A "Voice of the Fan" Article by Jeff Newcomb
Okay boys and girls, the show is over. You have witnessed the ceremonial flogging of the dogs in the house that Brooks built and saw that it was good. The slaughter is over. The sacrifice has been made, and the gods are pleased. Three games on national television against unranked patsies, mere tune-up smackdowns of inferior foes played almost entirely for your amusement, all in an attempt to establish the tone for 2013. Are you not entertained? Are you not truly entertained?
Take a week off and prepare for the beginning of conference play! The 1-2 Berkeley Bears are coming to Autzen on Saturday after next, and the season, the true season to beat all seasons, shall commence. Got your ticket? It's time to fly!
The California Bears and first-year coach Sonny Dykes will bring the number one passing offense in all of college football to the shores of the Willamette on September 24th, and in spite of their win/loss record, Cal will bring its best against the Ducks. They always do.
Bearing the load: True freshman quarterback Jared Goff has thrown for 1,306 yards and 7 touchdowns in his first three games for the 1-2 Cal Bears. He faces Oregon in a night game at Autzen Stadium September 28th.
Unlike the Bears of the past, 2013 is a rebuilding year for a Cal program. They began the year rated dead last in the conference in experience, according to Phil Steele, and 125th of 126 in all of the FBS in games played by returning starters. They are young, but they are hungry. Make no mistake; a win against the #2 Ducks would be a duck feather in their cap.
Cal's true freshman QB, Jared Goff, has come out swinging this season with over 1,300 passing yards in just three games, averaging almost eight yards per toss and a 135.6 QB rating, with 7 TDs, 4 picks, and a 61% completion percentage against pretty good defenses. For a QB with no collegiate experience, that's pretty darned good, and it is entirely possible he could break a big game wide open on any given Saturday. The arm is there, and so is the desire.
Despite never having played a down of college football, Goff nearly threw his way to a victory over 22nd ranked Northwestern (now 17th) and picked apart tOSU's defense for 34 points in a losing effort last week. The kid's got heart, and it is possible for him to roast an unprepared defense for some major yardage this season. He is talented, and Dykes is leaning on the young stud pretty hard, calling a majority of passing plays to cover the lack of a definitive rushing attack. It is only a matter of time before his eyes begin to adjust to the speed at this level and his defense steps up a notch or three. When that happens, Jared Goff will be a genuine threat.
The running game is not so good. Cal is 98th in rushing yards (117.3 per game) behind Junior Brendon Bigelow and sophomore Daniel Lasco, who've combined for an anemic 4.7ypc and 274 rushing yards in three games. Bigelow is 13th in Pac-12 in rushing, behind Byron Marshall, and behind three quarterbacks (Denker, Wilson, Mariota). In three games this season, Cal's top two backs have a combined total of 277 yards. Mariota has 262 behind center.
Because the passing game is so good, that forces teams to sell out to stop the pass they know is coming by now, so the receiving game at Cal has much better numbers. That is to be expected from a team that throws the ball 59 times a game. Chris Harper leads the way with 324 yards of offense and 3 TDs, followed by Bryce Tregs at 28 catches and 317 yards with 1 TD.
Defensively, the Bears are very much young and inexperienced, and bleed yards allowed. Cal is 119th in points against, and that's with 51 combined starts in 2012 games between the front seven, their most experienced group. Despite this adversity, they have played well against a schedule Phil Steele calls the nation's third most difficult (say that to Tennessee), even though the outcome has not been in their favor. The experience they've gained in each contest will help them against the Ducks, but youth can only get a team so far.
That's because youth can be deceptive, unless they are equally good, and the Bear's youth is not as good as it would like to be. Cal is allowing more than 500 yards per game (a recipe to make even the most pacifistic Duck fan salivate) and is awful at defending the long ball. Their top rusher has 1 sack per game this season, tied for 12th in the Pac, and it doesn't get much better than that.
Even worse, depending on your point of view, Cal doesn't respond well to teams that play fast. Oregon plays uber fast, and Cal will be burned by any one of six different torches of touchdown prowess if it does not respond to the tempo or the talent of Oregon. Monte Poole of the San Jose Mercury News called it "thrills on offense and spills on defense," and DSH can only acknowledge, oh, how the mighty have fallen since the vaunted defensive force Cal was in 2010, injury fakers that they were.
Special teams are a gem though. Placekicker Vincenzo D'Amato is just a little bit better than 50% on field goal attempts for his career but 8/9 for 2013. Khalfani Muhammad averaged almost 27 yards per kick return against Ohio State, 23.1 for the season, and their punter, Cole Leninger, averaged 43.9 yards per punt. The only advice Cal Coach Dykes should have for this group is, "Kick the ball out of bounds," lest those averages fall precipitously against the prolific return ability of the Ducks.
On the stats page, Oregon stacks up more than well with the Bears, allowing just nine points per game. The 2nd ranked scoring offense and the fourth ranked running team (despite a lackluster effort in week 3) bode ill for the Bears. Oregon's secondary should have a field day against the passing attack of Cal, as any team that chucks the rock 70% of the time, especially with a true freshman, is bound to make more mistakes doing so. Oregon's secondary is probably the best in the nation, and there will be picks.
With an overwhelming amount of speed and efficiency on tap, the Ducks should cruise through this divisional foe, a distraction on its way to a faceoff with its new nemesis in Stanford. For every weakness in the Bear defense, there is an exploit in the Oregon offense, a De Anthony and a Mundt looking for a crease, crashing roughshod through arm tackles and out-of-place defenders. For every hope in the Bear offense (especially passing) there is an Ifo Ikpre-Olomu and a Mitchell, salivating at the opportunity to chase down balls tossed by an inexperienced quarterback running for his life from BoLo and crew.
Make no mistake, in the grand scheme of things, this game is nothing more than Oregon versus another FCS opponent, though this Bear squad has pride and determination on its side, not to mention all of those things that make conference play so interesting on any given Saturday. It is most likely that the Ducks will stomp a mudhole into the Berkley Bears and continue their pursuit of that elusive perfect season, considering the body of work the two teams have presented over the last few games, but anything is possible.
Possible, but not likely. It will undoubtedly be an entertaining game, but if the gods of football truly reward those with more talent and speed and skill, the Duck starters should be sitting before the half in this early conference matchup.
When we talk about Jared Goff, are we talking about another Aaron Rodgers? Could we Old Blues possibly hope for that?
Too early to talk about Cal! The question is "what are you doing with your time this weekend with no Oregon football?" I will be meeting my buddy in Medford on Friday, floating the Rogue River for two days chasing the wily steelhead with our fly fishing gear. No worries about the Ducks this week. Actually no worry about the Ducks next week either except total embarrassment if the Duckies lose as I will have 7 Cal guys over for dinner.
Jared Goff is actually an incredible young man. He is carrying a team on his shoulders and is having a dream year as QB putting up great numbers (minus the wins). They put 30 on Northwestern and 34 on tOSU the latter having a decent secondary. I do not know if those points came in garbage time because I did not watch either game. It doesn't change the fact that JG is a dangerous QB.
Can they beat the Ducks.....NO!! Can they score.....I'm thinking yes but not the 30 or 34 points as above. JG has not thrown the ball against a secondary who covers as well as ours. It should be a great day for Ifo and the rest. I think 4 picks sounds about right.....if he goes deep. This kid is going to be a good one and Cal can only get better just not this year.
Put another W in the box.
Go Ducks WTD
Some interesting Duck season to date stats from David Piper.
- Marcus Mariota is averaging 296 passing yards per game, a very large chunk of passing yards. While Oregon still gets most of their yardage on the ground, the margin (1066 rushing yards vs. 950 yards through the air) is closer than it has been in recent years. The Ducks have put up 2016 yards in three games, two of those against power conference opponents. Yikes.
- Speaking of Mariota, he has 262 yards rushing. He's averaging 17.5 yards per carry. Marcus Mariota has 2 more rushing yards than Oregon State's entire team.
- Along those same lines, Josh Huff is having a prolific effect on the offense. Huff had 32 catches for 493 yards last season. He's averaging six more yards per catch this year, and already has 14 grabs for 298 yards. If the Ducks continue to air it out, he's a good candidate to be Oregon's first thousand-yard receiver since Jeff Maehl.
- For all the concern about Byron Marshall, he's averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Thomas Tyner, whom the fanbase is calling to replace him, is averaging 6.7 yards per carry.
- The Ducks have yet to turn the ball over through three games this year. They had seven through three games last year.
- Derrick Malone has 27 tackles. Tony Washington, Boseko Lokombo, and Taylor Hart rank no. 2 on the team with 14.
- Oregon opponents are averaging 3.4 yards per rush. More impressively, they're only averaging 4.5 yards per pass.
- Oregon's opponents have run 240 plays to Oregon 216. Oregon's opponents have 957 yards to the Ducks' 2016.
- Oregon's opponents have 16 more receptions than Oregon (71-55). They have 372 fewer yards, and are averaging 8.0 yards per catch to Oregon's 17.3.
- The Ducks have scored 25 touchdowns this season by 12 different players.
@Topazinator He's tall, he can really throw, and he has a lot of poise for a true freshman. I was impressed that he beat out Zach Kline for that job, and he's a great fit for Sonny Dyke's system. Should be fun to watch over the next 3 years.
@SonomaDuck That sounds like a great weekend. No one ever lost to bye, and the Ducks aren't showing any signs of inattention. Coaches are out hitting it hard on the recruiting trail and 2s and 3s are getting most of the reps in practice. They'll have a long weekend to get ready for classes. Marcus Mariota says he's flying home for a few days.
@hoboduck Goff is a great test for the Oregon secondary but with extra time to prepare Nick Aliotti and John Neal will have something ready for the Bears. He does have a phenomenally talented passing arm.
@hoboduck No garbage time hobo. The starters were in for tOSU the entire game, and it was a barn burner until the end. I never saw a prevent defense either. Goff is good. He makes the best decisions possible for his skillset, and doesn't seem to make the same mistakes twice.
And you're right, it is a dream year for the Cal QB. Dykes knows he has no running game and no defense, so he's playing to his strengths, which are essentially Goff and a few talented receivers.
@duckified Piper is incisive with the stats. Oregon's yards per reception and Mariota's yards per carry are video game numbers. Great to see Josh Huff get such a good start. Zero turnovers in the three opening games is outstanding, regardless of the competition.
@duckified meh. I like all of that, but it was against no talent. If the numbers are comparable in December, I'll be truly impressed. :-)
@Duckbill Northwestern and Ohio State do constitute a very high-quality nonconference schedule, ranked 18th and 4th in the country. The narrow win over PSU is a credit to the effort the Vikings brought to Berkeley that day.
@Duckbill It is all about Win The Day, and I'd never suggest looking past Cal. Any team can beat an Oregon or an Alabama. Ask Mike Tyson about patsies.
I think this will probably be the biggest challenge the Ducks have faced yet, and we'll see how good that secondary really is. It's just not a really good matchup for Cal though. All of their weaknesses are strengths for Oregon.
Your amount of certainty that you will win is directly related to the amount of probability that you will lose.
@Ganggreen88 Oregon is +7 in turnovers so far this year and this game looks like a good opportunity to pad that number provided the defensive continues their solid play.
The fishbowl fascination, the when-will-he-play, can-he-handle-the-college-game over, Tyner can get back to playing football and improving.
One thing I noticed in the Tennessee game: on 2nd and 5 from the Tennessee 47 Lockie completed an 11-yard pass to Chance Allen. During the last few weeks there has been intense speculation about whether Tyner knew the playbook or could handle his pass protections. On that play he had a perfectly executed cut block on a Tennessee defensive end. Put him on the ground.
@Ganggreen88 I'd love to see Tyner get a start at fullback this year with DAT in the slot.... Then again, I'd like to see Marshall have a good game too.
@Dale Newton @SonomaDuck I loved floating the Rogue, and spending my weekends fishing for ling cod in Brookings... I miss Oregon sometimes. The smell of the Douglas firs and cedar trees in the rain, the lazy South Umpqua river across the street from my house, and the best people I've ever met in my life. I wish you the best weekend ever Sonoma. Send me pictures! :-)