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Leland Stanford Junior University Football Defensive Preview
The Bears offense marches on to their turf in Palo Alto
Big Game week needs no introduction. Red gets put away, names from an ever distant past get brought up, and a brewed up hatred meets a boiling pot that’s about ready to explode.
Then again, like Christopher and others have mentioned, we do have to thank the people from Palo Alto when practically no one else gave UC Berkeley a look. Cal doesn’t have the lifeline it has right now without the efforts of Stanford, and that must not be lost on Bears fans as we march on down to California Memorial Stadium south.
Enough of that praise, that felt gross and I need to go do a cold plunge to rid myself of that stench.
For all the excitement of the Stanford offense with the trick plays, multiple formations, and all around ability to get more out of talent than one would expect, the defense is the antithesis of all this. Without further ado, lets take a look at the unit that will surrender 1,000 yards to Jaydn Ott and Fernando Mendoza this weekend.
The Cardinal are led by DC Bob Gregory (oh hello old friend)
Gregory was most recently an analyst for Oregon in 2022. Prior to that he was the DC for the Washington Huskies in 2021 while maintaining other roles on Montlake from 2014 until then
Cal last played a Gregory led defense in 2021 (31-24 loss)
Stanford will primarily run a base 3-4
2022 Defense in Review
FEI Ratings: 94th on defense
Gave up 32.2 points per game last year
also gave up a whopping 224 rushing yards per game on the ground
There’s no sugarcoating it, the Stanford defense was bad last year. Even if they stifled Cal with timely plays for three quarters last year, the wheels always tended to fall off eventually. Outside of David Bailey’s very solid freshman season, there wasn’t much to glean anywhere for the Cardinal’s resistance. Stephen Herron actually led Stanford in sacks last year but has since transferred to Louisville, leaving the production for them up for grabs. Bailey has suffered various nicks throughout the season, so other than a great performance in the elements in Pullman, it has been a struggle to no end.
*some starters have been altered from this image
The Provisional Starters
DT Anthony Franklin, DT Tobin Phillips, DT Jaxson Moi
OLB Wilfredo Aybar, LB Tristan Sinclair, LB Gaethan Bernadel, OLB Tevarua Tafiti/David Bailey
CB Zahran Manley, S Scotty Edwards, S Mitch Leigber, CB Collin Wright
Players to Watch
Even with his various scratches and nicks throughout the year, the only player to watch is David Bailey, and he may not be at 100% this weekend for the 126th Big Game. Bailey leads the team with five sacks, is a disruptor at the point of attack, and has the tools to play on Sundays. Tristan Sinclair and Collin Wright are active in the backfield in their own right, but it’s not enough to make a meaningful difference on the field, especially from Wright’s cornerback position. The Stanford defense consistently gives up big plays, can’t stop the run, can’t get off the field on third down, and is just about overmatched at every position every single week. Other than David Bailey, I see no matchups where I’m concerned for Cal. If the Bears can’t move the ball consistently against this unit, sound the alarms and get me a Moscow mule.
How Cal can win this game
Cal needs to be themselves Saturday. Establish Jaydn Ott early and often. If Isaiah Ifanse can’t go, Justin Williams-Thomas will need to be ready in a backup role to effectively give Ott some rest. Fernando Mendoza needs to continue to be confident in his reads, whether its zone read pulls or darts over the middle. If the Bears execute like they have, they will put up 450+ yards of offense. And I expect them to.
Pound Stanford’s face into the dirt unapologetically for 60 minutes. Keep bowl eligibility alive. Most importantly, keep the axe where it belongs. I’ll see you guys at the 50 postgame. Go Bears.
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