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Cal Football

Players Support Wilcox's Decision To Go For Two

October 21, 2017
3,232

It's the age-old question in college football: Kick the extra point for the tie or go for two and the win?

Cal head coach Justin Wilcox chose the latter Saturday Night, ultimately paying the price in a 45-44 double-overtime loss to Arizona.

There will surely be second-guessing among fans - there always is - but Wilcox and his players stood by the decision.

"Based on what was happening, I felt like it was the best chance for us to win the game," Wilcox said. "We'd been doing good things offensively most of the night, other than the turnovers. I just felt like that was the best chance for us to win... I would do it again. You can dispute it, but I would do it again."

Added running back Vic Enwere: "I do like it. That says he has confidence in us. As a player you can respect that - a guy can look you in the eye and say, 'I believe in you.' That (means) a lot and I appreciate that."

"I'm glad he has confidence in us," said running back Patrick Laird, who carried a career-high 28 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns. "I appreciate it as an offensive player that we have a chance to win the game."

Wilcox hinted that he might have elected to kick the extra point if his defense was playing better. Arizona scored two touchdowns on a total of three plays in the two overtime periods. Zach Green ran for a 25-yard touchdown in the first overtime and Khalil Tate hit Bryce Wolma for a 22-yard score in the second OT.

"If it was a different style of game, it might have been a different decision," Wilcox acknowledged. "We didn't play well enough, especially on defense, to win the game today."

"I felt like (going for two) was the best decision for the team," added linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk, who notched a career-high 14 tackles, including two for loss. "We play to win, and that's what we did tonight. Unfortunately we came up short, but we're all for the decision."

As for the actual play, the Bears spread out five wide receivers, leaving Ross Bowers alone in the backfield. Against a four-man rush, Bowers fired over the middle to Jordan Duncan in the back of the end zone, but Arizona freshman linebacker Colin Schooler knocked it away.

"We had a little pump-and-go to our third receiver," said Bowers, who finished 29-of-49 for 301 yards, two touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, and two interceptions. "I thought I could maybe get around the edge and run, and at the last second I threw it. It was just unfortunate that they made more plays than we did. On that play, it kind of showed what the whole game was like."

"It wasn't the two-point play that decided the game," added Wilcox. "Obviously that's the one that stands out. It's the last play and there's a lot riding on it. But there were so many plays in the game, and we're not in that position if we can make them."

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate continued his torrid pace, rushing for 137 yards and a touchdown, and passing for 166 yards and two scores. Zach Green carried 20 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns, as the Wildcats rushed for 345 yards as a team, averaging 7.5 yards per carry.

"(Tate) is a really good player, really fast, really explosive," said Kunaszyk. "We missed a couple of plays on him and he made us pay for it. Credit to Arizona. Credit to him. They're a really good team and unfortunately we came up short."

"He's a really talented athlete," added Wilcox. "We struggled to get him on the ground. We didn't play with great leverage, especially in the first half. We missed some tackles. We missed some run fits. Against an explosive guy like that, you can't do that."

Cal Athletics

So where do the Bears go from here? Two-thirds of the way through the season, Cal sits at 4-4, needing just two wins in their last four games to become bowl eligible. That process begins next Saturday at Colorado. But until then, this loss will sting.

"Our locker room is filled with guys who care," said Enwere. "And if you walk into that locker room right now, you would see about 150 guys who are torn because we care."

Discussion from...

Players Support Wilcox's Decision To Go For Two

chazzed
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I also like the aggressiveness, and we came tantalizingly close to a memorable victory. Props to the entire team for erasing the 14-point deficit after half-time.
blungld
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Great effort, accountability, and attitude. One of the very few times in years I was able to enjoy and appreciate a game even though we lost. Can't ask for more than what they give.Go Bears!
Boot
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This will help the program in the long run.
TomBear
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All of the above. Plus, I think the defense was more fatigued than the offense, and that last overtime score made by Arizona was indicative of that. The players understand how important a coach showing confidence is. And despite the loss, I do think this will help the team in the future. They fought hard, seemed to give all they had, and lost with a great effort. Coming back TWICE from 14 down..........there is no quit in this team.
heartofthebear
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I didn't see it, but on the radio broadcast it sounded like the play worked.
Duncan had it in his hands but it got knocked away before he could secure it.
So it required a great defensive play.
The majority of the time that conversion on that play would work.

At the present rate, this team and this coaching staff is on a trajectory where they will be winning most of these type of 50-50 calls.

So I'm glad that Wilcox said he'd do it again.
I'm also glad that he isn't happy with the overall play of the team.
Like against Oregon, the defense got gashed by the speed of the opposing team's running game.
Turnovers and penalties also contributed to the loss.

I expect, just like the Oregon>>>WSU turnaround, that the team will have a fire lit under them during the week and will be so fired up for Colorado that the effects of the altitude won't really matter much.

The offense has now put together 2 solid performances back to back.
And the defense can be relied upon to bounce back.

The one concerning factor is if Colorado takes care of the ball. We don't do so well if we can't get TOs.
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