Cal Football: Bears Facing Quarterback Challenges on Offense & Defense

It seemed like quarterback Jayden Daniels was constantly eluding Cal's defense.Photo by Darren Yamashita, USA Today

Jeff Faraudo

Cal’s defense is about to have a quarterback problem. His name is Justin Herbert and he has thrown nine career touchdown passes against the Golden Bears.

Cal’s offense has its own quarterback problem. His name is Chase Garbers, and we don’t know when he might throw his next touchdown pass.

The Bears, sure to tumble from their No. 15 AP Top-25 rating after Friday night’s 24-17 loss to Arizona State, now turn their attention to No. 13 Oregon, which enjoys a bye week before hosting Cal next Saturday at Eugene.

This was going to be a difficult assignment for Cal (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) in any case. The Ducks (3-1, 1-0) have won nine of the past 10 times the teams have met.

But the waters are muddied for the Bears after an injury to Garbers for which we have no definitive word but that appeared potentially serious. He was tripped while scrambling late in the second quarter, landed hard on his right arm and shoulder and was next seen emerging from the locker room with his arm in a sling.

Coach Justin Wilcox offered no details, promising an update on Monday.

Here is a video of Garbers' injury:

Without Garbers, who was coming off the best game of his career, the Bears went to Devon Modster. And the UCLA transfer couldn’t get it done. Cal scored 10 points with Modster running the offense, but he did not complete a pass during either of the scoring drives.

Modster called his performance “terrible,” and it certainly wasn’t worth framing. He completed five of 14 attempts for 23 yards and threw an interception in the end zone with 10 seconds left in the first half of a tie game.

Cal’s four possessions in the fourth quarter netted 11 yards.

“I can play a lot better,” Modster said.

Few college quarterbacks play better than Herbert, projected as a possible top-5 pick in the 2020 NFL draft. He threw six touchdowns at Berkeley as a freshman in 2016 then broke his collarbone against the Bears a year later.

He’s healthy this season and has 14 touchdown passes and no interceptions.

Cal linebacker Evan Weaver called the matchup vs. Oregon “really interesting.”

He also said the Bears were “horrible” defensively on Friday and better get it together quickly.

“They have a good atmosphere and a great quarterback and a great coach,” he said. “If we play like we did today we’re going to get run out of the building, quite honestly.”

Weaver was just warming up.

He challenged his teammates to move on from the ASU defeat, fight the urge to feel sorry for themselves and be ready to prepare for the Ducks.

"If guys aren't ready to work, then I don't want them to be here," he said. "If they don't want to win the next game and win as many as we can, they'd better not walk through this door on Monday.

“If people show up Monday feeling down on themselves, like they deserved to win this game . . . no one deserves to win any game. We didn’t deserve to win this game because we didn’t play well.”

(Click here for a video of Weaver's comments.)

Specifically, coach Justin Wilcox cited poor tackling and an inability to contain dual-threat freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels, who passed for 174 yards and rushed for 84 more.

Weaver has seen this scenario before and he’s determined the Bears will write a different ending this. In 2017 and ’18, they opened the season 3-0 then lost three in a row.

“We lose a game, we fall of a cliff,” he said. “We can’t do that this year and we won’t. We’re going to put our energy where it needs to be and get everything right and we’re going to be better than we were this week.”