Know Your Foe- Cal

Chris Avery of Bear Insider answers your questions on Cal...

In terms of importance, where does Saturday's game with Utah rank compared to others on Cal's schedule?

Cal is 3-3 on the season. Utah is seen here as a game Cal must win if they are to have a shot at a bowl game.

Now that Utah and Cal will be going head-to-head in recruiting battles, what % of head-to-head recruiting battles do you expect Cal to win over Utah?

I don't know enough about recruiting to answer this one. I'll try to get an answer from our guy who covers that. USC dominates SoCal - so Cal's main recruiting opponents have been Oregon and Washington.

What will be Cal's biggest advantage (positional) on the field on Saturday?

Wide receiver - Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen are both top-tier receivers. Running back definitely not. Cal's leading RB (Isi Sofele #20) is small, quick and elusive, but not strong enough to break tackles. Thus his running game is largely dependent on Cal's O-line opening holes for him - and that's been a mixed bag though improving. If he get's a step or two beyond the line-of-scrimmage, watch out, he can pick up 10-20 more yards very quickly.

What about the reported injury to their MLB?

MLB Mychal Kendricks is back on the field - if you like big skilled fast linebacker play you can watch him just for the sheer joy of it. He and D.J. Holt are solid in the middle - the OLB's are not as fast or skilled. Kendricks will also play on Sundays.

What is Maynard's escapability like?

He's at his best when he's on the move, better than staying stationary in the pocket. Cal may deliberately put him in motion more - like on roll-outs - his passing efficiency and accuracy seem to improve in that situation. He's new to the team this year - a JC transfer from Buffalo - so we're all still learning about his skills. He's thrown too may interceptions - most of them as a pocket passer. He's fast and elusive, a good athlete. (WR Keenan Allen is his half-brother - they grew up together playing pitch and catch - and that connection shows on the field.) The joke around here is that as Maynard drops back and goes through his decision tree, he's also thinking about his family tree.

What kind of pass coverage do the Bears play? Do they favor on alignment of another?

Man, but varied, only rarely zone. Again they are young, one corner a true freshman (Stefan McClure) who will be a future star (He's being compared with the young Syd'Quan Thompson who plays in the NFL.) Clancy Pendergast Def-Coordinator comes with lots of experience in the NFL - so though quite good he's still learning how much more complex (crazy) college offenses can be - even if poorly executed. He's learning. Cal will put on a sterling defensive game, then put on a stinker when facing a creative & skilled offense.

A lot of people have speculated that this game could be the make or break for Tedford. What are your thoughts?

No, not even close. Tedford has the team on the rise with several good recruiting classes just beginning to make an impact. His revival of the team in the last ten years has made a total renovation of the whole stadium possible, a huge deal around here. There are always grumbles about a coach after a few losses, but they are a small (if vocal) minority. Cal lost badly to USC and Oregon this year, but those are both very good teams - and Cal is playing a lot of freshmen - more than sophomores.

Do you think Cal will have the same impact with their home field advantage, even though they aren't really at home?

Counting the bowl game vs Utah a few years back, Cal has played at AT&T park three times total, so familiarity with physical surroundings, not so much. But since the game is played between the lines, I don't really know how much of a home field advantage there really is - except for fan noise & support of course. And that latter will be almost as good at AT&T as it has been at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. So overall I'd say AT&T will be like "at home" even if it is technically not.

Utah fans should hold their breath if (insert Cal player here) touches the ball?

Tall, fast wide receiver Keenan Allen. He's an exceptional athlete - surely destined to be an NFL star - tall, rangy, gets open even against good pass defenses - and has great ball skills. He's the kind of receiver where if you get the pass anywhere close to him he'll go get it - even if double covered.

Cal will win if?...

QB Maynard eliminates the turnovers (INTs) - and if the passing game clicks. Cal can be explosive if the passing game works.

Utah will win if?...

They shut down the passing lanes - hard to do against Cal's excellent receivers, pressure on QB Maynard could help accomplish that.

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