Bears Become Defensive

The California Golden Bears beat UCLA 41-20 in a game where Bruin QB Kevin Craft threw four interceptions. One of the stats that stood out was Cal's lack of success on third down. The Bears converted just 4 of 13 attempts, which put pressure on its defense to perform. After seven games, the Bears' offense still has not shown up week-in-and-week-out, but the defense has picked up the slack...

It might be time to come to the conclusion that for California to win games the defense will have to shut down opposing offenses. In their two losses against Maryland and Arizona, the Bears defense was unable to stop the run. In their five wins, Cal's defense has been dominant versus the run.

In Saturday's game, Cal held the UCLA to 22 carries for a total of 16 yards. Once the Bruins realized that they could not run, they were forced to pass the ball a total of 41 times. On the other hand, the Bears were a much more balanced team offensively. They ran the ball 42 times and ended up with only 22 pass attempts. Cal's run-to-pass ratio was almost the total opposite of the Bruins.

Usually when the Bears defense plays great, the usual suspects such as Anthony Felder, Zack Follett, and Syd'Quan Thompson make the plays. But on Saturday, Cal received contributions from players that have not made the defensive highlight reel this season. Marcus Ezeff chipped in with two interceptions. Ezeff's second pick of the day was returned 69 yards for a touchdown. When Ezeff was not making plays, linebacker Michael Mohamed was returning a Kevin Craft pass 19 yards the other way for a touchdown. Besides the long interception returns, the Bears kept constant pressure on the UCLA quarterbacks. Tyson Alualu and Mohamed contributed with sacks.

The Cal offense only scored 10 of the 17 first half points. There was not a Bear receiver that had over three catches. With another change at quarterback – with Cal going back to Kevin Riley – it has been hard to establish continuity on the offensive side of the ball.

In a number of games, the defense has played above average and even put points on the board. For Cal to continue winning football games, the defense must continue to frustrate opposing quarterbacks, keep rushing yards to a minimum, and score points if possible. The Bears have Oregon at home next week and the Bear defense has proven that they can lead the team to victory. However, they will likely face the most explosive offense yet this season, as the Ducks put 54 points on Arizona State in their win in Tempe on Saturday night.

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