Gary Doran

Advanced Stats Report: Cal Bears


The Golden Bears from Berkeley will be the Devils first conference opponent in the 2016. This year, they will be without Jared Goff, the number one pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Even though the Golden Bears will be breaking in a new quarterback, it will be one that it will be one ASU has already seen before in Davis Webb, the Texas Tech transfer and 2013 Holiday Bowl MVP.

ASU and Cal have played 32 games starting in 1976, with Cal winning 17 games to ASU’s 15. Here are the series records by ASU coach:


Without Bruce Snyder’s tenure at ASU, Cal would hold a 16-8 edge. Additionally, up to the start of the 21st Century, ASU held a 12-8 advantage, but since that time, Cal has definitely dominated the series.

The table below also includes Cal’s 2013 stats, which was the last time Sonny Dykes broke in a new quarterback into his system: (2015 Record, Overall: 8-5 – Conference: 4-5)


– Even though the Cal run game produced almost 30 yards more per game in 2015 than in 2013, they dropped from ninth to eleventh in the conference in rushing yards per game
– In terms of average yards per carry, the third down ground game has improved each year under Sonny Dykes, however, when it’s short yardage, the averaged dropped to the lowest in the conference
– The ground game also produced 15 red zone touchdowns last year, whereas it produced only seven in 2013
– Last season, the Golden Bears scored ten touchdowns on the ground in their first four games and only six more in the remaining nine games
– In last year’s game against the Devils, the Golden Bears averaged 6.27 yards per carry; in 2012, it was 4.18
– Last year, the completion percentage for California decreased in each month of the season.
– In Jared Goff’s first season, the Golden Bear had 14 red zone touchdown passes, while last season the number doubled to 28
– In both 2013 and 2015, the Golden Bears were near the top of the conference in the number of first downs obtained via the pass
– Last season, Cal threw more interceptions than any other conference team. In the three seasons with Jared Goff as the signal caller, the Golden Bears threw 38 interceptions over 37 games
– In the last four games of the season in 2015, the Golden Bears threw for 19 touchdown passes and only one interception; in last four games of the 2013 season, it was eight touchdown passes and four  interceptions
– In all three years with Jared Goff as the Cal signal caller, there wasn’t any real difference in the completion percentage between the first and second half in their games
– The Golden Bear offense scored roughly 14 points more per game in 2015 than they did in 2013
– The Golden Bear offense went from last in the conference in third down conversions in 2013 to second last year
– Last year, Cal was fourth in the percentage of red zone touchdowns scored compared to red zone opportunities
– The Golden Bears have turned the ball over 71 times in Sonny Dykes 37-game tenure


– Last year when the Golden Bears played on the road, their defense averaged giving up more than two-  and-a-half rushing touchdowns per game, while at home it was only one per game
– Last year in road games, the Cal defense gave up an average of 5.65 yards per carry
– Each month of the season, the Cal defense gave up fewer and fewer rushing touchdowns
– In last year’s game against ASU, the Cal defense held the Devils to the second lowest yards per carry against conference opponents, with only WSU being lower
– In the fourth quarter, the Cal run defense gave up just under six yards per carry at 5.92, while it gave up 4.49 yards per carry in the other three quarters of the game
– In 2013 and 2014, the Cal run defense gave up the lowest yards per carry in the fourth quarter
– The Cal pass defense was its best on critical third down or red zone pass attempts, where it was third best   in the conference in allowing the percentage of completed passes in those situations
– In the first month of the 2015 season, the Cal pass defense intercepted nine passes in four games, whereas    in the remaining nine games the defense intercepted only six passes
– In the four conference games in October last year, the Cal defense allowed 71-percent of the pass attempts   to be completed; during all the other games last season, the defense allowed only 53-percent to be completed
– The Cal defense for 2015 allowed half the touchdown passes it allowed in the previous year (21/42).
– Only one conference team defense (Oregon State) saw fewer game pass attempts in conference games than the Golden Bear defense
– Last year, Cal was the ninth best team in the conference at limiting opponents from converting third down situations, however, that was an improvement over the three previous years where the team was no higher than eleventh
– Last year, the Cal defense was the four best in the conference at limiting the percentage of times opponents scored red zone touchdowns
– Last year, Cal had 27 total takeaways, which was the most they’ve recorded in a season since 2008


It’s hard to use last season’s passing numbers to try to project what this coming season will look like for the Golden Bear offense. The 2013 season may be a better indicator. In 2013, it seemed that the Golden Bears moved the ball up and down the field via the pass, but weren’t as efficient in the critical situations as this past season with a seasoned and elite passer at the helm. More than likely, the Cal offense will be able to move the ball through the air, yet it remains to be seen how efficient Davis Webb can be in a new offensive system.

As far as the run game goes in the Sonny Dykes era, it has always been in the lower tier of the conference, so it would be expected to be there again in 2016. On the bright side for the Golden Bears, each season the yards per carry have improved.

A real glaring issue for the Cal team under Dykes is the number of turnovers his teams have given away. If history is any indicator, one wouldn’t expect to see any drastic improvement in the number of turnovers this coming season.

Each year in the Sonny Dykes era, the Golden Bear defense has improved, and there’s still plenty of room for further improvement in the coming season. Last year the Cal defense did enough to help a potent offense. This year with a somewhat new offense, the defense may be called upon to do even better. Last season was the first time Cal has had a positive turnover margin since 2010 largely due to an increase in takeaways. Maybe that trend will continue into 2016.

Sources: and

About Gary Doran

Gary Doran

Gary graduated from ASU many years ago. After careers working in banking, finance and the financial administration of academic research funding, he is now interested in utilizing his passion for numbers towards two things he thoroughly loves; Arizona State University and college football. He is looking forward to finding the “stories” buried within the numbers on a football stat sheet. He has gone to ASU football games all the way back to the days of Frank Kush and the WAC. He has been married to an amazing ASU graduate for almost forty years, and they currently live in Ventura, CA. Although this may disqualify him from talking football, he and his wife enjoy the practice of yoga and dancing the Argentine Tango. Ole!

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