Host Arizona’s 20-game losing streak ended Saturday with a 10-3 win against a depleted California team that was without more than two dozen players who tested positive for COVID-19.
The Golden Bears were without starting quarterback Chase Garbers, three starters on the offensive line and three defensive starters. Five vaccinated assistant coaches — Andrew Browning (defensive line), Geep Chryst (tight ends), Keith Heyward (outside linebackers), Angus McClure (offensive line) and Tre Watson (defensive backs) — also tested positive and did not travel to Tucson for the game, a source told ESPN.
Cal announced Friday that 99% of its roster was vaccinated. A combination of positive tests and injuries left Cal with approximately 42 scholarship players, according to a source.
“We felt like if we could field a team, we wanted to come down and compete,” Cal coach Justin Wilcox said. “I thought the guys competed extremely hard across the board in every phase. A lot of guys playing their first action and I thought they competed really hard. We didn’t execute well enough to win the game, obviously.”
After a couple positive tests early in the week, the City of Berkeley required the entire team to be tested on Wednesday — including asymptomatic vaccinated individuals — which revealed the outbreak, the source said. It’s unclear when the players and coaches who tested positive will be allowed to return to the team.
“This is a City of Berkeley [process] and the [UC Berkeley administration are] the ones that relay the information to me,” Wilcox said. “I’ll be looking forward to sharing more at a later time. I don’t think this moment is the time to discuss that.”
With Garbers unavailable, Cal backup QB Ryan Glover, who joined the team in the summer after starting six games in the spring for Western Carolina, struggled. Without the staring left tackle, left guard and center, Glover completed just 11 of 29 passes for 94 yards. Cal managed just 28 yards rushing on 24 carries.
Cal’s decimated roster helped Arizona end the country’s longest losing streak.
“Obviously, this has been hard,” Arizona first-year coach Jedd Fisch said. “It’s a monkey on the back. You can’t avoid it, even if you want to.”
Arizona isn’t without its own availability issues. With the team’s top two quarterbacks (Jordan McCloud and Gunner Cruz) already out for the season, three quarterbacks (Will Plummer, Jamarye Joiner and Luke Ashworth) attempted at least one pass against Cal. Plummer accounted for all 16 completions and two interceptions, while Ashworth’s only attempt was picked off.
Arizona ran for 202 yards on 52 carries.