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Cal Football: Bears Not Protecting Their QB and That Could Have Long-Term Consequences

Senior Jack Plummer, sacked 16 times this season, appeared to be injured late vs. WSU.

Justin Wilcox doesn’t know what’s next. No way he could.

“No reports yet. I haven’t even talked to the trainers,” the Cal coach said, when asked about the status of quarterback Jack Plummer, who apparently injured his right knee late in the Bears’ 28-9 loss at Washington State.

“We’ll have some more information early in the week.”

The Bears have a bye this week before their next game, Oct. 15 at Colorado, the Pac-12’s worst team.

Will Plummer be the Bears’ quarterback that day in Boulder? He had taken every snap for Cal all season until the final 3 minutes on Saturday.

Or will it be redshirt freshman Kai Miller? He took the first snaps of his college career after Plummer limped off the field for the second — and final — time.

Plummer, the senior transfer from Purdue, will have two weeks to heal up. Because we have no official injury report — and may never get one — there is no way to know how serious his injury might be.

Plummer took a pretty good beating at the hands of a quick and aggressive WSU defense, which sacked him four times and hit him repeatedly as he released passes.

“As an offensive lineman, your job is to protect your quarterback. Anytime that happens, that doesn’t feel good,” senior offensive guard Matthew Cindric said. “We obviously don’t want him to get hit. We definitely have to look ourselves in the mirror and say what can we do to not let that happen anymore.”

The Bears shuffled their offensive line after the loss at Notre Dame, and the new-look quintet performed well last week in the 49-31 win over Arizona.

No sacks allowed, seven touchdowns.

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Against WSU, four sacks and one touchdown.

We’re left to wonder if the difference simply is that Arizona’s defense isn’t much of a threat . . . and that Cal’s O-line actually didn’t make real improvement.

In the Bears’ other four games, Plummer has been sacked 16 times, an average of four times per game. Entering this week, only four FBS teams nationally were surrendering more than four sacks per game.

Wilcox said the pass protection has to improve. He also cited run blocking, staying ahead of the chains for more favorable third downs, and running the ball better. “Everything,” he said.

With 5:10 to play in the fourth quarter, and the game pretty much decided, Plummer was knocked to the turf by Brennan Jackson while throwing incomplete. It appeared his knee took the brunt of the hit, but he stayed in the game.

One play later, he was sacked by Nusi Malani, and again looked shaken by the play. But it was now fourth down, so he went to the sideline as punt team came on.

Less than a minute later, the Cal offense was back on the field. And Plummer was there, too. A couple plays later, having done all he could, Plummer was out, replaced by Millner.

“He battles unlike any quarterback really I’ve ever been with before. It’s awesome,” Cindric said. “Part of it sucks because we don’t want him to be in that position. We don’t want him to have to fight off the coaches to tell them he’s good (to stay in the game).

“We love that he fights for us, but we want to do our best to keep him as clean as possible.”

Once again Saturday, that didn’t happen.

Cover photo of Cal quarterback Jack Plummer by Jason Snook, USA Today

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo