Fresh off a big win over Utah, the Beavers hit the road to take on the California Golden Bears. We reached out to our friends at Write for Cal to get a sense of how Cal is doing this season. Here’s what Write for Cal’s Rob Hwang had to say.
Cal has played in so many close games this year. Is there a notion that this team has turned a corner and is better than their record reflects?
Rob Hwang: I think there is a little hope that is growing that the team has turned the corner. The defense has been playing better and better. Younger guys that now have multiple games under their belt are starting to flash and make less mistakes. I think the early season games were reflective of where the team was. A reloading team that was competitive but not enough to get over the hump of tight games. The last few weeks particularly since the Oregon game it’s been a little different. The only anomaly is the WSU game and that game still has me baffled.
Oregon State has been thriving offensively as they’ve relied on their run game. How is Cal’s run defense? Will they force the Beavs to beat them through the air?
RH: The run defense has been pretty stout throughout the season. There have been hiccups here and there but overall the bears have locked down offenses that want to punish us using their running backs. Now when the opposing team uses the QB as an active runner, not scrambles, that’s where we have some trouble. We either overcompensate for their running ability or play it too conservative and give them short gains to eat up yards. So finding that balance will be key for the Bears to have success against this efficient offense.
Oregon State has a history of struggling versus athletic quarterbacks and Chase Garbers fits the bill. How likely is Garbers to tuck it and run? Also why has the Bears offense struggled at times?
RH: Hythloday from ATQ (yes. I know I’m quoting a duck on a beaver site), has said if scrambling was a play, it would be the Bears most efficient play. So Id say if you give him running lanes and the pocket collapses, he’s more likely to take it and run it himself. He’s not uber athletic, but he’s very savvy with his agility to get to the spots he wants.
The struggle has come when we get too comfortable early on in games with a gameplan that works. When teams adjust and force us to do something else it’s hard for this team to just turn on the switch to efficiently do another thing. We still haven’t seen the bears come out and do multiple things efficiently, either we’re playing really well in the run or the pass game but never both out the gate.
What’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?
RH: Honestly? I would usually vote for a Cal win but this season, those have come few and far between. Seeing a line of 1.5 for this game between two flipped records is VERY STRANGE. I’m cautiously optimistic due to the wizards of vegas. I’ll say the bears squeak out the win 26-24. Please don’t hate me.
Oregon State and Cal kick off at 4:00 PM PT on Saturday. You can watch the game on the Pac-12 Network.