Oregon is impressed by what Cal has achieved on offense this season, but the Ducks don’t seem concerned about the Bears’ fast pace.
“We’ve seen guys snap the ball fast before, and it’s not going to make our guys instantly uncomfortable,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich told reporters this week.
“You can see in some of these other games there’s teams that aren’t lined up or trying to substitute at the wrong time. Hopefully, that’s not something that throws us off too much.”
Oregon scores at a faster tempo than almost any team in the country, but Helfrich took notice of the Bears’ average of 94.7 plays per game.
“We can’t match that,” he said. “Hopefully our guys are used to playing up-tempo. Our communication, how we do those things different, hopefully pays off in a situation like this.”
One thing the Ducks are doing in practice this week is trying to simulate Cal’s tempo. Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti described as “ridiculous” the frantic pace in practice, where one play ends and a football is placed on the turf immediately for the next snap.
“In practice, you probably don’t even have 10 seconds in order to get ready for the next play,” safety Brian Jackson told the Register-Guard. “I’m pretty sure that a ref would spot it a little bit slower than that. I think we’ll be prepared.”
Aliotti, an East Bay native, believes the Ducks’ defensive depth will help allow them to stay fresh.
“Until the game goes, you don’t know, but if somebody can no-huddle us and tire us out, then more power to them,” Aliotti said. “Then we’re in a world of hurt. Both teams would be tired then.”
Helfrich heaped praise on Cal freshman quarterback Jared Goff during his Tuesday news conference.
“He’s a really good player and he’s in a great system where they complete a lot of short, quick passes,” Helfrich told the Oregonian. “Just getting the ball out of his hands, making it simple, and then they’ve got a couple guys on the end … (WR Bryce) Treggs can go up and get it, and a couple guys can go up and get it and create big plays outside.
“It’s a nice marriage of a really skilled guy who’s well coached.”
Helfrich said Goff’s youth doesn’t change the fact the Ducks know they must pressure the quarterback.
“It’s tough to play quarterback, it’s the toughest position in any sport and just the threat of guys looking like (6-foot-8 defensive tackle) Arik Armstead tackling you,” he said. “Part of that is effort and how we run and if we’re rushing three guys but it seems like four or five that’s great because now you can mess with the coverage a little differently.
“That’s object A of any defense against any player that’s any year in school. If the guy was a fifth-year senior you still want to put pressure on him. But the guy’s done a great job and they do a really good job in their scheme of getting the ball out of their hands.”
Helfrich said the Bears’ scheme keeps defenses guessing just enough.
“You think you have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to do but they always have a little wrinkle that fits their scheme that always presents a little bit of a problem.”