Heading into tomorrow’s game of the California Golden Bears against the Ole Miss Rebels, we chatted with Red Cup Rebellion to learn more about their team, given that we West Coasters pay no attention to any other football.
Which player on offense should Cal fans know about?
RCR: Sophomore WR AJ Brown leads the nation in receiving yards per game. Sophomore QB Shea Patterson leads the nation in passing yards per game. Pick your poison, I guess. They’re both exceptional.
Brown is 6’1”, 225 and has shown an ability to both win challenges and break tackles after doing so. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but his physical style of play can be tough to deal with.
Patterson combines a quick release with good improvisational skill. When plays break down, he can extend them with his feet and has been fun to watch so far. Obviously, the level of competition is about to step up a great deal, but he also performed relatively well last season in three starts as a true freshman against Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State.
Which player on defense should Cal fans know about?
RCR: On what now? You mean there’s more to this sport than playing offense? Ah, yes ... I seem to remember a time when we could stop opposing teams from scoring. Those days are gone, I guess. OM gave up 4.6 yards per carry to South Alabama and 5.0 to the University of Tennessee (cough) Martin (cough).
One player to keep an eye on, though, is senior DE Marquis Haynes. Haynes entered his senior year ranked third in school history with 24.5 career sacks. He’s only 6’3” 230, so he’s not as much of a factor in stopping the run as fans would hope, but on third and long, he’s havoc in a bottle. Haynes has been pretty quiet so far this season, but it’s tough to make too many evaluations off of games against such outmatched opponents. If the defense has a big day (/pauses to audibly laugh while writing this), it will be because of Haynes.
Who’s one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for Ole Miss?
RCR: For an under-the-radar player, I’ll pick junior LB DeMarquis Gates. The linebacking unit overall is in a state of complete disarray. Gates, though, is the best of the bunch. He led the team in tackles last season, though he’s also incredibly confounding. One game, he’ll look good. The next he’s either invisible or very visible for all the wrong reasons.
Still, he’s the best chance Ole Miss has to stop Cal’s running game.
What does Ole Miss need to do to win the game?
RCR: Score an unreasonable number of points.
The defense just isn’t going to be able to regularly stop Cal. In fact, I’d be all aboard a season-long strategy of kicking it onside on every kickoff. It’s really that bad. And it’s not as if the secondary is lights-out either. They’re not very good either, so… that’s tough.
Offensively, the key to an Ole Miss victory is to throw it with the same success Weber State had. Ole Miss’ primary four receivers were all ranked among the top ten at the position coming out of high school. They’re incredibly dynamic in the passing game. Coupled with Shea Patterson, the sky’s the limit there.
What does Cal need to do to win the game?
RCR: First, Cal should try to make Ole Miss run. Even against South Alabama and UT-Martin, the Rebels have struggled to find running room. Obviously it will be even harder against Cal. There just aren’t running lanes, and the backs aren’t anything to write home about. It’s pretty bad.
Offensively, Cal should just focus on sustaining drives instead of making big plays. This defense can be picked apart consistently. There’s no reason to try for high-risk, high-reward plays. Just take what they give you and you’ll find yourselves in the red zone on the reg.
How do you see the game going?
RCR: I think Cal will win a close shootout. Of course, it’s tough to know for sure how things will go when you’re predicting over 70 points being scored in a “close” game. Still, there’s just too much the Rebels have trouble with defensively.
What’s the story behind the name “Red Cup Rebellion”?
RCR: Until just a few years ago, it was illegal to possess alcohol on campus. Yeah. Really. Well, not really. It was “technically” illegal. Anything you had in a solo cup was kosher. They just didn’t want to see bottles or cans, I guess? I think the plastic-cup lobby played a big part in that.
So the tailgating scene is a sea of tents, underneath which sit tables full of red cups (and no, I’m not referencing beer pong). As Mississippians, we’re fine with the devil’s brew as long as we can pretend we ain’t sinning.
Head coach Hugh Freeze abruptly resigned less than two months ago. How has this affected the team? Is Matt Luke the long term answer at HC? What would he have to show to earn the job, and do you think it’s likely to happen?
RCR: Oh, I could write a thesis on this. Let me keep it short and say that the team appears to have really just not cared when Freeze was fired. Sure, some players were sad or pissed, but it really hasn’t seemed to affect team morale or anything. Keeping the same staff in place was important (for this season) and the offensive playcalling is similar to Freeze’s at least in terms of emphasis and production.
The jury is still out on Matt Luke. I’m personally in the “he’ll have to win me over” camp. Some others are in the “he’ll have to LOSE the job” camp. It’s obviously touchy when a guy played for the school. It’s even harder when his father and brother also played for the school. I get it. I just want to see a national search, given we were paying Hugh Freeze five million dollars a year.
How’s our old friend Jacob Peeler doing? Any improvements in WR play or in recruiting since he joined?
RCR: Early returns are good. He has an embarrassment of riches at the position, so I’m not ready to put too much credit into his corner quite yet. Judging any member of the staff’s recruiting efforts with major NCAA sanctions looming is also a recipe for disaster. We struggle to even beat out some of the worst P5 teams right now. Peeler managed to bring in a four-star receiver last year and has one lined up for this year. That’s good, but it’s still a drop-off from where we were (yeah… insert joke about giving players free rides from Memphis to Oxford here I guess).
Whom do you most want to punch in the face?
RCR: I’m not much of a fighter, mostly because I’d generally lose.
That being said, anyone who wants to talk about rampant recruit-paying at Ole Miss but hasn’t actually read the allegations against us can go the hell.
The truth is that aside from Leo Lewis’s allegations that he was paid $11,000 (or something like that) by Ole Miss boosters only to ultimately sign with Mississippi State (at least I think that’s what his latest story is ... I have trouble keeping all of his twists straight), there’s really not much of significance. A booster paid Laremy Tunsil’s father $800 to stop being a dick. A booster let a recruit go hunting on his land. A fan (who was the head of FCA at a high school) drove two two-star players (from his high school) 45 miles without asking to be paid. There’s a big issue of one ACT testing site being a place coaches sent players who couldn’t get eligible, but that happened under Houston Nutt. I’m honestly struggling to find the source of all the “we knew it was too good to be true”–age that a lot of fans around the country want to see here.
That said, the NCAA is going to demolish the program. So I guess I’ll punch them.
Thanks to RCR and their writer Juco All-American for sharing some insight!
How do you predict Cal–Ole Miss will go?
This poll is closed
Big Cal win
Close Cal win
Close Ole Miss win
Big Ole Miss win