Golden Nation: Bye Week Catch-Up
Photo: Naiquon Barner (left) and Zachary McFadden (right) before win at USC.
A Hot Start
Starting off 3-1 the Golden Bears are starting to pick up some attention around the country! In week 6 California sits at #18 in the BCS Poll, while sitting 27th at 10 votes in the Coaches Poll. Currently 2-0 in out of conference play with wins over Kansas State and Houston, the Golden Bears are taking this bye week to prepare for a 3-1 Michigan team sitting #17 in the BCS Poll. Cal also found themselves move up 2 spots into 4th in the Pac-12 Network rankings this week. That is the highest position since Cal has been ranked since the Pac-12 Network began the series. It's exciting to watch this team play now that they have found themselves an offensive identity. Last year McFadden found himself as the offense's workhorse, this year with redshirt freshman Naiquon Barner making an impact in the backfield, this Cal running game is a volatile force to look out for this season. McFadden is currently on a 4 game 100-yard rushing streak at the moment and aims to keep it going next week. The running game has had the biggest impact in Cal's hot start this season, but Nick Ellison has also improved in the pass game. Ellsion the redshirt junior Quarterback struggled last year, but now leads the Pac-12 in completion percentage sitting at 67.96%. It seems as if he's matured as a leader, leading his team in a close double overtime win at Kansas State and close upset against USC. Next week the Golden Bears head to Ann Arbor aiming to stay perfect in out of conference play, while keeping their top 25 hopes alive.
Photo: True freshman free safety Quincy Sterling breaking up pass to Oregon receiver.
The most overlooked part of this California team is definitely their rush defense. Only allowing 39.75 rushing yards per game and only 1 rushing TD allowed so far, the Golden Bears lead the Pac-12 in rush defense this season. Stopping the run is extremely important for this Cal defense, by forcing teams to be more one dimensional it allows their secondary to be more focused on the pass which has proven to work statistically as well. A huge part of this run defense's success are inside linebackers D'Andre Phillips and Phillip Randall leading the charge, this defense has the inside run on lock. Redshirt junior D'Andre Phillips currently leads the Pac-12 in tackles at 22 and has also accounted for a sack, and a touchdown for the Golden Bears already this season. While redshirt freshman Phillip Randall sits 4th in the Pac-12 in tackles at 18, with 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 blocked pass. Only allowing 160 passing yards allowed per game can most definitely be attributed to the pressure brought by Cal's front seven. Redshirt sophomore Jamal Dorsey is a key instrument to the pressure applied against opposing quarterbacks. He currently sits at 11 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 1 blocked pass on the season, not only is he causing chaos in the backfield but he's leading the team in interceptions!
Where do see the rest of Cal's season going? Will they be a Pac-12 North contender? Will they be a top 25 team? Will they even go bowling this year?
@ #21 Michigan
@ Washington State
@ Oregon State
*Uses AP Coaches Poll for rankings