Preview: Cal vs. Colorado State

Speed kills. Speed, or the lack of it, is probably what is going to kill Colorado State's chances of reviving its season. The Ram's defense lacked the speed to keep up with Colorado in their 28-31 season opening overtime loss, played at a neutral site in Denver.

Cal is faster than Colorado. Cal might be faster than anyone. So, do the math. The Ram defense is strong up front and deep, but not fast. They are led by senior Jesse Nading, and are experienced with three of the four starting linemen in their senior season, including nose tackle and local product Erik Sandie out of Concord's De La Salle High.

The linebackers are lacking in experience with Jeff Hornick in the middle the only starter with significant experience.

All the defensive backfield returns, but they return from a team that lost the last seven games of the year in 2006. They are physical, but not particularly fast (... getting the picture?)

Rams' coach Sonny Lubick is very impressed with Cal's offense speed.

"That concerns everybody who will play them. I was surprised with how fast their tailbacks were also. The speed would be a concern, and I would try to keep them from hitting the crease. And that's hard to do after 80 plays. If they hit the crease it could be a 50 yard gain."

Look for Cal to use all its weapons, including perhaps an added emphasis on the tight end over the middle. If they can spread the field and have CSU on the wrong foot, they should have a field day.

Offensively the Rams are more formidable.

"The quarterback is strong, the running back is tough," said Cal coach Jeff Tedford about the CSU offense. "They're a balanced team and they can hurt you in a number of ways."

The strength of the CSU offense is in the experience and strength of quarterback Caleb Hanie, the rushing of Kyle Bell, and the receiving of tight end Kory Sperry.

Hanie threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns against the Buffalos. He completed passes at a scary 74 percent (20/27) efficiency. He was not intercepted until his last pass of the game.

The 6' 2" 236 lb. senior is strong with an ability to make plays on the run and shake off tacklers with his strength. It will be important for Cal to tackle well when they get to Hanie, and for the backfield to stick with its coverage assignments because he can buy time by breaking tackles and bouncing off defenders.

All three of Hanie's touchdown passes were to TE Sperry, a big (6' 6" 260 lb.) senior who can exploit openings in the short zone. To neutralize him Cal's linebackers and safeties must crowd him; pressure on QB Hanie will perhaps persuade the Ram coaches keep Sperry in more often to help with quarterback protection.

Tailback Kyle Bell returns to the Ram lineup after missing all of last season with a knee injury. He is a tough back who will run through arm tackles. He carried the ball 40 times against Colorado, so there may be some Ram concerns about the ability of his knee to sustain kind of action.

Lubick says he is going to kick to DeSean Jackson, but we'll see. Colorado's drive for the field goal that sent the game into overtime was set up by poor coverage on a punt.

"Well, we'll probably punt to him," said Lubick. "That's what most of you would like to see right? The fans come and pay. I don't want you booing if we punt it out of bounds. That last punt cover we had was devastating. We made a couple of miscues on that and that goes back to us as coaches."

On the other hand, Rams special teams coach Dave Arnold collapsed toward the end of the Colorado game due to dehydration and exhaustion. He got out of the hospital just in time to see Jackson's punt return against Tennessee, and reportedly asked his wife to take him "right back to the hospital."

Cal kicker Tom Schneider is still doubtful with a pulled quad. Jordan Kay will handle the kicking duties with punter Andrew Larson handling kick offs.

Asked about his first week back calling the offensive plays, and to rate his own performance, Tedford took his usual low-key approach.

"I don't know, I guess average, I don't really look at that. I think we were six-of-13 on third down. I think we had chances to make plays. It was fine. The players that are doing it, I didn't have a lot to do with the plays, it's the players that are executing the plays and they work very hard in preparation to be able to execute those things. You can call whatever play you want but if they're making mistakes and not executing, it's not going to work, it comes down to the players."

It comes down to the players, and Cal's players are better. Bears 42 Rams 21.

Notes:

  • The Cal team has been waking up all week at 6:30 am to get used to the time change and early start in Fort Collins (noon local time)
  • Cal last played Colorado State on September 6, 2003, losing 21-23 on a Rams field goal with 1:57 remaining. The photo at the head of this article show wide receiver Geoff MacArthur in that game.
  • The Rams will wear "throwback" jerseys to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the school changing its name from Colorado A&M to Colorado State. Now there's a day to remember.

©Copyright 2007, BearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this active online Cal community and get access to the members-only content from the nation-wide Scout.com network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.


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Cal is faster than Colorado. Cal might be faster than anyone. So, do the math. The Ram defense is strong up front and deep, but not fast. They are led by senior Jesse Nading, and are experienced with three of the four starting linemen in their senior season, including nose tackle and local product Erik Sandie out of Concord's De La Salle High.

The linebackers are lacking in experience with Jeff Hornick in the middle the only starter with significant experience.

All the defensive backfield returns, but they return from a team that lost the last seven games of the year in 2006. They are physical, but not particularly fast (... getting the picture?)

Rams' coach Sonny Lubick is very impressed with Cal's offense speed.

\"That concerns everybody who will play them. I was surprised with how fast their tailbacks were also. The speed would be a concern, and I would try to keep them from hitting the crease. And that's hard to do after 80 plays. If they hit the crease it could be a 50 yard gain.\"

Look for Cal to use all its weapons, including perhaps an added emphasis on the tight end over the middle. If they can spread the field and have CSU on the wrong foot, they should have a field day.

Offensively the Rams are more formidable.

\"The quarterback is strong, the running back is tough,\" said Cal coach Jeff Tedford about the CSU offense. \"They're a balanced team and they can hurt you in a number of ways.\"

The strength of the CSU offense is in the experience and strength of quarterback Caleb Hanie, the rushing of Kyle Bell, and the receiving of tight end Kory Sperry.

Hanie threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns against the Buffalos. He completed passes at a scary 74 percent (20/27) efficiency. He was not intercepted until his last pass of the game.

The 6' 2\" 236 lb. senior is strong with an ability to make plays on the run and shake off tacklers with his strength. It will be important for Cal to tackle well when they get to Hanie, and for the backfield to stick with its coverage assignments because he can buy time by breaking tackles and bouncing off defenders.

All three of Hanie's touchdown passes were to TE Sperry, a big (6' 6\" 260 lb.) senior who can exploit openings in the short zone. To neutralize him Cal's linebackers and safeties must crowd him; pressure on QB Hanie will perhaps persuade the Ram coaches keep Sperry in more often to help with quarterback protection.

Tailback Kyle Bell returns to the Ram lineup after missing all of last season with a knee injury. He is a tough back who will run through arm tackles. He carried the ball 40 times against Colorado, so there may be some Ram concerns about the ability of his knee to sustain kind of action.

Lubick says he is going to kick to DeSean Jackson, but we'll see. Colorado's drive for the field goal that sent the game into overtime was set up by poor coverage on a punt.

\"Well, we'll probably punt to him,\" said Lubick. \"That's what most of you would like to see right? The fans come and pay. I don't want you booing if we punt it out of bounds. That last punt cover we had was devastating. We made a couple of miscues on that and that goes back to us as coaches.\"

On the other hand, Rams special teams coach Dave Arnold collapsed toward the end of the Colorado game due to dehydration and exhaustion. He got out of the hospital just in time to see Jackson's punt return against Tennessee, and reportedly asked his wife to take him \"right back to the hospital.\"

Cal kicker Tom Schneider is still doubtful with a pulled quad. Jordan Kay will handle the kicking duties with punter Andrew Larson handling kick offs.

Asked about his first week back calling the offensive plays, and to rate his own performance, Tedford took his usual low-key approach.

\"I don't know, I guess average, I don't really look at that. I think we were six-of-13 on third down. I think we had chances to make plays. It was fine. The players that are doing it, I didn't have a lot to do with the plays, it's the players that are executing the plays and they work very hard in preparation to be able to execute those things. You can call whatever play you want but if they're making mistakes and not executing, it's not going to work, it comes down to the players.\"

It comes down to the players, and Cal's players are better. Bears 42 Rams 21.

Notes:


©Copyright 2007, BearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this active online Cal community and get access to the members-only content from the nation-wide Scout.com network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.

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