California comes into its game against ASU losing two straight games. The Bears hope to get back on track and win at home.
Last week, despite not scoring a touchdown, Cal was only down 17-9 at the end of the third quarter to USC. The Trojans then had 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
If the Golden Bears get locked into a close Pac-12 battle with the Sun Devils this week, they must finish.
“After watching film against SC, we’ve seen how we’ve regressed a lot out there,” senior running back C.J. Anderson said. “We missed a lot of opportunities on both sides of the ball.”
Offensively, the Golden Bears will have to bounce back. In the past Cal, has had some success scoring points against the Sun Devils.
Last season, when both teams played against each other, the Golden Bears were able to beat the Sun Devils in a shootout by scoring 47 points and racking up 484 yards in total offense.
For Cal, like most teams, the offense starts with the quarterback.
Senior Zach Maynard struggled in the role he had last season, throwing 12 interceptions. He has rebounded this year, and coach Jeff Tedford said he has a better control of the offense. He has four interceptions this season and has thrown for almost 1,000 yards.
One of Maynard’s important skill sets is his ability to expend the play. Tedford said Maynard’s mobility really helps move the Cal offense.
“His athleticism and being able to extend the play is an advantage,” Tedford said. “He’s able to pull the ball down and do some things with his feet to run the ball as well.”
Maynard may have to extend the play a good amount this week against the ASU pass rush.
Due to a banged up offensive line, Maynard has frequently been under pressure in the pocket.
Cal is coming off its loss against USC where it gave up eight sacks. ASU is coming off its game against Utah where they sacked the quarterback four times.
Tedford is optimistic that the offensive line is healing. He said senior tackle Matt Summers-Gavin practiced this week and could be ready to return Saturday.
“Matt is much more experienced in there,” Tedford said. “As of right now we have one guy on our offensive line with any experience before this season. Matt would bring some stability there for us as far experience.”
On the other side of the ball, the Cal defensive players are confident that they can stop the ASU offense that is averaging 41 points per game.
“We’re going in with the same mentality as every week,” senior defensive back Josh Hill said. “It’s not about them it’s about us. We just have to make sure that we know what we’re doing on our end.”
After the two loses, the Cal players know how important a bounce-back win will be to their season.
The Golden Bears want to protect their house and save their season.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said Cal was down 17-9 to USC at the end of the fourth quarter. It has been updated to reflect that this score was at the end of the third quarter.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org