletic ceilings in our roster.

  • Northtunnelecho - It will continue to be mediocre until Cal develops deep threat capability.

What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?

  • Oski74 - Cal showed that it can be a superior running team, but we have to learn how to use that to win games.

  • Willis Chong - Could we not have run more? They only stopped our runs in the 2nd and 3rd quarters because we got very uncreative. Once the play book opened up, we were getting 4-5 yards a pop!

  • 59RoseBowl - Great in the first two quarters and then largely abandoned. WTF?

  • Goldenone - More Moore and DeCarlos Brooks

  • SonofaBlue - It was a freaking bulldozer. Nevada couldn't stop it.

  • Terence - It was great, until we stopped running. Moore, Brooks, Dancy look like they could run up and down the field if we let them

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - Run it down their throats until they stop you, wtf were we doing?

  • Gobears157 - Decent against a smaller Nevada front 7. We're a one dimensional team and our future opponents will stack the box. Our run game will get progressively worse bc of it.

What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?

  • TD_24 - Complete lack of awareness from linebackers for Turner and lack of top end speed from the defensive backs, most notably Collin Gamble. Couldn't settle for the 3 man rush for pressure that wasn't getting home.

  • Haasbear - Starting to show the loss of TDR and Alexander

  • Gobears157 - Don't know if our pass defense is really that bad or if Carson strong was just that good. Maybe both.

  • N/A - Still felt like there were too many times when the Nevada WR was behind the corners. The QB is really good, but you’re going to see QB play like that in the Pac-12.

  • Texashaterforlife - Nevada's WRs are legit: tall, fast and pretty sure handed. better than our DBs. Did Cameron Goode only play a handful of snaps, I barely saw him. So much for our vaunted pass rush.

  • Sacman701 - Not bad overall considering that Nevada throws well. Really there was just 1 breakdown: Nevada's other two long completions were perfect throws. Pass rush was generally good. Coverage was a bit soft, especially on the tight end over the middle.

  • Willis Chong - I hope these are growing pains against a decent receiving corps. Not helped by a poor pass rush, despite a few sacks. Nevada had all day to throw on obvious 3rd and long passing situations.

  • 1988goldenbear - We have seen this story for many years… decent corners, not enough pressure, huge gashes on 3rd and long. Maybe the QB/WR combo was THAT MUCH better than our secondary, but I was hoping for more. It would’ve been even worse without a couple of horrible drops by their WR’s.

What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?

  • Old Bear 71 - I would have thought that Goode, Deng & Co. would have spent more time in Nevada’s backfield. Don’t know the stats, but the run D didn’t lose this game.

  • Oski74 - Tackling! Coaches should know that has to be a point of emphasis at the beginning of the season.

  • Northtunnelecho - Not bad but room for improvement.

  • Goldenbear88 - Good. We contained (for the most part) their RB's.

  • Sacman701 - Not the problem. We usually got a good push. Nevada's backs averaged 3.5 yards per carry with a long of just 12. I'll take that, especially as they run largely as a change of pace.

  • Diasfordays - Very workable against this team. We'll have to see how they fair against bigger teams.

  • Gobears157 - As expected... Nevada found some success but didn't run all over us.

What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?

  • TFUNK911! - Punt and kick coverage was really bad but everything else was serviceable. We missed two field goals and averaged less than 40 yards a punt but it doesn't even bother me because my standards are set so low.

  • Goldenbear88 - Meh. I didn't see them cost us any games like last year so I guess that is an improvement.

  • 1988goldenbear - So so coverage on a couple punts, missed a FG, nothing special. Not sure I want Remigio to have the green light all the time but some of the fair catches seemed really conservative.

  • None - Adequate. One missed field goal is not good. And we need more explosive returns.

  • MoochPunt - Good tackle by the punter. The problem is that the punter needed to make a tackle

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - Once again critical mistakes a key part of the game, huge runback at the end of the first half leading to free points and the missed field goal forcing too many throws later

What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's performance?

  • N/A - This is where the problem lies. I’m not too high on our offense, but the way the O was managed today made no sense. The run game was clearly working, why would you not just puns them into the ground!? I don’t think the offense is quite as bad as they look, they just have weird and ineffective game plans.

  • Texashaterforlife - When the Wolf Pack were down 14 points, Nevada coach Norvell showed emotion by ripping into his team. the players responded in a positive manner. I kinda wish Wilcox or the OC to do the same.

  • None - Several poor tactical decisions. The Remigio catch and fumble should have been appealed.

  • Wiata78 - Fox kept talking about how Reno's coach got his team fired up after the first two series. Why can't we do that?

  • Goldenbear88 - Defense was respectable (as usual). Offense was absolutely the WORST that I have ever seen from a Cal team.

  • Mrjpark - Absolutely disheartening. We made absolutely zero adjustments aside from deciding to do whatever wasn't working. They threw this game.

  • 1988goldenbear - Blah. Our offense is so bland it is ridiculous. There was very little hope for a comeback even with 2-3 possessions late down by one score. And WTF was that designed QB sneak after Brooks (?) gashed Nevada all the way down the field? SMH.

  • 59RoseBowl - Musgrave seemed to have a good game plan to start the game but it got abandoned -- perhaps because Nevada realized that Cal couldn't through the ball downfield and edged up to the box. Virtually no successful adjustments at halftime. The optimism that after another year, Musgrave would show himself as a great OC evaporated. One hopes this game got the coaching staff's attention and they will be able to respond. If not, it is going to be a VERY long season.

What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?

  • Northtunnelecho - Can Cal have a do-over?

  • Tangtpt - just...Cal

  • 1988goldenbear - It has to get better, right? Most likely it’s going to be a typiCal season - mired in the lower tier with one weird an unexpected win. Like Oregon. And hopefully Furd.

  • 59RoseBowl - I can't recall the last time I was this disappointed in Cal's performance. I walked away from that game wondering what is really going on with the team and how all the optimism going into the season seemed to evaporate so quickly. I expected much more from Garbers than he showed -- but the game plan was a huge contributor to his mediocre passing performance. The Bears are looking at an 0-2 start unless they turn things around very quickly. And that goes right to the coaches and game planning. TCU is going to be a huge test and I expect the success of the season will rest on how the Bears respond to this hugely disappointing loss.

  • Wiata78 - Good thing I'm used to Cal heartbreak! I will be back.

  • Sacman701 - Once again the defense played well enough to win and the offense didn't. Garbers didn't look anything like the guy who was mostly effective in 2019. Whether this was just an off day or the new normal, the offense will have to make better use of what we have.

  • None - Disappointing. A winnable game. Too much offensive inconsistency and odd play-calling. And a few questionable tactical decisions by the head coach.

  • N/A - I’m still hopeful about a good season. The entire PAC 12 North struggled, so there’s time to figure some stuff out.

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - Our only saving grace is this is a non-conference game and the rest of the Pac-12 North looks like a dumpster fire. Wilcox is gonna spout off post-game about drops and penalties and player execution, but he needs to rip Musgrave a new one too. They are the paid adults in the room and they blew it. We should have easily won this game.

  • TD_24 - Both the team and the coaches displayed a complete lack of awareness about the gameplan and reading the room on momentum. One of the most dumbest coached games I've seen in the Wilcox era.

Thanks to all who participated! Hopefully we’ll have a happier set of ratings next week, although I’m not particularly optimistic about it…