Slow start, strong finish
The Bears seemed struck by first game jitters, with the offense opening the game to back-to-back three and outs culminating in sacks. Things went from bad to worse on Cal’s third offensive possession, with new starting QB Jack Plummer throwing an untimely interception. The Aggies, meanwhile, found their rhythm, scoring the game’s opening TD.
By the end of the first quarter, not only did the Bears not have any first downs, they didn’t even have any completed passes. It’s difficult to imagine a tougher start to the season. Some of it could be a sign of troubles to come: the weakness of Cal’s offensive line was a recurring issue all game that could doom it against stronger opponents. But for the most part, it seemed to be simply a case of new faces taking time to settle in.
But by the time the second quarter began, the Bears were back in business. Cal’s offense woke up to score 17 in the quarter, while the defense, not to be outdone, pitched a shutout. The Bears finished the game with a comfortable 34-13 victory, putting a nightmare first quarter in the rearview mirror. New faces needing time to adjust may have been the reason for Cal’s initial struggles, but those same new faces ultimately led the way on the Bears’ victory.
New Bears, who dis
There was a lot that was new in Memorial Stadium on this sunny Saturday: A remodeled concourse with new food options, tarps covering the south end zone, remodeled video boards, added suites and the removal of Pac-12 flags after the conference’s collapse this summer.
But the biggest change was on the field, with more than half of Cal’s starters from last season moving on. Their replacements arrived today, and performed strongly. On defense, Washington transfer linebacker Jackson Sirmon led the Bears with eight tackles, while freshman CB Jeremiah Earby recorded an interception. On offense, the new core of wide receivers helped lead the way, capped off by a 78 yard, 1 TD game from Jeremiah Hunter.
The performance should of course be taken with a grain of salt. Davis is a far cry from the elite Pac-12 opponents the Bears will be facing in just a few short weeks. But still, there were some encouraging performances from new Bears, including one clear standout.
Cal’s Game MVP
Perhaps the most anticipated of any of the new Bears was freshman 4-star RB Jadyn Ott, Cal’s highest-ranked offensive recruit since 2017. In his first game in the blue and gold, Ott didn’t disappoint. With Plummer taking time to settle in early, Ott was given opportunities to run, and he took them.
Ott ended the game with 17 runs for 104 yards and a receiving TD. He moved the pile every time he took the ball, showcasing speed, shiftiness and power. He looks like he could be a force for Cal, this season and beyond.
23-35 for 268 yards and 3 TD’s. Those were Plummer’s stats on the day. The big question entering today’s game was how Plummer would perform. The Purdue transfer provided some answers. There were rough spots to be sure. Ending the first quarter with no completions, no first downs and one interception was surely not the start Plummer was imagining to his Cal career. He had a couple overthrows throughout the game too.
But his overall performance is something Cal fans should be satisfied with. After settling in, Plummer demonstrated composure, a strong arm and even some elusiveness — his eleven yard scramble for a first down was one of the most electric plays of the game. And his final counting stats are nothing to brush away. Plummer proved that he is a quarterback Cal can win with. How he’s complemented by the players around him may ultimately determine the results.
The Bears will be back in action next Saturday against UNLV in Memorial Stadium as they continue their non-conference slate. Similar to Davis, the matchup should be a good opportunity for the many new Bears to get comfortable with the playbook, and is ultimately a game that they should win. The road trip one week later to take on Notre Dame in South Bend will likely be the first big test for Cal this season.