Cal takes on Colorado today in Boulder in a non-conference matchup – although CU is now part of the Pac-12, today’s game is the 2nd part of a home & home series that began last year. As Cal Football Blog noted in our preview post, the Bears rolled the Buffs in Berkeley last year 52-7, handing them their worst loss of the season. Here are Cal’s keys to success:
1. Use Zach Maynard as a Dual Threat
Colorado’s defense is susceptible to mobile QBs, as Bryant Moniz proved last week: 14 carries for 121 yards, many on zone read keepers that the Buffs’ D was not prepared for. If Maynard can make plays with both his arm and legs, Colorado could be in for a long day. Maynard will hopefully have improved his accuracy for this game as well. Colorado has an inexperienced secondary (2 new starters at CB), and the weather conditions in Boulder should be more favorable than last week – less windy than Candlestick, despite the altitude.
2. Win the Battles up Front
Colorado’s OL had lots of trouble with Hawaii’s front four, giving up 7 sacks and managing only 17 net rushing yards (RB Rodney Stewart was held to a 2.9 YPC). Cal has lots of depth on the DL, and today would be a great time to rotate the big guys up front, especially considering the concerns about the high elevation. On the other side of the ball, last week’s problems in the running game are a concern. JT and Coach M have reportedly worked on shoring up the run blocking this past week, and Deboskie and Anderson should get more carries today. The offense will score points – Hawaii put up 34 – and Coach P’s defense has the ability to shut down Colorado like it did FSU.
3. Stay Confident on the Road
This is the Bears’ first road game of the season, and it is against a potentially tough opponent, given the altitude and the Buffs’ being jacked up for their home opener. The FSU game proved that this year’s Bears can bounce back from early mistakes. Cal is much better conditioned this year, thanks to Coach Blasquez, so the elevation shouldn’t be as much of a factor than some might believe. If the Bears can stay focused and confident, they should come out with a victory.