Instant analysis/reaction: Bruins pummel Bears, win 14-42

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Antonio Martin/Staff

Key Takeaways

The run game still reigns supreme — for both teams

The Bears and Bruins had one thing in common coming into tonight’s matchup: Both squads had more rushing attempts than passing attempts on the season. Cal has been finding its groove in the run game recently, picking up over 200 yards rushing in the Bears last three games (excluding the Arizona debacle). It’s clear that Cal wants to impose its will on opposing defenses, and the run game is just the way to do it.

UCLA’s pressure heavy defense gave the Bears fits

The UCLA defense, statistically, is not very good. Allowing over 27 points per game and over 400 total yards per game, this looked like a great matchup for a Cal team that was rolling in the back half of the season. But it was not the pretty matchup it should have been. Part of this was due to UCLA’s tendency to send straight up blitzes of five or six defenders, but the Bruins also showed a lot of ‘simulated pressures’ — or pre-snap defenses that look like blitzes, but end up being more standard coverages. While this may seem advantageous for the offense, it actually can cause just as many issues as the real blitz. This was the case tonight when Cal did encounter a simulated pressure look.

The Cal defense reverted to its early season form

Much was made of the Bears poor defense early on in the season, but as the weeks went along they seemed to get right back into their ways, stifling several Pac-12 opponents. But tonight Cal had trouble in just about every single aspect of defense. Poor tackling, poor coverage and a lack of grit on the defensive side of the ball led to UCLA putting up well over 400 yards of total offense and surrendering 42 points. 

Cal’s game MVP

Not applicable. It was a really, really rough night for the Bears all around. 

Eye-opening stats

The first team to 21 points is now 45-1 in the Justin Wilcox era at Cal. This is an absolutely mind-boggling stat, and speaks to both Cal’s ability to hold a lead when they get it, but also speaks to their inability to gain ground on opponents when the Bears aren’t off to a perfect start. This is an issue that’s hard to address, but it is something that Cal is going to want to take a look at when considering what the plan should be in 2022. 

Looking Forward

With tonight’s loss, the Bears will officially not be going bowling this season. There was a slim chance that a 5-7 Cal team would be able to make a bowl game, but after 82 teams clinched bowl eligibility this afternoon, there will be no postseason activities for the Bears. Cal has one final game: USC at home, where it will honor the seniors that have played such a pivotal role in the program over the last four (or five, or six or even seven years). While there may not be real stakes to play for, the Bears will certainly want to win for the seniors.

Jesse Stewart covers football. Contact him at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @jessedstew.