Cal v Northwestern Game Review 2013

Jared Goff became the first true freshman to ever start a season opener at quarterback for Cal, and had a solid game minus the three interceptions. Unfortunately two of the three interceptions went for a pick six, and the difference in the final score. Both touchdowns were returned by Collin Ellis the linebacker for Northwestern. The first was a return of 56 yards the second was a 40 yard return. That’s the bad news, the good news is that the freshman threw 63 passes for 38 receptions and amassed 445 yards with two touchdowns.

The rest of the Cal offense was above average. The running game was a running back by committee approach as Brendan Bigelow had 16 carries for 65 yards (4.06 ypc) with a long of 32, and Daniel Lasco had 9 carries for 38 yards (4.22 ypc). Neither could find the end zone. The receiving game did well too. Chris Harper was amazing as he had 11 receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a 13.7 yard completion average. Bryce Treggs also had a good day with 13 receptions 145 yards and zero touchdowns.

The defense could not contain the Wildcats offense as Trevor Siemian threw for 276 yards and one touchdown, and was picked off twice. Their rushing leaders did just as well with 27-156 yards and Treyvon Green had two touchdowns. The receiving corps showed promise as Dan Vitale had 5-101 and Christian Jones went 5-94.

Jackson Bouza put the first touchdown on the board in the first quarter with a fake field goal attempt. It was a nifty play, as holder Jackson Bouza who is also the wide receiver on the team flipped the ball to kicker Vincenzo D’Amato, who then shoveled it back to Bouza who ran for 10 yards and the score. Northwestern tied it at seven with 9:33 left in the quarter when Treyvon Green ran for the 33 yard score.

In the second quarter Northwestern scored 10 more unanswered points to lead 17-7, before D’Amato kicked a 28 yard field goal with three seconds left to end the half 17-10.

In the third quarter Northwestern opened up the quarter with a field goal by Jeff Budzien a 19 yard attempt, but Cal then put up two straight touchdowns, both to Chris Harper. The first went 52 yards, and the second was a 7 yard touchdown. This put Cal up 24-20, but with 4:40 left in the third Collin Ellis picked off Goff on a tipped pass and ran it in for a 56 yard interception return. This ended the scoring for the third quarter and put Northwestern ahead 27-24.

In the fourth Cal started off the quarter with a field goal by D’Amato a 38 yarder tying the game 27-27. Then Northwestern rattled off 10 unanswered points. A field goal by Budzien a 32 yarder, and another tipped ball for an interception return by Ellis this one for 40 yards, giving the Wildcats a 37-27 lead with 7:57 left in the game. Cal did add a field goal at 4:45 mark when D’Amato hit a 37 yard field goal making it 37-30, but Treyvon Green finished off the scoring for the night with a six yard scamper at 1:51 making the final score Northwestern 44 California 30.

The Bears offense was good as advertised, as they put up 548 total yards, 455 of those were through the air. They also led in time of possession 30:24 to 29:36. Cal was a perfect 2-2 on fourth down and 10 for 21 on third down opportunities. Cal needs to rush better as they had 35 attempts for 93 yards which is only a 2.7 yard per average per carry. Goff’s seven attempts for a negative 18 yards, didn’t help the overall rushing average though. Both Cal starters went 24-103 (4.29 ypc). They also need to cut down on penalties as they had 10 penalties for 79 yards.

The Bears defense played well, as they forced two interceptions and one fumble recovery. Khalifani Muhammad and Lasco did an adequate job returning kicks. Seven returns for 144 yards (20.6) and Treggs had only two opportunities 2-0. D’Amato was perfect on the night making all the extra points and field goal opportunities 3 for 3, with a long of 39. Cole Leininger had a good punting average of 6-261 yards (43.5) with three inside the 20.

Cal will now face Portland State at home on Saturday. Portland State is unranked, but beat Eastern Oregon in their opening game, and won it handedly 57-17 and are 1-0 in the Big Sky Conference.

Michael Valverde
@RFLRedZone