Our beloved California Golden Bears are headed on the road to face the Texas Longhorns, so your doubly beloved California Golden Blogs are headed... nowhere. But using the power of the internet, we can talk to Wescott Eberts of Burnt Orange Nation about that Texas football!
1. Who's one player on offense whom Cal fans should know about?
I think Cal fans need to know about the new Texas starting quarterback, redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard. The No. 1 dual-threat quarterback by 247Sports in the 2014 class, Heard scrambled for 53 yards on his third play as the starter and then showed the ability to create big passing plays by throwing two long touchdown passes in only seven attempts against Rice. His teammates love his personality and he provides a playmaking dimension to the Longhorns offense that hasn't been present in a long time.
2. Who's one player on defense whom Cal fans should know about?
Freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson. Known as the Predator because of his speed and striking ability, he's the leading tackler for the Horns already and though he missed quite a few on Rice quarterback Driphus Jackson last week, he's especially dangerous coming off the edge on stunts. If the Golden Bears want to try to take advantage of him, though, he's struggled to get make the correct drops on play-action passes.
3. Who's one 'under the radar' or X-factor player who could swing this game for Texas?
Senior wide receiver/punt returner Daje Johnson has struggled to stay healhty and out of trouble, but he was dangerous in the screen game against Notre Dame and then broke out as a punt returner against Rice with an 85-yard touchdown return and 119 total yards. He's a threat to take it the distance any time he touches the ball, whether it's on offense or special teams.
4. What would Texas need to do to win the game?
To win this game, the Horns have to score with the Golden Bears, which could be a difficult task since the Cal defense seems improved and the Texas offense starts three true freshmen and a redshirt freshman. Getting off the field will also be a key for head coach Charlie Strong's defense--opponents have run a ton of plays this year because the Longhorns are giving up more third-down conversions than any other team in the country.
5. What would Cal need to do to win the game?
Execute offensively and come up with a few stops on defense. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford doesn't see any real weaknesses in that offense and has a ton of respect for Jared Goff, so if the offense produces at the level it's capable of, there's not going to be much an inexperienced Texas defense can do to stop it.
6. How do you see this game going?
I think Cal is going to put up points. For Texas, it's a difficult team to predict right now, but if the Golden Bears can run the football like Notre Dame and Rice did, this one is going to get ugly.
7. What is wrong with the Texas offense?
There are two freshmen starting along the offensive line, which isn't as talented as it should be because there's been a ton of attrition there. The offense is a work in progress overall after the play caller got demoted after the first game. There are also serious questions about whether it's actually a cohesive attack since there are so many different coaches with different backgrounds trying to cobble it together. And the quarterback position was horribly mismanaged under former head coach Mack Brown, though it looks like the program may finally have an answer in Heard if he can continue to improve.
8. How quickly does the fanbase expect Coach Strong to turn Texas back into an elite team?
It's certainly not going to happen this year. It probably won't happen next year unless the young players emerge quickly. I think 2017 is really the target date and if the team doesn't compete for a conference championship that year, then Strong is going to be in really serious trouble and may not make it to 2018.
9. What are the best and worst things about Austin? Any recommendations for Cal fans heading to the game?
There is awesome food in Austin, especially barbeque. There's plenty of live music, a great night life, and there's still some incredible places to spend time outside like Barton Springs, the various lakes to the northwest, and Hamilton Pool. The worst thing is probably the traffic--it can be really hard to get around during rush hour. I think Cal fans should check out the tailgating scene--Texas fans are friendly enough to offer up some good food and drink for visiting fans who conduct themselves. After the game, I can't really recommend Dirth 6th (the area of 6th Street east of I-35 and west of Congress), but the East side is fun and so is the Rainey Street district. And barbeque. Get some barbeque. Stiles Switch in the middle of town may be the best bet for good eats without having to stand in line forever.
10. Whom do you most want to punch in the face?