There's probably more reason to be optimistic than pessimistic. In the past three weeks, with a new coaching staff not knowing really what to expect following two blowout wins, Cal's defense has had to a) come up with a game plan to limit Charles Rogers, b) find a way to stop Air Force's freakshow of an option offense, and c) contend with WSU's maze-of-horrors passing game. They've had to shift extremes during the past three weeks, and while the defense won't remind anyone of the Steel Curtain, they kept the team in the game, and put us in position to beat two pretty good teams. I don't think any of the offenses that are on the rest of the schedule are nearly as unconventional as Air Force's or WSU's and I like our chances much more against a straightforward offense.
SECOND HALF: Washington State gained 350 yards in the second half, compared to Cal's 195.
FIRST DOWN: Both teams had strong 1st down offenses with WSU averaging 8.8 yards (and 12.7 yards on 1st down passes) and Cal averaging 7.5/play.
HIGH PASSES: The drop count went from 8 down to 4, but 11 of the 18 incompletions were due to high/overthrown balls.
PENALTIES: Cal's seven defensive penalties were a season high, although only five were accepted. For the season, Cal's had 18 defensive penalties accepted, while their opponents have had 11 accepted.
FIELD POSITION: During the past two games, the starting field positions have been about the same for both teams. This is what can be reasonably expected during the course of the season - but if Cal no longer has an advantage through field position, they'll have to make it up in other areas if they want to win a few more games. Right now, it's hard to say where it'll come from.
BAND DAY: Of all the various themed days that they have at Memorial, this is probably my favorite. Watching all those different bands and different uniforms and watching the flag teams that are running like a Swiss watch and even the teams that are still getting it together, and then hearing the whole ensemble play one of the Cal fight songs near the end of halftime was just terrific.
PASS INTERFERENCE RANT: It appeared that the interpretations for pass interference and defensive holding were a lot different against Michigan State than they were against Washington State. Against MSU, the tolerance level for contact was a little higher and the refs didn't call everything that looked suspicious. Against WSU, the threshold was different, so there were odd calls like the one where the WSU receiver used his hands to get around a Cal DB but lost so much speed and momentum in doing so, that it was flagged as a Cal defensive holding call. The calls today were closer to the games of three and four years ago where the refs were insistent that a DB had to turn around and face the ball at some point while defending a receiver. In the first few games this year, it looked like the refs had gotten away from that and I wasn't sure if the rule was now being more loosely interpreted or hadn't been changed. Interpretations of pass interference rules in college ball are similar to Major League Baseball's strike zone -- a few years, I was reasonably sure what they were, what it was, now I don't have a clue.
BAG RANT: This bag policy at Memorial will be a surefire attendance killer if it doesn't get straightened out. A cople of weeks ago, a friend brought in a backpack/purse and had to make quite an effort to convince them that it was a purse -- even though the contents were basically a jacket and a bottle of water. So this week, she brings a smaller bag. Before the ticket window, the yellowshirts look at it and say it's OK. Then we pass through the ticket gate, and a walkietalkie person says that it's not. The walkietalkie person gets a flier and says that this smaller bag is too big, even though it's smaller than the maximum dimensions listed on the flier. In the meantime, people are walking in with bigger ASUC bags, duffle bags, shoulder bags, and nobody's saying or doing anything. The walkietalkie person calls over a policeman who looks at the bag, checks the contents, and tells her that she has to exit the stadium, walk all the way around to Kleeberger and check it in. So she walks all the way around to Kleeberger with her bag/purse and is about to check it in when the security person says, "this shouldn't be checked, it's basically a purse". So then she comes in with her bag and walks all the way back through the stadium to her seat. A bag policy should not change from week-to-week, much less person-to-person. With the bigger crowds expected for UCLA and Stanford, this knuckleheadedness will lead to extremely long lines of upset people at baggage check. I don't know who was in charge of the security plan for this past week, but this level of incompetence should only be acknowledged with a forced resignation.
Disclaimer + quibble: These numbers may not jibe completely with the box score -- for one) I tend to trust my eyes and ears, two) official box scores have been known to be wrong, three) for some of the numbers that I churn out, there's a highly subjective nature to them and I can refer back to my notes a lot easier than I can try to refer to a play-by-play (plus, I don't have to worry about tracking it down).
The other big difference is that I include sack yardage as passing. There will always be a handful of plays in any game when the QB goes down and it's not clear if it was a broken pass or a broken run.
Cal 1st Down: 36-269, 7.5 (Run: 13/50, 3.8; Pass: 23/219, 9.4)
Cal 2nd Down: 21-111, 5.3 (Run: 6/51, 8.5; Pass: 15/60, 4.0)
Cal 3rd Down: 16-90, 5.6 (Run: 4/8, 2.0; Pass: 12/82, 6.8)
Cal 4th Down: 1-0, 0.0 (Run: 0/0, 0.0; Pass: 1/0, 0.0)
Cal Total: 74-470 6.3 (Run: 23/109, 4.7; Pass: 51/361, 7.1)
WSU 1st Down: 34-301, 8.8 (Run: 12/22, 1.8; Pass: 22/279, 12.7)
WSU 2nd Down: 21-169, 8.0 (Run: 6/53, 8.8; Pass: 15/116, 7.7)
WSU 3rd Down: 13-77, 5.9 (Run: 4/15, 3.8; Pass: 9/62, 6.9)
WSU 4th Down: 2-4, 2.0 (Run: 2/4, 2.0; Pass: 0/0, 0.0)
WSU 2pt conv: 1-2, 2.0 (Run: 0/0, 0.0; Pass: 1/2, 2.0)
WSU Total: 71-563, 7.9 (Run: 24/94, 3.9; Pass 47/459, 9.8)
Cal 1st quarter: 17-116, 6.8 (Run: 8/61, 7.6; Pass: 9/55, 6.1)
Cal 2nd quarter: 21-159, 7.7 (Run: 6/29, 4.8; Pass: 15/130, 8.6)
Cal 3rd quarter: 19-114, 6.0 (Run: 7/17, 2.4; Pass: 12/97, 8.1)
Cal 4th quarter: 17-81, 4.8 (Run: 2/2, 1.0; Pass: 15/79, 5.3)
Cal Total: 74-470, 6.3 (Run: 23/109, 4.7; Pass: 51/361, 7.1)
WSU 1st quarter: 16-121, 7.6 (Run: 5/22, 4.4; Pass: 11/99, 9.0)
WSU 2nd quarter: 15-82, 5.5 (Run: 2/-7, -3.5; Pass: 13/89, 6.8)
WSU 3rd quarter: 17-202, 12.6 (Run: 6/50, 8.3; Pass: 11/152, 13.8)
WSU 4th quarter: 23-148, 6.4 (Run: 11/29, 2.6; Pass: 12/119, 9.9)
WSU Total: 71-563, 7.9 (Run: 24/94, 3.9; Pass 47/459, 9.8)
STARTING FIELD POSITION
California: 15 poss., avg. starting field position: 30.8
WSU: 15 poss., avg. starting field position: 36.3
Note: Cal started 11 of their 15 possessions inside of their own 30 compared to WSU's 8. Since part of the point of this number is to measure the effectiveness of special teams, I counted the blocked punt as a touchdown as "100". If the punt had been blocked at recovered at the 1, the starting field position would technically have been a 99, so I just added the yard and included the number. Now since WSU's offense took the field, a good argument could be made to exclude the punt block -- but that would exclude that play's effect on game as it relates to this measure. I'd rather relabel this stat something like "field position stat" rather than exclude the punt block.
INSIDE OPPONENT'S 30
California: 6 poss: 5 TD, 1 FG
Cal scoring %: 6/6 -- 100.0%
WSU: 8 poss: 4 TD, 1 FG, 1 FG miss, 1 over on downs, 1 time expired
WSU scoring %: 5/8 -- 62.5%
Comment: Many commentators will refer to the red zone as being within the 20. But if a team's offense is within the opposition 30, it should be considered within scoring position.
If a team has a scoring play longer than 30 yards, it's not included in the above table.
CAL-Boller, 48 att, 30 comp, 377 yds, 13 first downs, 3 TD, 2 INT, 3 sack for -16 yds, 0 scrambles for 0 yds, 1 pen. for 15 yds -- 52 plays for 376 yds, 7.3 avg, 32.7% success (17/52)
WSU-Gesser, 43 att, 27 comp, 421 yds, 14 first downs, 4 TD, 0 INT, 2 sacks for -10 yds, 1 scramble for 5 yds, 3 pen. for 40 yds -- 49 plays for 456 yds, 9.3 avg, 42.8% success (21/49)
WSU-WR, 1 att, 1 comp, 43 yds, 1 first down
Note: This week, defensive pass interference and holding calls have been added into the total yardage figures for the QB comparison. All penalties here are automatic first downs and are computed into the success rate.
Definition: The success percentage is defined as (first downs (via passing or scrambling) plus touchdowns) divided by (pass attempts plus number of sacks plus number of scrambles). The idea is to measure how often a quarterback is successful in helping the team to maintain possession (via first down) or score. It's not meant to be an all-encompassing measure of a QB's effectiveness. If it were, then allowances would have to be made for interceptions, interceptions for touchdowns, sacks, and a special knucklehead factor would have to be incorporated for sacks that take a team out of field goal range.
Cal total: 18
Pass overthrown/high: 11
Passes dropped: 4
Passes broken up : 2
Passes low: 1
WSU total: 16
Passes broken up: 8
Pass overthrown: 5
Pass dropped: 3
Comment: Credit has to be given to Cal's receiving corps that made quite a few terrific catches that otherwise would have raised the incompletion total/breakdown significantly. Ward's one-handed catch in the endzone was one of the best catches made by any Cal receiver in recent history. But after watching some of these balls sail just a little high or just a little far, it makes you think what would happen if we had receivers who were just a little taller and could jump a little higher. Like Brian Wethers. Now Kelley Washington's success over at Tennessee is going to do a couple of things (he'll be on ESPN next Saturday night if you want to catch him in a game); it's going to encourage everyone who's tall and fast in different sports to switch over to football if they see a limited future in their primary sport, and it's going to cause coaches to cast a wider net in recruiting. Now granted, Washington was a talented football player in high school, but to play baseball for a few years, and then pretty much step in and play at a high level very quickly changed a lot of thinking. You're not talking about a two-or-three year project, but an impact player. After Wethers finishes his basketball career, he should be able to catch on professionally somewhere, but the professional basketball leagues have no shortage of 6-5 guys with springy legs who don't have a dominating aspect to their game. But you put someone with his size and speed and athletic ability into a football uniform and with a little coaching he'd be damn near unguardable.
Which Cal receivers were thrown to most often on Saturday and with what levels of success?
McArthur: 12 att, 8 comp, 139 yds
Makkonen: 11 att, 6 comp, 97 yds
Ward: 10 att, 3 comp, 39 yds
Swoboda: 7 att, 6 comp, 59 yds
Igber: 6 att, 5 comp, 32 yds
Mandarino: 1 att, 1 comp, 7 yds
Big ol' 63: 1 att, 1 comp, 3 yds
Note: This week Cal threw 14 times to their backs and TE which is up from 2 a week ago. The att/comp figures for the WRs for the past two weeks: McArthur (23/13), Makkonen (20/11), Ward (26/6). I don't know if Boller's trying too hard to force the ball to Ward, or if Ward's tipping off his deep patterns, but it's odd that the completion percentage to him is so much lower than it is for everyone else. The difference in completion percentages cannot be solely attributed to drops either.
THIRD DOWN POWER%
This measures how often a defense is pushing the opposition into a third down situation by dividing the number of third down situations by the number of first down situations. If this number is low, then the defense isn't doing a good job.
Cal - 38.2% (13/34)
WSU - 44.4% (16/36)
Note: In the second half, Washington State had 21 first down plays and only faced a third-down situation 5 times.
This stat takes the total yardage of the five biggest plays the defense gives up and divides them by the total yardage the defense surrenders. From a consistency standpoint, a defense would want this percentage to be relatively low. It's technically possible for a team to have a low percentage while giving up 40 gains of 15 to 20 yards, but it's also highly unlikely.
Cal - 36.3% (171/470)
WSU - 38.4% (212/551)
Note: The longer I keep this stat, the less certain I am about what it actually measures. Cal's two longest plays were 39 yards. Washington State had four plays over 40 yards and 1 play of 39 yards. Based on five games of evidence which supports this rule, I submit this to Lee Grosscup over which he is entitled to exclusive rights for eternity: the inkbowlglory rule -- whichever team has more plays of 40+ yards will win the game.
ON THE OTHER SIDE
The number of plays run on the opponents' territory divided by total plays.
Cal - 33.6% (22/74)
WSU - 54.3% (38/70)
Note: WSU ran 27 out of 39 plays in Cal territory in the 2nd half compared to 11 out of 31 in the first. Last week, Air Force ran 21 of their 27 second-half plays in Cal territory.
I've been tracking penalties all season, but haven't found any trends yet. Given that the rules allow a maximum of 15 yards for pass interference, Cal might have been better served by committing more pass interference calls than they did. This is just a hunch though, and I'd have to look at tape to back it up. Here's a breakdown of Cal's defensive penalties this year compared with the opponent's.
Cal's defensive penalties (accepted): 18
Pass interference: 8
Personal foul/roughing the passer: 6
Illegal subsitution: 2
Defensiver holding: 1
Opponent's defensive penalties (accepted): 11
Pass interference: 4
Personal foul/roughing the passer: 4
Face mask: 1
False start: 1
Defensive holding: 1
Cal's offensive penalties (accepted): 16
False start: 2
Illegal formation: 1
Illegal shift: 1
Illegal motion: 1
Pass interference: 1
Opponent's offensive penalties (accepted): 27
False start: 9
Illegal block: 5
Personal foul: 2
Pass interference: 1
Illegal formation: 1
Illegal motion: 1
Illegal procedure: 1
Illegal substitution: 1
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