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Dethroning The King In The North: Cal vs. Oregon Roundtable

We're all agreed that Cal should never wear all-white again . . . right?
We're all agreed that Cal should never wear all-white again . . . right?

TwistNHook: Well, we have the Quackers at home this year. We've always played them tough at home. We almost knocked them off in 2010 and beat them in 2004, 2006, and 2008. Each game against Oregon at home always seems very unique. 2004 was the dropped pass at the end of the game. 2006 was the absolute destruction. 2008 was the monsoon game. 2010 was that tight loss against almost national champions under the light.

How is 2012 going to go???

Berkelium97: Does anyone else fear that Oregon's offense will be just as productive despite the losses of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas? Chip Kelly's offense is remarkably resilient.

LeonPowe: I am 100% certain the Ducks offense will be as good without Darron Thomas and the Michael. I am afeared of the college Black Mamba - I think he's better than Reggie Bush.

VincentS: What will it take for us to win?

  • Perfect tackling
  • Coaches getting units ready to sub in and out against the Oregon offense
  • Safeties and Linebackers making the right reads
  • Winning the turnover battle
  • A scary crowd
  • (Most critically) Our defensive line blowing up the Oregon O-line.

I know we'll have the crowd at the beginning of the game. If the last one holds true, and we get at least 2 of the other ones, I think we have a great shot

Berkelium97: I like the matchup of our d-line vs the Oregon o-line, but I am worried one particular issue Vincent S points out: safeties and linebackers making the right reads. We're breaking in two new safeties this year (even if Hill is a senior) and two new starting ILBs. Hopefully they will have enough discipline to manage their assignments and trust that each of the 10 other guys will do theirs. We must be stout and resilient. As we saw last year, once things start going downhill, they pick up momentum in a hurry.

HydroTech: What will it take for us to win?

  • Perfect tackling
  • Everybody knowing their assignments
  • Cal rotating out its players quickly
  • Near perfect execution on both sides of the ball
  • Extremely noisy Cal crowd
  • An injury or two to key Oregon offensive players

Cal basically has to play a perfect game. In fact, I would say that while USC may be a more NFL talent laden team than Oregon, it will take a better performance by opponents to beat Oregon than USC because of Oregon's offensive tempo and scheme. This is crazy, right?

TwistNHook: One key question for the ducks is at the QB position. Given their system and the talent around him, the QB might not be *that* important up north. But, of course, it is still the QB. So, who puts Oregon in a better position to win: Bryan Bennett (who subbed for Thomas a bit last year) or Marcus Mariota??

Kodiak: I don't think it matters. Kelly's system makes them tough to defend either way. Although Bennett has more experience, Mariota is the guy that scares me because he seems to be both a better athlete running the ball as well as the superior passer.

Barner and Thomas are such dynamic backs that the Ducks will probably not need to rely much on their passing game.

Hydro and the others have already nailed it: no missed tackles. Unfortunately, I think we're too young at ILB and S for me to be overly optimistic that we're capable of executing our defensive assignments well enough to really keep them in check.

Chip Kelly just isn't going to fall for the same trick twice. For as much noise was made over the InjuryGate game where Clancy Pendergast went Cover Zero, it should be noted that Kelly was quickly able to adapt his system to take advantage of our safeties. Hydro had some really good breakdowns showing how this worked out schematically.

Against their offense, we have a chance if our D line is able to absolutely abuse their O line. When Boise upset Oregon a few years ago, it was because of a dominant effort by their front four with good discipline behind them filling gaps.

As cliched as it may be, the best way to slow their offense would be for our offense to dominate the clock. If we're able to run the ball down their throats, it would go a long way towards making this one a contest. Unfortunately, they have a really good linebacking corps headlined by the inexplicably still-on-the-team-despite-multiple-arrests Kiko Alonso. Their secondary is also tough and athletic and their defensive coordinator seems to have found his stride with a creative variety of blitz packages.

The key to this game is going to be focus and mental toughness. The Ducks are going to make plays on both sides of the ball. They're too good, too fast, and too well-coached not too. We have to not let one big play snowball into several. If we keep getting up and counter-punching every time we get hit in the mouth, maybe we have a chance. Go Bears!

Berkelium97: I'm worried about our ability to hold onto the ball and work the clock. We have had trouble scoring against Oregon recently: we only have 3 TDs against them in the last three years. My jimmies are no less rustled by the fact that Ted Miller said every single position on the Ducks' defense is in "great shape."

This will be a serious challenge for our offensive line. In addition to trying to anchor the running game, they will have to hold off a Ducks front that posted 45 sacks last year (4th in the nation). We need to have any and all issues at O-line sorted out by the time the Ducks come to town.

UncleSam22: Everyone above is correct. We'll have to play a nearly perfect game and have the D-line step up with a great game. On offense, we have to have a few long sustained drives that give the defense a chance to rest and the coaches time to adjust the defensive scheme for what Oregon is doing on offense. It should be interesting to see how this game plays out. If we can hang with them at the start, weather the storm as we've done in years past, and then, unlike years past, continue to shut them down while putting pressure on them by scoring points, I think that we'll have a chance. It will take a complete 60 minute team effort to do so, but I think we can pull the upset. I'm not sure we will, but I'm optimistic that it is definitely in the realm of possibilities.

TwistNHook: God, Uncle Ted even thinks that Oregon is amazing at punter:

Oregon: Jackson Rice was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award. The Ducks were No. 1 in the nation in net punting last year. Really not much else to say.

Jackson Rice, bee tee dubs, is a Moraga boy, meaning that once again carp can complain that Tedford failed to get those local recruits. FIRE TEDFORD!

OhioBear: But really, how can we tell if Jackson Rice is that good of a punter? Small sample size!!!

LeonPowe: He's an Oregon player - that isn't enough proof for you?

HydroTech: Once again, I would expect to see Cal play a lot of Cover Zero (or Zero Coverage) against Oregon. Oregon will be ready for this and will have plays to counter this defense, but I'm a firm believer that the Cover Zero is the best defense to counter Oregon's offense.

Norcalnick: Last year, it seemed like things fell apart because our inexperience outside linebackers couldn't make the right reads all game long. It will be interesting to see if a slightly more experience group of outside backers can play better - and if losing our duo of inside linebackers causes as many problems.

TwistNHook: Score predictions?

Berkelium97: I expect a close game through the first two and a half quarters. Unless the D-line completely manhandles their O-line (which not outside the realm of possibilities), the Ducks will begin to take complete control of the game in the second half (like they did last year in the 3rd quarter and in the 4th quarter in 2010--remember that 10-minute drive to kill the clock at the end of the game?).

Cal 17, Oregon 28

Atomsareenough: Cal 17, Oregon 28 sounds about right to me. For some reason we've had trouble scoring against them the past few years. I mean, their defense is good, but it's not quite as good as we've made them look. Anyway, this won't be a blowout, but I don't think it will be necessarily close. We'll get some stops and hang tough for a while, but suspect they'll wear us down and pull away.

I do hope we try giving a bunch of different looks on D to try and confuse their new QB. Unlike most schools, Oregon seems to be pretty plug-n-play at the QB position, but Darron Thomas was a smooth operator and really knew what he was doing in that system, and I'm sure the new guy won't be nearly as polished yet.

UncleSam22: Oregon 31 - Cal 15

LeonPowe: 15? 15? 5 field goals? 2 point conversion?! Cal 2 - Oregon 0

UncleSam22: 3 FG's a TD, and a missed XP.

OhioBear: I'd like to think this game will be close, like 2010. But for some reason, I just don't see it being much different than last year. We'll hang for a little while and then get Mamba'd. Oregon 41, Cal 21.

Norcalnick: I'll go Oregon 27, Cal 20. And it's a clean sweep! Everybody predicts a home loss! God we're depressing.