PREVIEW: Cal offensive line coach Brandon Jones breaks down Oregon's rush defense

BERKELEY -- With the Cal running game averaging 7.2 yards per carry against Oregon State (the highest ypc average under head coach Sonny Dykes), has the run game turned a corner? We chat with offensive line coach Brandon Jones to find out.

BearTerritory: Oregon has given up a lot of big plays on the ground -- 20 running plays of at least 17 yards -- so do you see any similarity in their run defense, compared to your own defense, which you see in practice?

Brandon Jones: No, they're a little bit different, I think, scheme-wise. I know I feel our defense is -- I wouldn't say a ton better -- but they give us a lot of good looks, at times, too, so I think Oregon's just kind of trying to figure out their identity, obviously, with the new DC (Brady Hoke). That's obviously something I'm sure they've tried to shore up this week, having a bye week, also. How much different are they than last year, schematically?

BJ: They ran a lot more three-down, and they're a lot more four-down this year. That's part of the transition, and it takes a bit of time. You recruited for a 3-4, and you're trying to work to a 4-3. They still have some pieces. They might be a little down as a program, compared to last year, with [DeForest] Buckner [gone], but they've still got some pieces.

BT: That extra down lineman, that sucks up an outside linebacker that has to get bigger.

BJ: Absolutely. Absolutely. He's a little bit more multiple, but his base is a 4-3. I've seen some bear fronts (five-man fronts), I've seen some three-down, and I think he's trying to keep people guessing. I've seen a 5-1. That's something I'm sure they're shoring up, and I'm sure he's simplifying a ton of stuff, and just letting the kids play, similar to what we're doing, offensively.

Sign up for!
Why join?

BT: What did you do against Oregon State? Obviously, committing to the run (with 44 carries) is step one in the process, but what did you think your unit did, technically and schematically, that helped?

BJ: We knew they'd be a bit more of a three-down team, and we've got some pretty good run stuff. I think coach [Jake Spavital] did a real good job of just committing to it, and just understanding we're not going to hit eight or nine yards each play, but we'll get a good four, a good five, and wear 'em down, and then those big runs naturally start to happen.

BT: Oregon has given up a lot of big runs, and last week against Washington, they gave up four of 30 or more yards. What do you see when they let those big plays happen?

BJ: It's just missed fits. It's either missed fits or missed communication. I think people have done a really good job of scheming them up. They struggle with their overall communication and run fits -- 'I've got this B gap,' and things of that nature. You say that, but I think they're going to come to play like the '85 Bears. They've had a week off, and I'm sure they've gotten a lot of criticism, and I'm pretty sure they're adamant about fixing their run defense."

More Coverage: Has the Cal Run Game Turned a Corner? (members)

null Top Stories