Sun. Feb 5th, 2023

Coach Chip Kelly and his workers have spent the brief week scouting the Golden Bears, however they are not the one ones getting the within scoop on what’s been occurring in Berkeley.

With No. 18 UCLA soccer’s (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) street recreation at California (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) developing on Friday, All Bruins writer Sam Connon obtained solutions to probably the most urgent questions surrounding the season-ending showdown, courtesy of Cal Sports activities Report writer Jake Curtis.

Here’s what Curtis needed to say about Cal’s season to this point, the modifications on their teaching workers and affect of UCLA’s upcoming transfer to the Large Ten on their neighbors to the north:

Sam Connon: How scorching is Justin Wilcox’s seat now that Cal has formally posted three consecutive dropping seasons?

Jake Curtis: His seat is simply lukewarm, and there’s little probability of him being fired after this season. He earned some fairness with the individuals who depend when he turned down the provide to be Oregon’s head coach final December. Extra importantly, on Jan. 1, 2022 Wilcox signed a contract extension that covers six years, lasting two extra years than his contract on the time. The extension runs by the 2027 season, and if he had been terminated now the varsity would nonetheless owe him within the neighborhood of $17 million. A college as financially strapped as Cal would have a tough time rationalizing that payout.

Moreover, the fan ire was not directed at Wilcox as a lot because it was in opposition to offensive coordinator Invoice Musgrave, as a result of Cal’s offense has been horrible with him in cost. Wilcox might have solved that public-relations concern by firing Musgrave final week. It was the primary time Wilcox fired an assistant coach, and there’s the sensation, although unconfirmed, that some people larger up the command chain might have pressured Wilcox to fireplace Musgrave.

SC: With so many negatives dominating the dialog round Cal’s offense this season, how a lot of a shiny spot has Jadyn Ott’s breakout been?

JC: When Ott rushed for 274 yards in opposition to Arizona within the fourth recreation of the season, Cal individuals had been abuzz with this outstanding freshman. They thought that they had the subsequent Barry Sanders. However when he did not rush for greater than 70 yards in any of the subsequent six video games, the hoopla pale. A lot of his current struggles have been attributable to poor offensive-line play, and folk like me are questioning whether or not that deficiency up entrance might trigger Ott to consider transferring.

SC: What has the transition from Chase Garbers to Jack Plummer been like this 12 months, and the way has the offense modified with no quarterback who’s able to working the ball?

JC: Actually Plummer is just not as cell as Garbers, who set a faculty report for profession dashing yards by a quarterback. That removes a number of components from the playbook, though Plummer has gained some yardage on deliberate quarterback runs.

Nonetheless, Plummer is, in my view, a greater passer than Garbers, particularly on his deep balls. He’s extra decisive within the pocket that Garbers, who would wait and wait. However the mobility is an element, a part of the rationale Plummer has been sacked 31 instances. That’s not dramatically greater than final 12 months, when Cal allowed 25 sacks. With higher offensive-line play Plummer could possibly be an elite quarterback. After all, you might say that about a number of quarterbacks.

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The query round right here is whether or not he’ll return in 2023 as a result of he has one other 12 months of school eligibility. He admitted that Wilcox’s alternative of the subsequent offensive coordinator might have an effect on his determination.

SC: The place do Cal followers stand on the stakes of this 12 months’s rivalry recreation with UCLA, given the Bruins’ impending transfer to the Large Ten?

JC: The UCLA or USC recreation (whichever is in Berkeley) is at all times the second-biggest recreation on the Cal schedule from a fan-interest standpoint (behind the Stanford recreation). I might think about Cal followers are discussing the Bruins’ transfer to the Large Ten and the direct affect it might need on Cal, and hoping that the Bruins can by some means be stored within the Pac-12.

There’s some annoyance on the UCLA transfer, as a result of the notion is that UCLA left whereas leaving its Pac-12 UC brother behind. However I anticipate that the Bruins can be booed solely barely greater than ordinary after they take the sphere Friday.

Cal followers will merely miss not having UCLA on the schedule anymore in each soccer and basketball. This isn’t a rivalry recreation for Cal like Cal-Stanford is for the Bears or USC-UCLA is for the Bruins. Even with the Bruins’ anticipated departure, it won’t be a rivalry within the “Large Sport” sense.

SC: Can the firings of Invoice Musgrave and Angus McClure present a spark for this Cal offense down the stretch or was that purely a transfer for the longer term?

JC: There was hope it could mild a late-season fireplace, and a change in play-calling was noticeable when the Bears referred to as passes on their first 14 performs in opposition to Stanford, although the Cardinal might have the worst run protection within the nation.

Nonetheless, the offense scored simply 20 factors, and 7 of these got here on a 9-yard drive following an interception. There’s the idea that Cal’s offense can be extra aggressive in opposition to UCLA than it had been beneath Invoice Musgrave, however I don’t consider there’s any expectation that the Bears can be scoring 40 factors.

The following offensive coordinator rent is crucial for Wilcox’s future. He has swung and missed together with his first two hires, Beau Baldwin and Musgrave. When Musgrave was employed the belief was that, with all his NFL expertise, Cal’s offense would come alive. It by no means occurred, and a few ponder whether the Bears can ever have a powerful offense with the gamers it’s recruiting. The important thing, after all, is touchdown an elite quarterback.

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Learn extra UCLA tales: UCLA Bruins on Sports activities Illustrated
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