So you have to be excited, a huge game in Berkeley. Just think of that statement. There haven’t been all that many the past 20 years. So I wonder how the Bay Area will react. Will Cal fans scoop up those last 5,000 tickets? It would be great to have a full house.
Certainly, the Bears have been taking care of business the past four weeks. It’s hard to believe that this game marks the midway point of the season. It seems we were just in Knoxville a week ago.
As far as keys, I think the play of defensive end Nu’u Tafisi will be huge. If Tafisi can show he can put pressure on the quarterback without Cal having to blitz, the chance of winning on Saturday goes way up. Tafisi has been much more of a factor the past few weeks and he might be getting to the point where a team assigns help blocking on him. If that’s the case, it clears the way for a linebacker to sneak through clean on a blitz or it prohibits teams from double-teaming Brandon Mebane all the time.
I would expect Cal to take some shots early into Oregon’s front seven to see if they can handle Marshawn Lynch coming right at them. This could be a statement game for Lynch since Oregon already has faced Adrian Peterson. A huge game by Lynch would put him back in the Heisman chase and it would force the nation to take notice.
Oregon is a team that has lots of tricks, so the play of Cal’s defensive backfield probably is the biggest worry. Thomas DeCoud continues to limp around, so it is doubtful he is going to play.
It will be interesting to see if Daymeion Hughes draws the assignment on Williams or if he lines up to one side and sticks with it. Oregon has huge wide receivers, and Syd’Quan Thompson is going to have his hands full. I talked to Brandon Hampton about facing big guys and he said basically that he tries to concentrate on a WR hands. He knows he can’t outjump him, so his focus is making sure those hands can’t close around the ball.
It’s also time for Cal’s defense to make a statement. We have heard about the speed and talent, they need to come up with a huge effort. Teams that win championships have defenses that can completely shut down the opponent at times. Well here it is, quality opponent, prime time game, time to make a mark.