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Know Thy Enemy: Cal Golden Bears

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Who are these Golden Bears from Berkeley?

NCAA Football: Arizona State at California Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

2019 record: 4-1 (1-1)

Key Numbers + Info (2019 season)

OOC Opponents: UC Davis, North Texas, Ole Miss

Points per game: 23.00

Points allowed per game: 18.60

Avg. yards per rush: 3.6

Avg. yards per rush allowed: 3.9

Avg. rush yards per game: 147.8

Avg. rush yards per game allowed: 151.6

Rushing TDs: 5 for, 7 against

Avg. pass yards per game: 198.20

Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 214.60

Avg per attempt: 7.62

Avg per attempt allowed: 5.96

Passing TDs: 8 for, 2 against

Collective Pass Completion Rate: 57%

Collective Pass Completion Rate Against: 57%

Leading Rusher: Chris Brown, Jr (91 rushes for 389 yards and three TDs)

Leading Receiver: Nikko Remigio (12 receptions for 188 yards and one TD)

Leading Tackler: Evan Weaver (78 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks)

Analytics

Credit to Zane Murffit of Cougcenter.com for doing the Sports Source Analytics charts weekly. They are an immense help. Here’s a glossary to help you translate the numbers.

Win probability

credit: Florida Cup and /rcfbuser

As you can see in the image above, Cal has a win probability of 16.2% against Oregon. Also the link, is the explanation behind the formula of the win probability for all teams. Oregon’s win probability chart as seen below for comparison.

It’s pretty much as expected so it’s wonder if it will play out as projected by the analytics or the team can beat the odds and run the table.

Cal Offense vs. Oregon Defense

Cal’s offense is an abysmal 106th nationally out of 130 FBS teams in yards per play, averaging 5.0 yards while Oregon’s defense is fifth, allowing only 3.8 yards per play.

Even with the Ole Miss game included where QB Chase Garbers went off, Cal is still well average in yards per pass with 6.05. Oregon ranks fourth in the entire country allowing just 3.07 yards per pass attempt.

The run game is where Cal needs to make hay as both sides allow over 4 yards per carry. In terms of third down conversion rate, the Golden Bears are converting a disastrous 34% (89th) of them while Oregon allows a similar number 31.34%, which is good for 25th overall.

This set of data pretty much reflects the live tape from what we’ve seen. Cal’s offense isn’t the most explosive while Oregon’s defense limits the explosion plays. Cal’s red zone stats are above the national average. Oregon’s defense dominates in Havoc Rate while Cal is below the national average in combating that stat.

Cal is just ahead of the national average in terms of explosive rate while the Ducks are way ahead on defense. The numbers for both passing and run explosiveness are similar. Oregon’s defense has held opponents to just 18% on scoring opportunities inside the 40.

The Cal offense is hilariously inept on first down and it hardly gets better on second and third down. Being ranked 123 on first downs is not ideal. Oregon’s defense is ranked in the top 25 on all four downs.

Oregon Offense vs Cal Defense

Oregon’s run offense against Cal’s run defense is weakness on weakness. Who will mask it better and come out on top?

Oregon’s offense in general is evenly matched with the Golden Bear’s defense in this set of chart. The Ducks really need to ramp up their run game against an underrated but injured Cal run defense.

As you can see here, Cal limits the explosive play in general but can be beaten in passing explosive plays. Oregon converts 75% of its scoring opportunities inside the 40 into touchdowns while Cal stops 30% of those chances.

Oregon is average or slightly below average nationally on first and third downs but they are excellent on second downs. The biggest disparity between the two teams is on second down. The Ducks need to improve on first down, clearly.

By the Numbers

  • Cal is heavily reliant on the run game, going towards a 61 to 39 run to pass ratio in 337 plays while their opponents are far more balanced with a 52 to 48 run to pass ratio in 373 plays.
  • The total yardage is surprisingly closer than one would expect with their opponents leading Cal by a margin of 1,831 to 1,730.

Key players to watch

1. Evan Weaver 6’3 235 LB Senior

  • A tackling machine. He’s notched multiple 20+ tackle games this season already. Instincts are a plus. Athleticism is not a plus but it’s serviceable if a DC can match him up correctly. He has the turning radius of an aircraft carrier with a bad engine. Will likely project as a special teams player or two down linebacker at the next level because of it.

2. Ashtyn Davis 6’1 200 S RS Senior

  • One of the best safeties in the 2020 class. Very disciplined in fundamentals. Doesn’t take too many false steps and get beat easily. Ball skills are above average. Frame wise, he’s stuck between free and strong safety. He will need to do something about the frame when he’s asked to be in the box against linemen.

Keys to an Oregon Win

  • Defense. Cal’s offense is, shall we say, not good by any metric. Andy Avalos needs to expose their new starter at QB Devin Modster as the very same one who struggled against ASU. The Ducks defense must maintain their gap discipline against their run game featuring Dancy and Brown, Jr. Their passing game is beyond putrid with Garbers out and was well below expectations with him in.
  • Run Offense. Please get it going for once. The Ducks rushing attack has been less than consistently inconsistent to say the least. Hopefully they worked on it during the bye week. They need to expose Cal’s limitations in space with misdirection plays and off tackle runs on the front side.
  • Pass offense. The Ducks are a passing team disguised as a run first attack. Let it go, Arroyo. Channel your inner Mike Gundy. While the Golden Bear’s defense has weapons in the secondary to combat Oregon’s receivers, they can be had. Not to mention the return of Brendan Schooler and Mycah Pittman should help.

Keys to an Oregon Loss

  • Offensive line. Evan Weaver proves to be the next Ray Lewis and wreaks havoc on the struggling OL. The OL needs to get it together at some point. Jake Hanson returning should mitigate things against a hurt Cal defense.
  • Marcus Arroyo. He doesn’t adjust to anything Cal does on defense and gets too predictable, thus losing the game after trying to get “aggressive” after going into prevent offense mode too early as is his style. Arroyo needs to stay relentless against an inferior opponent like he did against Nevada.
  • Justin Herbert. Cal presents the best secondary that Herbert has faced to date, depth wise. Can he make the necessary throws to challenge that secondary full of draftable players? Thus far, he has shown the arm talent to make any throw but it’s entirely different to make anticipation throws on time against talented secondaries that he’ll face soon. S Ashtyn Davis is a likely early draft pick that has shown versatility.

What are the Odds

(all odds courtesy of vegasinsider.com)

The Westgate Superbook has Oregon as 18 point favorites with an O/U of 46.5. The money line is Oregon -1200 Cal +750

DraftKings has Oregon as 18.5 favorites with the O/U being 46 even. The money line is Oregon -1250 Cal +700

William Hill has Oregon as 18 point favorites with the O/U at 46.5. The money line is Oregon -1100 Cal +700

Score prediction: Oregon 28 Cal 14