So Cal must survive in the desert if it expects to capture the nation’s attention next Saturday when it plays at USC. I think the Bears will be just fine, even if Arizona has gained confidence after such a convincing win against Washington State. In that game, the Wildcats jumped on the Cougars on their third offensive play of the game as Tuitama threw a long touchdown pass. In some of Cal’s big wins this season, such as Oregon, the Bears set the tone early with big plays. I think that especially is important on Saturday. Cal doesn’t want Arizona going into the fourth quarter thinking upset.
I do think ARizona is going to have a hard time scoring against Cal because it has limited offensive weapons. Chris Henry is a good back, but I see Cal being able to shut him down. Wide receiver Syndric Steptoe is a dynamite talent, but Bob Gregory can throw Daymeion Hughes on him. Unlike USC, which has tremendous depth at wide receiver, I don’t see the Cats having a lot of options if Hughes can control Steptoe.
There has been a lot of talk the last week about Cal’s defense, and the yards they’ve been allowing, and I think we might see these guys step up to the plate. This really is an opponent they can shut down.
My story in Saturday’s Contra Costa Times features Brandon Mebane, and the fact that his 2.5 sacks doesn’t put him in line to win national awards. However, keep an eye on him against the Wildcats. His penetration is the key to a lot of the things Cal is able to accomplish on defense. I could see him having a big game on Saturday, and perhaps two or three tackles for loss. I don’t know how many times Chris Henry is going to run at Mebane. We will see.