Sep 14, 2013; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears wide receiver Chris Harper (6) is unable to break free from the hold of Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Doran Grant (12) in the third quarter at Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes defeated the Golden Bears 52-34. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
As per every Monday going forward though the football season, Golden Bear Lair will name its MVP for that weekend’s game.
In my second watching of the game, there were some good options to consider. Daniel Lasco looked really good in his return game, rushing for 64 yards and a score, and mind you this was against a defense that is supposed to be really tough on the defense. Bryce Treggs had 51 yards and a touchdown. Vincenzo D’Amato was perfect on the night, going 2-for-2 on field goal tries (including a 43 yard field goal to end the first half) and 4-for-4 on extra points. James Grisom’s momentum shifting 61-yard touchdown reception was a key play to keep the game within reach early. And, of course, freshman stud Jarad Goff went 31-of-51 for 371 yards and three touchdowns.
However, the guy who I think had the best game was Chris Harper. His numbers were great: 6 catches, 115 yards and a touchdown. His 42-yard touchdown reception made it a ten point game to end the opening quarter. Keep in mind, Ohio State had gone ahead 21-0 in the first six minutes of regulation, so to end the quarter down only ten points really meant a lot to Cal’s moral going forward.
Ultimately, what I liked about what I saw out of the sophomore was that, along with being the leading receiver on the team, he really made the defensive backs of Ohio State work. Even the rabid Buckeye fan base have to agree that the Cal receiving corps, and specifically Harper, was able to make the established Buckeye secondary look silly. Harper made the Buckeyes work up a sweat, running around trying to catch him. In fact, on that 42-yard catch, it was almost like watching a play out of NFL Blitz.
The fact is, Harper has had two really great nights in his three games so far this season. The interesting part about that is that both nights have come against Big Ten defenses that were supposed to be strong and able to withstand any kind of offensive attack, but neither were able to stop Harper, who’s found the end zone three times between the two games.
Going forward, Harper has to continue to perform at this level in order for this offense to maintain this level of production. This offense should be able to compete with just about anyone in the country, and while everyone seems to want to talk about Jared Goff (and rightfully so), Harper is just as important and just as talented. His success this weekend against a fast and tough-minded defensive backfield proves that much.