The No. 2 Oregon Ducks (9-0, 6-0) take to the road again this weekend for a second consecutive road game this time taking on Pac-12 foe California Golden Bears (2-5, 3-7) in a contest that could mark the last home game for head coach Jeff Tedford.
Cal comes into the game off of a 21-13 home loss last weekend to the Washington Huskies. The Golden Bears looked to be on an upswing after a dominating victory over UCLA and another double digit win over Washington State. Over the last three games, however, Cal has scored a grand total of 43 points and secured their second losing season in the last three with the loss last weekend. Their offense has been inconsistent at best and is now down one of the best wide receivers in the nation with Keenan Allen missing another game this weekend.
Oregon comes into the game fresh off of a thrilling 62-51 victory over the USC Trojans in Los Angeles last weekend. The Duck offense moved the ball at will notching a school record 730 yards of offense with Kenjon Barner leading the way carrying the ball 38 times for 321 yards and scoring five rushing touchdowns en route to being named the Walter Camp National player of the week as well as the Pac-12 offensive player of the week
Today we continue our series looking at the match-ups on each side of the ball with our focus on the offense of both teams.
Cal: The Golden Bears list Zach Maynard (6-2, 185) a senior as the starter. There is some question whether he will be ready to play Saturday. If he is, Maynard possesses the viability of a dual threat as he is considerably more mobile than his back-up. Maynard has played well enough to complete slightly over 60 percent of his passes going 180 for 296 for 2214 with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the season. The offensive woes are not entirely Maynard's fault as he has been sacked 39 times this season. When he is not running for his life, Maynard has carried the ball 59 times for 318 yards, a healthy 5.4 yards per carry.
If Maynard is unable to play Saturday, Allan Bridgford (6-3, 220) will get the nod. Bridgford is nowhere near as mobile as Maynard and is more of a true "pocket" quarterback. Bridgford, a redshirt junior, does not have a lot of experience appearing in four games each of the past two seasons. This season Bridgford has completed just 4 of his 16 passes for 32 yards. He has yet to throw a career touchdown pass or interception.
Oregon: Marcus Mariota (6-4, 211) earns his tenth start for the Ducks against the Bears. Mariota had a true coming out party last week. After enduring questions all season long about the lack of a "test" Mariota was near perfect agaisnt the Trojans completing 20 of 23 passes for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns. For the year, Mariota is completing over 70 percent of his passes with 152 completions in 217 attempts for 1787 yards, 22 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions.
Mariota is the epitome of a dual threat quarterback as he also has 72 carries for 474 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns.
Behind Mariota will be Bryan Bennett (6-3, 204). Bennett has one start to his credit coming against Colorado last season. This year, playing a back-up to Mariota, Bennett has completed 19 of 34 passes for 193 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Bennett is dangerous with his feet as well having accumulated 34 carries for 166 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns in his seven appearances.
This match-up is not even close. Mariota showed last weekend that he has all of the tools to be one of the best ever to play at Oregon. He played calmer and made better decisions than senior Matt Barkley. He has better touch, accuracy, decision making and makes better reads than Maynard.
Cal: The Bears are without Keenan Allen their best player over the past two seasons. In his absence Chris Harper (6-0, 170) a true freshman gets the start. Harper has played well for the Bears catching 36 passes for 481 yards and two touchdowns. Behind Harper will be Maurice Harris (6-3, 205) a redshirt freshman with 3 catches for 37 yards on the season.
On the other side of the field, Bryce Treggs (5-11, 175) another true freshman gets the start. Treggs has 8 starts this season catching 21 passes for 213 yards and one touchdown. Behind Treggs will be Darius Powe (6-3, 212) yet another true freshman for the Bears offense. Powe has also appeared in nine games with two starts. He has 5 catches for 76 yards on the season.
Oregon: Starting at the wide receiver position for Oregon on one side will be Keanon Lowe (5-9, 181), a sophomore from Jesuit High School in the Portland area. Lowe has played well for the Ducks in 2012 and has 15 catches for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. Behind Lowe is Will Murphy (6-2, 193) a senior walk-on who had a little breakout performance against Washington State with 2 catches for 38 yards including a career long 29 yard reception. For the year, Murphy has 10 catches for 95 yards.
Starting opposite Lowe will be Josh Huff (5-11, 205). Huff played his best game of the year against USC catching 6 passes for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns increasing his season total to 15 catches for 246 yards and 4 touchdowns. Behind Huff is Eric Dungy (6-1, 183) who started two games while Huff was injured. Through eight appearances Dungy has notched 5 receptions for 41 yards.
Daryle Hawkins (6-4, 202) gets the start at the third wideout position. Hawkins, an all-purpose athlete the prior two seasons for the Ducks has nestled into his starting role well with 19 catches for 169 yards and 3 touchdowns. Behind Hawkins is freshman Bralon Addison (5-10, 189) a freshman from Texas. Despite coming off the bench, Addison is the second leading receiver on the team with 19 catches for 226 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Though listed as a running back on the depth chart De'Anthony Thomas frequently lines up in a slot receiver position for the Ducks. He has been the target of most defensive efforts this season but has still managed to lead the team in catches and receiving yards with 29 receptions for 277 yards and 4 touchdowns.
In addition, the Ducks also have Dwayne Stanford (6-5, 195) another freshman who has contributed with 11 catches for 106 yards.
Much has been made of the fact that the Ducks do not have the quintessential "go-to" receiver. But they don't need one as the offense adequately spreads the ball based on what the defense allows. Despite not having that go-to receiver, Duck wideouts have 118 receptions for 1292 yards and 16 touchdowns. The loss of Keenan Allen really hurts the Cal wide receiver group.
Cal: Cal brings two-headed approach to the running back position with their own version of "thunder and lightning" backs. C.J. Anderson (5-11, 210) leads the team with 104 carries for 673 yards and 4 touchdowns. Isi Sofele (5-8, 200) provides a little more of the "slash" runner role and has 113 carries for 519 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bears don't stop there as they possess a back that can bust a long run at any time. Brendan Bigelow (5-10, 190) a sophomore has provided a couple of home runs for the Bears and has 33 carries for 392 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Oregon: Kenjon Barner (5-11, 192) had shown he could be a workhorse back last season against Arizona State. Last Saturday he showed he can be a Heisman contender as well. Barner carried the ball 38 times for 321 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. The yards are a school record easily surpassing the 288 yards former team mate LaMichael James put up against Arizona last season. After the stellar performance against USC Barner is the leading rusher in the Pac-12 conference. So far this season Barner has 179 carries for 1295 yards (7.2 ypc) and 19 rushing touchdowns. He has good hands out of the backfield with 13 catches for 158 yards and 1 touchdown.
Behind Barner will be De'Anthony Thomas. Despite a limited number of carries, Thomas still manages to excite the crowd just about every time he touches the ball. So far through eight games, Thomas has 61 carries for 508 yards. Despite teams keying specifically on him during conference play, Thomas is still averaging an incredible 8.3 yards per carry. He has scored 7 rushing touchdowns this season.
Providing a little more security is true freshman Byron Marshall. After a solid debut against Arkansas State, Marshall showed great improvements in his running over the past several games. So far this season, in six appearances, Marshall has 71 carries for 374 yards and 3 more rushing touchdowns.
Oregon created even more depth with the addition of tight end Colt Lyerla dropping back into the backfield and carrying the ball. Lyerla has 13 carries for 77 yards and one touchdown over the last four games for Oregon.
With Thomas and Barner, Oregon will have the edge on just about every opponent they face this season. This week is no different. The emergence of Marshall as a third back provides the Ducks with more security and depth. In addition, the powerful presence of Lyerla will make this position even more imposing as the season wears on. Cal has three good running backs. Each of them has a component of what the Ducks have. Anderson can be a workhorse, but he is not a deep threat. Sofele can get to the edge, but is also not a true threat to make a lot of long runs. Bigelow has the ability to break off a big run at any time, but does not have the durability to play every down. Barner is a combination of all three and Thomas is simply electric with the ball in his hands.
Cal: The The Cal offensive line has been beaten up this season. Starting at left tackle will be Tyler Rigsbee (6-5, 290) a fifth year senior with just eight appearances entering this season. Behind Rigsbee is Freddie Tagaloa (6-8, 340) a freshman with limited playing time this season.
Starting next to him at the left guard position will be Jordan Rigsbee (6-4, 306) the younger brother of starting left tackle. The younger Rigsbee, a redshirt freshman, has started all 10 games for the Bears this season. Behind him will be Alejandro Crosthwaite (6-4, 300) a third year sophomore. Crosthwaite has appeared in just two games this fall.
At center, Cal starts Brian Schwenke (6-4, 300) a fifth year senior with 24 starts prior to this season.
Chris Adcock (6-3, 300) will get the start at left guard. A versatile player, Adcock is also the backup to the center. The redshirt sophomore appeared in three games as a freshman and has started every game for the Bears this season. Behind Adcock at the right guard position will be Geoffrey Gibson (6-3, 315) a sophomore who made his first appearance this season.
At the right tackle position, the Bears start their most experienced offensive lineman Matt Summers-Gavin (6-4, 300) who entered the season with 25 career starts. Behind him will be Bill Tyndall (6-4, 285) a fourth year junior who does have three starts in his eight appearances this season.
Oregon: Jake Fisher (6-6, 294), a sophomore who appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman last season holds down the right tackle position. Behind him is Everett Benyard (6-7, 305) a junior with 14 appearances last season including at least 20 snaps in four of those appearances.
On the other side is redshirt Freshman Tyler Johnston (6-6, 292) making his ninth start for the Ducks. Behind Johnstone will be Kyle Long (6-7, 311) a senior transfer who engaged in a spirited battle with Johnstone for the starting position during fall camp.
Inside at guard, Oregon starts Kyle Long. Long played impressively last weekend earning his second start for the Ducks. Behind Long will be Hamani Stevens (6-3, 298) a redshirt sophomore who played in 8 games last season.
At the other guard will be Ryan Clanton (6-5, 305) a senior who appeared in 11 games last season for Oregon. Behind him is Nick Cody (6-5, 310) a senior who started all 13 games last season but is battling back from an undisclosed injury.
Center will be manned by Hroniss Grasu (6-3, 294) a sophomore from Crespi High School. Grasu has started every game of his Duck career (21) and is the anchor of the line. Behind Grasu on the depth chart is Karrington Armstrong (6-3, 290) a junior who appeared in 8 games last season for the Ducks.
Given the woes of the Cal offense at protecting the quarterback, this should come as no surprise. Giving up 39 sacks through just ten games is not a good sign for an offensive line. Cal does have a good rushing attack averaging 177 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry.
Those numbers pale in comparison with the Ducks staggering total of 341.2 yards per game and 6.3 yards per carry. The Ducks average over 100 more yards per game on the ground than their next closest conference opponent. Their 6.3 yards per carry bests the second best number in the conference (USC) by over a yard per carry. On the season the Ducks offensive line has allowed just 13 sacks on the season, one behind conference co-leaders Stanford and USC.
Cal : Cal will start Richard Rodgers (6-4, 265) a sophomore from Worcester, Massachusetts. Rodgers appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman on special teams. This season, Rodgers has appeared in nine of ten game with five starts. The Bears have been willing to throw to their tight ends when necessary and Rodgers has accounted for 16 catches for 267 yards, including a long of 51 yards, and has scored one touchdown.
Behind Rodgers will be Jacob Wark (6-4, 255) a sophomore who started the other five games at tight end for the Golden Bears. A former Tualatin High team mate of Oregon defensive lineman Taylor Hart, Wark has 6 catches for 65 yards this season.
Oregon: Colt Lyerla returned from a leg injury last weekend. Despite not catching many passes, Lyerla has been dominant at times. His presence makes the opponent account for his incredible athletic ability and he has grown as a blocker this season. Lyerla has played well this season with 13 catches for 202 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Converted defensive end Koa Ka'ai (6-4, 251) is the best blocker of the three but has shown good hands in his limited early opportunities with 2 catches for 18 yards. Pharoah Brown (6-4, 251) has also played well for the Ducks early with the true freshman making 2 receptions for 42 yards. Brown made his first start against the Buffaloes with Lyerla and Ka'ai missing.
The Ducks have better athleticism and talent at the position, but they use them a lot less in the passing game. Nonetheless, the Ducks are still close in overall production at the position. Given the nature of the blow out victories by the Ducks, when needed, Lyerla was dominant from his tight end position.
Cal: The Golden Bears offensive numbers do not look horrible on the surface. On the ground, the team averages 177 yards per game on 4.8 yards per carry. Passing the ball, Cal averages 225.4 yards per game. The problem comes, though, in that very passing game. The Bears have the fourth most pass attempts in the conference, but the fourth worst completion percentage. The Bears have the third fewest touchdown passes and only three teams in the conference have thrown more interceptions.
The biggest issue in the passing game is the inability of the offensive line to protect the quarterback. Cal has suffered 39 sacks on the season with only Washington State and Colorado suffering more with 40 sacks on the season. The Bears have suffered ball security issues having lost more fumbles (13) than anyone in the conference. In the red-zone, the Bears are not much better ranking ninth overall in the Pac-12 with a 75.8 percent conversion rate. Worse is that the Bears have converted just 14 of 33 opportunities into touchdowns.
Oregon: After the USC game, there is little doubt about just how good the Oregon offense is this season. The Superlative cannot stop about this team. To rush for over 400 yards and pass for over 300 in the same game is simply ridiculous. There is really no better word. Oregon leads the conference in just about every statistical category, rushing offense, total offense, yards per carry, points per game, red-zone offense, fourth down conversions; the list of offensive accolades could spread out for several pages.
Just know that at over 340 yards rushing per game and 54.2 points per game, the Duck starting offense is virtually unstoppable this season.
This is a clear edge for the Ducks. Oregon is better at every offensive position; bigger, faster and stronger. The Ducks have shown that they can score on anyone while Cal struggles to just 24.5 points per game; that's less than half of what the Ducks put on the board. Several times this season, Oregon has had more than 24 by the end of the first quarter.
There are very few conceivable methods in which the California Golden Bears can score anywhere near what Oregon can score. Offensively, the Bears simply do not have the firepower to stay close.
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