The circumstances are a little different this time around, however; in addition to the game being played this year at Martin Stadium, the Cougs’ offense is far ahead of where last year’s was when it basically puked down the front of its shirt for three hours last season.
At least, that’s our view. How does the other side see it? We checked in with Rob Hwang of our friends at California Golden Blogs to get a read on the team that, for some reason, has given WSU loads of trouble over the years.
(Also, you can read my answers to his questions over here. We’re big fans of the Golden Blogs!)
CougCenter: Which player on offense should WSU fans know about?
CGB: Simple answer? Patrick Laird. He seems to be rounding out into form just in time for the gauntlet of games starting last week. His explosion and cuts were not there all season but he looks to finally be his former self. He’ll look to dominate the ground game with another 85+ yard performance. Although that might not seem that much, its enough to keep our offense going with so many RPOs.
Which player on defense should WSU fans know about?
So many to choose from, as Coug fans are probably still having nightmares about the performance this Bears defense put on them on that Friday the 13th game last season. If I were to pick one though, it would have to be Jordan Kunaszyk. He’s leader of this defense, he leads the team in tackles, he’s 8th in the country in tackles and 2nd in the Pac-12 (Fellow MLB Evan Weaver is #4 in the conference). He’ll be all over the field during this game and will limit anything thats played infront of him.
Who’s one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for Cal?
Any of the DL. If we can get someone to breakdown a part of the pocket, that’ll allow for our DBs and LBs to make some plays on the ball or force coverage sacks. It’ll be a big test for that DL to play consistent again after a stellar performance against UW.
What does WSU need to do to win the game?
Throw deep and complete explosive plays. The Bears have been great at getting teams off the field on third and long situations, but if we start giving up chuck plays the first few downs and the opposing offense goes tempo, we’ve had an inability to settle ourselves. That’ll be tough though, against what arguably is the best offense Cal has seen all year.
What does Cal need to do to win the game?
Ball control and finish drives. Its clear our defense will get the 1 or 2 stops necessary to keep us in the game, but our offense cannot seem to finish off drives with touchdowns. We showed against UW that the run game can hold the ball and steadily gain yards down the field, and if we’re able to do that along with scoring touchdowns that will kill enough clock so that the explosive WSU offense is unable to operate.
How do you see the game going?
This one’s tough, and as I said on the CougCenter pod, it could go either way. Looking deeper into the stats? I think this game will hover in the low 30s. I’m going with my heart here. Cal wins 33-30
Whom do you most want to punch in the face?
This one is a toss up. I wanted to go with the Stanfurd Cardinal Mascot but you guys already punched them in the face, figuratively, for us last week. So this week? I’ll go with Ty Montgomery, who fittingly as a Stanfurd grad, sabotaged former Cal QB Aaron Rodgers’ chance at a game winning drive against former Cal QB Jared Goff’s Rams.