I’m *still* excited from last week!
Jared Goff’s performance against #22 Northwestern, in his first college game, was nothing short of spectacular. Coaches Dykes and Franklin managed to prepare a completely inexperienced, true freshman QB, and an offense comprised mostly of underclassmen, running a completely new offensive scheme, and they came within a couple tipped balls (& bad calls & fake injuries) from beating a Top 25 Team. Dykes and Franklin have to be at the front of the pack for Coach of the Year honors from that alone.
What to do for an encore?
Saturday’s game against Portland State is really quite dangerous for the Bears. The Vikings’ Pistol offense can be potent; they have a lot of talent at the skill positions, and if they manage to get some momentum, they could give the Bears some trouble.
RB DJ Adams (#10) is at the top of the “to watch” list. He went to Maryland for 2 years, scoring 11 TDs as a freshman. Now a Sr., he has the size, strength, & speed to put Cal’s young defense to the test. The Bears can’t just hit this guy and expect him to fall down — they’ll have to wrap him up.
Another Viking to watch is Kieran McDonagh (#4), the sophomore QB for PSU. Last year, he won the starting QB job in fall camp, started all 11 games, and directed an offense that averaged over 438 yds and 34 pts per game. At 6-2, 245 lbs., he’s a load. The Bears will have to play disciplined defense, and keep Adams and McDonagh from getting into Cal’s thin secondary.
The Vikings may be vulnerable in the turnover game — they fumbled 4x in their 57-17 whuppin’ of the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers. Look for the Bears to gamble a little on defense, and get enough penetration to cause a fumble or two in the backfield.
With Cal’s brutal schedule this year, it might be tempting to relax on PSU, knowing that we’ll be facing two of the top three teams in the nation in the next couple weeks. Unfortunately, the Bears can’t afford the luxury of letting up.
Cal will move the ball well, with fewer tips, mistakes, & penalties. The play book will open up. QB Jared Goff won’t be baited into throwing that post again… and should have another spectacular game, despite a little Game 2 letdown. Look for Cal’s running game to get on track, with over 180 yds rushing.
The defense will be struggling with the temptation to ‘play it safe’ and avoid losing any more teammates to injury; that never actually works as intended. Losing Avery Sebastian (#4) last week was a devastating blow.
Prediction: Cal wins, 63-27. The cannon nearly runs out of powdered flash charges.