Friday, September 27, 2013
No. 2 Oregon prepared for Cal's Bear Raid
EUGENE, Ore. -- The Bear Raid is coming to Autzen.
New California coach Sonny Dykes and his re-tooled Golden Bears visit No. 2 Oregon with both teams coming off byes, giving them plenty of time to ponder what they might see Saturday night in the conference opener for both teams.
For Oregon, it will be Dykes' pass-happy offense led by freshman quarterback Jared Goff, who is making his first start on the road. He leads the nation and the Pac-12 with an average of 435.3 yards passing. He's completed 61.3 percent of his passes in three games.
But he'll be up against an Oregon defense that has allowed opponents an average of just 9 points per game, tying the Ducks for fifth nationally. The team has allowed an average of 189.3 yards passing per game, but only one touchdown reception.
Another issue for the Golden Bears? The forecast calls for heavy rain at kickoff, which may impact their passing game. The remnants of a typhoon are expected to bring rain, gusty wind and perhaps even minor flooding to the region.
While Dykes' offense is known for its quickness -- the Bears have run at least 90 offensive plays from scrimmage in each of their three games -- Oregon's defense has been tested by its own offense, which ranks last among FBS teams in time of possession (22:18).
"Hopefully, it's just built into our guys. We've seen guys snap the ball fast before. It's not going to make our guys instantly uncomfortable. Hopefully, that's not something that throws us off too much," coach Mark Helfrich said.
As for Cal, they'll see Oregon's quick-strike, high-scoring spread offense led by early Heisman Trophy contender Marcus Mariota, who has thrown for 889 yards and seven touchdowns, and run for 262 yards and four more scores over his first three games.
Mariota hasn't thrown an interception yet this season.
The undefeated Ducks rank among the top five teams nationally in scoring offense, with an average of 61.3 points, rushing offense with 355.3 yards and total offense with 672 yards per game.
"They remind you of a basketball team in some ways because there's these huge momentum swings that take place in their games a lot of times," Dykes said. "You watch the film and it's 7-0, then all of a sudden you look up and it's 52-0. They make these runs and you have to weather the storm."
Which brings up one more advantage for the Ducks, who are 35-point favorites: They are used to the rain.
Here are five things to look for when California (1-2) visits Oregon (3-0) on Saturday night:
LAST TIME: Cal hung close with Oregon for a good part of their last meeting, trailing by just 24-17 midway through the 3rd quarter. But Mariota led the then-No. 3 Ducks on a 35-0 run for a 59-17 victory in Strawberry Canyon. The sophomore quarterback tied a school record with six touchdown passes in that game.
DAT ROLLS: Versatile running back De'Anthony Thomas started at wide receiver in Oregon's last game against Tennessee, finishing with 172 yards in total offense and a 28-yard touchdown run. He has run for 338 yards and six TDs for the Ducks this season, and is three touchdowns short of matching Derek Loville (1986-89) for third on the school's all-time list with 45. "Every team is going to give us their best shot so we just have to keep playing and do what we've been doing. Making plays and coming together as a team," he said about Cal.
TOUGH START: Oregon is the third ranked opponent in four games for the Golden Bears, who opened with a 44-30 loss to then-No. 22 Northwestern and fell 52-34 to fourth-ranked Ohio State on Sept. 14. All three of those opponents are undefeated. Cal's lone victory so far this season has been a 37-30 win over lower-division Portland State.
ONE-TWO PUNCH: Cal sophomore receiver Bryce Treggs has 28 catches for 317 yards and a touchdown, while fellow sophomore Chris Harper has 21 for 324 yards and three scores. Treggs is fifth in the nation averaging 9.3 receptions and 105.7 yards per game.
DO NOT ADJUST YOUR TV: California will be wearing gray jerseys and pants with blue helmets for the game at Autzen. The Golden Bears underwent a redesign this season, adding gray to the mix. As for the Ducks, they'll likely be wearing some combination that includes green so as not to clash with their fans. Oregon put out a fan "Color Schedule" guide this season that suggests Autzen attire for each game.