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A look at Cal

Ok, so things with the new job are at an interesting stage but that is to be expected when one goes to a competitor. With the little free time I have this week let's take a look at Cal.

They opened up the season with a staggering loss to Tennessee at Neyland, a loss that left some people asking if the Pac 10 had any horses, outside of USC, in the race. Of course Cal then runs off what, 8 wins in a row before losing to Arizona this past weekend thus ending their hopes of a BCS berth but with a shot at the Rose Bowl still in sight.

The Offense:

The offense has some explosiveness with RB Marshawn Lynch and WR DeSean Jackson leading the productivity. QB Nate Longshore has done a decent job running the offense but has had some snoozers against UT and UA. But do not be fooled, this offense can break out at any time and put a ton of points on the board. That's not all; RB Justin Forsett is just as capable of breaking a big play and his size difference than that of Lynch is the ideal player the Bears can use to mix things up a bit.

The stats:

  • Total Offense 9th in the nation
  • Passing yards per game- 1st in the Pac 10
  • Rushing yards per game- 3rd in the Pac 10
  • Averaging 430 yards per game.
DeSean Jackson has an axe to grind with SC and he intends to teach the Trojans a lesson for not showing enough interest in him when they were recruiting him in 2005. OK whatever, everyone has a conspiracy theory I guess.
He could have been a Trojan.

He wanted to be a Trojan.

He was only a signature away from becoming a Trojan.

But shortly after DeSean Jackson awoke on Feb. 2, 2005, the first day high school football players could sign national letters of intent that year, someone called and told the Long Beach Poly High star that there were reports he already was a USC Trojan.

As the day wore on, the speedy receiver and kick returner became convinced that USC coaches had betrayed what he felt was an agreement to keep his decision a secret. That night, the player who would become one of college football's most electrifying performers announced on television that he would attend California.

"Just one of those last-minute decisions," Jackson said Monday in a telephone interview. "I kind of felt like they took it for granted that they had me."

Like I said whatever. Who knows what the Trojans intended. But, as I have learned recently there are three sides to every story; yours, mine and the truth. There is no question that the kid can break it open not only as a receiver but as a kick returner as well, but the second coming he isn't.

Nate Longshore has the ability to throw the deep ball and rest assured that he will look for Jackson, as well as receivers Robert Jordan and Lavelle Hawkins, to try and exploit the SC secondary. The deep ball seems to be Lonshore's strength as he has 42 pass plays for 20 yards or more. His weakness seems to be the underneath game that Cal used a few years ago against SC. If Tedford chooses to go that route and Longshore has an off game it will be the difference between winning and losing.

The Defense:

This will be the best defense that USC will see this season. The line, while not making a lot of tackles, has the ability to tie up the offensive line and the LB's do their thing just like USC has done this season and in the past. Their LB corps led by Desmond Bishop is the Bears best defensive player with 91 tackles, 12 for loss, and 3 sacks. He, along with LB Worrell Williams another great LB, will need to be contained if SC is to establish the run.

The Cal secondary, at least half of it, is nothing to laugh at either. CB Daymeion Hughes is tied for the lead in INT's nationally with 18. He is also 2nd on the team with 55 tackles. He is beatable but JDB along with Smith and Jarrett need to be spot on with their play. No forced passes and a better effort at fighting for the ball. On the other side of the field is Syd'Quan Thompson. SC will try to exploit him the Volunteers did in the season opener where he was absolutely torched. He is not as good as Hughes so I would expect that JDB will be looking that way often.

Overall this will be a great game to watch. There is lot a lot on the line for both teams with Rose Bowl bids on the line for both and a possible BCS bid for SC. I wouldn't expect to see any conservative play calling as both teams will look to open it up. My feeling is that if SC gets through this game they will be much better prepared to finish the season against ND and UCLA. Their confidence will be in top form and they will look at the game as their toughest challenge and continue to focus as the prepare for ND next week.