California Offensive Preview

California has an explosive offense and Arizona will look to contain it on Saturday. Read on to see what makes the offense strong, who the key players are, and more.

Arizona will face the best offense it has seen this season when California comes to town on Saturday.

Much of the offense’s success revolves around 6-foot-4, 210-pound sophomore Jared Goff. As a freshman, Goff did a solid job, but he is even better this season. In two games, Goff has completed 58 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and only one interception.

The fact that one of those games was against Sacramento State does not mean much either, as Goff threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns against a decent Northwestern squad.

Freshman Luke Rubenzer will also get some snaps, but they will mostly be because the Golden Bears want to give the opposition a different look. Rubenzer has only thrown nine passes this season, but he has 17 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown.

Against Sacramento State, Cal tired to show more of a passing look with Rubenzer likely in order to let Arizona know that he is capable of throwing. Still, the threat here is on the ground and that is likely what the Wildcats are preparing for.

As impressive as it is that Rubenzer is tied for the most carries on the team, it’s not necessarily the best result for the Golden Bears.

Junior Daniel Lasco has 17 carries for 116 yards and one touchdown, but that includes a long of 50, so his average yards per carry is a bit deceiving.

In addition to Lasco, Cal will use a handful of running backs. The most explosive is probably 5-foot-7, 170-pound sophomore Khalfani Muhammad. He has some difficulty finding open space, but once he does, there aren’t many players in the conference that are faster in the open field. His stats are nothing great, but the ability is there.

The main reason Cal does not run a lot is because the strength is in its passing game. Ten different players have at least one reception in the first two games of the season and there are threats underneath and down the field as well.

Last season against Arizona, Kenny Lawler had three touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound sophomore has three touchdowns already this season with one of them coming against Northwestern.

As talented as Lawler is, he has plenty of help. Junior Darius Powe leads the team in yardage with 156 and he has also added a touchdown. Junior Chris Harper has seven catches for 72 yards and a score, but the real surprise has been the play of Hawaii transfer Trevor Davis.

Against Northwestern, Davis had three catches for 93 yards and a touchdown and followed it with a similar performance against Sacramento State. Davis is a burner and might be the best deep threat Cal has early in the season.

In addition to those players, Cal still has guys like Bryce Treggs and Maurice Harris, so it makes sense that the Wildcats are likely to put extra defensive backs on the field.

Cal has size at left tackle with 6-foot-6, 300-pound sophomore Steven Moore. Last season, Moore started 11 games at right tackle and the move has not been much of an issue for him. Next to Moore is 6-foot-3, 300-pound sophomore Chris Borrayo, who started the last five games last season and is considered to be oen of the better interior linemen in the conference.

Senior Chris Adcock missed the majority of last season with an injury, but has slowly come along in the first two games. Senior Alejandro Crosthwaite started the final nine games of last season and has held on to the job since.

Last is 6-foot-4, 300-pound junior Jordan Rigsbee, who is Cal’s most experienced lineman. He has started every game since redshirting his first year as a Golden Bear and is the most versatile with experience at guard, center, and tackle.

Players to Watch

#8, QB Luke Rubenzer: The freshman quarterback may not be the best thrower, but he has posed some problems with his ability to run. Arizona is going to have to respect his running ability and it will be interesting to see how Sonny Dykes and the Cal coaching staff decide to use him.

#9, WR Trevor Davis: Guys like Lawler and Treggs will get more media attention, but Davis has been extremely dangerous in the opening two contests. He has fantastic speed and has taken advantage of the single coverage he has seen. Arizona can’t let him get deep, which may be easier said than done.

#5, RB Tre Watson: He may only have 13 carries for 48 yards, but the talent is there. Watson had numerous high major offers coming out of high school and there is a reason for that. Ultimately, he may not have a good game on Saturday, but he has enough potential to surprise.

Keys to the Game:

Contain the deep ball: Arizona did a good job last season of keeping Cal in front of the defense and making the majority of Goff’s completions short. If it is able to do so against this season, the Golden Bears become much less dangerous because Arizona’s speed should be able to do the job in the open field.

Make Cal one-dimensional: It’s no secret that Cal wants to pass on Saturday, but if it is able to establish the run at any point, Arizona is in trouble. It’s much easier to stop a defense when you have a good idea of what is coming. Should the Golden Bears be able to run, Arizona is playing more of a guessing game and Cal is much better because of it.

Limit Rubenzer: Cal wants to establish Rubenzer has a runner because it will open up numerous aspects of its offense. As long as he isn’t running free, Arizona should be just fine. The Wildcats did a good job of containing Fajardo and will look to do the same when Rubenzer enters the game.


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