On Wednesday night, R.J. Abeytia and I gabbed about the 118th Big Game, and here is the segment where I quiz Abeytia, of TheBootleg.com, about just what Stanford has going for it going into Saturday.
You can find the full podcast available for download on VSporto right HERE.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1612315-sixth-win-down-bea... In this first segment, available here, R.J. and I talk about the Cardinal running defense, tipped by Brennan Scarlett, and the curious -2 turnover differential Stanford brings into this game. Why is that? R.J. puts that squarely on the secondary, and the exceptionally thin defensive line at the 3:00 mark.
Expect to see fewer blitzes, twists and stunts from Stanford up front, and an "exceptionally young" secondary.
Stanford has been far more vanilla by design, because of the lack of experience in the back end, with three of the five starters in the nickel back formation checking in as sophomores or younger.
The biggest key? Stanford is having trouble causing panic among quarterbacks, and that's how you get turnovers. Given Cal's offensive line performance in two of the last three weeks, and the receivers finally breaking through a young secondary's press-man coverage last week, that seems like it could tilt in Cal's favor.
At the 5:00 mark, we dig into the significance of Scarlett's transfer, and what it's done for that depleted defensive line, which features former Cal recruit Aziz Shittu.
At the 7:10 mark, we get over to the offensive side of the ball, which is being guided by a much more creative David Shaw than we've seen in years past. The bubble screens and draws are still there, but this Cardinal offense has been much more varied, and much more multiple in the last eight weeks.
"Stanford fell off a cliff, last year, offensively, and they were less than the sum of their parts," Abeytia says, and things needed to be tweaked.
The Cardinal are now the second-most prolific scoring offense in the Pac-12 (37.0 ppg, one spot ahead of the Bears' 36.8 ppg), despite being eighth in total offense (447.3 ypg).
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1613093-big-game-key-match... At 8:40, R.J. talks about how much less predictable the Cardinal have been both in personnel and play calling -- running out of pass formations, and passing out of run formations -- and they've also added an outside run game, thanks to the emergence of Christian McCaffrey. Lots of buck sweep to be expected.
At 9:48, we start to talk more in-depth about Hogan, and about his ability to run the ball, and how that's added an extra dimension to his overall game, which has also expanded thanks to a more developed deep passing game, evinced by a particular play to Michael Rector against Colorado.
"He's stepped up," Abeytia says.
At 11:35, we dig into just what McCaffrey has done to improve from last season, and how he's developed into one of the most dynamic playmakers in the Pac-12. Could he be an even better receiver than a running back?