The guys over at California Golden Blogs, the SBNation Cal blog, were nice enough to grant us an interview, gleaning some info into what to expect on Saturday.
Give a basic overview of Cal's offense. What should Terp fans expect to see?
A LOT of running. Cal has extreme inexperience at the wide receiver position and, for putting up 66 points, Cal's passing offense was a bit out of sync against Wazzu. Tedford seems to be working Riley in slowly, not asking him to throw downfield a lot. He throws a lot of shadow passes to the sidelines and quick, short passes. And then he runs a lot. But maybe in game 3 (after some oddly rough passes against Wazzu), Tedford will push Riley more and more. ASU is in a few weeks and Cal needs Riley up to full speed by then.
Every year, it seems Cal has a great offensive star. Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch, DeSean Jackson...it's a pretty long, consistent list. Who's this year's big weapon?
Jahvid Best. He was the fastest sprinter in California his senior year in high school and he hasn't stopped since. He just tore up Wazzu rushing for 2 80+ TD runs and 200ish yards. There are a lot of young, inexperienced players on this offense, including QB Kevin Riley.
Tedford said recently re: Best "On Best improving as he gets more experience:
Yeah, you would think with every play. There are certain times when he gets tripped up in the hole where he could read his block a little differently. But I would say there is no question he is going to continue to improve."
He's incredibly talented but inexerienced, and is improving with every game. That should be scary to opponents, that he's not complete in terms of reading blocks and hitting the hole, but he's already run for two 80 yard TD runs.
Every team also has an unheralded player that really makes the team tick. Who on the Golden Bears do more people need to know about?
Syd'Quan Thompson, DB. The most national moment SydGOD had was 2 years ago when Tennessee rocked him as a redshirt freshman in his first ever game. He got burned several times on big TD passes. But he grew from that trial by fire and now is a total god out there. He's started ever since. He's either picked off 3 or 4 passes already this year. In 2 games. He's a shutdown corner out there.
What's the Golden Bears' strong suit on defense? Is there anything the Terps could possibly end up exploiting?
Well, I think its LB. We are playing a 3-4 this year to take advantage of 4 sick LBs. Worrell Williams, Zach Follett, Anthony Felder, and Eddie Young. All are beasts out there. Coming off of last year's debacle, there are still some concerns about DLine, which is why they switch to 3-4. If Rulon Davis is healthy on the DLine, they are effective. We'll see.
People seem to be throwing to the non-SydGOD side of the field. Darian Hagan is the CB over there. He was getting picked apart in the MSU game. He didnt help himself by letting 5 ints go off/through his hands in that game. So, Maryland might be throwing to the non-SydGOD side of the field a lot until Hagan can prove himself.
DeSean Jackson was pretty electric last year. Who's taken his place as the main playmaker at wide receiver?
Nobody. We dont have anything reasonably close to DeSean Jackson. We dont have anything reasonably close to half of DeSean Jackson. There is a lot of potential witht he young guys there. Michael Calvin. Nyan Boateng. And experience in Sean Young.
Really, our #1 pass catcher right now is TE Cameron Morrah.
What's Jeff Tedford's offensive strategy this year? I'm assuming the run is a pretty big factor.
Yes. With inexperience at WR and lots of experience at FB and depth at RB (Best, Vereen, Slocum), itll be run run run run run run run run run run run run run. Hopefully, Riley will slowly become more comfortable out there with the deep ball and things will change. But for now, its run run!
Any closing comments?
We're Cal fans. Coming off of 66-3, we still live in fear of losing to Maryland. Athletic excellence only breeds pessimism in us!
Well, at least we know what to expect. If Cosh can stack eight or nine guys in the box and force Cal to throw, I think we have a pretty good chance. They appear to be pretty high on Syd'Quan Thompson. I can't wait to see Thompson and Hey-Bey go one-on-one. Nothing against "SydGOD", but I think DHB's gonna come out on top, as long Chris Turner doesn't screw it up for him.