The California Golden Bears take to the field on September 8 for the second time this season in newly renovated Memorial Coliseum and will be taking on the Southern Utah Thunderbirds, which will be a warm up before going on the road to face Ohio State.
Coming off a 31-24 loss to the Nevada Wolfpack and there are several things the team needs to improve upon. One thing that needs fixing immediately is the discipline as there was a dead ball personal foul penalty on one of the Bear’s offensive linemen that turned a six yard gain on second down into a into a third and long situation, there were two penalties for having 12 men in the huddle and a some drops from wide receivers.
Another example of the lack of discipline shown is when Zach Maynard did not start the game at quarterback and instead found himself sitting out the first few series of the game. He had missed a tutoring session in the summer and as a result got disciplined for it.
Once he got into the game he performed well completing 17-30 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Yet, he still showed some of the inconsistencies from the 2011 season as he struggled with his footwork and with making quick decisions.
As a result he made a number of throws that were too high for the intended receiver. When the play called for getting the ball out quickly he held on to it for too long and got sacked and more noticeably he wasn’t as willing to use his legs as he was before. One play in particular he had excellent protection, yet had plenty of time to throw and instead of tucking the ball and running with it he tried to make the throw anyways.
When he did have a play call to run with the football it went nowhere as the Wolfpack read the play extremely well.
It wasn’t just Maynard that struggled on the ground though. C.J. Anderson led the team in rushing with only 14 carries for 66 yards, a long of 13 and he lost a fumble. Isi Sofele had only five carries for 21 yards and a long of five. The best run of the day came from wide receiver Keenan Allen on a 39 yard reverse for a touchdown.
Against the Thunderbirds expect more of an effort to get the running game going to open up the passing game and that’s because the Bears punted on their first four possessions to open the 2012 season and the main reason was because a majority of the play calls were pass plays and Allan Bridgford who started for Maynard completed just two of nine passes for six yards though his numbers could have been better as he made good throws and his receivers dropped three of his passes.
Freshman wide receivers Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper combined for eight receptions, 119 yards, two touchdowns and a fumble that was lost and Allen led the team with six receptions for 67 yards and a long of 32, yet even he had a huge drop that was a game changer.
With more of an emphasis on running the football with Anderson and Sofele expect a big day from all three receivers.
Defensively it didn’t look good for the Bears as the Wolfpack carved up 220 yards rushing and 230 passing yards for a total of 450 yards. Running back Stefphon Jefferson led the way with 34 carries for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
It’s rather difficult to find fault with the defense as it was on the field for much of the game and it’s not surprise during the game deciding drive that the defense wasn’t able to come up with a stop on third down allowing for extra time off the clock before the go ahead touchdown was scored.
Sophomore linebacker Chris McCain was a bright spot on defense making a number of plays in the backfield and ended up with nine tackles including two for a loss, Todd Barr a defensive linemen made some plays and picked up three tackles including .5 sack, and Marc Anthony showed why he is one of the better cornerbacks in all of college football with six tackles including three for a loss.
Four players on recorded 12 tackles in the game cornerback Steve Williams, safety Josh Hill, and linebackers Robert Mullins and Brennan Scarlett.
Also, noteworthy is that the Bears were able to force a number of fumbles by the Wolfpack, yet were only able to recover one of the fumbles.
The offense will be able to sustain drives and keep the defense rested against the Thunderbirds and that yardage against number will be on its way back down.