Bears battered up front

Quarterback Zach Maynard was sacked seven times, as California had no control at the line of scrimmage against USC.

LOS ANGELES – Surrounded by a group of reporters on the faded grass of the Coliseum, USC running back Silas Redd summed up California's 27-9 defeat in their Pac-12 opener in eight words.

"Oh man, those holes were gaping out there," said Redd, the Penn State transfer who rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.

"Everything was clicking on all cylinders for us in the run game, and I couldn't be more proud of the guys up front."

Up front was where Cal was brutalized on both sides of the ball, pushed around by an offensive line buoyed by the return of center Khaled Holmes, while Golden Bears quarterback Zach Maynard was battered for the second consecutive week.

Said Cal head coach Jeff Tedford: "Up front, they played more physical. Zach was under a lot of duress. We couldn't get the run game going."

That manifested itself in a 296-77 advantage in rushing yards for USC, while Cal allowed seven sacks of Maynard, who absorbed several other crushing hits.

With right tackle Matt Summers-Gavin absent for the third straight game, the USC front four took turns in pummeling Maynard as he tried to operate behind a shaky offensive line. Defensive end Wes Horton and tackle George Uko had a sack apiece, while freshman tackle Leonard Williams took down Maynard twice.

Most impressive was junior college transfer Morgan Breslin, whose three sacks were the most by a USC player in a single game since Rey Maualuga had three in the 2008 Rose Bowl against Illinois.

"Coming into this game, I thought he was maybe the best defensive lineman," Tedford said of Breslin. "He's very hard on the edge to block. He plays with great leverage. He is very fast off the edge. He is capable of making plays. I have a lot of respect for him."

On the other side of the ball, Cal had no success in getting to quarterback Matt Barkley, as Stanford had done the week prior in their 21-14 upset shocker, but the biggest surprise was the commitment USC coach and playcaller Lane Kiffin showed to keeping the ball on the ground.

Curtis McNeal added 115 yards to the ledger, as USC ultimately had 40 runs to 34 passes.

"I was surprised," cornerback Steve Williams said. "I was surprised because they didn't have a running attack the previous game or the game before that. They didn't really run the ball effectively. They came out here and just pounded the ball down the middle."

"They took advantage of us," outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett said. "When they started running the ball, you had to account for it. They really weren't in passing downs."

After allowing an average of 246 yards on the ground in defeat this season, it is a trend that must be reversed quickly for Cal to climb out of its 1-3 hole.

Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.


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