FishDuck Analysts Offer Insights for Cal Game

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

A fun experience as a fan is discussing strategy, Xs and Os, and the Oregon defense with fellow FishDuck analyst DazeNconfused, who is anything but that. He has written some killer articles with tremendous insights at FishDuck, and for a Cal-prep article–I thought the two of us might have some items to watch for in this afternoon’s game. In particular, it was good to pull me from WynnBET sportsbook Maryland to review the game before I do any betting.

Dazed: The winner of two of the last three games has been Cal against Oregon when the game is in Berkeley; they historically give their best effort and today will be no different.
Mr. FishDuck: Agreed, but this time we will not have an offense held down, and Cal has some injury issues on the offensive line that will hurt their running game and pass protection. Two of their starters are out for this game including the right tackle, who was repeatedly burned for sacks in their last game.

Dazed: Cal stats are even with opponents, as they score 23.5 ppg and give up 22.57? The Golden Bears rush for 119 and give up 116 rushing yards per game… pass for 251 and give up 275.. getting 370 total yards per game and giving up 392 per game!

Mr. FishDuck: Whew! That is not great on the offensive side of only scoring 23 points compared to Oregon’s 42 points, but on the defensive side–Cal only giving up 22 points compared to the Ducks yielding 29 points per game begins to look disconcerting.

Dazed: Cal run defense is ranked No. 26 in the nation, and is impressive until you consider they have not played anyone in the top 25.  (Ranked in pass efficiency at No. 76 in the nation)

Mr. FishDuck: Cal is always fundamentally strong, and technique-tough on defense, as Oregon has struggled to run the ball in Berkeley. The Bear defense has been highly effective in the Wilcox years, and it will be fun to watch the plays called, and the execution by the experienced Oregon offensive line versus a solid Cal front seven.

Cal has excellent run defense as they penetrate the LOS, and hold off blocks with great lower leverage.

Dazed: The Cal defense is formidable up the middle with inside linebacker Jackson Sirmon, and experienced safeties as a run stopping strength. ILB Sirmon is a fifth year senior playing his last year of college FB under his dad, DC Peter Sirmon, and leads the team with 63 tackles. He is on pace to chase 100 tackles this year, and has size at 6’2″ and 240lbs. Cal has excellent safeties in Daniel Scott 6th year senior safety was PPF 1st team All-Pac last year with 40 tackles this year, (Second on the team) and Craig Woodson 4th year Jr safety, who is third on the team with 37 tackles.

This is the second week in a row the Ducks have faced one of the conference’s top run defense as Bears are No. 3 behind the No. 1 Ducks and the No. 2 Huskies. (UCLA dropped No. 5 in Pac-12 after the loss to Ducks)

Mr. FishDuck: Cal will be fundamentally sound in run-defense, thus we cannot just pound it and expect to prevail. I am looking for Coach Kenny Dillingham to reveal something new this week to keep the Golden Bears off-balance and loosen up the Cal front seven. I am expecting something new besides the Jumbo Package, the “I” formation or the twin-back look of the last three games.

The Ducks will face strong front-sevens in upcoming games with Utah and Oregon State, thus facing a technique-sound defense is a great test, and will be something I will be watching very closely as the result of this drama surrounding our running attack will impact the latter part of Oregon’s schedule.

Dazed: It is an Oregon homecoming with former Oregon QB Bill Musgrave as the Cal offensive coordinator, former Oregon linebacker star Peter Sirmon as the Cal defensive coordinator, and former Oregon defensive back Justin Wilcox as the Cal head coach. Throw in Steve Greatwood, former Oregon offensive line coach as a Bear analyst, and you begin to wonder if the embedded green in this group could be fired up to face their Alma Mater?

Mr. FishDuck: The motivation for them is there, but Cal does not have the firepower on offense to keep up with Oregon’s scoring–even if Cal’s defense holds the Ducks to less than their recent scoring average. Holding the Huskies to no touchdowns in the first half last week was impressive by the Bears, but Washington does not have the running attack, and hence the offensive balance that the Ducks have.

No more incessant “Pistol Plunges” in this trip to Strawberry Canyon!

Winning Advice:

Dazed: Any Pac-12 road game you don’t play well in, and turn the ball over can be trouble. Ducks don’t want a WAZZU first half repeat of getting only FGs versus touchdowns. Put this game away early, or at worst go into the half with a lead and 20 plus points on the board. Worst case scenario for Oregon is too many turnovers, penalties and Cal being in the game late in the 3rd quarter.

Mr. FishDuck: I believe building a lead quickly is crucial to take Cal out of their running game and reliance on their star running back Jaydn Ott. With the aforementioned Cal offensive line injuries–Oregon could create more sacks and turnovers as the Bears try to keep up via their passing game. I am looking for more five-man blitzes, and in particular–look for Overload Blitzes against Cal’s right side of the offensive line as the Bear right tackle is particularly inexperienced. The Ducks will try to get three rushing against two blocking on that Cal perimeter.

Last year the Ducks had to hold off Cal on the last play of the game, and in earlier quarters of that game are when the boos were heard in Autzen directed at a prior coach. With the surreal way Oregon is playing right now, the thought of booing the head coach of Oregon in Strawberry canyon is a humorous one. Thank goodness we won’t have to endure the incessant “Pistol-Plunges” of the 2020 Oregon offense in losing visit last time. Tons to be thankful and to watch for this year because…

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Fox Sports Video

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