As we continue our game-by-game preview, today we take a glance at the Ducks Friday night clash in October against the California Golden Bears. That is, the newly Jared Goff-less Bears of the 2016 Pac-12 season.
The not-so Golden Bears finished in 4th place of the Pac-12 North division last season. Even with the No. 1 overall pick of the St. Louis Rams leading the offensive charge, Cal could not manage a 10-win season, mustering an 8-5 mark.
Cal finished second in the conference last season behind the Ducks (6,997) for total net yards from scrimmage with a whopping 6,879 yards.
Averaging 37.9 points per game for most teams in the Pac-12 would mean a conference title, at least a share of it. That was not the case with Cal last season, as their defense struggled to stop everyone. When your defense allows 30.7 points per game, shootouts are seemingly mandatory.
Although the Bears were 4-5 in conference last season, they did fare well at home with a 5-1 mark. However, 2-4 on the road and 0-3 against ranked opponents is not going to win you many titles of any sort. The Ducks will be visiting California Memorial Stadium in 2016.
Jared Goff and his top six receivers are no longer with the program. Some believe Goff was a product of his offensive system, while others think he could be the next Joe Montana...Maybe because he wears the No. 16? That is the only similarity I see between those two, but nevertheless, he is no longer at Cal and a problem of the Ducks’.
NEW COWBOY IN TOWN:
Davis Webb is his name, and he is the new quarterback for the Golden Bears heading into the 2016 campaign. Cal was in a fortunate position when the Texas Tech transfer chose to play for the Bears amidst his final season in college. Over his college career at Texas Tech, Webb threw for over 5,500 yards including 46 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
WHEN CAL IS ON DEFENSE:
The Bears had statistically the worst defensive secondary in the Pac-12 just two years ago, yet improved to seventh last year. The pass rush for the Bears has improved, as they recorded 28 sacks last year, following a 16-sack 2015. The Bears also greatly improved their points allowed margin (30.7) to nearly 10 points per game from the year previous (39.8). Cal’s defense is not elite, but they are no slouch anymore.
WHO TO WATCH:
After losing their top six pass-catchers from 2015, Cal is seeking a spark on offense. They may have found it in the form of wide receiver playmakers Melquise Stovall and Demetris Robertson. Cal journalists and scouts alike are raving over the Lancaster, California native, especially during spring practices.
Meanwhile, Robertson was a five-star high school uber recruit that the coaching staff is looking forward to getting on the field. The formally coveted SEC product was a star in Savannah, Georgia but chose to head west instead of playing in his backyard for the Bulldogs.
The Ducks beat the Bears last season by a score of 44-28 from Autzen Stadium in Eugene on November 7. This season will be much of the same as Oregon rolls 52-27 on the back of Royce Freeman who will open up the defense for quarterback Dakota Prukop to pick them apart in the secondary. Look for all four Duck running backs to join the rushing fun come October 21 in Berkeley, California. 300 total rushing yards for the four Duck running backs.