OPPONENT PREVIEW: California Golden Bears

Head Coach: Lord Tedford, Supreme Being of the Football Universe (some refer to him as "Jeff Tedford")

Record: 4-2 (1-2)

Offense: PPG: 32.8  YPP: 6.2

Jahvid Best is good.  Shane Vereen is good.  Cal can definitely make big plays in the running game.  In last year's matchup with the Cougs, it seemed that Best and Vereen were wearing yellow non-contact jerseys as they galloped up and down the field on that most depressing of afternoons..

This season has been no different for the Golden Bears.  They have gained a Cougar-opponent-esque 5.34 yards per carry.  While the running game has disappointed Cal fans in the big games, it may be a product of the opposing coaches' game plans and the inability of California's passing game to exploit said game plans.

Quarterback Kevin Riley has earned the dreaded title "unreliable" through the first half of the season.  His TD and interception numbers look fantastic.  He has thrown eight scores to just one pick.  However, the thing that has frustrated Cal supporters is his inability to make accurate throws.  He has completed just 52.7% of his passes and misses big plays on a regular basis.  Teams with strong run defenses (USC, Oregon) have been able to exploit this and Riley has shown that Cal cannot win a game on his arm alone.

Defense:  PPG: 23.2  YPP: 5.3

Cal's defense is a pretty average group statistically.  They do well in the run game, giving up 3.46 yards per carry.  Opponents have had more success through the air, as they are completing 63.3% of their passes and gaining 7.2 yards per attempt.

The front seven has been pretty steady.  In the run game, take a look at the yards per carry quoted above and it is obvious they have succeeded there.  Against the pass, this group has also been able to generate pressure.  Cal linebackers and linemen have combined for 17 sacks through six games.  This puts them just one behind Oregon and Arizona State for second place, and the Golden Bears have yet to take part in the sackfest that is the Washington State passing game.

Mike Mohamed looks to be an anchor for Cal at linebacker, as he leads the team in tackles and interceptions.  On the defensive line, Senior Tyson Alualu leads the way with 4.5 sacks on the season.  Syd'Quan Thompson is the star in the backfield, leading the small guys in tackles and pass breakups.

Cal is in trouble if: Jahvid Best, Shane Vereen, and the entire Golden Bear starting offensive line comes down with the flu and are unable to go on Saturday OR in a few years those players are found to have been violating NCAA rules and Cal is forced to vacate all of their wins for the 2009 season. 

WSU simply does not have the personnel to compete in the trenches and California really will not have to worry about relying on Kevin Riley to win this one.  On the other side, their defense should not have much trouble slowing down a Cougar offense that has shown very little in Pac 10 games so far.


For the second consecutive week, we are offering up our opposing team blogger interview with our opponent preview.  You really don't want to miss this one with the guys over at California Golden Blogs.  As always, you can subscribe to us on iTunes (why wouldn't you want to carry my pretty little voice with you everywhere you go?) and go to our podcast site here for other options.  Or, you can just listen below!

 

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