Utah will be without the services of starting quarterback Brett Elliott because of a broken list sustained on the two point conversion play that came up short on the two yard line. How long Elliott will be out of action is not yet known.
So far this season Elliott was 29-59 for 304 yards and two touchdowns.
Because of Elliott's injury coach Meyer will probably turn to sophomore Alex Smith. Senior Lance Rice is also another option.
In more positive news it looks like senior running back Marty Johnson might be back in the lineup sooner than people think.
Also starting to come along physically is senior defensive lineman Jason Kaufusi. Kaufusi has missed the first two games after recovering from shoulder surgery. It's just a matter of time before he is back in the lineup.
BACK IN ACTION
After serving a one game suspension junior wide receiver Paris Warren will be back in the lineup against the Bears. He was sorely missed against Texas A&M.
Utes running back Brandon Warfield was recently named MWC Co-Offensive Player of the Week after his 173 yards and one touchdown rushing against Utah State a week and half ago. Warfield shared the award with BYU tight end Daniel Coats.
A LOOK AT THE BEARS In California's first game against highly rated Kansas State it was quite evident they did not believe they could physically attack the Wildcats' defensive front seven. After watching just a mere half of football it was pretty clear why – their offensive line is simply average at best at run blocking, and quite honestly not that much better at pass protection. California is definitely not a physical offense.
Because of lack of a running game Cal will throw the football early and often. They have two quarterbacks that could see action – junior Reggie Robertson and sophomore JC transfer Aaron Rogers.
Robertson and Rogers can both throw the football with accuracy. They are not afraid to go down field either. The only problem is they are susceptible to big plays by the defense, mainly due to the offensive line's ineffectiveness in the running game, then the Bears are forced into obvious passing situations where the opposition's pass rush can wreck havoc. Robertson and Rogers saw action in the first game, but only Robertson took snaps in the second contest going 23-35 for 248 yards and three touchdowns while being intercepted twice.
The big play man for the Bears last week in a 23-21 loss to Colorado State was junior wide receiver Geoff McArthur, who came through with four receptions for 79 yards and two scores.
The Los Angeles area native will likely be counted on once again as the Bears only managed 51 yards on the ground all-told on 31 attempts. Keep in mind, however, that sacks go against that total and they actually had 106 yards on the ground. Still, that is not very good.
The Bears defense is hard to read at this point. Kansas State and Colorado State can both put up points in a hurry. So pay no mind to the totals those two programs put up. They can score on any program in America, including the Miami's and Ohio State's of the world.
A player to watch on California's defense is Donnie McCleskey. Although small in stature, listed at 5-10, 180-pounds, the defensive back came up with three tackles for loss against Colorado State including two sacks.
The problem with California's defense, however, is a lack of pressure by their defensive linemen and linebackers on the quarterback. Not a single sack was recorded by a defensive linemen or linebacker against the Rams. Not one. The lack of pressure lead to a huge night for Rams star senior quarterback Bradley Van Pelt, throwing for 317 yards on only 15 completions on 23 attempts. That is just over 21 yards per attempt. Van Pelt threw two touchdowns while being intercepted once.
ATTACKING THE BEARS
Since California is not adept at running the football don't be surprised if the Utes really mix up their defensive looks. Anything from an all-out blitz to dropping seven men in coverage could be used. But traditionally the open book on attacking a West Coast Offensive system like the one California employs says to blitz to offset the timing and rhythm of the passing game. That can and should lead to turnovers and easy points for the Utes.
On offense look for a steady diet of Warfield, especially with a new quarterback.
One concern is the unbelievable amount of fumbles by the Utes (nine total, three lost) against Texas A&M. Let me just say that coach Meyer is still fuming about that. Don't look for a repeat performance.
If Utah is just able to stay within themselves on offense and don't turn the ball over they should be fine running the ball right at the Bears. Look for the defense to make some big plays on Thursday night as well, especially against the porous California rushing attack.
In the passing game look for the Utes to keep it fairly simple and try and get as many touches for Warren in the passing game as possible. I expect to see some shots down the field, but with a new starting quarterback that could be dicey.