Cal Football: Injury-riddled Bears fall to USC and lose Chase Garbers

Cal Football (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Cal Football (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The Cal football team was hit with a major blow in Saturday’s 41-17 loss to the USC Trojans as they lost quarterback Chase Garbers to an injury once again.

It’s been a roller-coaster of a season for Cal football and that up-and-down trend continued on Saturday as the Bears fell to USC by a final score of 41-17. But in reality, the game was much more than what the final score indicates.

Cal drove down the field and scored on their opening possession as the team welcomed back starting quarterback Chase Garbers. Garbers had played incredibly well over the first few weeks of the season before suffering an undisclosed upper-body injury against Arizona State.

The Bears were 4-0 with Garbers under center. Since then, they’ve gone a disastrous 1-5 in games in which Garbers failed to play 60 minutes. And unfortunately, they may be forced to play without him once again.

Following an impressive return in the first quarter, Garbers was injured after being tackled on a QB option early in the second. He would get up slowly and jog over to the sideline where he would remain for the rest of the game.

Head coach Justin Wilcox made it clear after the game that the injury was unrelated to the one suffered by Garbers back in September but the nature of it is currently unknown.

With only two games (plus a possible bowl game) remaining on the year, there’s a very good chance that Garbers is forced to miss the rest of the season if the injury is serious enough.

And if so, that’s bad news for a Cal team that has struggled immensely without him.

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Backup quarterback Devon Modster — who has battled his own injury woes — played poorly in Garbers’ absence on Saturday including a back-breaking interception that came towards the end of the third quarter when USC was already leading 27-10.

The ensuing touchdown gave the Trojans a 34-10 lead which crushed any hopes Cal had of staging a comeback.

Apart from Garbers, the Bears also lost running back Christopher Brown Jr. early in the first quarter as he wouldn’t return following the team’s first offensive possession. Brown has dealt with his fair share of injuries this season and could miss some games now.

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But perhaps the most worrisome injury came early in the second quarter when redshirt freshman linebacker Evan Tattersall was hit hard in his head by USC’s Juliano Falaniko on a kickoff. Tattersall would lay motionless on the turf before being taken off the field on a stretcher.

Fortunately, the reserve linebacker is expected to make a full recovery and was released from the hospital earlier on Sunday.

Despite winning their first four games, Cal now finds itself in a situation where they must win one of their final two games to be bowl eligible. And without Garbers, that could prove challenging.

Luckily, both matchups will be very winnable games.

The Bears will travel to Palo Alto next week to take on rivals Stanford in the Big Game. The Cardinal have won the last nine meetings between these teams but have struggled with their own injury trouble this season and will be counting on a victory to keep their bowl hopes alive.

But if Cal can’t win against their archrivals, they’ll have to settle for another road matchup the following week against a UCLA team that is beatable, but has been impressive in conference play.

Fans would hope that Cal could win one of those two games, but nothing is assured with the constant turnover at quarterback.

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Cal will have a week to rest up before a crucial meeting with Stanford this Saturday.