Cal Football: 5 Keys to the Game vs. Southern Utah
Last week, Cal started off its 2012 football season with a disappointing loss after opening the revamped Memorial Stadium with hopes for success.
The Golden Bears didn't look terrible in the game, but still had a few key problems. Mainly, the team continued to go to the passing game when they were having a lot of success on the ground.
Starting quarterback Zach Maynard was also suspended for the first quarter of the game because he missed a tutoring session with a coach earlier this summer. That was a huge factor since he ended up throwing two touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Despite the disappointment, Cal will have to look ahead to the next game on the schedule. Fortunately for them, Week 2 features a matchup against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds, a Division I-AA school.
While this game should be easy for Berkeley, a few key things have to happen for them to be successful and this article will go through each of those.
The Golden Bears Must Limit Quarterback Brad Soresen
A lot of casual football fans may have never heard of Brad Soresen, the senior quarterback for the Thunderbirds, but he is something for Cal to worry about.
Over the past two seasons, Soresen has put up 6,300 yards and 38 touchdowns. He is also listed at 6'5" and 230 pounds, giving him impressive size.
Coming into this season, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports named Soresen the second-best small-school prospect in college football. While many may scoff at the idea of a Division I-AA player in the NFL, just look at Cortland Finnegan, the St. Louis Rams cornerback, who played at I-AA Samford.
Brad should be the main focus of the Golden Bears defense for two reasons. First, he is really their only option. They have two running backs who didn't manage to break 2.5 yards per carry last game.
Secondly, they struggled against Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo last week. While Fajardo only put up 230 yards, he managed to complete 78.1 percent of his passes, which is far too high.
Even though Brad Soresen struggled last week against Utah State, he should be Cal's biggest, and only, fear going into this game.
*For a good interview with quarterback Brad Soresen, look at B&R's own Colan Lamont's article:
Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson Have to Keep It Rolling
Last week, Cal's running backs seemed to be a bright spot in a game that should be thought of as a disappointment.
Isi Sofele, the starter for last season, ran for 21 yards on five carries. While they aren't outstanding numbers, he still had a solid yard-per-carry average, which is important going forward. Also, he was able to contribute in the passing game by catching three balls for 33 yards.
More surprising than that, senior C.J. Anderson, the running back who has only touched the ball 72 times total in his career, was given 14 carries against Nevada. With those touches he was able to contribute 66 yards for a YPC average of 4.7.
If these two Golden Bears are able to keep up the Cal running attack, they should have no problem against Southern Utah. Last week Utah State running back Joe Hill had 106 yards and three touchdowns on only 11 carries against the Thunderbirds.
This part should be a piece of cake for Berkeley, especially given its talented backfield. The more exciting part will be to see how the Bears split up their carries.
Zach Maynard and Keenan Allen Have to Keep Working Well Together
This key to the game should be the easiest to complete, especially for Maynard, who's life has been made so much easier by his star receiver.
Against Nevada, Maynard threw the ball 30 times and completed 17 passes for 247 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Had Zach not missed the first quarter due to suspension, that may have won the game for the Golden Bears.
Instead, the game was started off with a one-for-eight passing performance by backup Allan Bridgford.
Still, Keenan Allen managed to catch five balls in the game for 69 yards, giving him a yards-per-catch average of 13.8. He was also able to contribute an outstanding reverse run for 39 yards and a touchdown.
If Maynard is able to find Allen early and often, this Cal team should have no problem making easy work of the Thunderbirds.
The Golden Bears Just Have to Show Up Ready to Play
Okay, this slide may sound a little arrogant but there is reason for it.
First, Cal is Division I and Southern Utah is Division I-AA. The Golden Bears are literally in a different class (well, sub-division) than the Thunderbirds. Sure there have been upsets, but they are so few and far between.
Secondly, Southern Utah just lost 34 to 3 against a Division I Utah State team. That is the same team that went 7-6 in the Western Athletic Conference last season.
Finally, Cal will be playing at its home field just a week removed from a very disappointing loss. There should be little doubt in any Golden Bears fan out there that this team will come back with a vengeance, and Southern Utah will be there to take the brunt force of it.
All it will take for a victory is a pedestrian game out of Cal. They need to run and throw the ball well and limit Brad Soresen. Still, they will likely come out with a lot of intensity and get an easy win in Week 2.