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And In That Corner … Unbeaten Cal Bears head to Notre Dame as two-score underdogs Things We Learned: Notre Dame OL’s second-half surge against Cal a step forward despite ‘a long way to go’ Highlights: Notre Dame 24, Cal 17 — A chaotic final minute, a repeated play call and late-game dominance from the Irish defensive line Notre Dame defense, RB Audric Estime push Irish past Cal in miscue-filled afternoon Notre Dame vs Cal: Time, TV, Preview & Prediction as Irish seek first win of Freeman Era

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Notre Dame hasn’t faced Cal for 55 years, but that’s hardly the reason the Bears are largely unknown to Irish fans. A poor start to the season at Notre Dame has left most Irish fans looking ahead to the approaching rivals.

To fix it Let’s talk to Alex Simon from Mercury News.

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JF: A couple of weeks ago, I know what I was thinking about Cal. I got it, head coach Justin Wilcox will no doubt piece together another solid defense, probably struggling to find offensive competence without a quarterback. Chase Garbers. After all, this has been a common theme for the Bears for four years now. But to be completely honest, I haven’t watched a single Cal in the last two weeks. Notre Dame was a distraction, and the Bears beating UC Davis at the FCS level and then eluding UNLV never got my full attention. So, for starters, is my conclusion in line with your pre-season expectations?

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A.S.: Yes, I agree with this point of view. While the staff had to change, Wilcox kept the offensive staff led by the coordinator Bill Musgrave. Garbers has been a starter for a *long* time compared to college football, and yet the Bears have barely averaged 21 points per game in four seasons as a regular. What the Bears would have looked like without the double threat that Garbers represented (he had rushed over 1,000 yards in his career) was a big mystery.

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And wait, what now? Cal barely defeated UNLV? The Rebels are one of the worst teams in the Mountain West. Even for mediocre bears, a win over UNLV 20-14 can be alarming. Settling two field goals within the 15-yard line doesn’t help matters, nor does missing another field goal deep in Rebel territory and intercepting in the red zone. Failures like this bring the game closer than it needs to be, and in their own way, they inspire a vague optimism to move forward. Should be? Were Cal’s attempts to finish the races typical of the weekend, or were they the result of a disappointing violation that I had long expected?

There is definitely an element to this disappointing offense, although they moved the ball well in their first two passes (which resulted in touchdowns each). But there were signs of a struggle in the first week as Cal only lost once in the first four runs against UC Davis at the FCS level and didn’t score until halfway through the second quarter. While they got off to a fast start against the Rebels, finishing with two touchdowns and 20 points in five reds against this opponent is worrying.

What offensive solutions can the Bears come up with? Despite the 2-0 draw and all sorts of turmoil, Notre Dame’s defense has actually played pretty well this season. Marshall was able to run better than anyone expected, but that was partly because the game stayed as close as it was. Meanwhile, Cal rushed for 121 yards for 28 carries (adjusted for sacks) against UNLV. Quick check confirms my recollection that the Bears’ ground game is mediocre while UNLV’s run defense is pretty dull. Is there any hope that Cal will be the third team to come through the Irish?

It’s unlikely that Cal can handle the ball that well, but if the Bears do, it’s most likely thanks to their freshman superstar Jadyn Ott. He is currently averaging 6.5 yards per carry and 8.4 yards per catch in two games. And it’s not like it’s all from one big game – his longest scrimmage game is just 23 yards. Those numbers and the three touchdowns he scored helped earn him Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors in both games. Although they relied a lot on their transfer quarterback (who we’ll discuss shortly), Ott is the guy who can make the most difference.

So Bear protection, Wilcox’s speciality. It’s vague to ask where he’s weakest? The Notre Dame offense has yet to find anything that works this season, and now it needs to recalibrate to some degree with the junior quarterback. Drew Pine replace damaged starter Tyler Buechner. You have to think that this week he will come up with just beating Cal and not completely reinventing himself, so what will most likely beat Cal?

Efficient running game. The Bears have stubbornly defended the passing game under Wilcox year after year, but so far they have been weaker in the running game. They also lost one of their best defenders, the quarterback. Brett Johnson, to injury before the season. Cal had some very good defenders and linebackers under Wilcox, but if Notre Dame’s offensive line can get some push, the Bears front will surely be where they can hit them hardest.

Wilcox has been heavily dependent on transfer guard Purdue this season. Jack Plummer (25 of 36 for 187 yards and a touchdown against Notre Dame last September). Wilcox reportedly had a chance to become Oregon’s head coach during the offseason. One of these situations seems preferable to the other, so on a macro level, what does Wilcox think here?

It’s honestly hard to draw a conclusion, especially considering that Wilcox is an Oregon graduate and his entire family (dad, uncle, brothers) played for the Ducks. But according to a February report by ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura and Adam Rittenburg.Oregon wanted to put terms and conditions on Wilcox’s employment that required certain employees to be hired or retained. Even if Oregon were the best job on paper, the specific work environment seems to have made Wilcox realize that complete and total control over his Berkeley program—even with its flaws—is better than Eugene’s. But the main question is: is Berkeley better than the next discovery that shows interest in Wilcox?

The last couple of seasons have been tough for the Bears. To put it mildly, the lack of harmony between the football program, the university as a whole, and the city of Berkeley has meant that the effects of the pandemic could be felt more drastically in the Cal program than in any other program at the FBS level. They had to postpone a game last season, the only Power Five team to do so in 2021. What is the long-term direction for the Bears?

Whatever you read from people, it almost certainly involves playing football. But at what level of commitment? This will continue to be an issue, especially as UCLA’s public system collegiate school prepares to enter the Big Ten along with USC. Pack-1210 would help stay together or add a few schools, but where Cal fits in, it seems to be on the bottom (or lowest) level of passion for football, with little support from local institutions. There is a level of autonomy that a California head football coach can have in his program (something that could keep Wilcox alive for now), but several national college football experts have said it is possibly the least desirable Power Five head coaching position in the world. . sport. So even though Wilcox struggled to build an offense, he was good enough in Cal’s eyes to get a contract extension. As my colleague John Wilner wrote on the Pac-12 hotline: “If coaching contracts were based on the frequency of school-induced headaches, Wilcox would have a contract for life.”

Enough macro. Let’s go back to micro. The undefeated Bears are underdogs with 11 points against Notre Dame without a win. Now there is a verdict. Anyway, how do you think Saturday will go?

Notre Dame has a ton of questions for you to answer all week. But even with Pine getting the upper hand and Notre Dame with little offensive momentum, Notre Dame must have the talent to dribble and score against Cal. In defense, the Irish have a real chance to play and keep the other opponent’s low score. This could be the third low game in a row from the Irish, but I would take Notre Dame to win 24-10.

Marcus FreemanThe verb tense coincided with the present, and it is no coincidence that this happened right after Notre Dame (1-2) took the first victory of their head coaching career, defeating Cal, 24-17.

“We are an O-line, D-line driven program,” Freeman said Saturday. “You have to be able to control the ball, but you can’t just say that’s what we’re going to do, that’s all. You have to be able to adjust to what works and what gives you offense or defense.”

A week ago, Freeman had to formulate his wishes for the program with an “if” specification. In the first half against the Bears, it looked like this would again take place in offense, although the biggest problems of the offensive line early on were repeated false starts, not failure…


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