Five burning questions: Cal

Will USC’s offensive line hold up against Cal?

During the week, junior quarterback Matt Barkley indicated that USC’s offensive line play will dictate the outcome of the game. He believes that if the protection is solid, he should be able to pick apart the Cal defense. Through the first five games, the Trojans’ line has caught some flack for its lack of dominance in the trenches. However, Barkley has only been sacked four times to date.


Who will be the best receiver on the field? 

Fans of the aerial attack are in for a treat. Thursday’s contest features the top two receivers in the Pac-12. USC’s sophomore sensation Robert Woods is tied for the national lead in receptions per game with 11. Cal’s sophomore standout Keenan Allen is not far behind, ranked 11th nationally. Both were highly touted recruits, and they have performed extremely well in their young careers. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Allen spoke about the matchup. “I definitely look forward to it,” he said. “We’re both good athletes. I met him at the All-American camp. We hung out. I’m going to come out there and compete. He’s obviously faster than I am, but I can make some moves.


Can Maynard provide consistent quarterback play for the Golden Bears?

At the beginning of Tedford’s tenure, Cal rose to national relevance, culminating in a tie for first in the Pac-10 in 2006. However, the Bears have struggled since then largely due to inconsistent quarterback play. Tedford is known as a quarterback guru, developing the likes of Trent Dilfer and Aaron Rodgers. Nevertheless, consistency under center has eluded him as of late. Zach Maynard is a dual threat quarterback, and Tedford selected Maynard as the starter because of his versatility. However, the head coach has not utilized Maynard in that fashion so far. Among Pac-12 quarterbacks, Maynard ranks last in completion percentage. If he can’t find his receivers against a shaky USC secondary, it could be a long day for the Bears.


Does Jeff Tedford finally have a recipe to beat USC? 

Historically, Cal has struggled against USC. The Golden Bears have only registered fifteen wins against the Trojans since World War II. In Tedford’s second year—2003—Cal upset USC in a triple overtime thriller in Berkeley. Since then the Bears have struggled mightily against the Trojans, and Tedford is 1-8 in his career against USC. A year ago, USC steam rolled the Bears in a 48-14 drubbing that saw USC take a 42-0 lead in to the half. “No matter who plays, it’s always a challenge against those guys,” Tedford said of playing USC.


How will George Farmer contribute to the Trojan’s offense?

Earlier in the year, Lane Kiffin announced that Farmer, the top wide receiver recruit in the nation, would redshirt. In practice, Farmer worked at running back with the scout team, and Kiffin loved what he saw. Farmer’s performance in practice combined with Kiffin’s frustration with the running game could translate in to playing time this week for the freshman. There is speculation that Farmer will receiving significant playing time in an effort to add an explosive dimension to the running back position.