In an interview for FishDuck.com, I got a chance to talk to OLB Tony Washington about the upcoming game while at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
It’s big. It’s loud. It’s Levi’s Stadium. In the first college game ever played at the 49ers new home, you can imagine how excited some of the players are to take the field.
Eh, actually, it’s not really all it’s cracked up to be. At least that’s how outside linebacker Tony Washington feels. According to Washington, “To me it just feels like another game…Honestly everybody else is reminding me we’re playing in that stadium”.
Now it may feel like he’s just trying to downplay the game, his mentality is exactly how I believe Oregon should be looking at this game. It’s just another stadium, the venue does not matter. What we should be worrying about is a Cal team that’s averaging a third best 372 yards passing per game, and a tenth best 41.6 points per game. Cal is just 14 points behind us with 291 total points scored this season, and all it takes is a 30 second review of the Washington State tape to prove what an explosive offense can do to us. What’s the worst part of it all though? We’re playing on a short week. Washington says that Oregon doesn’t ”feel a day behind”, and he also pointed out that “both teams are feeling that same feeling”, but still it’s worth noting that we aren’t prepared as we’d like to be for a much improved Cal team.
Although everyone’s big fear is Jared Goff and that potent passing attack, Washington aptly pointed out that they are more balanced than people think. Washington said, ”What’s deceptive is the run game. As good as they are passing, they can run the ball just as well”. It’s a scary thought, but he’s right. Cal, unlike WSU, is very balanced. They’ve run the ball only 26 times less than they’ve thrown it, and lead back Daniel Lasco is averaging over five yards per carry. Washington is one of the players Oregon that will need to step up and make big plays at the line of scrimmage. Short runs, sacks, fumbles, hurried throws- all of those will be absolutely key to beating the Bears.
Although this is definitely a game Oregon should win, Cal is a lot scarier than they were last year during Oregon’s 55-16 route. Thankfully, the team knows this and is preparing accordingly. I echo Washington’s sentiments, as he told me, ”As long as we go out and execute, play the way we’ve been practicing, we’ll be in good shape”. Now all we need is for Oregon to come out on Friday and prove it.
Top photo from Kevin Cline