Butkus Award semifinalist Khairi Fortt.
Rosters, previews, opponent perspectives, stats to watch and X-factors are all here in one convenient place as you get ready for Cal's first game against Arizona since 2010.
California (1-7, 0-5 Pac-12) vs. Arizona (5-2, 2-2)
LIVE GAME THREAD
THE VITAL DETAILS
When: 12:30 p.m.
Watch: Pac-12 Networks
Listen: KGO 810 AM, KALX 90.7 FM
Series: Cal and Arizona last faced off in 2010 in Tucson, with the Bears losing 10-9. The all-time series is tied, 14-14-2, with the home team winning each of the last six games. The last time the Wildcats visited Memorial Stadium, Cal came away with a thrilling 24-16 win over then-No. 18 Arizona. The Wildcats’ last win in Berkeley came in a 41-38 double-overtime victory in 1997.
STAT TO WATCH
Jared Goff’s deep ball. For much of the first half of the season, Goff threw short early, ostensibly to build up confidence for longer throws, but against Washington last week, Goff was much better going downfield early and often, and this week in practice, his long balls have been much more accurate than they have up to this point.
To go along with that, receiver Chris Harper has 99 career receptions, and one more grab will tie him for 10th in school history on the single-season reception list.
One more stat: Bryce Treggs hasn’t had a 100-yard receiving game since Week Two against Portland State.
For the Bears, WILL linebacker Khairi Fortt has made it to the 12-man semifinalist list for the Butkus Award, and leads Cal with 54 tackles, adding 3.0 TFLs and one QB hurry.
Fortt and the rest of the Cal defense will be tested early and often by Arizona QB B.J. Denker -- the reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week – and the nation’s leading rusher in KaDeem Carey, who averages 153.3 yards per game. Denker is dead last in the conference in passer efficiency rating, but last week, he tore off 192 yards on the ground to go along with 265 passing yards (21-for-32), and accounted for eight plays of 20 or more yards, including six completions and two rushes against Colorado.
“KaDeem, you know, it’s interesting: I know a lot of these players, particularly some of these offensive players are guys that we recruited when I was there,” Sonny Dykes said earlier in the week. “I saw KaDeem play a lot of high school football. He’s a physical, tough, hard-nosed, talented kid who has been battle-tested. He’s played for three years, he’s been a three-year starter and been very productive, finishes runs well, but as I said, just kind of probably the best back in the league, probably the most versatile. I like the way he plays the game.”
While Denker’s PER may not be eye-popping, he completes over 57% of his passes averages 6.33 yards per attempt and has thrown just three interceptions. He completes short,easy passes when he needs to, and then turns to Carey. He doesn’t need to do much with his arm, mainly because Carey is such a dependable back.
The Wildcats’ defense may be the most improved unit in the league, allowing a paltry 19.9 points per game. Arizona is well equipped to handle the Cal offense, both with its 3-3-5 scheme and the Pac-12’s best pass defense.
KEEP AN EYE ON
The Cal defense. After experimenting with the NASCAR package last week (taking out defensive tackles and adding linebackers and defensive backs), you’d think stacking the box would be the order of the week against the Wildcats, but instead of depending on defensive linemen to hold their gaps up front, Andy Buh may prefer to have linebackers come from further back, in order to get a head of steam and give them more time to read Carey’s cuts, rather than crashing hard and getting burned by either Carey or Denker’s legs.
Denker has been much better lately than he was in the beginning of the season, and much of that can be attributed to ball security. He hasn’t forced many throws over the past several games, but even if he does against the Bears, the secondary – particularly the left corner spot – hasn’t exactly been a ball-hawking unit, with just four interceptions on the year. Taking care of the ball means putting it in Carey’s hands, and with a team that’s had a lot of trouble with open-field tackling, it’s hard to think that Carey will add to his single fumble on the season.
“When you have a great run game like they do, then it takes a lot of heat off of him,” Dykes said. “Any time that your quarterback is involved in the run game, it always creates a numerical advantage for the offense. That’s why everybody’s gone to these quarterback run games, because it’s hard to defend, and they throw the ball well enough where, if you stack the box, they’re going to be able to throw the ball, and Denker last week really ran the football well. Colorado I think tried to take Carey away and dare the quarterback to keep some on some of the read plays, and he did and kept it effectively and really ran well. He’s improved. Ball’s coming out more on-time and more accurately now than it was at any time during the year, so the quarterback’s gotten better.”
MONDAY: Lasco Back in the Swing
IN-DEPTH: Strength Against Strength
IN-DEPTH: Bears Striving for Balance
WEDNESDAY: Like a Glove
BOARDS: Wednesday Live Thread
Weekly Presser Transcript
BOARDS: Tuesday Practice Live Thread
BOARDS: Monday Practice Live Thread
Who Has The EDGE?
From WildcatAuthority.com: Defensive Preview
From WildcatAuthority.com: By the Numbers
Friday Coach Tracker
FB: Speedy 2015 WR Snags Cal Offer
FB: Bennett Hauls in Offer
FB: Rubenzer Uses the Force
FB: Choudja Getting Noticed
FB: Three New Offers Out
FB: OL Recruiting Update
HOOPS: Welsh Update
EXHIBITION: ‘Trey’ Chic
BTTV: Exhibition Highlights