Coach Sonny Dykes defended his decision a couple weeks ago to reshuffle his offensive line at midseason.
“There’s going to be some growing pains, but it’s a group we think we can grow with,” Dykes said after practice Wednesday.
The Bears moved guard Jordan Rigsbee to center, pulled freshman Chris Borrayo out of his redshirt year to start at left guard, and gave redshirt freshman Christian Okafor the starting left tackle job.
Left out of the equation for the time being were redshirt guard Matt Cochran, who was sidelined after ankle surgery, and sophomore tackle Freddie Tagaloa, voted a team captain prior to the season.
Cochran is now back and working out at tackle. Tagaloa has been moved to guard.
Dykes said both players still are a big part of Cal’s O-line plans.
“We’re hoping as Freddie learns a new position, he’ll become a factor at the guard spot,” Dykes said. “He’s practiced better this week, getting more comfortable.”
Cochran was cleared to play last week against Arizona, but did not get on the field.
“I think he’s more comfortable this week — moving better, more sure of himself,” Dykes said.
Saturday is designated as the annual Joe Roth Game, honoring the former Cal quarterback who died of cancer following his senior season.
Dykes said he talked to his players about Roth’s significance to Cal.
“It’s a great message, Joe’s resilience and unselfishness. It’s really a remarkable story, one of those stories everybody needs to know about,” Dykes said. “He exemplified everything that represents college football and specifically Cal.”
But Dykes said the Bears will not wear 1975 throwback uniforms on Saturday.
“I like those throwback uniforms. They’re pretty cool,” Dykes said. “At some point down he road you might see those. Not this year, though.”
Walnut Creek native Morgan Breslin, who had 3.5 of his 13 sacks last season against Cal, will undergo hip surgery that will sideline him for the remainder of the season.
Breslin, moved from defensive end to standup linebacker this fall, has missed the past three games and five altogether because of foot and hip injuries.
Interim head coach Ed Orgeron, who called Breslin one of his favorite players ever, said Breslin’s only shot at playing again this season is a bowl game.
“There is a chance he may be back if there is a later game down the road,” Orgeron said.
Saturday marks a return to Memorial Stadium for USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, who served in that same role for three seasons under former Cal coach Jeff Tedford.
“I enjoyed my time up there,” Pendergast told the Los Angeles Times. “I had a lot of fond memories and I’m looking forward to going up there and playing.”
Pendergast’s Cal defenses ranked first in the Pac-12 in 2010 and 2011, then slipped to 10th in 2012.
USC’s defense currently is ranked first in the conference, allowing 323 yards a game.
Cal had made scholarship offers to a pair of 2015 offensive prospects, according to ESPN.com.
The Bears are courting quarterback Blake Barnett, a 6-foot-4, 195-pounder from Santiago High in Corona. Barnett, rated as a four-star prospect by Scout, also has offers from Arizona, Colorado, Notre Dame and UCLA.
The Bears also made an offer to wide receiver Malik Lovette, a 5-11, 185-pounder from East Valley High in Redlands. Boise State and Texas Tech also has offered Lovette.