The Sun Devils (1-3) are heading to Berkeley on Saturday to compete against the Golden Bears (2-2) in their first away game of the season.
This will be the second conference matchup of the season for the Sun Devils, who are looking for their first conference victory after falling to USC last week. Cal has yet to win a conference game this season after losing to fellow Pac-12 member Washington last Saturday.
The all-time record between these two teams is 18-17, tilted in Cal's favor, and ASU is looking to straighten that record. Head coach Kenny Dillingham says they can do this by preventing Cal from settling into a rhythm.
"They're explosive when they throw the ball vertically down the field," Dillingham said. "That’s their MO … so I think their tempo is what we have to control. When they get into a rhythm is when they’re at their best."
Dillingham commended Cal seventh-year head coach Justin Wilcox for the longevity of his time on the team. He lauds Wilcox's ability to adapt and how "everything is in their arsenal" during his time with the Golden Bears.
Dillingham said the way to control the Bears rhythm is to shut down early drives with the ball, and the team has practiced drills preventing big plays.
Wednesday's practice also had the team switch gears to a slower tempo and mental preparation. This was partly due to the injuries that still loom over the team.
"We're not able to get as many reps as we have just cause we're still banged up," Dillingham said. "That just challenged the guys that if you can’t get physical reps, because we have to get your body right, which is being smart, you have to go do some extra stuff."
Bourguet didn’t see the field last week, as he’s also fighting injuries, but he feels optimistic about his recovery and performance in practice.
"We've been at this for the last couple months so, finally, to have a week off to just let my arm get some rest, it definitely felt like I was spinning it better today," Bourguet said.
Defensively, the team is looking to adapt depending on which Cal quarterback is on the field. ASU defensive coordinator Brian Ward credits Cal quarterback Ben Finley as a creator who utilizes his arm and quarterback Sam Jackson V for being explosive and running with the ball.
The Sun Devils will have to respond with situational awareness.
"You gotta prepare for both, and you gotta be real detailed in your preparation," Ward said.
After competing in a sold-out Mountain America Stadium, the Sun Devils will travel to Cal for the first day game of the season. Besides the additional travel time on Friday, Dillingham doesn’t cite a difference in the team’s preparation.
The focus remains on playing football and eliminating distractions, including popular tourist sites.
"We're going to see the Golden Gate Bridge for BJ," Dillingham said. 'On the screen.'"
Saturday’s noon matchup will take place at the California Memorial Stadium. The game can be seen on the Pac-12 Network and heard on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Edited by Alfred Smith III, Walker Smith and Caera Learmonth.