Previewing the Sydney College Cup as Cal faces Hawaii

We've got storylines, what to watch for and broadcast details for the Sydney College Cup between California and Hawaii.

California vs. Hawaii


When: 7:00 p.m. Pacific, Fri., Aug. 26
Where: ANZ Stadium, Sydney, NSW, Australia (link courtesy our Stadium Journey review folks)
Sydney Sendoff Transcript: Message Board Thread
TV: SPN -- Allen Bestwick (play by play), Mike Bellotti (analyst), Warren Smith (sideline)
Radio: KGO 810 AM - Joe Starkey (Play-by-Play), former Cal QB Mike Pawlawski (Analyst), Todd McKim (Sideline)
SiriusXM Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 84
Cal Student Radio: KALX 90.7 FM - Glenn Borok

Series History: Tied, 2-2
Last Meeting: Hawaii 21 at Cal 7 (Sept. 17, 1994)
First Meeting: at Hawaii 14, Cal 0 (Jan. 1, 1934)

Injuries: Hawaii: None; Cal: LT Aaron Cochran (doubtful; sprained knee)

PDF icon2016-08-27 Cal Game Notes vs Hawai'i.pdf

PDF icon2016-08-27 Hawai'i Game Notes vs. Cal.pdf

What to Watch When Cal is on Offense: FULL Offensive PREVIEW (members)

  • New quarterback Davis Webb, named the starting quarterback on Aug. 4. The Texas Tech transfer learned under Kliff Kingsbury, who was new Cal offensive coordinator Jake Spavital's mentor at Houston. Head coach Sonny Dykes was a wide receivers coach at Texas Tech when Kingsbury was the quarterback for the Red Raiders. The common tongue amongst all parties has helped make the transition for Webb seamless. Webb completed 459-of-747 passes for 5,557 yards with 46 touchdowns to 22 picks in 23 games, including 14 starts for the Red Raiders.
  • The Bears return four of five starting offensive linemen, and their three most productive running backs, in Vic EnwereTre Watson and Khalfani Muhammad. Watson and Muhammad are on the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award, and Enwere was named to the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award watch list. All three backs rushed for over 500 yards last season, and Spavital's pedigree says he'll be more apt to run the ball than predecessor Tony Franklin. Watch for runs between the tackles, which have been a larger feature of this new-look offense through fall camp. Also, while Cochran is out, Patrick Mekari, the "most polished" lineman Cal has, will take over at left tackle, with Addison Ooms taking first reps at center over 2015 starter Dominic Granado.
  • Even though the Bears lost their six most productive receivers from last year, ace freshmen Melquise Stovall (slot) and Demetris Robertson are explosive home run threats, as is Tennessee transfer Vic WhartonChad Hansen is, according to some, the most pro-ready receiver on the roster, with a 4.41 40 time and a 6-foot-2, 205-pound build. He and Ray Hudson are the most veteran returning receivers.
  • Hawaii lost three of four starting defensive backs from last year, but do return safety Trayvon Henderson, a two-year starter who missed last season with a knee injury. Last year, the Warriors only tallied three total interceptions, and were sixth in the Mountain West with 208.9 passing yards allowed per game.

What to Watch When Cal is on Defense: FULL Offensive PREVIEW (members)

  • There are two potential pros -- at least at this point -- on the Cal defense: Cornerback Darius Allensworth (who could be a lock-down defender this season, improving on his ability to finish plays that flashed multiple times last year) and defensive tackle James Looney. Looney has been more active inside this fall camp, and has made a jump, according to coaches. His quick feet and athleticism will help the Bears defend what's still a largely unknown offense from Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich.
  • Rolovich has blended into whatever offensive style he's been around in his last two stops. Though he's used the pistol to great effect as offensive coordinator at Nevada, he's a quarterback at heart, and has echoed June Jones's run-and-shoot style the last time he coached for the Warriors. What he'll bring to Sydney is likely a combination -- a pistol that can throw. Can the Bears seal the edges to hold the zone read of the pistol in check? How will a defensive backfield that lost Damariay DrewGriffin PiattStefan McClureCaleb Coleman, and Darius White cope with a passing attack that's not their own, in practice?
  • Cal also lost linebackers Jalen Jefferson (graduation), Nathan Broussard (graduation), Michael Barton (graduate transfer to Arizona) and Hardy Nickerson (graduate transfer to Illinois), while bringing in just two new linebackers in 6-foot-4, 230-pound JuCo transfer Jordan Kunaszyk and freshman Cameron Goode. The Bears did, however, move safety Derron Brown to outside linebacker, and he's a speedy pass rusher off the edge, who can also drop back into coverage. The Bears will be running more nickel and dime for the most part this year, to deal with the passing attacks in the Pac-12, but it will be interesting to see how much of that we see against Hawaii, with its hybrid attack.
  • Can the Bears get a pass rush? Cal lost seven defensive linemen from last year's team, but bring young guns Evan Weaver and Cameron Saffle, as well as a resurgent Noah Westerfield and DeVante Wilson, who told BearTerritory that he feels he has something to prove after coming in "a bit pudgy" last year. Cal allowed 209.8 rushing yards per game last season, so the onus will be on Looney, Tony Mekari and redshirt freshman Luc Bequette to plug the holes, but also on the linebacking corps to fill gaps, which is so crucial against a pistol team.
  • Hawaii will bring running back Paul Harris (1,132 yards last year) and junior Diocemy Saint Juste to bear against Cal's defensive front. Saint Juste was the starter for the 2015 season, before a hamstring injury sidelined him, allowing Harris to thrive. Warriors quarterback Ikaika Woolsey is a Richmond (Calif.) Salsian grad who has more interceptions (22) in his career than touchdown passes (18), but moving from Norm Chow's pro-style attack to an offense that willr ely more on misdirection could buy him some time. We saw a lot of blitzing during fall camp, so that may very well be how Cal plans to attack.

Other Storylines

  • This is the first college football game ever in the city of Sydney, Australia, and the first on the continent since games in Melbourne in 1985 and 1987. The crowd at the former Olympic stadium now christened ANZ Stadium is expected to break 60,000. The stadium's capacity is 83,500.
  • Last season, Cal reached a bowl game for the first time since 2011, and won a bowl game for the first time since 2008. Hawaii has not been to a bowl game since 2010, and has not won a bowl game since 2006. They did not go to a single bowl game during Norm Chow's tenure as head coach.
  • Cal -- which is trying to bridge a $17-20 million funding gap for athletics, will take home at least $1m over a normal home game. If the game is successful, officials say, it could turn into an annual event.
  • The Bears and Hawaii needed a special waiver from the NCAA to play this game, and to start practices/fall camp a week early. That was approved in November, when the game was first announced, which we broke on BearTerritory.

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