Cal quarterback-turned-safety Luke Rubenzer will face familiar faces when the Bears host Arizona State

Luke Rubenzer has connections to Arizona State, as the Bears look to close out 2015 with a win at home on Senior Day.

California (6-5, 3-5 in Pac-12) vs. Arizona State (6-5, 4-4)


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When: 7:00 p.m. Pacific, Sat., Nov. 28
Where: California Memorial Stadium, Stanford, Calif.
Weekly Preview Presser: Message Board Thread
TV: FOX Sports 1 - Justin Kutcher (play by play), Steve Hutchinson (analyst)
Radio: KGO 810 AM - Joe Starkey (Play-by-Play), former Cal QB Mike Pawlawski (Analyst), Todd McKim (Sideline)
SiriusXM Satellite Radio: Sirius (137) and XM (197)
Cal Student Radio: KALX 90.7 FM - Justin Allen (play-by-play), Vincent Morgado (analyst), Manna Yohannes (Analyst)
Series History: Cal leads, 17-15
Last Meeting: Arizona State 27 at Cal 17 (Sept. 29, 2012)
Last Cal Win: Cal 47, at Arizona State 38 (Nov. 25, 2011)
Last Cal Home Win: at Cal 50, Arizona State 17 (Oct. 23, 2010)
Current Win Streak: Arizona State, 1
First Meeting: Cal 31, at Stanford 22 (Sept. 25, 1976)

Injuries: CB Jaylinn Hawkins (out-season; shoulder), LB Aisea Tongilava (out-season; toe), RB Daniel Lasco (questionable; ankle), RB Khalfani Muhammad (questionable; ankle), S Damariay Drew (out; knee), WR Kenny Lawler (questionable; hip), Griffin Piatt (out; lower leg), DE Jonathan Johnson (out; knee)

Cal Game Notes

ASU Game Notes

Familiar Faces

When quarterback-turned-safety Luke Rubenzer decided to flip from the offensive side of the ball to defense, he wasn't doing it completely blind. While a prolific passer at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro, he was also a hard-hitting safety, tallying 14 tackles, two interceptions and three pass break-ups as a senior.

Now, with one game left in the season, Rubenzer -- once a three-star quarterback signee and an Elite 11 finalist -- has 27 tackles, one interception, one pass breakup and two passes defended, and while he says that returning to quarterback at some point is a possibility, defense is certainly a place he's comfortable. "I guess we'll see," he says. "That's always a possibility. It depends on what Jared's going to do next year, if that's going to be open. Then, on the defense, that might be open with McClure graduating, so it's a possibility. Right now, I'm just trying to focus on this upcoming game, our bowl game, and then going into spring, I'll be focusing more on that."

“He’s a good athlete, he runs well, he’s got some toughness about him and he’s really adjusted to a position change remarkably fast," safeties coach Greg Burns said back in the spring.

"He’s got good instincts," says head coach Sonny Dykes. "He’s physical."

It had been a year since Rubenzer played safety when he made that transition, but the biggest transition for the 6-foot, 195-pounder wasn't the size of the competition, or the conceptual work on defense.

"I would say just the speed. You can tell, all the receivers in the Pac-12 have good coaches, and they're all good athletes," he says. "I wouldn't say it's necessarily the size. I don't really like to talk about size all that much," he laughs. "I would say the speed and the cuts that they make in their routes. That's the biggest thing. In high school, they don't run the sharpest routes. Here in the Pac-12, everyone's running those crisp, clean cuts that are tough to keep up with sometimes."

Last year, Rubenzer rushed six times for a net of eight yards and had one fumble. With Damariay Drew and Griffin Piatt out this week in the season finale against Arizona State, there will be 'safety by committee,' and he's one of the committee.

"We are struggling with a couple injuries right now, so that's not going to help, but we're definitely playing better as a unit, just having fun," Rubenzer says. "We all came together, got fired up together, trying to get that momentum back during the second half. I think, compared to the beginning of the season, we just all come together, and we all realize our role on the defense. I think we're playing a lot better now than we were at the beginning of the year."

He's gone from niche quarterback to potentially starting alongside Stefan McClure

"I think it's worked out pretty well," Rubenzer says. "I definitely think that this year, with the situation at quarterback, I wouldn't have gotten nearly as many snaps as I do now, on defense, if I were to stay on offense. I'm really happy with the situation that I've been put in, and the decision I've made to try out a new position."

While last year's game in Tucson was in his home state, this week's contest against the Sun Devils is more meaningful for Rubenzer.

"It's going to be fun. I grew up with a lot of those guys, and playing with them or against them," says Rubenzer. "Some of them went to my high school, too, so it's going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be a little bit more meaningful, actually, than the game last year, just because of where we're at in the season. It's the last game, we're both battling for a better bowl bid, and just trying to get that last win. It's going to be really meaningful. ASU is about 10 minutes away from my high school -- right down the road.

"D.J. Foster, he was my running back. When I was a sophomore, he was a senior, at Saguaro, and I know Kalen Ballage, just from camps, a couple other players -- Tyler Whiley, I know Fred Gammage. There's a handful of guys that I know. I' msure when I see them this weekend, it'll all come back."

Tempe was a possible destination for Rubenzer when he was first being recruited.

"Yeah, early on in the recruiting process, they were one of the first ones to contact me, because of the proximity to where I was from," Rubenzer says. "They had a lot to offer down there. It's a good spot to be, and obviously, it doesn't hurt to stay close to home sometimes, but it's definitely a place that I was interested in. In the end, it worked out well here."

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