Match-Up to Watch: Jared Goff and the Cal Run Game Against Washington State Defense

BERKELEY -- Two of Washington State's linebackers are at the top of the Pac-12 rolls in tackles per game, so how can the Bears' run game help take pressure off of Jared Goff?

BERKELEY -- With new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, Washington State has a far different defense than last season, when California quarterback Jared Goff tossed five touchdowns, and threw for 527 yards against the Cougars. For starters, Washington State has nine sacks on the season -- leading the Pac-12, second in the nation -- and have tallied 25 tackles for loss, good for 11th in the nation. 

In 2014, the Cougars started four true freshmen in the secondary, but that back end is one year older this season, with senior safety Taylor Taliulu leading the way as a three-year starter. 

“I think the fact that they’re not doing what they were doing last year, might be an improvement," says Goff, who's 92-for-133 (69.2%) with 11 touchdowns to three interceptions, and 1,240 yards under his belt this season. "That’s not any sort of disrespect, but we were able to put quite a few yards on them last year. They mixed it up on defense, and they’ve done some different stuff. It’s going to make it tougher for us to do what we want to do, and personnel-wise, they look good. They bring pressure, and they’re a good defense.” Grinch's 3-4 alignment, with far more blitzing packages, will put more pressure on Goff and his offensive line, which will likely be missing left tackle Brian Farley, who went out in the first quarter last week against Washington with an ankle sprain. 

Running back Daniel Lasco practiced nearly in full on Tuesday, and could very well return to action against the Cougars after missing two games, during which the Bears rushed for 280 and 139 yards against Texas and the Huskies, respectively.

“I think he’s going to help a lot, with the experience and all that stuff, but that being said, the last two weeks, the guys have done an incredible job filling in," Goff says. "It was almost like we didn’t even notice that he’s not out there, and that’s not taking anything away from Daniel.Vic [Enwere] and Khalfani [Muhammad] and Jeff (Jeffrey Coprich) and Tre [Watson] did such a good job stepping in, in two big games, two big games on the road, that we needed to play well in, and did such a great job coming in and playing well, picking up extra yards when they had to, and running through people and pass blocking and everything that they’re supposed to do. They did such a good job helping out, but having Daniel back is going to help tremendously, and is going to make us a much better offense.”

This week, of course, will be Homecoming for the Bears, who have won two consecutive road games in back-to-back weeks for the first time since 1993 and are now at No. 24 in both the Coaches Poll and the Associated Press Top 25, checking into the rankings for the first time since 2010. "I think the students are more into it, more excited, as they should be, when we win four games in a row and are undefeated, rather than when we won one game," Goff said. "They should be a little more excited, I'd hope. Honestly, in our locker room, there's not much of a change. We're very determined. We're a very level-headed team, and we kind of expected to be here. Four games through, we wanted to be 4-0, and that's where we are now. After this game, we expect to be 5-0, which is how it goes every week. Then, after that and after that, and all the way through. We just have a very confident team, we want to win every game, but we want to win this week's game, first of all."

Head coach Sonny Dykes has said that the offense is nowhere near what it can be, and Goff agrees, especially after three straight failed goal-line runs relegated Cal to a mere field goal against Washington, and as Cal scored just two touchdowns on six trips into the red zone.

"Their defense hit the gaps the right way, we didn't block it very well, the running back probably didn't hit the hole, there are probably a boatload of things," Goff said. "At the same time, there were a lot of third-and-ones that we probably converted, and we did convert that last fourth down, and there were a lot of good plays. It's a give-and-take, but we can work on a lot of stuff, try to get right for this week." Top Stories