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Cal vs. Arizona Week: Lasco & Cochran could play; Practice updates

The California Golden Bears (1-7) return to Memorial Stadium to take on the Arizona Wildcats (5-2). RB Daniel Lasco and OL Matt Cochran both practiced this week, and could play on Saturday. Mixing and matching continued on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the secondary.

Stephen Lam

One significant news item coming out of the Washington game was Coach Sonny Dykes' comments regarding the QB situation - that Jared Goff would remain the starter for the season.  When asked to clarify on Monday, he said:

"You're never going to close the door on anything. ... We'll see how it plays out. The worst thing you can do is have a quarterback looking over his shoulder all the time. ... Considering that, you can draw your own conclusions. If the circumstances warrant making a change we'll make one."

Freddie Tagaloa has been progressing in his position switch to guard, and Brendan Bigelow's move to inside receiver also seems to be going well:

"He’s making a position shift, and sometimes that takes a little bit of time," Dykes said of Tagaloa. "He hasn’t played much guard. ... It’s something we think he can do well. We think he’s going to make him more comfortable playing in a confined space."

Dykes on Bigelow at slot receiver: "I think he’s really getting better. He’s playing faster and with more confidence. I’m excited about him, I really am."

Fortunately, there were no new injuries to report at the beginning of the week.  And in better news, RB Daniel Lasco and OL Matt Cochran were upgraded to questionable for the Arizona game.  Both players practiced this week and might play on Saturday:

Nick Forbes, who has missed a substantial amount of practice and game time with a lingering back injury, looks to be out for the rest of the season:

Cal's defense, which ranks near the bottom in several statistical categories, faces a tough test against Arizona RB Kadeem Carey - the nation's leading rusher with 153 yards per game - and RichRod's up-tempo offense:

Here are [some of Cal's defensive] statistics - along with ranks out of 123 FBS teams:

44.0 points allowed per game - Rank: 120

540.0 total yards allowed per game - Rank: 121

350.9 passing yards allowed per game - Rank: 123

DC Andy Buh has been installing new defensive packages, and younger players are seeing increased reps both in practice and games.  True freshman LB Johnny Ragin has been getting on the field in a specific 3rd down blitz look:

Against Washington, [Buh] experimented with a new blitz package that replaced defensive linemen with extra linebackers and defensive backs. ... According to Johnny Ragin, one of the substitutes in the set, it’s called the "Nascar" package.

"We put it in on some passing downs, mainly third downs to get some stops," the freshman linebacker said. "We were able to get some more speed on the field."

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There might be a new starter - plus a change in the depth chart - in the secondary this Saturday:

Redshirt freshman Cedric Dozier, who has played primarily on special teams, has taken several reps with the first-team defense this week.

"He’s been one of those guys that we’ve been waiting for him to come, and he’s started to make a little bit more of a push," head coach Sonny Dykes said of Dozier.

Maximo Espitia appears to have moved into the two-deep at strong safety. He has jumped ahead of Jason Gibson.

Also, in case you missed this week's The Drive episode, Sonny Dykes met with Pete Carroll last weekend during Cal's trip to Seattle:

Carroll gave Dykes advice on dealing with adversity, and Dykes took a lot from the conversation.

"He wasn’t an overnight success," Dykes said. "It took him awhile to figure out the formula, and he had to keep grinding. He gave some really insightful advice, and I really enjoyed visiting with him. I think we share a lot of similar ways of thinking and approaching the game."

Additional Links:

  • Know Your Enemy: Previewing Rich Rodriguez's Arizona Wildcats Offense
  • Scouting Arizona 2013 - Rest of the Pac Breakdown
  • The Drive, episode 8: Halloween spooktacular viewing thread
  • Golden Nuggets: Sandy Barbour takes responsibility for grad-rate failure
  • Cal vs. USC kicks off at noon, Cal vs. Arizona at 12:30 PM