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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 16, 2007 at 3:19 PM

The pick. …

This is admittedly a hard game to read tomorrow for two main reasons — UW’s QB situation and each team’s motivation.
Despite Jake Locker’s apparent speedy recovery, best guess is that Carl Bonnell gets the start for the Huskies, and if he plays like he did the final quarter against Oregon State — he was 6-19 for 194 yards in that quarter — UW has a chance to win. But Cal also won’t be surprised if Bonnell starts hucking it all over the place, and it’s worth nothing that UW’s passing success mostly came after two OSU CBs were thrown out.
And who can tell which team will want it more — a Cal squad that already knows it’s going to a bowl game but also knows it’s not going to any of the ones it really wanted to go to? Or a UW team that doesn’t have a bowl game in its future at all? You could argue that both teams have little to gain and nothing to lose, and would both either be loose and free of all pressure, or having little motivation.
The safest way to pick this one is that Bonnell plays and that both teams basically bring it to an equal level, making it come down to which team is better.
That said, my position breakdown is as follows:
QB: Even. Nate Longshore has really struggled of late, though he is still completing 60.8 percent of his passes and hard to completely figure out how the Huskies will be at this spot.
RB: Cal. Cal’s Justin Forsett will be the best overall back on the field.
WR: Cal. Despite a somewhat down year from DeSean Jackson, he’s still really good, as are Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan, who seem like they have been there forever.
OL: Cal. Kind of a tough call here. But Cal has a veteran line that has been intact for every game this season. UW will have to go without Ryan Tolar for the first half, which gives Jordan White-Frisbee his chance to finally start again but also may disrupt things just a bit.
DL: Washington. UW has been playing better up front of late, though the Huskies wore down a bit on that final drive last week. Cal has been giving up a lot of rushing yards of late (239 last week against USC) and the Bears are last in the Pac-10 in sacks with just 18.
LB: Cal. UW has been getting some good play of late from the likes of Mason Foster and Trenton Tuiasosopo. But Cal has a pretty salty group led by Zack Follett and Anthony Felder.
DB: Cal. UW has gotten better play of late here, as well. But also worth noting the QBs the Huskies have faced the last two weeks — T.C. Ostrander in his first action in a month or so, and Lyle Moevao. The Huskies will get a much bigger test against Cal. This is another tight one as Cal’s pass defense stats really aren’t a lot better than UW’s. But the Bears have been more consistent defending the pass while UW had the one big meltdown and lots of games where opponents didn’t try to throw a whole lot.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Cal’s had some issues here, as well. The Bears are just 10-16 on FGs, (UW is 10-15) and Cal ranks pretty low in kickoff coverage. But Cal’s punting is better and the X factor here is Jackson, capable of breaking one at any moment.
The other X factor is Jeff Tedford, who has owned UW since getting to Cal, winning all five by an average of 26 points. Cal has lost four of five, tying the worst stretch in his time in Berkeley. But all the losses have been competitive — an average of 7.5 points and none by more than 11 — and turnovers have been a key part of it. Fourteen of Cal’s 19 TOs this year have come in the last five games.
Cal was held to just 17 points last week by USC but gained 399 yards, the second-most the Trojans have allowed this season, the kind of thing that tends to even out over time. Cal gained 478 against Oregon State in also losing..
I’m assuming Tedford will have his bunch ready to play and while I think the Huskies will come ready, as well, I think Cal is just better.
So call it Cal 35, UW 24.

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