When the Washington State Cougars go down to Berkeley, California to take on the California Golden Bears this weekend it will be the first time since 2006 that the Cougars are favored on the road. The Cougars go into this game favored by 1.5 – 2 points. It isn’t much, but its all it takes to win a game.
This struggling 1-3 California team has not had the best season so far. The Bears so far have taken on then ranked #22 Northwestern, #4 Ohio State, and #2 Oregon. All three of these games have been losses. The Bears one win came when they took on Portland State where they won by 7 points. The Bears will go into this game looking to gain some momentum going into the rest of their very tough schedule. This game has been said by many that it is the easiest game for both teams.
Here is what I have seen so far from California on both offense and defense:
The Cal Bears have a quarterback controversy and it is still (as of Thursday) up in the air to who will get the starting job this weekend, or if they will run a dual quarterback system. True freshman Jared Goff has had the starting position locked up all season. Then the Oregon Ducks decided they wanted to change that. Last weekend the Ducks defense had their way with Goff allowing him to throw for just 11 yards on 6 completions before getting replaced by redshirt freshman Zach Kline.
Goff’s numbers so far this season, taking in consideration the teams they have played, are very good. Up until last week Goff was in the top 5 for passing yards in the nation. Goff has gone 1317- yards on 106 completions while maintaining a 60.9 completion percentage, Kline has gone 175-yards on 18 completions and a 48.6 completion percentage. Being that Washington State is no Oregon it is hard not to say that Goff won’t see the field for the majority of the game.
For the guys that are catching the ball there really is no guy that makes you double check when you see his numbers. Leading receivers Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper lead the team in receptions and yards. Treggs has 30 receptions for 348 yards while only having 1 touchdown and Harper has 24 receptions and 339-yards and 3 touchdowns. Both receivers join Cougar leading receiver Gabe Marks on the Biletnikoff award watch list.
California doesn’t quite have that player that really sticks out on paper. Running backs Brendan Bigelow (62 carries for 236-yards) and Daniel Lasco (34 carries for 154-yards) are the only running backs to have ove 100 yards on the ground. Third running back Khalfani Muhammad, who is probable with a head injury, has 22 carries for 99-yards so far this season.
This California defense has seen some real struggles so far this season. Earlier this week Cal coach, Sonny Dykes, kicked off defensive end Chris McCain. McCain had 11 tackles and one forced fumble this season before being dismissed.
Injuries have been the biggest blow to the California defense this year. The biggest to the Cal secondary is safety Avery Sebastian being out for the season with an Achilles tendon injury. Linebacker Nathan Brussard is out for the season with a knee injury, Defensive tackles Austin Clark and Mustafa Jalil are also out this weekend with Clark being out for the season. Defensive ends Brennan Scarlett and Sione Sina will also miss this weekends game.
The corners for California are also dealing with injuries. Isaac Lapite will be ready to go at cornerback if Kameron Jackson is unable to play due to a ankle injury.
At free safety, true freshman Cameron Walker was competing with Damariay Drew for the starting spot this weekend.
This injured California defense will have a lot of inexperience coming into this weekends game. This is the type of game for Cal to see if their backups can play to the standard they are held to.
The California defense has only gotten 4 sacks this season for a total of 17 yards. Linebacker Jalen Jefferson and defensive lineman Dan Camporeale and Kyle Kragen all have one sack each. Jefferson is also 4th on the team in tackles with 14 solo tackles and 12 assisted tackles. Leading tackle-maker and linebacker Hardy Nickerson also has 14 solo tackles but racks up 16 assisted tackles. The Cal defense has 5 players with 20 or more total tackles so far this season.
You never want to see a player injured or be happy because of an injury, but Washington State must take advantage of the inexperience for the California defense and have themselves a field day with them.