The big injuries of note from last week haven't quite cleared up, leaving the Bears with a great deal of uncertainty as to who they can rely on going into Saturday's game against UCLA. Thanks to Ryan Gorcey and Grant Marek for getting the crucial quotes.
Khalfani Muhammad (broken left thumb, cast for four weeks)
Surprisingly, despite all the defensive injuries, I felt Muhammad's injury hurt the most. Although both Vic Enwere and Tre Watson got touches today, it's clear that the coaching staff isn't ready to trust them with more than a handful of carries at this point. Neither made any game-changing plays.
I'm not saying Muhammad would have made a huge difference--he's averaging a pretty average 4.47 yards per carry--but he might have been able to help establish the ground game better instead of forcing Daniel Lasco to shoulder the load. Lasco is a good back, but it seems his effectiveness declines after a certain amount of touches and plays, and I imagine he played the entire first half. Second half Lasco had about 15 yards on the ground, and we ran the ball quite a bit in the final two stanzas. The Lasco/Muhammad rotation allows both to flash their skills without fatiguing the other, and might have softened up the defense just enough to give us a chance to do more in the air.
Muhammad needs to learn to play with that cast ASAP. Cal's offense needs balance to succeed, or otherwise we could start seeing a lot more offensive performances like last season's.
Brennan Scarlett (sprained knee, week-to-week)
Another huge question mark. Cal had no front four pressure without Scarlett, and it will be crucial against a UCLA offensive line that has looked bad, bad, bad the past three weeks. Scarlett's absence could determine the effectiveness of the Bears in getting to and pressuring Brett Hundley.
Michael Lowe (concussion)
Lowe sounds like he'll return to duty this weekend and will participate in non-contact practice on Tuesday. His return is crucial, because otherwise Cal's safety options are limited.
Stefan McClure (calf)
McClure sounds like he's finally on the verge of returning to action, practicing Sunday night. Getting both of our starting safeties back to deal with Hundley would be quite a blessing, because I'm not sure still-not-100% Avery Sebastian and walk-on wide receiver Patrick Worstell is what you want to throw out there.
Griffin Piatt (knee)
No word yet. Should know soon.
UPDATE: Piatt is out for the season.
Cal safety Griffin Piatt, the team's leading tackler, is out for the season with a knee injury, a Cal spokesman has confirmed.— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) October 14, 2014
Avery Sebastian (health)
He played, and performed generally okay, but I imagine he's still in the recovery phase. Always have to watch him closely, because he's a safety, and they seem to always have hexes put on them by evil Cal-hating witch doctors.
No official word, but this is from his Facebook page, and it doesn't sound good.
Best of luck with the healing process Joel. You're a strong Bear and we know you'll recover and go far. GO BEARS!