TwistNHook: From Oregon to USC. Out of frying pan and into the fire!
It seems like each year people say that this year is the year Cal beats USC. This is the year that USC's weakness rears its ugly head. And it isn't. It doesn't. It don't. It never does. It never did. Will it ever do? Why did I never learn proper grammar at Cal???
So, my question is, at what point does the NCAA just come out and sanction USC by losing to us. What can we do to get that to happen???
Berkelium97: Last year Jurrell Casey tore through the O-line and contributed to a ferocious pass rush that gave Riley hardly any time to make his reads and pass. Thankfully, Casey graduated. Of course, USC undoubtedly has another NFL-caliber defensive tackle who will replace Casey, just as they always reload their D with NFL talent each year.
On defense we had the opposite problem. Pendergast would send up to 5 or 6 guys and still get little to no pressure on Barkley. Barkley would simply roll out, buy 5 more seconds of time, then miraculously complete a pass to a WR who was usually well covered. Barkley will likely be better this season, his receivers are definitely better with the inclusion of George Farmer, and the O-line will likely be restocked with more NFL talent.
Can you tell I'm not so optimistic about this game?
LeonPowe: I do think that Barkley will regress to the mean - he was absolutely on fire against us last year and seemed to make every single tough throw.
Unfortunately, I think his mean is still pretty high - he's talented with a big o-line and has talent at the skill positions. I'm worried that Pendergast's defense seemed to do well against some schools, but absolutely killed against schemes that he should be more familiar with (those being "pro-sets" and his coming from the pros).
I think we'll be a lot closer than last year, but unfortunately my sunshine pump doesn't have enough juice to make it more than closer.
NorCalNick: I think the key to the game is USC's rebuilt offensive line, which lost three starters from last year. I think Cal's front seven should be pretty good, and I'm betting that Clancy Pendergast puts together a better game plan to rush Matt Barkley this year. If USC's offensive line isn't ready I think Cal's defense can, at the very least, keep the game close enough to give the Bears a chance. But if the Trojan line gels early and Cal can't pressure Barkley I can see him carving up our secondary for the 2nd year in a row.
Kodiak: In last year's game, I don't think our issues were with scheme so much as our guys got beaten in almost every significant one on one battle. Combine offensive woes with defensive lapses with unfavorable field position due to special teams miscues and that's the recipe for the snowball o' hell which was the first half.
For whatever reason, since Tyler Frederickson inexplicably won that triple OT game, the Cal players seem to be affected by the Trojan mystique. It seems like every other team in the conference is no longer impressed by 'sc's swagger and will rise up to play their best game. Or, maybe 'sc doesn't bother getting up for most other teams. But in macabre-even-by-Cal-standards fashion, we firmly have their attention and seem to bring out the best in their competitive nature...while countering with a collective case of the yips.
The sanctions will eventually put a hurt on 'sc's ridiculous depth. They might have to bring 4 star RBs off the bench instead of consensus HS AA's. Oh. The inhumanity. But for the immediate future, as great as our recent recruiting classes have been, keep in mind that 'sc has still been signing the cream of the crop. For every MikeyMo diamond in the rough that we discover, they've signed guys listed as the best or top 10 nationally at their position.
So from a talent perspective, we can't expect to just line up and have our way with them. It'll come down to scheme. And execution. And morale. Someone has got to command the locker room and just say, "Eff this. We're going to kick some *ss today." More importantly, someone has to command the sidelines when adversity hits to keep us in the game. It's going to have to be one of the guys, because our coaching staff just doesn't seem to be wired that way.
If it's just a question of coaching chops, give me Tedford over Kiffin any day of the week, and twice on Saturday. Unfortunately, this is a QB driven league and it's really hard to pick a transfer in his first season of Pac-12 ball over an experienced upperclassman.
I think this game hinges on our Oline. Competent play on offense will allow us to be competitive and will lessen the pressure on our defense to over-commit out of trying to make something happen. If we prove that we can hang with them early, I think the guys will settle in and make this one a contest.
OhioBear: We have lost 7 in a row to USC. Seven. That's the Trojies' longest win streak against us since they beat us 7 straight from 1978 to 1984. And those Cal teams weren't nearly as good as the ones we have put on the field against USC since 2004.
Last year was such a buzzkill. I really thought Cal was turning the corner on its season when we went into the Coliseum and I thought that USC, though formidable certainly, was beatable. Well, if they were beatable that day, we certainly showed no indication of that. Matt Barkley tore us apart and we were so uncompetitive that it was painful to watch.
Having lost 7 in a row to USC, we can't really pound our chest and predict victory. At the same time, though, I'm strangely optimistic that we might actually break through against them this year. Don't know why -- call it a hunch.
HydroTech: I'm not one to usually repeat stereotypes, but when I think of the Cal/USC matchup, I think of how many people have often said that USC has had trouble defending against mobile QBs (but then again, who hasn't?). Since Maynard is our QB, I can't help but wonder if having a fast and mobile QB like him will work to Cal's advantage -- and even so much where USC could truly have trouble with our offense. Maybe... just maybe Cal can finally put up more than 17 points on USC for the first time eight years.
TwistNHook: Could be some problems with this year's USC secondary. Could Cal finally take advantage?
The eighth is this: with sophomore cornerback Nickell Robey expected to start -- and shine -- in 2011, who will be the second cornerback for the Trojans?
The three players with a real chance to win the job: juco transfer Isiah Wiley, track-jumper-turned-football-player Tony Burnett and redshirt sophomoreTorin Harris.
Wiley, who was originally headed to Alabama out of high school before failing to qualify, has the size and speed to start right away. The issue with him will be picking up Monte Kiffin's Cover-2 defense, although he's been scouted as a good tackler. Remember that one of the main reasons cited by the Kiffin's for last year's defensive struggles -- especially in the secondary -- were players taking time to pick up the schemes and new things they were being asked to do.
Berkelium97: We have not scored a non-garbage time TD against them since 2007. I'm still pessimistic
TwistNHook: Score predictions?
LeonPowe: 27-14 Big Bad USC Mauls Poor Cal
Oh wait, that doesn't work in reverse
Berkelium97: I thought wins against USC were feasible in '07, '08, '09, and even '10 (because USC's offense and defense looked pretty bad until Cal came into town). I still have a tough time imagining that Cal has a chance in this one. Here's my prediction:
The Bears strike first to make it look like a competitive game, but USC begins to pull away before halftime. Before we know it, it's another multi-TD loss to USC. The Trojans continue to be the thorn in Tedford's side: USC 35, Cal 17.
OhioBear: Trailing 23-17 late in the 4th quarter, Zach Maynard leads Cal on a methodical drive. In just six plays, Maynard gets the Bears to a first and goal at the USC 9 yard line. USC's defense digs in, however: a sack and two incompletions later, Cal is faced with a 4th and goal at the 14 yard line. On 4th down, Maynard hits Keenan Allen on a post route for the touchdown. Tavecchio nails the PAT and Cal wins 24-23.
Either that, or USC wins it 31-10.
NorCalNick: Because the game is held at AT&T park, USC fans are unable to fill another California stadium with 10,000+ fans and 300 sunglass-clad-brass-instrument-holding band members. Lacking that necessary emotional support, the Trojans struggle en route to a stunning, 27-10 loss.
. . . hey, a man can dream, can't he?
What does sort of suck is that USC will have 12 days to prepare for us. Not only that, it'll be their first Thursday night game that season so they will be sure to be pumped up to be on national TV. For the Bears, we'll only have a week to prepare for the game, and it'll be after our Thursday night matchup against Oregon too. Hopefully the odd Thursday night scheduling won't throw things off too much for our players.
HydroTech: Unfortunately, while two ESPN Thursday night games will be great for Cal's exposure, at the same time I think we're looking at two very tough games which could result in nationally televised losses.