Takeaways: Cal Wins With Defense, 27-16

Trace Travers, Publisher
Golden Bear Report
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Stan Szeta - USA Today

BERKELEY - This was a change, the antithesis of the Pac-12 After Dark movement that was emblematic of Cal football over the past through years, it was a defense that made plays when it was needed, dropping Shea Patterson to the tune of five sacks. The offense came through just enough, including with a monster 4th and 1 conversion, with a punishing block from Malik McMorris to spring Enwere.

It wasn't perfect, every part of the game had issues, but that's the thing. When you have a defensive group that's confident, can be dominating at times, knows where to be for tackling, and can confuse quarterbacks with shifting coverages and twisting blitzes, the term 'small margin for error' suddenly doesn't need to be bandied about. It was done against a team that Cal was last year, an uptempo passing offense with a ton of talent at the wide receiver and QB spot, and signaled that the Justin Wilcox era is in full swing in Berkeley.

Defensively:

Devante Downs may be in the running for another Pac-12 Defensive Player of the week award, with a 14 tackle, 3 TFLs, 2 sacks, 1 INT, and one QB hurry. He had the game sealing sack, he made explosive plays, and he looks completely rejuvenated in the 3-4.

Cameron Goode was used as a spy on multiple occasions, which worked well especially on the pick-six. Goode looked great in his role, keeping Shea Patterson contained as the Bears held Ole Miss scoreless in the second half, their second straight second half shutout and Ole Miss's first half without points since November 22, 2014 vs. Arkansas.

Cam Bynum had the two big pass breakups, but Darius Allensworth may have earned back some playing time with a fantastic performance after Marloshawn Franklin was pulled, Josh Drayden cramped, and Elijah Hicks was behind on a near miss to DK Metcalf. Franklin did force the INT by Downs with the tip off the slant

Great work by the defensive staff to mix up the twists, after a while making Shea Patterson hesitate and stay in the pocket for way too long, leading to a few of the sacks/scrambles

- Ole Miss had 29 carries for 53 yards

- Cal scored 14 points off three turnovers, turnover count is at 9 so far for the year. Sack count is also at 9 for the year

- Issues with the first two 70+ yard plays, but after that Ole Miss had no explosive plays, only three for the game

- Traveon Beck played incredibly well during his time in at the nickel

Offensive:

Ross Bowers continued his tradition of getting knocked sometime into next week on touchdown throws, making a tough throw to Wharton for his sole passing touchdown of the evening. Bowers was far from perfect, with a bad interception to his name, but he's tough as nails, trying to dive for a first down on 3rd and 5, where the Bears ended up getting a 1st down due to awareness of Ole Miss having an extra man on the field.

Kanawai Noa made a number of plays today on 3rd and 4th down with 6 receptions for 81 yards. He's been clutch in practice, now he's being clutch in games. Gavin Reinwald is also being used in a clutch 3rd down role

Lots of receivers with drops today. Needs plenty of work, but that's fixable. Good work from Brandon Singleton today, as wideouts had a solid day even without Demetris Robertson.

In the running game, Pat Laird kept on with his strong with his performance, scoring the first touchdown and staying up despite being knocked off balance. Kudos to Vic Enwere, who had been in need of a 'come to Jesus' talk after last week, as he made a monster run on 4th and 1. He does need to convert on 3rd and 1 close to the goal line however.

Both the Cal guards were out by the end of the game. Both Ryan Gibson and Gentle Williams stepped in without a problem, helping Cal work out the game, though the Bears need to convert in the red zone, not settling for field goals. They only allowed a sack, even with the OL rotation.

Special Teams:

- Klumph punted well, 45.8 yard average

- Anderson missing two field goals, sending them both wide left, is almost unheard of.

- No real returns today, lot of up the middle stuff in the kickoff return game.

Odds and Ends:

- Ole Miss came into the game having outscored teams 48-3 in the 3rd quarter, Cal won it 10-0

- Ole Miss averaged 3.3 yards per play after going up 16-7 in the second quarter

- Pat Laird already has more rushing touchdowns than a running back did a year ago

- First start for Elijah Hicks, won't be the last, but more Allensworth will be seen in the coming weeks

- Cal held Ole Miss scoreless for 43 minutes.

It was one of the best defensive performances seen out of a Cal defense in a long time, and seems to be a harbinger of things to come.

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