Cal Players to Watch this Weekend

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Chris McCain – Defensive End/Linebacker

Aug 31, 2013; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears linebacker Chris McCain (40) and Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter (2) after the ball is released during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Chris McCain did not get the opportunity to play this past weekend against Portland State, but the Pac-12 honorable mention from a year ago played in 11 of the teams twelve games last season. He racked up 50 tackles and a team-high 8.5 tackles for a loss. The problem is: we don’t know if he will be playing this weekend.

Listed as questionable, the defensive rush specialist combines a unique blend of speed and height to get him into opposing teams backfields often. He had five tackles in the season opener against Northwestern, but did not appear this weekend due to a head injury sustained during a practice last week.

While most teams claim they have a duel-threat quarterback, Ohio State actually has one. And because Ohio State has a Braxton Miller under center (a guy who can run or pass better than most quarterbacks in the nation) as well as a plethora of burners at the running back spot, Cal will need to put the pressure on Ohio State. To counteract the Miller/halfback run game, Sonny Dykes will need his best rusher to be on. In his 21 games, McCain has become one of Cal’s go-to players when it comes to getting a defensive stop. He hits hard and hits for a loss.

Also, Cal will need to win the turnover battle to win the game. The best and most substantial way to create those turnover opportunities is to put pressure on the offense. That will begin and end with Chris McCain. If he starts, Cal will have a chance to create those turnovers. If he doesn’t play, Cal will need to step up the pass-rushing production as they will be down DT Mustafa Jalil and DE Brennan Scarlett already. Without McCain, they have almost no chance to put pressure on Miller.