Cal Football: Bears' Loss to Arizona State Felt Like More Than One Defeat
It was only one loss, but it felt like so much more.
Cal is still 4-1, including 1-1 in the Pac-12, after Friday night’s 24-17 loss at home to Arizona State (4-1, 1-1).
But you could tell from coach Justin Wilcox’s postgame demeanor that this was not your typical one-score loss.
He was in a word – pissed.
And that was mostly directed at his defense, which had been the strength of the team for the past year and half but let the team down against Arizona State.
The bigger issue was the loss of quarterback Chase Garber, who had been 10-4 as the Bears starting quarterback before Friday. He left the game late in the second quarter of a 7-7 game with what appeared to be a right arm or shoulder injury and did not return. There is no immediate prognosis, but he had his arm in a sling in the second half and it did not look good.
Here's a video of the play on which Garbers was injured:
And this comes just when Garbers was blooming into a solid quarterback. He had the best game of his career last week against Mississippi, and he was 9-for-12 for 117 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions on Friday before he was tripped up and landed on his right arm with 1:15 left in the first half. He had the team driving for another score when he was injured.
In came Devon Modster, a transfer from UCLA. Obviously it was a difficult situation for Modster, but the results were not good. He finished 5-for-14 for just 23 yards and an interception. The pick came in the final seconds of the first half, after the Bears had advanced to the ASU 20-yard line and seemed to have some points in hand.
The Bears’ only touchdown of the second half came on a drive in which all 12 plays were runs. The only other score came on a 0-yards drive that ended with a 47-yard field goal after Cal had recovered a fumble on the ASU 30.
On Cal’s four fourth-quarter possessions, the Bears amassed a grand total of 11 yards and 0 first downs.
“I think I played terrible,” Modster said. “I could have done a lot better.”
Extended highlights of Friday's game:
Wilcox is hopeful some practice time will help.
“Devon can play better,” Wilcox said, “and he will -- if need be.”
Wilcox was less forgiving of his defense, and you can feel the anger in this video.
“Poor tackling,” Wilcox said. “Bad leverage, bad finish, Showed up on defense. Showed up on special teams. Poor tackling.
“We had tackling issues last week. We got to do a better job, starting with me.”
Wilcox was not pleased with his team’s pass rush either.
Arizona State freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels was 14-of-24 for 174 yards and no interceptions, but he also ran for 84 yards, mostly on scrambles.
“Well,” said Wilcox, “when he buys time in the pass game and you’re in zone coverage, it’s hard to cover for eight seconds.”
ASU running back Eno Benjamin added 100 rushing yards – the first Cal opponent to reach the 100-yard mark this season.
Cal linebacker Evan Weaver had 15 tackles, but he was just as annoyed as his coach.
He had a simple word for the Bears’ defensive performance: “Horrible,” he said, then added after a pause, “didn’t play good. They outplayed us, out-schemed us. We just got to make plays, and we didn’t make ‘em.”
Check out this video to catch all of Weaver’s disappointment and his challenge to his teammates.
And all this comes a week before the Bears travel to Eugene, Ore., to face 13th-ranked Oregon, which has a bye this weekend, giving the Ducks two weeks to prepare for a Cal team that has issues.
Here is a video of Arizona State coach Herm Edwards' postcame comments: