Are you ready for the official start of conference play? This week Cal will head north and take on the Washington Huskies and so we’ll preview Washington’s offense right now . Make sure you check out Golden Bear Lair’s Washington Defense and Special Teams Preview as well to be completely ready for the game.
Washington’s Offense has been very impressive this season, with a lot of players looking like they have ‘NFL’ written all over them. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Keith Price, Chris Polk and Jermaine Kearse are all big-time threats on this side of the ball. Kasen Williams is another big-time incoming recruit, and will probably establish himself sooner rather than later.
Quarterback: Cal’s secondary has not been as steady as expected, with Marc Anthony in particular getting abused by the Tyler Hansen to Paul Richardson combination two weeks ago. Things don’t get any easier with Keith Price of the Huskies. He was 21 of 37 for 274 and 4 TDs last week, in a losing effort against Nebraska. He has a big arm, but not a ton of mobility, something that may become more of an issue this week as he suffered injuries to both knees against Nebraska (but will play). While it isn’t necessary that he runs for big yardage against the Bears, being able to move within the pocket enough to avoid Cal’s rushers will be critical.
Nick Montana – name should sound at least marginally familiar – is the backup (being Joe Montana’s son AND being a backup has to suck).
Running Back: Chris Polk is a good one, though if trends continue even he might have some trouble running against a Cal run D yielding a scant 2 yards a carry. He is a physical running with a burst, and has hurt us in the past. He’s also gone for 100 yards in every game this season. He was the guy who hit the 2 point conversion that ended our season in 2010.
There is little depth behind Polk, but he’s a guy who can take a pounding so this probably won’t become an issue. 5’11” 220 fullback Johnathon Amosa opens holes, and Jesse Callier is a change of pace back with the speed to run sweeps and reverses.
Wide Receivers. Jermaine Kearse is a stud, and has been. He had 63 catches for 1000 yards last year (did all our receivers combined do that?) and some were still expecting more. This year he only has 8 catches for 107 yards, but that number figures to rise dramatically at some point. He is big, has good hands, and is an explosive athlete. He spent the last few years as Jake Locker’s main deep threat, and could be the best all-around receiver in the Pac 12. James Johnson is solid #2. He’s also big, and despite some inconsistency in 2010 he’s picked it up a notch in 2011. He’s got 12 catches for 155 yards thus far. Both had two touchdowns against Nebraska.
One guy UW hopes to get involved more is Freshman TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He’s a 6’6″, 250 pound TE who plays the game like a power forward – excelling with jumpballs, fades, and simply out-larging defenders. The U.S. Army All American has been relatively quiet in the Husky offense thus far, but that can happen when you have to share the ball with upperclassmen like Polk, Kearse and Johnson. He is a matchup that the Bears really have yet to see in this season.
Offensive Line: This unit has been inconsistent, and may be the only thing holding an otherwise special offense back.
Senior Left Tackle Senio Kelemente is their best lineman, at 290 pounds. At Left Guard, sophomore Eric Kohler starts. He has a breakout game early last year against Nebraska (UW-NU I), doing a good job against Nebraska’s line, but has struggled to replicate that consistently.
At center is 6-4, 281-pound junior Drew Schaefer . He is a returning starter and is experienced if unspectacular. At Right Guard, the Huskies will start 307 pound sophomore Colin Porter. He’s bit of a road-grader in the running game and has a ton of upside, and has some experience after starting half the season in 2010. Ben Riva, a 275 pounder, starts at RT to complete the group.
Biggest Advantage vs Cal: The WR’s against Cal’s secondary. The Huskies have 3 legitimate big time threats catching passes, including 2 guys (Kearse and Jenkins) who are NFL locks barring injury. This is not a pleasant thought after what Paul Richardson was able to do for Colorado two weeks ago (catching balls from Hansen, who has half Price’s arm… at best). These guys have it all – size, speed, athleticism, and physicality.
Biggest Weakness Against Cal: Polk may be a stud, but Cal’s run defense has been impregnable thus far. It is unlikely Cal holds him to 2.3 ypc, as they have other backs, but Polk is going to need his line to step up if he’s going to notch his 7th consecutive 100 yard game. It’ll be interesting to see if Cal continues to sell out against the run as Pac12 play starts, or if we’ll start to see some new coverages and blitzes.
Prediction: UW’s going to score some points, people. Holding them under 30 would be a reasonable goal to start with.