BERKELEY -- Last week, Oregon racked up a program single-game record 777 yards of total offense, as the Ducks ran all over California at Autzen Stadium.
This week, after not having defensive tackle James Looney's (knee) services against the Ducks, and seeing linebacker Michael Barton (knee) and Jalen Jefferson (shoulder) taking "minimal" snaps, the Bears will have all three back.
"I think the biggest thing is that James brings athleticism to that position, and not just a big guy, but an athleticism," says Cal defensive coordinator Art Kaufman. "A game like Oregon, their deal is athletic people in their front, and it hurt not having him. He's been a big part of our production this year. Having him makes a lot of difference. We lost him, but we also lost him in the rotation, a body in the rotation, so we had more snaps than we did all year, and people had to double-down because he's not there."
This week won't just be different in the front seven.
Oregon State is dead last in the conference in scoring offense (17.2 points per game), and has scored just 25 points in the past three games, capped off by a 41-0 stomping at the hands of UCLA last week.
The Beavers are also last in the Pac-12 in total offense, averaging 328.9 yards per game -- fewer total yards than California averages in passing yards (337.0) per game. Oregon State is a bit better -- ninth in the Pac-12 -- in rushing offense, averaging 172.4 yards per game, but, it turns out, a good chunk of that -- 28.0 yards per game -- comes from do-everything fullback/running back/tight end Ryan Nall, who, according to Beavers head coach Gary Andersen, will likely not play this week, due to a concussion. That said, the Beavers still do have senior tailback Storm Woods, who averages 51.1 yards per game on the ground.
"He's a 250-pound guy, but not just a big guy, but an athletic guy," Kaufman says of Nall. "A guy his size, they use him a lot of different ways -- as a tight end, as an H-back, as a ball carrier, as a blocker -- so their protections, you can't just key in on him as the lead blocker. He does a lot of things."
San Diego (Calif.) Granite Hills alum and freshman quarterback Seth Collins, though, has been Oregon State's leader on the ground, averaging 77.3 yards per game on the ground, but, three weeks ago, he went down with a knee injury in practice. He hasn't played since, after starting the Beavers' first seven games, and Andersen says he won't play on Saturday.
Instead, redshirt freshman Nick Mitchell -- who's played and started three games -- will take the snaps on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, with a passer efficiency rating of just 85.6. He's completed 37-of-78 passes, with four picks, for 410 yards and one touchdown.
"I think the biggest thing is, their offense is pretty multiple," says Kaufman. "It's built not just for one quarterback. They do certain things for certain quarterbacks, but it's built enough to be multiple, and that's what they'll try to do."
"I think the biggest thing is that we do what we do, and we've got to do it to the best of our ability, and if there are blitzes or things we can do, coverage-wise, to confuse them, that's good," Kaufman says. "Some of the freshmen are, and some of them aren't. You have to see where it's at during the game, because this is a team that we have seen, but this is an offense that we have not seen, and a quarterback we have not seen."
Since the switch from Mike Riley to Anderson this past offseason, the Beavers are indeed a very, very different offense. Gone is the pro-style passing attack and downhill running game of Sean Mannion and Jacquizz Rodgers.
"They're a totally different team than they were last year," Kaufman says. "Last year, they had a pro-style quarterback, under center, no quarterback run game. This year, they're everything but pro-style. They're spread, they're two-back, they're a lot of motion, there are a lot of shifts, quite a bit of quarterback run game, all different sorts of things."