The staff of California Golden Blogs answered five of our questions ahead of BYU’s home opener against Cal Saturday night.
Read on to hear their answers on everything from who the heck their QB is (they played three last week), to what they remember of BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe being their head coach, to how they think the game is going to shake out.
You can read our end of this Q&A, here.
VTF: So, who is your quarterback? Three saw time on Saturday (sounds a bit like us last year and it didn’t end up going so well).
CGB: The general assumption is that the 1st string QB job is a battle between junior returning starter Ross Bowers and redshirt freshman Chase Garbers, and either way Brandon McIlwain will get occasional plays as a change-of-pace running quarterback. Fans have spent the last week or so trying to read the tea leaves to determine which QB has the advantage, and most are leaning towards Garbers having the advantage because he really must have impressed in fall camp to cause coaches to consider playing him ahead of a guy with a full season of starts under his belt. All Cal QBs had significant accuracy issues in game one. Bowers under performed relative to what we saw from him last year, while Garbers appeared a bit jittery to start. He settled down a little bit and made some nice plays with his legs (another reason fans suspect he might have a slight lead over Bowers) but none of us will know who will walk out under center in the first quarter until we all see it together on Saturday.
VTF: Our AD used to be your head coach! Any fond memories or general feelings/sentiments on Tom Holmoe?
CGB Staff Writer 1: Trolls! Tom Holmoe is generally remembered as a very nice man who was in very, very far above his head. Cal had the twin joy of being bad and also violating NCAA rules, although the violation was out of confusion and mismanagement rather than some sort of deliberate attempt to gain any kind of advantage. And I suppose Holmoe was in some small way responsible for leaving behind some talent that Jeff Tedford used to immediately turn things around, which also speaks to how unbelievably poorly managed everything was prior to Tedford’s arrival. It’s nice that everybody has moved on to people and positions that are much better fits all around.
CGB Staff Writer 2: There are certain Cal fans that refer to that era of Cal football as the “Holmoecaust”, if that gives you a flavor. I was in school then, I went to one game (vs. Illinois), and everything about it was a downer; the stadium was dead, we all expected to lose, and unsurprisingly we played badly and lost. I quickly came to the conclusion that we weren’t a football school and didn’t give the team a second thought until after I graduated and noticed that we were somehow playing in bowl games again.
VTF: Cal’s defense had FOUR interceptions against UNC. There were zero turnovers in the BYU/Arizona game. What do you see that turnover margin looking like for the Cougars/Bears matchup?
CGB: Honestly, I’m not expecting a ton of turnovers on either side, in part because I fully expect both offenses to play pretty conservatively, lean towards runs and short passes, and try to protect the ball. Against UNC Cal really feasted on accuracy and decision making mistakes from UNC’s quarterback, and while it’s possible that Tanner Mangum will make similar mistakes I don’t think it’s a great thing to rely on. I’d expect a turnover for each team being reasonably likely, with the unstated caveat that fumbles and who recovers them are damn near impossible to predict.
VTF: Do any position matchups intrigue you ahead of Saturday night? Any places where you think Cal has the distinct advantage, or that BYU does?
CGB Staff Writer 1: I’m most worried about BYU’s ability to run the ball on Cal’s defense. Cal held up really well in game 1, but our DL talent doesn’t appear too deep, and so I could imagine BYU grinding Cal down as the game wears on. In terms of advantages, I think Cal’s DB’s are really deep and talented - although the foot injury to Cam Goode is a really big deal.
CGB Staff Writer 2: I’m not too worried about your guys’ passing attack considering that our secondary is probably our biggest strength. I think BYU’s run offense vs. Cal’s run defense should be a pretty even battle as well. I’m just worried about our offense. We were barely able to score against North Carolina, and when we did, it was mostly because of the defense. The fact that you guys more or less shut down Kahlil Tate... yeah, I’m a bit concerned. We need our offense to get going or else we are 100% losing this game.
VTF: What is your final score prediction?
CGB Staff Writer 1: 21-20, Cal, and I say that mostly because they could use the win prior to conference play.
CGB Staff Writer 2: Cal 20, BYU 19 — I think that this game is a virtual coin flip. There’s going to be lots of running from both teams, a slow pace of play, and few possessions. That means that the final outcome is very likely to hinge on swing plays - a turnover here, a special teams disaster there. In the end I’m giving the nod to Cal based on having what I think is the single best unit (defense) out of both teams, and also because I’m not going to pick against my team this early in the season. But I can’t say I’d be surprised if home field advantage swings things towards the Cougars.
CGB Staff Writer 3: Cal 20, BYU 14.
CGB Staff Writer 4: I’m an eternal pessimist when it comes to Cal games, so I’m thinking BYU will win. 24-17 BYU.
CBG Staff Writer 5: If we can get any sort of passing offense going, then I think we win this game. If not, we have no chance. I’m going to be optimistic and give it a 27-20 win for Cal.
CGB Staff Writer 6: 17-10 rock fight with the final TD coming in the 3rd quarter. My heart says Cal, but that quiet voice in the back of my head is telling me BYU.
CGB Staff Writer 7: Final score prediction: 35-31, Cal