The Battle of the Two Most Intimidating Mascots in College Football: Oregon vs. Cal


This week’s matchup between two former Oregon offensive coordinators showcases two incredibly talented individuals within the game of football, Jeff Tedford and Chip Kelly.

Cal comes into Oregon with a 3-1 record (1-1 Pac-12) this Thursday night for a 6pm kickoff at Autzen stadium. Cal, who has been in a few shootouts this season, is ranked 22nd overall in passing yards per game (295.3), 50th in rushing (161), 15th in points (39.5) and 55th overall in points against (24.3). Cal has played Fresno State, Colorado, Presbyterian, and Washington.

Taking a look at Cal’s most recent game, and only loss of the season, we saw a lot of big plays and some great blocking by Washington’s o-line and WR’s.

Cal’s lefty QB Zach Maynard made some big plays throwing one touchdown, and for the first time this year he wasn’t picked off. Maynard owes WR Keenan Allen lunch after turning a relatively short pass into a huge 90 yard TD reception by making a defender miss in the open field. At tailback Isi Sofele ran 17 times for 98 yards (5.8 yards per carry). Oakland’s own C.J Anderson carried the ball 7 times for 9 yards but he found the end zone scoring once against the Huskies.

Giorgio Tavecchio is on fire this season. Cal’s kicker is five for five kicking field goals so far this season. If Oregon gets into another low scoring battle with Cal like in 2010 this pressure packed position becomes huge.

However the Huskies did expose some weakness in the Cal defense. Cal likes to bring heat from the outside with their dog linebackers. This puts a lot of pressure on the secondary to play man to man defense. With an active QB like Washington’s Keith Price or Oregon’s Darron Thomas, the corners can be forced into coverage for an extended amount of time. The QB’s ability to beat a rush from the 3-5 extends the pass play (it is impossible to cover every WR at this level for over five seconds) and creates opportunities for QB’s to pick up yards with their feet.

Cal was also burned by Washington’s passing game while playing a man-under zone on top defensive coverage (man to man coverage with two deep safeties that split the deep halves of the field). These types of breakdowns spell trouble for Cal as they get deeper into the Pac -12 schedule. Oregon runs the ball well and the play action fake will eventually hold the Golden Bear linebackers, and allow Paulson and company to run free with only a safety back to make a play.

What stuck out to me watching Washington and Cal play was how well the Huskies were able to manipulate Cal’s defense and block the edge with not only the line, but with tight ends, and receivers as well. Washington could use motions or formations to spread Cal’s defense thin and attack the edge with the toss and stretch ground game. This spells trouble for the Golden Bears facing a spread offense like that of Oregon. Washington is a good football team and their offense with Price at QB is turning out better than most expected but the Ducks are another gear faster and very dangerous. Cal needs to be able to control Oregon’s offensive line and keep this game close.

Oregon has struggled at Berkley in recent years and 2010 was no different. Cal was able to slow down the Oregon offense keeping it close all game long. There was, of course, some controversy over Cal faking injuries to slow Oregon’s no huddle high pace offense. Oregon ended up winning last year in Berkley but that is yesterday’s news. 2011 is in Autzen and I do not believe that this game will stay close for four quarters. Tedford will have his boys ready to play and they do have some big play potential but they lack a solid ground game and the defensive pressure to hold Oregon below 28 points. Cal needs to own the special team’s game, blitz less, play more zone pass coverage, and successfully run the football in the red zone. Cal was unable to score late in the forth down eight on the two yard line with under a minute remaining against Washington. Cal threw the ball on 1st down, ran off tackle left on second gaining a yard. They ran the same formation and motion on third down, but this time ran off tackle right for no gain, and then on 4th down Cal’s lefty tried to throw a goal line fade to the left side of the end zone throwing the ball just too far.

At Autzenzoo we break down the 5 big plays that decided the outcome of a game. Cal needs to have three or four big plays to hang with Oregon on Thursday.

I believe that Oregon will wear down the Golden Bear defense late in the second quarter separating the two teams before half time. Oregon will win this one 42 – 13