Helfrich: Coaches from Couch, Cal Strengths
No. 2 Oregon vs. California Golden Bears
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Autzen Stadium, Eugene.
Records: Oregon (3-0), Cal (1-2).
Last week: Both teams were off.
Golden Bears this season: Cal is rebuilding under first-year coach Sonny Dykes who took over after going 22-15 at Louisiana Tech the past three season and winning 16 of his last 17 regular season games. The Golden Bears, 3-9 last season under former UO offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford who was fired after 11 seasons, haven’t looked great but have played a tough schedule to date. Cal has lost to two ranked teams, No. 18 Northwestern (44-30) and No. 3 Ohio State (52-34).
Impact players: Cal’s running game has been abysmal. It ranks 97th in the country at 117.3 yards per game on 3.1 yards per carry. Brendan Bigelow leads the team with 175 yards on 44 carries.
Most of the offensive production has come from the passing game, which ranks second in the nation (438.7 yards per game).
Quarterback Jared Goff (pictured) has passed for 1,306 yards and seven touchdowns with four interceptions. Chris Harper is the top receiver with 21 receptions for 324 yards and three touchdowns. Kicker Vincenzo D’Amato has scored 35 points and made eight of nine field goal attempts.
Cal ranks 121st in the country in total defense (556.3 yards per game). Its defense, which has just three sacks on the season, is led in tackles by junior linebackers Khairi Fortt (25) and Hardy Nickerson (24), and sophomore linebacker Jalen Jefferson (23).
California trivia: Three former Oregon offensive coordinators ended up coaching at Cal: Tedford (head coach from 2002 to last year), Al Borges (offensive coordinator, 2002-2003) and Andy Ludwig (offensive coordinator, 2009-2010).
Quotable: “It's the best Oregon defense I've seen. Very fast. Very athletic. An unusual scheme. But, like everyone, we feel like there's some weaknesses to attack. But not a whole lot.” – Dykes.
Fear factor (five-point scale): 0. Cal’s defense is a mess and the offense relies too much on its passing attack to threaten Oregon.
Preliminary pick: UO 67, Cal 24.