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EDGE: Speedy backs tip scales for Golden Bears


Cal junior Kevin Riley has only completed 54 percent of his passes on the season, but many have been explosive plays off the running game.

Riley has only thrown two interceptions and leads the conference’s highest scoring offense.

Senior Danny Sullivan threw two touchdowns and didn’t have an interception against Stanford last weekend, but he also continued to overthrow receivers in critical situations. His performance, 12-of-23 for 143 yards against one of the poorest pass defenses in the country, was a letdown after his game against Washington. Sullivan’s inability to finish off a crucial third-down run was a back-breaker for the Sun Devils.

With freshman Brock Osweiler getting increased repetitions in practice, it’s likely he’ll get them in the game.

Interview with Brock Osweiler, State Press Television

By Isaac Easley


Running Back

If you haven’t seen Cal’s Heisman candidate Jahvid Best play, have mercy on your highlight-reel starved soul.

Sophomore backup Shane Vereen gives the Golden Bears the best running game in the conference (216 yards per game) and one of the best in the nation.

ASU sophomore Ryan Bass told reporters he wanted a chance to prove what he could do with more carries, and indications are he could get those this Saturday with senior Dimitri Nance limited because of a shoulder injury.

Freshman Cameron Marshall, who running backs coach Bryce Erickson said was still atop Bass on the depth chart, could get a full look.


Receivers/ Tight end

Five Golden Bear receivers have receptions of at least 30 yards this year, including tight end Anthony Miller.

With question marks regarding ASU junior Kerry Taylor’s availability Saturday, senior Chris McGaha could have to shoulder more of the load, as he did last week. Sophomore T.J. Simpson and freshman Jamal Miles continue to receive repetitions at practice.

Over the past few weeks, the passing game problems have had less to do with the receiving unit.


Offensive Line

Cal’s offensive line, while not at the level of Stanford’s, has only allowed 14 sacks on the year. While its appearance is improved by Best’s ability, it still opens holes for the best running game in the conference.

ASU’s offensive line has proven that regardless of who is in the lineup week to week, it is average at best. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.


Defensive Line

Cal’s defensive end duo of Cameron Jordan and Tyson Alualu have combined for 9.5 sacks on the year.

Cal’s rushing defense has allowed only 3.3 yards per carry.

Stanford’s big, physical offensive line dominated the Sun Devils’ front four much of the contest in both the pass and run game.

ASU was unable to squeeze running lanes or penetrate often enough to disrupt the Cardinal game plan. Once Stanford senior running back Toby Gerhart had been established, the Sun Devils did nothing to get to freshman quarterback Andrew Luck either in passing situations or in play-action.

Either the Cardinal offense is one of the best in the country, which is possible, the Sun Devils played poorly, or ASU’s defense got exposed against a physical, down-your-throat brand.

Much will be learned Saturday.



Cal linebackers Mike Mohamed (junior) and Mychal Kendricks (sophomore) have combined for 110 tackles and have created five turnovers.

ASU’s linebackers did a decent job taking on blocks at times, but they were served a game-long lesson on the difficulties of trying to tackle Gerhart. The Sun Devil linebackers were also abused in mismatches and were out of position at times.

The Golden Bears will present a new set of challenges for the Sun Devils, though ASU may be better equipped to handle them.



Cal’s secondary has only accounted for two interceptions on the year and are second to last in the conference in passing yards allowed (271 per game).

ASU’s safeties seemed to be out of position against Stanford, but much of the Cardinal’s passing success had to do with the time Luck had to throw and the quarterback’s accuracy.

Members of ASU’s secondary have their work cut out for them again this week against Riley and a passing game that averages more than 14 yards per reception.


Special teams

Both Cal and ASU rank in the middle of the pack in return average in punt and kick coverage.

When healthy, ASU’s combination of junior punter Trevor Hankins and junior kicker Thomas Weber may be the best in college football.

Cal freshman kicker Vince D’Amato has made only 50 percent of his field goals on the year.


Overall Edge: Cal

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