Cal Blitz Analysis

Coming into the Cal game, the Trojan defense had blitzed less than every other Power Five conference team.

Thursday night the Trojans improved to 6-2 in Pac-12 play by beating California 38-30. Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff was 29 of 47 for 279 yards with three touchdowns and was sacked four times.

USC blitzed more often than normal, helping to create increased pressure on Goff. As we documented last week, this season the Trojans had blitzed (rushed more than four defenders) on ony 10 percent of opponents' dropback plays (passes, quarterback scrambles and sacks). Against California, USC blitzed 22.2 percent of the time on Goff's dropbacks, more than double the Trojans season average.

Goff had a total of 54 dropbacks in the game (47 passes, four sacks and three scrambles). The Trojans blitzed on 12 of those 54 plays, or 22.2 percent of the time. The vast majority of the time USC rushed four defenders (41 times for 75.9 percent) and rushed three just one time.

Typically the Trojans would rush the three down linemen plus the rush end with everyone else dropping back into coverage. When USC rushed five, the same down linemen and rush end were joined by one of the linebackers, usually Su'a Cravens out of the SAM linebacker spot. The Trojans never rushed more than five and did not have a safety or cornerback blitz.

When USC rushed four, Goff completed 24 out of 37 passes for 230 yards with three touchdowns and two sacks for six yards.

When USC rushed five, Goff was five of 10 for 49 yards with no touchdowns and two sacks for 18 yards.

Here is a breakdown by quarter of USC blitz results against California:

More notes on USC blitzing:

  • On plays where USC blitzed, Cal averaged 2.8 yards. On plays where USC did not blitz, Cal averaged 5.8 yards.

  • USC blitzed California 12 times, the most they have blitzed this season. The previous high was 11 against Colorado.

  • USC blitzed California on 22.2 percent of dropback plays, second only to the 24.3 blitz percentage against Oregon State.

  • The Trojans generated two sacks off the blitz against Cal after having just three sacks off the blitz the rest of the season (one each vs. Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado).

  • The Golden Bears had their longest play of the game, a 29-yard touchdown pass, the only time USC rushed three defenders and dropped eight back into coverage.

Ryan Abraham has been the publisher of since 1996. You can follow him on Twitter at @InsideTroy or email him at . Top Stories