ANALYSIS: Apple Turnover

ANALYSIS: Apple Turnover

How much is one turnover worth? How many points did Cal leave off the board on Saturday? Ken Clampett breaks down just where the Bears went wrong on offense.

BERKELEY -- "Whoever wins the turnover battle wins the game," -- an overused cliché, but the truest statement in football.

In Saturday's 44-22 loss to Washington State, California officially committed 5 turnovers -- 3 via fumble. Add on 3 more possessions, which ended on fourth down, and the Bears offense wound up with 8 offensive possessions wasted, with no points and a short field for Connor Halliday and the Washington State offense.
YardlineDownDistancePlayEnsuing ResultEnsuing ScorePoint swing
WSU 52GLasco fumble, recovered by WSU at 8 yard lineWSU 35-yard TD Pass7-0 WSU10/14
WSU 13GBigelow fumble recovered by WSU at 2 yad lineWSU Safety14-25
Cal 26218Goff intercepted by WSU at WSU 27, returned to Cal 26Missed FGWSU 14-120
WSU 3341Goff pass tipped at LOSWSU 72-yard TD PassWSU 35-1510
WSU 3749Goff pass INC for HarperWSU Field GoalWSU 41-223
KO  Bigelow fumble at Cal 10WSU turnover on downWSU 41-220
Cal 2746Goff pass INC for Lawler (drop)WSU Field GoalWSU 44-223
Cal 4139Kline intercepted by WSU, returned to Cal 42WSU kneeWSU 44-220


Cal's 22-point loss makes a bit more sense, when viewed through the lens of the point swings caused by those changed possessions. While assuming point swings is essentially just speculating and guessing, it is easy to see that California left plenty of points off of the scoreboard. Even if the Bears pick up only a field goal on their first drive of the game, one could see how Cal turnovers could have resulted in a 30-point swing in Washington State's favor.

That first turnover was devastating. With the offense driving at the Cougars five-yard line, running back Daniel Lasco took his eye off of the football and let it hit the turf. Like seemingly every other Bears fumble this year, the ball wound up in the opponents' hands. A threat five yards away from a seven-point lead resulted in nothing, and Washington State quickly drove down the field and instead found themselves up by a touchdown after a 35-yard pass to Vince Mayle. Instead of being up 3-0 or even 7-0, the Cal found itself with a deficit. At that point, it was all catching up.

The second turnover was just as devastating, even when it still resulted in Bears points. With first-and-goal at the WSU one-yard line, and a chance to cut the Cougars' 14-0 lead in half, the Bears repeatedly tried to get running back Brendan Bigelow the football on dive plays to get into the end zone. The first two plays were stuffed, as an injury-riddled offensive line failed to give three feet of push to get the football across the goal line. On third down, the Cougars front not only broke through to contain Bigelow; they managed to get the ball out of his hands. For the Bears, first-and-goal at the one quickly turned into a Washington State football.

Though Cal's defense would eventually force a safety, the inability to get a push and find pay dirt on early offensive opportunities was costly. Instead of getting the game to within one possession, the Bears still trailed by 12.

The six turnovers that followed -- two interceptions, one fumble on a kickoff and three turnovers on downs -- resulted in another potential 16-point swing. It is a trend that continues after Cal committed five turnovers against No. 2 Oregon last week. At least against the Ducks, the Bears could point to a raging monsoon and the electric Autzen Stadium crowd as disrupting factors. Against the Cougars -- in perfect weather and a quiet homecoming crowd supporting them -- there is simply no excuse.

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