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USC Vs. Cal: A View From The Other Side

As the USC Trojans prepare for battle with the California Golden Bears today, at 12:30 p.m. PDT on Prime Ticket, here's a look at the game from Cal's point of view.

Avinash from the SB Nation blog California Golden Blogs looked at the Cal defense against the Trojan offense:

Don't bite too aggressively on either run or pass. This isn't a joke. In the past two games, we've looked fine against a team that exclusively ran the ball (UCLA) and exclusively passes the ball (Arizona), but now we've got a team that does both extremely well. Discipline will be key. Linebackers Michael Mohamed, D.J. Holt, Mychal Kendricks, Keith Browner and Jarred Price have to be ready to cover their gaps and not give up big gains, but also drop back and defend the tight ends (Cameron and Blake Ayles) and stay up to check the dump off options (Havili).  Rotations and gap control will be critical. Overaggression against an efficient offense like Cal will end up getting us burned (like the Furd were last week in Palo Alto, to the tune of nearly 400 passing yards).

Defensive line needs to be careful not to penetrate too much this week. Remember the Trojans love to use misdirection. If the Bears decide to plug up the gaps with their linemen, Barkley could simply roll out to avoid the overpursuit, and have an open field to survey, leading to a series of many Trojan bootlegs. Hopefully we'll try something creative in place to deal with misdirection calls, because they have been the bread and butter of the USC passing game for nearly a half-decade. Cameron Jordan, Derrick Hill and Ernest Owusu have to be prepared for misdirection and get good pursuit on the quarterback whenever they can.

Then, later in the week, California Golden Blogs surveyed their matchup with the USC defense:

Outside runs with strong receiver blocking. The interesting thing about Cal is they have a very capable set of blocking receivers in Marvin Jones, Keenan Allen and Michael Calvin. Could we see sweeps, tosses, and other sorts of off-tackle runs to Shane Vereen and Isi Sofele to try and attack the outside edge? If they can block out their cornerbacks and put their bodies between the corner and the sideline, that'll open up huge running lanes.

Cal hasn't beaten USC since 2003, writes John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle:

That's all well and good, but because wins and losses define a coach, a signature triumph over a celebrated opponent carries more weight. Alums still get warm and fuzzy talking about Cal's three-overtime triumph over USC in 2003 in Strawberry Canyon.

"Since we've been here, we haven't won down there," senior quarterback Kevin Riley said. "It'd be fun my last year to beat USC. With what we have the capability of doing on offense and with our defense playing well, we definitely have a chance to win. It's up to us to make plays."

Today's game will be called by Barry Tompkins, Petros Papadakis, and Rebecca Haarlow.

For more Cal news and analysis, be sure to read California Golden Blogs.