California prepares to host USC
After starting the Pac-12 season with back-to-back losses,
California has a lot more to worry about than a blowout loss a year
ago to Southern California.
When that loss was as thorough and humiliating as that 48-14
game at the Los Angeles Coliseum was for the Golden Bears, it’s
hard to forget it completely.
”It’s always a new season, a new game,” safety Sean Cattouse
said. ”It’s all about us this year, just doing things right this
year. But it’s definitely something that we’re amped to get the
taste out of our mouth from last year. It’s a motivation. Probably
not the biggest, but it’s nothing that we’ve forgotten.”
It would be hard to forget that day when the Trojans rolled out
to a 42-0 halftime lead and coasted to the victory. USC gained 373
yards in the opening half and held Cal scoreless until the closing
minutes of the third quarter after it was already 45-0.
Matt Barkley threw a school record-tying five touchdowns, Robert
Woods had seven catches for 116 yards and two scores and the
Trojans had their way with the Bears.
”Everybody has those games every year or two where even if you
call a play that’s not supposed to work, somebody makes a great
play or they get a ball tipped,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. ”It
was just one of those games where everything went our way and
nothing went their way. That’s why it was 42-0 at half.”
Cal (3-2, 0-2) looks to put together a much stronger performance
in this year’s rematch against the Trojans (4-1, 2-1) at their
temporary home of AT&T Park on Thursday night.
Cal’s offense looks much different this year than it did under
stationary quarterback Kevin Riley in 2010. Zach Maynard provides a
scrambling threat at quarterback
”It’s been different than what we’ve faced the past couple of
weeks,” Kiffin said. ”We’ve had some extra time and have really
focused on stopping him running. We don’t want to let him beat us
with his feet. We want to take away his run game and make him beat
us throwing the ball.”
Maynard has struggled to do that so far this season, completing
just 51.4 percent of his passes. He does have a knack for the big
play, averaging 13.7 yards per completion.
He struggled last week with his mechanics in a 43-15 loss at
Oregon, completing just 20 of 41 passes and failing to lead Cal on
a single scoring drive in the second half.
”His feet were a little live,” coach Jeff Tedford said. ”He
was a little jittery and it caused him to miss a couple throws
where we had some guys open. I think he rushed himself a little
bit. Early there were a couple that the ball was really wet, you
could see it come out of his hand funny, but he threw some great
balls, too. There were a couple he missed because was rushing
himself a little bit.”
Maynard will have to be much better this week because
unfortunately for Cal, USC’s offense looks quite similar to last
Woods was just starting to break out as a freshman in his big
game against Cal a year ago, but now he has become one of the
nation’s top receivers.
He leads the nation with 149.4 yards receiving per game and is
averaging 11 catches a contest.
”He’s very fast, catches the ball exceptionally well, runs very
good routes,” Tedford said. ”And after he catches the ball he’s
very hard to bring down. He’s elusive, he can make you miss and he
can make big plays. They can throw him a 5-yard hitch and it can
turn into a very long play.”
Making the task of dealing with Woods even more difficult is the
fact that freshman Marqise Lee is also a dangerous threat with 21
catches for 323 yards and three scores.
The Bears have their own dynamic duo at receiver with Keenan
Allen and Marvin Jones, who have combined for 68 catches for 1,109
yards and seven touchdowns.
”I’m not going to shoot them down,” Lee said. ”I do believe
they’ve got a great receiver corps over there. It’s going to be a
competition with the best of the best receivers. I always feel
we’re one of the top receiver corps in the nation. I don’t want to
say we’re the top, but I feel like we’re up there with the other
ones. We’ve got to keep competing, showing what we can do.”
Cal will likely have to deal with that duo without injured
cornerback Marc Anthony, who is expected to be replaced in the
lineup by freshman Stefan McClure.
”We’re going to try to keep an eye on him and communicate with
him,” Cattouse said. ”Just try to be there for him, make sure
he’s where he’s supposed to be and just look out for him when I
can. He’s going to handle himself. He’s in a good place right
AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham in Los Angeles contributed to this