Cal offensive coordinator Jake Spavital says Oregon State defense is aggressive, shifting

BERKELEY -- Having Khalfani Muhammad back a week after Cal introduced Demetris Robertson and Melquise Stovall to the backfield gives the Bears options against Oregon State's defense.

California offensive coordinator Jake Spavital on this week of practice: "It was good. I'm telling you, the bye week couldn't come at a greater time right now. We're a little dinged up right now, just got to fight through it all right now, but I think these guys are excited to get on the road. We've been stressing the importance of trying to get a road victory in the Pac-12, and I think they want to go in there and try to have some success and come back and go into the bye week. It's always when you come on to the bye week after a victory, so that's what they're shooting for." does having Khalfani Muhammad back do for you: "It helps out a lot. It brings back the opportunity for some more explosive plays. What he does gives us a little more depth at that position. You'd like to have three guys to roll, and when Khalfani couldn't go, there was a lot more pressure on Vic [Enwere] and Tre [Watson] to carry the load a little bit more, but having him back is going to have the added dimension of explosive plays."

Watson had a breakout game against Oregon State last year, rushing 10 times for 110 yards. He didn't get many touches last week (4 carries for 37 yards, 3 catches for 23 yards). Can he do it again, and how do you feel he's done this week? "Not very many people got touches last week, with 49 plays, but he's getting better each week. I think last week was probably his best week of running the ball. I thought he ran very tough and physical, did some good things for us on some quick screens, as well, but I see him continuing to get better each week, and I'm just waiting for him to have that huge, breakout game."

Oregon State has been susceptible to screens. What have you seen out of them? "They're a pretty aggressive defense at times. They're kind of one thing or the other. They're going to be a quarters team, and be a man-press team, so I think it's going to be a big mental game for us, to take what the defense gives us, and understand what we're trying to accomplish from our game plan, and go through the progressions, and just not really jump into not be definitive in their decisions, make sure you're reading everything and running through your progressions, because they kind of mix everything up from one extreme to the other."

How much does having Demetris Robertson and Melquise Stovall going back to their running back routes when you get them in the backfield help the run game proper? "It is, with having our 11 personnel stuff out there with Malik McMorris and our running backs, how they're playing pretty physical right now, they can be blockers, as well, so having that added dimension, putting some of those guys in the backfield, running quick motion tosses, I think that makes it a lot harder for defenses to prepare for, when they know that any of these guys can line up in the backfield and run a quick motion and toss it to them. I think the more that you can throw that into the game plan, the harder that is for defensive coordinators for what they've got to prepare for, throughout the week."

Gary Andersen is known as a defensive guy: "I think they play hard. That's one of the things that they do. They don't do too much. They're very sound in what they do, and they play hard and they play aggressive. That's something that I've been trying to emphasize all week, is that we've got to play each play, focus on attention to detail, because they're going to be moving out of different fronts, and they do a lot of shift calls right before the snap happens, so you might line up in one thing, and they shift right into the next thing. We've got to pay very good attention to detail and focus one play at a time."

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