Rating the Bears: Cal vs. Sacramento State Football

Another uncomfortable FCS win...

You know what would be nice? A comfortable win over an FCS team. In 2017 the Bears spent most of the game trailing Weber State before Patrick Laird saved the game in the 4th quarter. In 2018 Cal cruised to a comfortable 45-9 lead over Idaho State until surrendering about 150 yards and 14 points in the second half of the 4th quarter. In 2019 a turnover-filled performance saw UC Davis jump out to a 10-point lead and keep pace with Cal until the Bears finally took control in the final 20 minutes. And like the 2018 performance, last week’s Bears started strong and built a 28-6 lead until the Sac St. offense exploded in the second half. Unlike the 2018 game where the bleeding only lasted 8 minutes, last weekend’s bleeding spanned nearly the entire second half.

Rating the Bears

If you looked at every rating other than the pass defense score, you might think it was a pretty comfortable and pleasant win. But there’s nothing comfortable or pleasant about surrendering 400+ passing yards to an FCS team. Especially one not named Eastern Washington, North Dakota State, or James Madison. So pass defense earned abysmal scores while the offense continued its pleasant trend of earning some of the highest scores of the week. In an even rarer feat, Special Teams earned the highest scores of the week thanks to Remigio’s kickoff return TD to start the second half.

Predictions of a win against UW have dipped slightly since our preseason predictions. Cal’s incompetence combined with UW’s incompetence have probably kept the scores from drifting too far from where they were a few weeks ago.

Ratings Comparisons

Thanks to our…charitable hospitality when FCS teams visit, this week’s scores were middle-of-the-road compared to other recent wins over FCS teams.

Next we compare last week’s ratings to all other games in the Wilcox Era.

Compared to all other games in the Wilcox Era, offense and special teams fared quite well. Pass defense had a bottom-5 performance. The rest of the categories were about average.


Let’s head through our trusty triumvirate of awards: the good, the bad, and the reasonable.

Sunshine Pumpers

First the highest scores of the week.

At this point, I’m pretty sure Calamo is a bot.

Old Blues

When the lowest scores are still passing grades, that’s not too bad. Interestingly, there’s a very small window between the best score of the week (72.9%) and the worst (60.7%). I’m not going to go through the last 12 years of data, but I think that’s the smallest difference we’ve seen in this series.

The Voice of Reason

Finally, those whose ratings were closest to average.

If the pass defense keeps playing like this, Bears will end all our lives...

Now let’s see how you felt about the game in words.


Any comments on the gameday experience?

  • Kj1980 - I was at the game. It was thinly attended and little spark. Garbers started off hot Wish the game ended when he was 10-10. Our pass defense makes opposing QBS look like Johnny U in the day.

  • Haasbear - Was great to be back at memorial!

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - Sold my ticket because of Covid. Had to borrow a login to watch on Pac-12 Network. At least these announcers were better than the jokes on ESPNU last week. Thanks Larry.

  • Goldenone - A very interesting vibe in the stadium - like waiting for the other show to fall. Folks sat quietly waiting for the Bears to seemingly implode. Fortunately it didn't happen but there are concerning signs heading into the Pac-12 schedule.

  • Old Bear 71 - I am always happy to watch the Bears play football. A win is that. To borrow a line from baseball talk, a dribbler looks like a line drive in the box score. A win over Washington next week will look same as this win over Sac State. We’ll be 2-2. However, my guacamole was that much tastier as Garbers and friends racked up yards and put points on the scoreboard.

  • Heyalumnigo - Great chicken and waffles, fried rice, and spam musubi for the pregame meal. The Cal ticket system went down so GO had to go to the ticket office at Memorial and get his tickets. Many others were in line. The Mic Man is HORRIBLE. The same 3 cheers, Gimme A C, 1st and 10 do it again, and Roll On You Bears. Only 1 Hey Alumni Go and it was at least after the middle of the 4th, and if I remember it was when we were on offense. Alumni Band looked good.

  • Tangtpt - Better than expected turnout at Memorial, especially the students. The only good part about having a less-than-full stadium is that I don't have to wait to buy overpriced beer. Thanks for the amazing applause for the joint Cal Band and Alumni Band performance at halftime! That kind of appreciation is a big reason why I continue to do this Alumni Band gig.

What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?

  • Sacman701 - Often effective, but also disappeared a few times when the team needed a first down to keep a drive going.

  • TD_24 - I'm glad we are still attempting to throw the ball down the field. Seeing the trends from week 1 to week 2, I was expecting like 10 sacks or 10 reverses.

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - We were much more aggressive because we could be. Garbers was still a bit more inaccurate than I'd expect at this point in his career. I liked the freedom he had to scramble. Jeremiah Hunter looks like a stud.

  • Old Bear 71 - I’m loving the stretched field approach (finally). I only gave the pass offense an 80 because Chase looks like he’s playing four square on many of the short passes that he bounces on screens and look-ins. Also a few points off for over-throwing several of the aforementioned field stretchers.

  • Texashaterforlife - not bad but not good either

  • Tangtpt - Deep balls. Can we do it against better competition?

What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?

  • Kj1980 - Did. Let’s run more to kill clock snd keep our anemic D off the field.

  • TD_24 - Started slow but picked up as needed, I'm really liking Damien Moore, now if he can get that top end speed...my goodness.

  • Haasbear - Solid. I have no idea why we get away from it for large swaths of the game.

  • Oski74 - Feed the ball to Damien Moore. He doesn't seem to have pure breakaway speed, but he always gains more yards than expected.

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - Moore and Brooks looked much better, shiftier, and had better vision today. Not sure how much that was a case of over pursuit by the defense or better execution of the Shanahan outside zone by the O line.

  • SonofaBlue - Nice to have 4 quality rbs

  • Darthdartagnan - looked great. got to the 2nd level consistently. Got short yardage at will. Just not enough speed to break away.

  • Old Bear 71 - We’ve got the backs, Now the OL needs to get serious about pushing defenders backwards on three n short. Each of the running backs brings special tools; Brooks, Brooks, Moore, Dancy all can gobble up yards if they can get past the los.

What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?

  • Tangtpt - Concerning...especially given the opponent.  

  • Texashaterforlife - So you are telling me the definition of pass defense is to NOT let the opponent move the ball through the air?!? Do the Cal defensive players know that? It did not look like it!

  • Darthdartagnan - DB's look BAD. one-on-one absolutely hapless. Holes in the zone were exploited by a bad QB. 2nd half gashes were I don't even know. poor communication (?) bad technique (?) Sac St pretty much played pitch and catch in the 2nd half. NO PASS RUSH! straight rush every time. No stunts, twists. nothing to get the Hornet OL to miss an assignment. Almost like they played contain for a mobile QB, but gave up passing yardage anyway.

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - Clearly the weakest part of our defense. Way too many dumb penalties, keeping Sac State in the game much longer than appropriate. Constantly leaving space and chasing WRs after losing at the line of scrimmage.

  • Oski74 - Where's the pass rush? Change up schemes if we can't get to the QB. This defense doesn't disguise it's blitz schemes as well as in the past.

  • Winebear - What pass defense? Man coverage better than zone: there was NO zone D! None! Zippo! Cal is going to get ravaged in Pac-12 because of this. Shuddering

  • Kj1980 - Did we have one today? Aaron Rodgers apparently was playing fir Sac State today.

What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?

  • Kj1980 - Solid.

  • Sacman701 - Not the problem. Sac's longest run was 8 yards, and the longest run by a RB was 4 yards.

  • Winebear - Run or pass: why so few blitzes? If you sit in a zone and give them all day to pass with a four man rush, yikes,what are you thinking? At least Mix it up and don’t be predictable

  • Haasbear - Good enough but Tatersall needs to learn how to tackle to shore up the middle.

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - Their star RB was a non-factor, but their QBs scrambled very effectively on designed runs. We will struggle with higher-quality O lines in Pac-12 play.

  • Texashaterforlife - When compared to the pass defense, it looked good. Real test is next week.

  • Old Bear 71 - Please, Oh please wrap up the ball carrier and TACKLE HIM! To date this season the tackling has been atrocious. This is the biggest difference I see between this team so far and the four previous Wilcox teams. Tackling is a basic activity in football, something every player allegedly aspires to do well. Good, crisp tackles administered consistently in large doses will help overcome other weaknesses. ST hiccoughs, bounced passes on 3 n short, even an occasional PI are all part of the game. But failing to tackle will doom us as the competition gets tougher.

  • If Sirmon cannot coach the D’s tackling we’re gonnabe toast.

What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?

  • Sacman701 - Good. No breakdowns, and a kickoff return to the house.

  • Haasbear - Special teams won this game. Two missed kicks from Sac state and Nikko’s return swung the score 13 points.

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - What were those, functional extra points???? Forgot what those looked like. We got lucky the kickoff out of bounds didn't hurt us.

  • Bearsthatfly - Improving but an FCS opponent does not make for a good compare


  • Heyalumnigo - We didn't miss any XPs. The only thing I noticed about the special teams was Remigio's KO return for a TD. They got a 100 in my book.

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

  • Sacman701 - How do you not find an answer for Sac State's air attack?

  • TD_24 - I mean they didn't lose us the game like week 1 and week 2 so we are getting somewhere.

  • Haasbear - For the 3rd time this year if you offered me the chance to switch coaching staffs with the opponent I would have said yes.

  • Oski74 - Our coaches do not make enough adjustments during the course of the game. Today, that seemed particularly evident with the defense. Let's do something to put pressure on their QB. Also would like to see more creativity on the offensive side.

  • Goldenone - The 4th and 10 shot downfield was downright scary. Also, the secondary was unable to adjust to the schemes Sac State was running. Something has to happen to this unit quickly or we will be picked apart by Pac-12 QB's. What I see is almost a Dykes level of futility on D.

  • Darthdartagnan - Sirmon ain't it, fam. Bend don't break defense ain't gonna win in the meme conference of America.

  • Old Bear 71 - Middle of the road. Schemes seemed appropriate, but have mercy, a 99 yard ko return and an int saved us! I thought Sac State had a shot at a win.

  • Tangtpt - Nothing horribly awful this week like the last two weeks...pass defense needs work.

What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?

  • Tangtpt - Any win is a good win, but giving up over 400 yards of offense isn't going to win you many games against conference opponents, even if you are effective on the offensive side of the ball...wait, this sounds familiar.

  • Old Bear 71 - As I noted, when you win, you win. Style is only important after a loss. I’ll take an ugly win Every time.

  • Darthdartagnan - Wilcox removes mask to reveal he's actually Andy Buh.

  • Goldenone - Offensively good, very poor on the other side of the ball other than the run defense.

  • Oski74 - Happy for the win, disappointed in the defense.

  • Haasbear - The defense is laughably bad. Wide open receivers, poor tackling, and no adjustments. If Sirmon survives the season, Wilcox should not.

  • TD_24 - Against Sac State I was hoping for a better defensive performance but I do look at Washington as the Pac 12 version of Wisconsin (stylistically) so lets hope we can win the trenches and upset in Seattle for the 2nd straight time!