September 12, 2013

Tale of the Tape: Cal Bears

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Head Coach:

Sonny Dykes

2012 Record:

3-9 - Pac 12


Berkeley (Calif.)

Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. EDT Television: FOX Location: Memorial Stadium (62,717)

When California has the ball...

  • Rushing Defense: 68.50 Ypg. (9th)

  • Passing Eff. Defense: 107.6 (36th)

  • Scoring Defense: 13.50 Ppg. (25th)
  • Rushing Offense: 110.00 Ypg. (98th)

  • Passing Offense: 472.50 Ypg. (1st)

  • Scoring Offense: 33.50 Ppg. (T-55th)

  • Ohio State Defensive Backs

    Cal Skill Positions (QB/WR/TE)
    Ohio State's secondary stepped up in game two and the return of C.J. Barnett and Bradley Roby made a huge difference for the overall defense. The challenge gets dramatically more difficult this week however going against the nation's top passing offense. Numbers can be a little misleading at this point with only two games in the books but Barnett and Roby both have the starts to back up their importance on the field. Christian Bryant and Doran Grant will also have to fall back on all of their experience as well to go up against the 'Air Raid' offense. Corey Brown, Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell will all be called into duty with the likelihood of Ohio State going into the Dime defense being very high. But this passing offense will test everyone on the defense and cannot be put solely on the shoulders of Ohio State's most veteran prong of the defense. Normally the thought of playing a true freshman quarterback would be an exciting one for an opposing defense but Jared Goff has already shown flashes as a 1st year player. He has gone 75-112 for 935 yards and four touchdowns (and three interceptions). 13 players have at least one reception but Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper are the main weapons with a combined 36 catches for 475 yards and two touchdowns via the pass. Opponents cannot just focus on one or the other however with so many receivers out in patterns and the quick tempo of the offense. Keep an eye on Richard Rodgers as the No. 3 receiver for the Golden Bears. There is not a tight end in the base formation to keep an eye on so the Ohio State linebackers will be forced to go from edge to edge to try and keep underneath plays from turning into big plays.

    Ohio State Linebackers

    Cal Running Backs
    The Ohio State linebackers will be tested mightily when it comes to pass defense but should be in great shape in run stopping going against an offense that hasn't found any consistency running the ball. Curtis Grant has slowly been emerging this season but people still will want to focus on Ryan Shazier who is Ohio State's most experienced linebacker. Joshua Perry may not see much action with Cal forcing Ohio State into defensive schemes with five or six defensive backs on the field. Teams have not really attempted the run against Ohio State much this season but this week they know that they can't completely ignore the run with the Golden Bears having a player that can break a play at any spot on the field and who has the speed and moves to take it to the house. Ultimately, Ohio State can't have a repeat of 2012 where the defense took a major step back in tackling fundamentals. Ohio State fans (and players) remember Brendan Bigelow quite well from 2012. The Cal running back had 160 yards and two scores against the Buckeyes but if you look closer at the numbers, most of that came off of two plays. Bigelow had an 81 yard and a 59 yard touchdown run and totaling those up comes to 140 yards so the Bears had 104 yards on their other 39 total carries. Cal's second biggest runner in 2012 is gone with Iso Sofele exhausting his eligibility. In two games in 2013, Cal has 220 total yards on the ground and two total touchdowns. All four of Cal's running backs can catch the ball however and even Bigelow has six reception at this point so it will be important for Ohio State to pick up the backs when they enter the second level. Ohio State is going to hold the edge in the battle of LBs vs. RBs but there are so many other moving parts in place here that we know it is not just a heads up battle.

    Ohio State Defensive Line

    Cal Offensive Line
    This could be a chance for a true freshman like Joey Bosa to step up, especially if Adolphus Washington is slowed or out with a groin injury. Noah Spence and Michael Bennett both have been playing at a very high level as well and while the Buckeyes are not putting up huge numbers for QB hurries and sacks, the overall line play has been very good both on the pass rush and run defense. With a true freshman quarterback it will be important for the Ohio State defense to get in and confuse the young quarterback and hit him over and over again (within the rules of the game). If the Buckeyes are able to maintain pressure on Goff it could slow down the pace of the offense that Sonny Dykes would like to run and help keep the Ohio State defense from staying out on the field for prolonged drives. The Cal offensive line is young and is learning on the job with a new style of offense. Freddie Tagaloa is huge at 6-foot-8, 330 pounds but he is only a sophomore. Matt Cochran and Steven Moore are both redshirt freshmen. Needless to say that the unit as a whole will have its hands full with its second Big Ten defensive line in three weeks. In two games the Golden Bears have allowed nine sacks (4 by Northwestern, 5 by Portland State) and Goff has had to run for his life when protection has broken down. Add to that the lack of a running game (even a passing offense needs a running game to keep opposing defenses honest, Dykes' Louisiana Tech team was 17th in the nation in 2012 in rushing with 227 yards per game) and there are still a lot of growing pains that will have to be sorted out before the Cal offense can start to realize its potential moving ahead.

    When Ohio State has the ball...

  • Rushing Offense: 262.00 Ypg. (27th)

  • Passing Offense: 190.50 Ypg. (86th)

  • Scoring Offense: 41.00 Ppg. (30th)
  • Rushing Defense: 227.00 Ypg. (109th)

  • Passing Eff. Defense: 141.7 (87th)

  • Scoring Defense: 37.00 Ppg. (104th)

  • Ohio State Skill Positions (QB/WR/TE)

    Cal Defensive Backs
    Will Kenny Guiton or Braxton Miller play on Saturday, or will it be both? Even if the Buckeyes say one thing, does that mean that is what we will see come Saturday evening? Guiton has stepped up in his back-up role and done a great job with Miller dealing with injuries in both games. Miller still has the tools to be a Heisman caliber type of player but it is awful tough to win the award on the bench. Ohio State will travel all four quarterbacks regardless or at least that is the plan. Corey Brown stepped up against SDSU after being largely missing in the first game against Buffalo. Devin Smith and Chris Fields have had chances to shine in the offense as well but neither has been able to be consistent through the young season. Jeff Heuerman may be one of the best players that nobody is talking about and Ohio State should be looking to get him involved more as a big, sure-handed weapon. Dontre Wilson has spent more time in the WR room and could be an X Factor when Ohio State needs to break a big play. Teams have been able to pass against Cal but then again teams have been able to run. That combination is not a great thing when you have to physically outscore an opponent in a track meet to win. Cornerback Stefan McClure has the potential to be a tremendous defender by the time it is all said and done and is currently one of the team's leading tacklers. Kameron Jackson and Alex Logan each have interceptions for the defense. Both of Cal's corners are on the smaller side of traditional corner height but both play much bigger than their stature. One thing that the Cal defense has going for it is going against the Cal offense in practice so you are not going to be able to surprise them with a hurry-up offense. The downside is there are still limitations to the offensive and defensive personnel in year one under Dykes and depth is an issue at this point as they look to win more recruiting battles and catch up with the rest of the Pac-12.

    Ohio State Running Backs

    Cal Linebackers
    Jordan Hall is still the man in the running back room but this will be the last game that Carlos Hyde 'should' be suspended for (his suspension was for 'at least' three games). Hall has made the most of his opportunities and has silenced a lot of doubters with hard running but also has not been asked to tote the rock 30 times, and that is a luxury that Ohio State has with so much depth at the position. During Urban Meyer's Tuesday conference call he listed Rod Smith as the back up with Warren Ball and Ezekiel Elliott fighting for the No. 3 spot. Noticeably absent is Bri'onte Dunn from the conversation and that has many wondering if he has become a fixture in the doghouse or if he is just getting outworked. Regardless of whom Ohio State puts out there, Cal gives up a lot of yardage on the ground and Ohio State knows how to run the ball. Look for Ohio State to do as much clock control as a team can do 'from the spread' to give the defense a breather if Cal really speeds the tempo up. None of the Cal linebackers are overly tall but all are big guys with all three starters checking in at 230 pounds or more. Khairi Fortt should be a familiar name to Ohio State fans as the linebacker was once enrolled at Penn State and Ohio State took a look at him in the recruiting process. Hardy Nickerson and Jalen Jefferson are both younger players, a theme that you will see on the Cal defense. The run defense saw Northwestern gash them for more than 200 yards on the ground and that was even with the Cats' best runner out of the game early with injury. The Golden Bears run the first traditional defense that Ohio State will see this year and getting to go up against the same 4-3 that they see in practice will make Ohio State's ball carriers happy. It is going to be important for this unit to find a happy medium of solid tackling and trying to take the ball away from Ohio State because in a straight-up fight, Cal is facing some long odds against the Buckeyes and may need OSU's help.

    Ohio State
    Offensive Line

    Defensive Line
    The Ohio State offensive line has not been as dominant as people were hoping to see with four returning starters but week two was an improvement over week one with the return of Corey Linsley to fulltime duty. Taylor Decker had a much stronger game against San Diego State but not having to face Khalil Mack always will make your day a little bit easier. The offense has been much more efficient with Linsley in the lineup but the line has done a pretty good job in most aspects of the game but there is still a concern that when Miller is in there that he is maybe taking too many hits from keeping plays alive too long. Jack Mewhort is one of the best linemen in the Big Ten but Andrew Norwell should be in the same conversation as well but just doesn't get the same notoriety.

    The Cal line is small and quick on the edge and big in the middle with defensive tackles like Deandre Coleman and Vilami Moala locking things down at more than 315 pounds apiece. Coleman is only one of two seniors on the entire defensive starting lineup and has been in Berkeley for the good and the bad. The line has not been able to get much penetration however or blow up many plays and regardless of which quarterback starts or plays for Ohio State, if Cal cannot get in and cause some havoc it will allow the Buckeyes a chance to scan the field and pick apart a young defense and even if Guiton is in, the Buckeyes will have the opportunity to gain yards on the ground from the QB spot as well.

    Special teams matchups...

  • Net Punting: 41.86 Avg. (20th)

  • Punt Returns: 10.80 Yds/Ret (35th)

  • Kickoff Returns: 26.50 Avg. (24th)

  • Field Goals: 100% 1-1
  • Net Punting: 41.90 Avg. (18th)

  • Punt Returns: 3.67 Yds/Ret (86th)

  • Kickoff Returns: 20.80 Avg. (64th)

  • Field Goals: 86% 6-7

  • Ohio State Special Teams

    Cal Special Teams
    Ohio State's special teams are looking pretty good in most facets including punting with freshman Cameron Johnston holding down the duties. His punts may not be going as deep as people had expected but teams get no return on his kicks so there is a tradeoff in getting a 41.86-yard average. The one unit that has not performed well is the punt block unit that now has two roughing penalties against them. Don't expect Meyer to lay-up however and expect him to send the house whenever the situation is right.

    Cal's special teams have yet to be special yet, at least across the board. Vince D'Amato has been stellar as a place kicker with six makes on seven tries already and the punt game has not been bad either with Cal ranking inside the top-20 in net punting. But the return game has not gotten it in gear yet and the Golden Bears could be walking very close to the line of giving up a big play in special teams on Saturday.


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