Instant analysis/reaction: Cal starts fast, stumbles late

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Key takeaway

Cal’s defense is good, especially when the Bears take the ball from their opponents. Safety Ashtyn Davis and linebackers Kuony Deng and Lone Toailoa came up with the ball on three separate defensive turnovers in the first half, keeping the Bears in the game.

Linebacker Evan Weaver had only two tackles in the first two quarters, simply adding to what was already a strange first half. Oregon lost its starting running back, C.J. Verdell, in the first quarter of play, which hurt its running attack twofold after Travis Dye had what can only be called a disappointing first half, as the tailback coughed up two crucial fumbles.

On the other side of the Kuony, the Cal offense was abysmal in the second half, tallying only 93 total yards in the second half. Starting quarterback Devon Modster and the Bears running game failed to find their footing in the second half, and Cal was unable to protect its lead.

The Bears’ offense failed to convert their last nine third-down conversions and finished with a meager 66 rushing yards and only 245 total yards. Modster and company had plenty of chances to get back into the game, but they ultimately failed to execute in the dying moments.

 

Cal’s game MVP(s)

Kuony Deng was far and away the most consistent and best player on the field for the Bears. After starting the season playing second fiddle to Evan Weaver’s mammoth tackling stats, Deng hopped out in front Saturday night at Autzen Stadium, ending the game with 12 total tackles.

Beyond that, there was no clear impact player from Cal, as No. 13 Oregon’s defense took control of the game on defense and chewed precious time off the clock on offense. The Bears were unable to gain any traction in the fourth and final quarter, instead finding themselves whistled for seven penalties for 68 yards.

 

Eye-opening stat

A wild first half that entertained 12 possessions, three turnovers and only seven total points was just the appetizer to the main course of head-scratching play for the remainder of the game. Oregon had 26 first downs compared to Cal’s meager 12 but scored only two touchdowns in the game

Additionally, Evan Weaver finished with a season-low six tackles. His quiet evening allowed the other stars on the defense to shine but proved to silence the night in the end, as Oregon’s Justin Herbert’s 20-33, 214 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

 

Looking ahead

The Bears have a two-week break to recuperate after two straight losses to Arizona State and Oregon, with a bye before they face Oregon State back at California Memorial Stadium. The absence of Chase Garbers was noticeable and tangible from a Cal perspective, and Devon Modster needs to improve his consistency if he is to take control of the offense.

Recovering from two lackluster performances, the Bears must sharpen their execution on offense if they have any hopes for success against the Beavers or against an extremely talented Utah squad the week after that.

After earning multiple season-lows, the Cal football team is, once again, devoid of answers. With the offensive line and running game in shambles, the Bears have a mountain to climb.

Spencer Golanka is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @sgolanka.