Before this weekend’s big showdown at California, our friends over at California Golden Blogs were kind enough to exchange some questions and answers about Oregon State’s upcoming opponent. You can see our responses to their questions here, as we continue to previewing the meeting with the Golden Bears.
1. California has been a tale of two teams this season with a 2-0 record in true home games and an 0-2 record in true road games. Now, they’re traveling to Corvallis this weekend to meet the Beavers. What’s been the deal with the Golden Bears on the road this season and do their road struggles give Oregon State a legitimate chance in this one?
boomtho: I’d actually disagree, a bit, with the assertion we’ve played meaningfully worse on the road. We were one throw away from being SDSU (Davis Webb still has to be feeling that one), and while the ASU scoreline looks like a blowout, it only looks that way because ASU returned a late onside kick (in a one score game) for a TD. Due to that, I wouldn’t expect a huge drop in expected performance for Cal since we’re on the road. That being said, this is conference football and most weeks, both teams have a chance.
LeonPowe: Except for the Hawaii game, every game this season has been a coin flip. I don't think that's a worse/better - or an indication that we're struggling on the road. It's much more a combination of an inconsistent, but explosive offense and a defense which started at terrible and is trying to climb its way to average - so both sides of the ball have had the ability to keep the other team in the game.
2. The talk all-season long in regard to the Golden Bears has been about quarterback Davis Webb and the prolific ability of this California offense. While Webb has lived up to the hype, as he currently leads the nation in passing, who are some other key players to know on California’s offense?
boomtho: The obvious one is WR Chad Hansen, who went from being a non-factor on last year’s team (to be fair, there are 5 or 6 WR’s from that class in the NFL) to being second in all of FBS football in WR yards. Hansen has basically been un-coverable (save the second half at ASU). Around him, though, there are a lot of other really talented playmakers. Two of them are freshmen standouts: 5* athlete Demetris Robetson, who never really played full-time WR before coming to Cal, is coming off of a 2 TD performance where he consistently beat Utah’s 1:1 coverage deep downfield; and Melquise Stovall, who has really nicely filled in the gaps vacated by Hansen and Robertson and done a lot of damage on slants and crossing routes. I would expect big games from all 3 of these WR’s this weekend.
LeonPowe: Since boomtho mention the other wideouts, I'd love to talk about running backs. They don't get a lot of press in the Bear Raid show, but Vic Enwere, Tre Watson and Khalfani Muhammad are three excellent backs. Vic is the power guy, Muhammad is the speed, break-away guy and Tre is the all around back. All 3 can catch the ball out of the backfield, run outside or between the tackles. The hope is that with so much attention given towards Hansen and Robertson and Stovall, that'll allow for running lanes for the 3 backs.
3. Against Utah, it took a huge goal-line stand by the defense in the final moments to secure the upset win. The Golden Bears defense is not usually mentioned too often so who are the some notable defensive players on this team to keep an eye on?
boomtho: Let’s start with the guy who made the game-saving play: DT James Looney is a big body, with great quickness off the ball, who will be key to us disrupting OSU’s run game. Beyond Looney, the strength of our team is really in the secondary (though it’s not an elite unit, more of an average-to-good one): CB’s Darius Allensworth and Marloshawn Franklin are playing pretty well, and S Luke Rubenzer has made some really big plays (while missing some other big tackles ,especially vs SDSU).
LeonPowe: I've been talking up Looney all year and he's been as much a defensive force for the Bears as anyone, and while we're not really good at rushing the QB or anywhere near having a defensive line which is a force, DE Cameron Saffle has been making a lot of plays this season. It's a low bar to clear, but he's been pretty decent.
4. Vegas Insider has the Golden Bears coming into this game as a ten-point favorite. Can you give one reason why California will and one reason why California won’t cover the spread on Saturday?
boomtho: The line is already up to 13.5 I think… and I think Cal will cover, largely because I don’t believe OSU can put up enough points to keep up with Cal’s explosive offense (I’m basing this off of OSU’s 6 points last week). For the sake argument, Cal might not cover if they view this game as an “easy win” and starting looking ahead to a grueling 3 game stretch of games: Oregon, USC, and Washington.
LeonPowe: I'm confident in our offense's ability to score, so it'll be because the defense forgets how to tackle and keeps OSU's offense in the game.
5. Earlier this season, in one of his infamous rants, Washington State head coach Mike Leach referred to his team as “the easiest team in the country to tackle”. If you were to describe this California team in a single sentence, what would you refer to them as?
boomtho: Cardiac Cal: an explosive, fun team to watch for whom every game is a coin flip and every game is 100x more stressful than a normal game.
LeonPowe: Always consult with your physician before beginning any fanship of the Golden Bears Football team. Following the Golden Bears may produce enormous stress and subjects may be at high risk for heart attacks, strokes, increased blood pressure, and sudden vomiting.