Some keys to beating Oregon and why Cal will be able to do it, easily.
- Control the clock by running the ball
Cal has a fantastic trio of running backs led by Justin Forsett. Cal will definitely be able to run the ball against a porous Oregon run defense. Oregon let Houston RB Anthony Alridge run for 205 yards on 22 carries. The guy had almost 300 total yards. Expect more of the same from Cal's running backs with 2 of them breaking the 100 yard yard mark.
- Bend but don't break defense
It seems like most Cal fans hate the bend but don't break defense. But it works well against a spread offense like Oregon's. Keep the ball in front of you and make tackles. Oregon is all about big plays (just take a look at their play logs from previous games) and those need to be minimized.
Cal needs to make Dixon uncomfortable and force him to dink and dunk down the field. Eventually, Dixon will try to force something and that is when turnovers occur. Dixon throw his first two interception of the season against Cal.
- Kill the crowd with a big play
Autzen is a very tough place to play. Oregon fans understand how their voices can really affect the game. So, they need to be neutralized early.
Cal's offense can produce big plays that really deflate a crowd. Whether that is a DeSean Jackson punt return, a Lavelle Hawkins kick off return or an electrifying run by Jahvid Best, these plays can really take a crowd out of the game.
- Limit Jonathon Stewart to under 100 yards and force Dixon to win the game
Honestly, Dixon has yet to prove to me that he is a new player. He got off to a fast start last season and then nothing.
Cal needs to limit Stewart to short runs like they did in 2006. The Bear's run defense, contrary to what people may think, is actually solid. Now that Malele is back, the Bear's should be able to control the trenches. Tackling machines Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder will fill the gaps and stop the run game. Also, Cal has two of the best tackling safeties in the conference in Ezeff and Decoud.
To those that think I am too optimistic, I get it. Cal has yet to play a complete game, the defense gives up too many yards, and so on.
But, this is a great Cal team and rather than looking for reasons why Cal will not win the game, look for reason why Cal will win the game. It is refreshing. Go Bears!!!