Oregon at California
- Jason Vondersmith
- Portland Tribune - Sports
When, where: 5 p.m. Saturday, Memorial Stadium
TV, radio: KATU (2), KXL (750 AM)
• Throw out some missed assignments and bad tackling against Tennessee, and California would have some pretty good defensive numbers. As it is, the Bears gave up 227.6 passing yards and 143.0 rushing yards -a total of 370.6 per game, or ninth in the Pac-10. In points allowed, Cal is at 20.4 after its 41-13 shellacking of Oregon State.
Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett form the running tandem, but the run game only nets 153.8 yards, or seventh in the league; Lynch is a good receiver from the backfield, though.
The Bears have seriously upgraded at quarterback from last year. Nate Longshore has a 67.2 percent completion rate, with 27 passes for 445 yards and seven scores to DeSean Jackson.
'They run a little bit of everything, and they're going to try to get that big horse (Lynch) loose,' UO defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti says. 'He's not Adrian Peterson, but he's close.'
• Aliotti's crew gave up 175 yards at Arizona State last weekend, sacking Rudy Carpenter six times and forcing him into 6-of-19 passing for 33 yards - although Carpenter threw erratically, made bad reads and generally appeared lost. But the Ducks lost another defensive lineman to injury as Cole Linehan broke his foot and joined fellow tackle Ra'Shon Harris, linebacker Brent Haberly and cornerback Jackie Bates on the out-for-the-season list.
Victor Filipe (elbow) and Jeremy Gibbs (ankle) could return Saturday. It also appears Matt Toeaina will stay at defensive tackle alongside David Faaeteete and possibly Michael Speed, simply 'because he can line up,' Aliotti says. Darius Sanders also could play tackle.
ASU ran for 142 yards (4.2 per carry) against the Ducks. Ryan Torain gained 113 yards; it was the third consecutive game in which an opposing running back has topped 100 yards on the Ducks. Oregon ranks ninth in Pac-10 in rush defense (163.8).
'I'm still concerned about the run,' says coach Mike Bellotti. He says the linemen and linebackers need to do better at plugging gaps and the cornerbacks need to improve at attacking and tackling from proper angles. Otherwise, he says, 'Marshawn Lynch will take some of those runs and go the distance.'
• The UO coaches might have made a statement to Matt Toeaina's brother by leaving him home during the ASU trip. Simi Toeaina, a 6-4, 308-pound redshirt freshman, probably could help the Ducks at defensive tackle, 'but he needs to grow up and take the responsibility of being in the rotation,' Matt Toeaina says.
'Definitely, he has all the physical attributes - he's big and can take up blocks,' Matt Toeaina adds. 'He may be young, but if you give him reps in practice, it'll allow him to grow up fast.'
But the younger Toeaina seems to lack the fire that has helped his older brother start for three years on the Ducks' defensive line. 'Maybe he feels like he's young, with a long way to go, and he's pacing himself,' Matt Toeaina says. 'Hopefully he's aware of our situation and feels he needs to speed up a little bit.'
• What a performance by the Ducks' offensive line at Arizona State - 315 yards rushing (142 for Jonathan Stewart, 89 for Jeremiah Johnson) and no sacks allowed of Dennis Dixon. In fact, the stellar unit of Max Unger, Josh Tschirgi, Enoka Lucas, Palauni Ma Sun and Geoff Schwartz has allowed only one sack (to Oklahoma).
Arizona State, which had about four special blitz packages, according to Schwartz, led the country in sacks going into the game. 'We knew every time what they were doing,' he says. 'It comes back to us playing with each other for so long. We work in practice all the time on specialized blitzes.'
And it helps having Dixon at quarterback. 'He's good with reads, good with hot routes, gets the ball off fast, and he's elusive,' Schwartz says.
• All hail the wide receiver screen pass, which offensive coordinator Gary Crowton called several times during Jaison Williams' 10-catch, 137-yard, two-TD day. 'The line makes the screen go, their shape and ability to run sideline-to-sideline,' says Bellotti, noting tackle Unger, in particular. … Williams has become the go-to player, but Bellotti lauds the rest of the receiver corps. Tight end Dante Rosario has become Dixon's second receiver, and many on the Ducks feel that Derrick Jones, who caught his first pass at ASU, eventually will become another go-to guy. 'I think he needs to practice,' Bellotti says. 'He can be a great football player -this year.' Says Dixon: 'He's a special one, to tell you the truth. He's still young, still exposed to game, especially the game speed. He's picking it up play by play.' … Williams leads the Pac-10 in receptions and yards per game (seven and 115.5). … Dexter Manley had three sacks at ASU. 'He's getting more comfortable with the big picture and little details,' Bellotti says. 'Little details make up the big picture.' OK, it isn't just about speeding around the offensive tackle? Manley and fellow ends Nick Reed and Ed Dickson have had to prove they can stop the run and understand offenses to get more playing time. 'It's not their forte,' Aliotti says. … Stewart hurt his right ankle again but persevered against the Sun Devils. He ripped off a 63-yard run, but two ASU defenders caught him. 'If I was 100 percent, I would have been gone,' he says. He also admits to having to learn to play through pain.