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USC First Look: Cal

Earlier this year our friends at CGB wrote a post about the possibility of Cal finally breaking through and beating USC this year...(emphasis added)

The sanctions will eventually put a hurt on 'sc's ridiculous depth. They might have to bring 4 star RBs off the bench instead of consensus HS AA's. Oh. The inhumanity. But for the immediate future, as great as our recent recruiting classes have been, keep in mind that 'sc has still been signing the cream of the crop. For every MikeyMo diamond in the rough that we discover, they've signed guys listed as the best or top 10 nationally at their position.

So from a talent perspective, we can't expect to just line up and have our way with them. It'll come down to scheme. And execution. And morale. Someone has got to command the locker room and just say, "Eff this. We're going to kick some *ss today." More importantly, someone has to command the sidelines when adversity hits to keep us in the game. It's going to have to be one of the guys, because our coaching staff just doesn't seem to be wired that way.

If it's just a question of coaching chops, give me Tedford over Kiffin any day of the week, and twice on Saturday. Unfortunately, this is a QB driven league and it's really hard to pick a transfer in his first season of Pac-12 ball over an experienced upperclassman

Given what I saw last Thursday night I am curious if the Cal faithful want to rethink the passage in bold.

Tedford may have more head coaching experience but the results have hardly been a cut above the rest. I am not ready to say that Kiffin would blow Tedford away, but so far Kiffin is 1-0 against Tedford. Tedford has a pretty good record at recruiting talent...except for the QB spot. Tedford has has some great production in the past from his skill players and some of the guys on the lines, but the guys running the offense haven't exactly been world beaters.

Kiffin may be the new kid on the block to Tedford's wise, old, experienced curmudgeon, but the results between the two over the past two seasons are pretty much the same.

Kiffin sees some similarities...

He clearly found it hard not to draw similarities -- tacitly, of course -- to USC's own 53-32 loss to the Ducks last season at the Coliseum, when the Trojans led 17-15 in the second quarter and 32-29 in the third before the roof caved in on them late.

"I thought they played great through the half and into the third quarter," Kiffin said of Jeff Tedford's Bears, who led 15-14 at halftime. "Obviously a tough environment to play versus a very explosive offense and what happened is what happens in most Oregon games over the last couple years.

"Somehow Oregon gets stronger as the game goes in the second half, especially on defense. As you go back to last year, so few points given up in the fourth quarter on defense. They do a great job. And they've done a great job at recruiting depth so they play a bunch of players. If you start taking off their reps, they get a ton of guys in their on offense and on defense and so obviously that contributes to what they're able to do late in the third and the fourth quarter."

I'll worry about Oregon in a month, but for now Kiffin needs to find a way to beat Cal in San Francisco.

Some would give Kiffin a pass, not many though...but Tedford should get no such pass. He's been there a while. His fingerprints are all over this team.

Thursday night's game against Oregon left me with some questions. Oregon took a hit on defense this year, yet this years Oregon defense shut Cal out in the second half. Whose feet do the Cal faithful do they lay that performance at?

What about Cal's missed red zone opportunities? Cal has the same issues that USC has in the red zone...difficulty scoring TD's. Settling for FG's instead of TD's against any quality team draws concern...against Oregon you might as well raise the white flag. Still, Cal had the lead to start the 2nd half...that didn't last long.

Even USC's sieve of a defense last year put the clamps on Cal at the Coliseum. I wonder how this weeks upcoming game will looks to non-interested parties?

This was supposed to be the year that Cal took it to the next level. They certainly recruited well, Tosh Lupoi has been ringing the bell pretty hard to show why he is one of the best recruiters in the Pac-12, yet the results so far this year aren't there. Cal's record doesn't help matters...their two losses are against conference foes UW and UO while their three wins have been against a woefully inept CU and a couple of tackling dummies in Presby (FCS) and Fresno St.

This supposed to be the year that Maynard and Allen would be the next big Cal tandem...we have seen a little of it but not as much as I am sure Cal fans would like.

Tedford's utilization of Maynard is contradictory to his comments earlier this year...

"He has the ability to both throw and run the ball effectively, giving us another dimension at that position that we haven’t had in a while."

Yet, Tedford and staff have yet to use Maynard's mobility as a weapon...and no one is sure as to why.

Maynard went out of the Oregon game with a neck injury so his status as of right now for the USC game is up in the air.

Cal's defense is young...just like USC's, so it should not have surprised anyone that Oregon looked to exploit their youth. Kiffin will look to do the same and vice-versa with Tedford trying to exploit Monte.

Cal's youth on defense is also their strength as those young players looks to be the best at those positions.

It should be an interesting short week.

We will have a Q&A later this week with CGB