Another week. Another Q&A. Thanks to my dear friend Adam Chimeo of Addicted to Quack and the Quack12 Podcast for answering these questions. Go check out their preview of Cal done by the always excellent (and person who always makes me feel like I didnt actually watch any Cal games because he watches them more intently than I do) Hythloday.
What's the situation with your starting quarterback? Is it fair for the fans to be underwhelmed by Anthony Brown? Is true-freshman Ty Thompson ready to take over?
I absolutely think it’s fair for fans to want more from Brown, especially considering his reading of the option has really started to take a turn for the worse. He’s still a very powerful runner, and it’s possible a bye week was just what he needed to set his head straight. Certainly hope so.
And regarding Ty Thompson, the short answer is only Coach Cristobal and his staff know if he’s ready, and as of now they are reiterating that Brown gives them the best chance to win.
What do you think of Joe Moorhead's playcalling? Is he your best playcaller since the days of Scott Frost?
I’d have to say he is. It’s been fun watching his RPO game really unfold over these two seasons, and any offense that gives us our first ever win over Ohio State gets a stamp of approval from me (until it loses us a game to washington or Oregon State…) Who knows, maybe if he was at the Stanford game we could have won. Still not 100 percent certain he will be at our game Friday, but word is he has been helping with the gameplanning in some capacity.
After the disappointing loss to Stanfurd, what do you see realistically as the floor and the ceiling for WFC North this year?
The ceiling is a ticket to our second college football playoff game and either a loss to Georgia in the first round or a loss to Georgia in the championship game. The lowest floor I can think of is a 7-5 season with losses to Oregon State, washington, UCLA, Utah and Stanford. Then a bowl loss to a Boise State or Boise State-esque team.
Favorite duck preparation method
I prefer roasted. There’s a really good Chinese food restaurant called Spring House near the UO that makes an excellent Duck if you’re ever in the area. Can’t recommend it enough.
CJ Verdell had a whopping 161 rushing yards against Ohio State but hasn't reached 75 in any other game. With him out who takes the bulk of the carries or becomes the spell option to dye?
Well, considering Dye has always been considered the co-starter alongside Verdell, I think it’s safe to say he’ll take the majority of the carries. However, there will definitely be a need for another running back to spell Dye because he’s not built to be a bruiser, so I would imagine freshman Trey Benson and true freshman Byron Cardwell split the 50 percent of snaps that Dye doesn’t take.
How pleased have you been with Tim DeRuyter? The Oregon defense has dealt with a rash of injuries, how has schemed around them?
Overall, very pleased. Before DeRuyter we had one of the worst/unluckiest turnover ratios in a long while with 8 forced and 15 lost. Though they say turnovers are mostly random, DeRuyter has been preaching his ability to teach how to force them and as of right now the Ducks have forced 13 while turning over the ball on offense just twice, which has proven a winning formula.
Which player on offense should Cal fans know about?
It’s a boring answer, but senior quarterback Anthony Brown Jr. There may be a few fresh faces that appear - like running backs Trey Benson, Seven McGee or Byron Cardwell, who will likely see playing time in place of veteran starter CJ Verdell who’s been ruled out for the season - but overall the entire offense will likely be placed once again on the shoulders of the veteran quarterback.
Despite the fact that Brown led the team to a road victory against Ohio State earlier this season, many fans are fed up with the quarterback’s lack of downfield passing ability, and are calling for true freshman QB Ty Thompson to take the reins after the BYE week.
Coach Cristobal has told the media that he believes Brown gives them the best shot at winning, so if Brown comes out flat and isn’t able to make up the difference with his legs then Cal fans could be in for a much closer game than they expected.
Which player on defense should Cal fans know about?
Assuming you already know about the amazing edge-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, who has been sidelined for approximately three games due to a sprained ankle suffered in week one against Fresno State, so I’ll go with the other 5-star defensive terror who has quickly become an Oregon fan favorite: Inside linebacker Noah Sewell.
In just his second season as a Duck, Noah is living up to his brother’s reputation and leading the team in total tackles with 42 on the season. In every game this season, even the ones in which he goes down for a short amount of time with a clear injury, he has made a big impact in the front seven.
Who’s one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for you?
There’s a lot to choose from considering most of the best rated talent on the team aren’t starters, so it could definitely be any of the running backs called to replace Verdell, or a couple of the promising freshman receivers - Thornton and Franklin - but I’ll go with a young talent who entered the program with a lot of hype and a cool-ass name: Seven McGee.
There were a lot of comparisons to De’Anthony Thomas being thrown around during McGee’s recruitment, maybe this is his breakout game. Though we’ve only seen him a few times thus far this season, maybe his dynamic speed can help the Ducks find some new life on offense with an increase in touches to McGee. However, blocking may not be there for the freshman this early in his career, so we’ll see if and how Cristobal decides to use him.
What does Oregon need to do to win the game?
They need to continue to win the turnover battle, use their size and talent advantage in both trenches to set up and stop the run, and bring the pressure to Garbers even in the first half without Thibodeaux who is forced to sit due to a targeting penalty in the fourth quarter against Stanford.
What does Cal need to do to win the game?
Limit any explosive runs and force Brown to throw deep. Take advantage of scoring opportunities when they arrive and put together a handful of long, turnover-free drives to tire out the Duck defense. Also, don’t let Thibodeaux kill your quarterback when he’s put in during the second half.
How do you see the game going?
A low-scoring affair that leaves both fanbases unsatisfied. Oregon scores two quick touchdowns, then the second and third quarter are scoreless. Cal makes it a game by connecting on a field goal and a touchdown to cut the lead to 4, but Brown runs in a TD to create some separation. A late Camden Lewis field goal helps Oregon’s offense feel good about itself.
Ducks 24 - Golden Bears 10
Whom do you most want to punch in the face?
Each and every ref of that Oregon-Stanford game.
Make sure to read our previews done by Christopher H.