OXFORD California coaches have been intent this week on making sure their offense doesn’t go into a deep freeze in the Deep South.

The Bears were not pleased with their second-half effort in last week’s 23-17 win over Conference USA preseason West Division favorite North Texas in Berkeley.

Cal started hot and at one point had scored on seven of eight possessions going back to its 20-19 comeback win at then-No. 14 Washington two weeks ago.

North Texas, though, outscored Cal 17-3 over the final three quarters of the game.

“We executed in the first half, especially the first quarter, then we went into a lull,” Cal quarterback Chase Garbers said afterward. “We’ve got to play better, a lot better.”

Part of that improvement may mean Garbers has to make better decisions in the run game.

Offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, in prepping for North Texas, thought the quarterback run game could be an effective tool.

Garbers actually led the Bears with 70 yards on 18 carries. His production became more important as the Bears’ top running back, 230-pound Christopher Brown, did not play for most of the second half.

Cal coach Justin Wilcox had nothing to say regarding Brown’s status for the Ole Miss game on Saturday.

Garbers got some things done on the ground, but at times the pass would have been a better option, Baldwin said.

“There is a thin line. Ultimately he knows it, and we know it, that we want the ball out of his hand more often.”

A third-year sophomore, Garbers started 10 games as a redshirt freshman in 2018 and was the second-leading quarterback rusher in the Pac-12 with 450 yards.

He completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 1,506 yards with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions.

He was often under pressure against North Texas behind an offensive line that had several key players out or limited by injury.

Garbers was 9 for 22 passing for 129 yards with a 36-yard touchdown pass and no interceptions.

“If the quarterback never scrambles it’s not a good thing. If he scrambles too much it’s not a good thing,” Baldwin said. “There has to be a fine line, a happy medium, and we’re working on finding that.”

Through three games Garbers is completing passes at 52.9 percent for 159.3 yards a game with three touchdowns and one interception. He’s rushed for 138 yards on 38 carries.

At times against North Texas, Garbers ran away from pressure and stepped out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage.

“You should never lose yards on a scramble. If you can’t gain yards throw it away,” Baldwin said. “You never know when those yards will make the difference.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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