With the game against Cal fast approaching, we caught up with the guys over at California Golden Blogs and asked them a few questions about their team. Their answers are below.
Also, it's been a busy day here at ATQ, so if you missed it, make sure to check out our basketball season preview, a look at how advanced statistics rate the Oregon football team, and our North Dakota State game preview.
1. Cal's success at home and on the road have been polar opposites this season. To what can we attribute the Bears' home dominance and road woes?
solarise: Scheduling. Outside of WSU Cal took on programs w/ combined record of 15-21 (UC Davis, Colorado, UCLA, ASU) at home and 25-10 (Nevada, Arizona, $C, OSU) on the road. We crushed below .500 teams at home but lost out to tough top 25-caliber opponents on their home turf.
Kodiak: Well, I could give you some hackneyed line about how we played weaker teams at home and stronger teams on the road. But let's be honest. It's all about the player's girlfriends. They're not allowed to travel with the team due to budget cuts and the guys just mope and pine away.2. Shane Vereen may be the most underrated back in the conference. How does he compare to Jahvid Best and Marshawn Lynch, and what does he mean to this Cal offense?
solarise: Jahvid was a Jet. Marshawn was an 18-wheeler. Shane is a 4-wheel drive who's got enough speed and power to overcome any obstacles.
In Vereen we trust. We will go as far as Shane takes us.
Kodiak: Not as fast as Best, not as much raw power as Marshawn, but better vision than both. With inconsistent play from the rest of offense this year, he's been the one constant that you can count on every game.
3. How good is Cal's defense? They have completely shut down teams like Colorado and UCLA this season. However, the really good teams they have played, such as Nevada, USC, and even Oregon State, shredded them for big numbers. Is there any way they slow down the Oregon offense?
solarise: Maybe in the 1st half. The Bears' offense, special teams, & 2nd unit on D need to step up in order to keep up.
I need to go queue up my drunk tweets.
Kodiak: We're not sure. I think we have some depth issues, especially at LB. The Dline is pretty solid and the secondary has performed pretty well considering their relative youth. We really have issues with misdirection - I'm not sure if that's on the players for being overly aggressive and blowing their assignments, or on the scheme/playcalls. Although I'd like to think that our NFL-experienced DC will have some brilliant answer, the realist in me says that we simply do not execute consistently enough against playfakes, and spread-option style running attacks. I fear the scoreboard may blow up and shower fiery death on the spectators.
4. Kevin Riley is out, and Brock Mansion is in. While Riley had been up and down over his Golden Bear career, Mansion is a complete unknown, having only played the Washington State game last week. What kind of quarterback is Brock Mansion? Can the Bear offense be successful under him?
solarise: Brock Mansion is a strong-armed mobile QB who lacks game experience. He did improve as the game progressed against WSU and delivered a win on the road for the Bears. Mansion could've been ready by 2011. Getting rushed into service after Riley's injury was not part of the plan.
I'm defining Cal's offensive success in terms of Mansion not making any mistakes. The answer your question then is yes and hopefully that's not expecting too much.
Kodiak: Strong-armed and mobile. He has a nice touch on the deep ball, and executes the offense pretty well. But, he reportedly had issues with mastering the playbook and with accuracy which is why he was #3 until two weeks ago. As an inexperienced QB, he's also going to be prone to missed reads, especially if the defense does any late shifts or disguised coverages. He shows some moxy and mental toughness, though. Even when he made mistakes last week, he shook them off and got better as the game went on. I think the Bear offense can absolutely be successful under him - but that depends more on the O-line providing consistent protection and opening up enough holes for the running game.
5. We all know that an Oregon win is the most likely scenario. That said, what, in your opinion, is the key to a California upset this Saturday?
solarise: Execution: no mistakes, maintain gap integrity, & win the field position battle.
Kodiak: An injury to Darren Thomas is the most likely way an upset is possible. Besides that, a dominant performance in the trenches on both sides of the ball and some turnovers might do it. If we can get an early lead and control the clock with our running game + short passing game to keep your offense off the field, I suppose it's possible. Or, Chip Kelly could owe the mob money and place a large bet in Vegas.
6. Given Cal's struggles to emerge from the middle of the pack in the conference over the last several seasons, is there any heat on Jeff Tedford in Berkeley?
Kodiak: There's heat on Tedford to fix the glaring issue of our Oline and to address the morale and execution issues which have lead to so many inexplicable blowouts the last two years. His job probably safe at least until the SAHPC is completed unless he puts together 2-3 consecutive losing seasons.
solarise: No. Tedford saved us from Holmoecaust. Fans are willing to extend him an olive branch w/ the new Student Athletes High Performance Facility & a renovated Memorial Stadium to figure things out. Patience may be running thin by 2012 if the Bears are nowhere close to the Roses.
7. Fill in the blank: with the graduation of Ed Dickson, ____________ is going to score three touchdowns for Oregon this Saturday.
solarise: IwillPunchYou InDaFace
norcalnick: Dan Fouts
Kodiak: Colin Kapaernick. And none of us will see him. The dude has magical tattoos which make him invisible. The points will just show up on the board and maybe he'll punch a few people in the face on the way out.
8. For our fellow Ducks making the trip to the Bay (who hopefully will be stopping by the CGB/ATQ tailgater), what is the best place in Berkeley to grab a bite and a brew after the game?
Kodiak: Top Dog for a snack, and Raleigh's is a pretty good place for brews/food.
CBKWit: All of the Oregon craft brew snobs must hit Triple Rock. Triple Rock was THE orginal brew pub in the country - the first. When our former Mayor, Tom Bates, was in the California State Legislature, he signed the law which allowed the brewing and serving of beer on the same premises. The celebration of this historic legislation (which Bates told me was his favorite from his years in the state government) was held in Triple Rock. Beer snobs, you have us to thank. You're welcome.
solarise: Always enjoyed Jupiter. Is Henry's really a cougar bar now?