Last season in Seattle, Cal fought to the bitter end against the Washington Huskies, overcoming a brilliant performance by Huskies quarterback Keith Price to still have a chance to tie the game at the end of regulation. Cal's hopes for a great road win ended, however, at the UW 2-yard line as the Huskies escaped with a 31-23 home win and a third consecutive victory over Cal. As if the three-game losing streak (and four out out of the last five) to Washington was not enough, Cal suffered another loss to the Huskies during the offseason. Cal defensive line coach and reputed recruiting guru Tosh Lopoi bolted from his alma mater to join Steve Sarkisian's staff at Washington. Cal wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Eric Kiesau followed suit. And to make matters worse, a boffo Cal recruiting class that Lupoi had a major hand in putting together unraveled, with the most painful loss being defensive back Shaq Thompson, who decommitted from the Bears and followed Lupoi to Washington.
So how's that for a back story to this one? To say that Cal and Washington will have no love lost between them when they meet at Memorial Stadium on an early November Friday night is probably an understatement. How do your CGB writers and mods see Tosh Bowl I going?
TwistNHook: Friday Night Lights! Cal v. A University of the World! Toshmageddeon! Can Cal do the eminently thinkable and beat UW? We haven't done it since the Bush Administration.
Berkelium97: Huck the Fuskies! •clap, clap, clapclapclap•
atomsareenough: I'm going to say it straight up. We have to win this game. We must win this game. If we don't win this game, I will be very, very angry and frustrated. This year I want to beat Washington even more than I want to beat Stanford. Karma demands it. I have an aching desperate need to see the dejected looks on their faces after the clock runs to 0:00. And then I will laugh maniacally and much merriment will ensue.
Ahem, anyway. Price is a good QB. He showed flashes of being scary good. How well we contain him is going to decide this game. He can be a strong, purposeful runner, and he seems to have a good arm and pocket presence. I am worried, but hopeful that our new linebackers and safeties will be battle-tested veterans by November, that our D-line can consistently break down the pocket and put some hits on him, and that the crowd will be so amped up that he can barely hear himself think.
Ohio Bear: I wouldn't want to see atoms angry.
atomsareenough:You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.
TwistNHook: Honestly, I don't even really like you right now. So, I don't see it as a big difference.
(Well, this just turned awkward. Can the CGB writers and mods refocus after the jump?)
atomsareenough: How about now?
TwistNHook: I love you, atoms, never leave me. Who will hold me if you leave?
Berkelium97: Oh that's incredible! Whose baby is that in the second one--the unpictured lady in the stall or the lady washing her hands? Amazing.
TwistNHook: And this is why we're the most trusted name in Pac-12 football analysis! We're just like CNN!
atomsareenough: You mean we're a laughingstock which nobody pays attention to except in an emergency?
Berkelium97: Fortunately for Cal fans, every day is an emergency!
atomsareenough: To bring things back around again, if we don't beat UW, that would be a real Cal fan emergency. Man, I hate the Huskies. I'd love to see CJ re-enact this play.
So... how do you guys think our offense will fare against their defense? What kinds of changes do we expect Wilcox will make this year?
Last year's game didn't end well for the Bears. But it sure began with a bang.
Kodiak: Unfortunately, Wilcox is a pretty good defensive coach. He's not a systems guy. He believes in adapting his schemes to fit his personnel and stresses execution along with fundamentals.
He's reportedly very good with getting young players up to speed.
Although he likes putting pressure on opposing offenses, he first wants his defense to be tough and disciplined.
I'd expect their D to be improved this coming year. Perhaps not as many big plays, but not as many breakdowns. We'll have to be similarly tough-minded with our execution on offense.
Berkelium97: It's tough to predict how well Wilcox will run the defense. The Huskies' only significant losses after last season were DT Alameda Ta'amu and CB Quinton Richardson. DB Desmond Trufant is probably their best player, although they return plenty of experience. Of course, that experience is in having one of the worst defenses in the conference. If Wilcox can instill some improvement in execution, this defense could improve dramatically.
They have plenty of bodies on the defensive line and I am interested in seeing whether Tosh will turn any of them into the monsters we're used to at Cal.
Vincent S: I think this game will turn into a shootout. Not quite UW-Baylor, but close. Whoever gets the last stop wins.
Ohio Bear: The inability to beat Washington since Jahvid Best ran for a million yards against them in 2008 is mind-boggling and frustrating. Last year, okay: though it was a winnable game, I'll give Cal a pass for losing on the road to a Husky squad that was evenly matched with it. But the 2009 and 2010 Cal teams had no business losing to Washington.
Regardless of how we got here, we've now lost three in a row to the Fuskies. And the "rivalry" is ratcheted up now, what with this game now being the Tosh Bowl. I have to believe that the Tosh situation will be at the forefront of the players' (and coaches') minds as this game draws near.
Can Cal get it done? Heck, yes we can. But we should have gotten it done in at least two of the last three meetings, too.
Kodiak: As much as I'd like to say confidently that UW will get a much-deserved beatdown, I think this game is going to be a down-to-the-wire shootout.
Their offense has the capability to be scary-good. I was impressed with Price and his poise as a 1st-year starter. For anyone who caught the barn-burner against Baylor and RGIII...well, that's some scary stuff there.
They have some young bluechip talent at WR(Kaisen Williams) and a monster TE (Sefarian-Jenkins). RB is a little unsettled, thank goodness.
But, Sark has also shown an ability to drink Tedford and Pendergasts' milkshake. He schemed up that long TD play to Polk last year that perfectly exploited flaws down the middle of Cal's D. And that was with two senior safeties, two senior ILBs including DPOY Kendricks. Against four new interior defenders? I shudder.
If UW has a big question mark, it's their defense. Sadly enough, Wilcox is a likely upgrade over Holt...and we didn't do a great job of taking advantage of Holt's relative insanity.
They lose a lot of experience on D, so they may still be a year or two away. They do have plenty of young talent, dammit, notably safeties Sample and Thompson.
We're going to have to match them punch for punch and hope that they make a few more mistakes than we do. Unfortunately, Cal hasn't shown a lot of confidence that past few years in pulling out this type of game out. UW, on the other hand, did this repeatedly last year and _knows_ that they can win a close, high-scoring affair.
I'd love for this to come down to the last possession where Tedford draws up and calls the perfect play...We score the walk-off TD because their D (and a certain young defender) whiff completely on a read and leave a Bear player running free.
There he is!
Berkelium97:As Kodiak said, their offense can become a monster this season. They do have one weakness, however: the offensive line. Last year the Huskies yielded 34 sacks and they may be worse this year. Three starters return, but it sounds like injuries plagued the line during spring. Whether they will return any healthy, experienced players remains to be seen. Even worse for UW, Chris Polk and his 4000+ career rushing yards are gone. Finding someone to fill in for him will be a great challenge.
For UW to score, they're going to beat us through the air. Unfortunately, they showed last year they can do that without much trouble...
Kodiak: Well, to follow up on what BK97 said about UW's Oline, it's a good thing for the Huskies that hiring away our top recruiter let them keep all the top Oline talent in-state.
unclesam22: This is going to be a tough game for many, many reason, most of which are outlined above. I think that the players will come out fired up to rub Tosh's face in it, and I think that our offense will be more improved than their defense, so I think it ends up being a close game that we win.
Cal 42- UW 37
TwistNHook: More score predictions?
Ohio Bear: Another close one with UW. This time, Cal wins it.
Cal 31, UW 28
Berkelium97: Last year Oregon and USC shut down the UW running game and Keith Price floundered as a result. What's really surprising is that Price didn't torch the USC's terrible pass defense. In two and a half quarters against them he only had 125 yards (then left the game with injury). It's a small sample size, but there's enough to produce some concern that Price will not be as effective without Polk anchoring the running game.
If we hold UW to under 3.5 yards per carry, we will win this one. I like the matchup of our front seven against the struggling UW O-line.
Cal 35, UW 31
atomsareenough: Maybe I'm just excited for the season, but my sunshine pumps are just whirring away already.
Anyway, my prediction: Cal 42, Washington 28
I don't know why I'm feeling so bullish on our offense, but for some reason I am. I think as long as our o-line can play decently well with any consistency (which is a big stipulation, I admit), we'll find that Allen, Treggs, Harris, and Rodgers are going to be a formidable group of receiving threats, Maynard will be more than competent, and our running backs will be a strong and deep unit. We're going to bring it to Washington early. They won't know what hit them. Payback is a female Husky.
(How do you see this one going, CGBers? Share your thoughts in the comments.)