Daniel Lasco and the Cal Football Team's Run Game Faces Off Against San Diego State's Calvin Munson

The Cal run game wasn't a big part of the win over Grambling State because it didn't have to be. This week, the Bears are going to face a real challenge ...

One thing distinguishes Rocky Long's teams, in the mind of California head coach Sonny Dykes: Toughness.

“His teams are always very similar: They always play very hard, and that’s the thing that stands out," Dykes said this week. "That’s probably the best compliment you can give a coach, is that his teams play hard. His always play hard. They’re always physical, they’re always, he gets everything he can get out of his players. They’re always very well-prepared.”

One thing the Bears have wanted to be able to do this season is to be that kind of tough, disciplined, play-hard team, and that means runnin gthe ball. Last week, Cal ran for 185 yards as a team, out of 660 total yards of offense, with starting tailback Daniel Lasco taking just five carries for 14 yards. The Bears didn't need to run the ball last week, and while this week, faced with an Aztecs defense that's generally tough against the run, the rushing game wouldn't seem to be that crucial, Cal is going to need to show it can run to take some pressure off of quarterback Jared Goff.

http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1585595-bear-republic-podc... “The big thing is, you take what people give you," said offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. "I want to run the football to finish ballgames out. I’m not going to jam it, if they outnumber us by two, when we have a wide-open guy that I could complete. That’s what the quarterback knows. Most of the time, we’d like to be able to finish the game running the ball, but if somebody’s going to come up and give us an easy throw, we’ll take it.”

Showing the run early will do a lot against a team that's missing its top safety in Trey Lomax, who started 10 games last season as a freshman, and with 63 tackles, tied for third on the team, adding two fumble recoveries for 15 yards. Those 63 tackles were the most by a San Diego State freshman since Andrew Preston had 72 in 2007.

Without him, the middle of the field will be patrolled by an incredibly opportunisitc and seemingly omnipresent linebacker Calvin Munson.

"They try to win differently than a lot of people try to do these days," Dykes said. "They’re going to play a very aggressive, blitzing, defensive system. Typically, defenses like this give up a lot of big plays; they don’t. They tackle well in the back end, they know how to help each other. Their spacing, and all the things that help make a defense good, they’re very good at those things.”

Last week, Munson tallied a team-high 11 tackles, 2.5 for loss, two interceptions returned for a touchdown, a sack and a fumble recovery against San Diego.

“He’s just very active," Dykes said. "He’s typical of a lot of their players, defensively. He just plays really hard, he’s around the ball, he’s got good instincts. When he has the opportunity to make plays, he makes them, and he just is a really good football player, a guy that just shows up, play after play after play. He reminds me a lot of Scooby Wright, same type of player.”

Keeping Munson honest with the run will give Goff more space to work in the passing game.

“They do so much stuff. They’re one of these teams that, they’re all over the place with what they do," Franklin said. "The scheme has a lot of movement, a lot of last-second shifts. There are going to be times where somebody’s going to loop or stunt in some fashion and probably come untouched. What we have to do in the run game, is the running backs have to understand that, going in, there are going to be times where a lot of times, a guy may only get an arm out, so it’s their job to break the arm, keep the pads low in the box and finish the run. They’re a good football team. They’ve been really good on defense for a while, and they’re really good this year.”

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