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Apart From Best, Cal Has Questions on Offense

We’ll have more on 12th-ranked California throughout the week, but I just wanted to share some early thoughts on one of the more intriguing teams in the country. This is a team that has the potential to shake up the national picture and perhaps upend Southern California in the Pacific-10 race.

First and foremost, make sure you check out running back Jahvid Best, the most electrifying player in the country. Everyone remembers the hit Kevin Barnes delivered on Best in last year’s game in College Park, causing Best to lose his breakfast. Best rushed for 1,580 yards last season, scored 15 touchdowns and averaged 8.1 yards per carry. That’s pretty impressive. What’s also impressive: Best has 19 carries of 20 or more yards, and three carries of 80 or more yards. Another Cal running back, Shane Vereen, rushed for 715 yards last season. So Maryland’s rushing defense will have its hands full, even though Cal’s loss of Alex Mack, a second-team all-American center, is a concern for the Golden Bears.

The big question is Cal’s passing game. Quarterback Kevin Riley was inconsistent last season, even though his 14 touchdown passes were offset by only six interceptions. Problem was, he completed only 50.7 percent of his passes. Riley beat out two competitors for the starting job in August. The receiving corps should and needs to be more seasoned. The player to watch is Nyan Boateng, a transfer from Florida who led Cal in receptions (29) and receiving yards (439) last season.

Expect Cal to shine defensively with the return of all four players in the secondary. The foursome had 12 interceptions last season. The best of the bunch is Syd’Quan Thompson, who is expected to earn all-American honors this season. The linebacker unit must replace three starters.

I’m expecting a wild game with a lot of points scored. I expect California to score more of those points, but I won’t offer a score prediction until Friday.

By Eric Prisbell  |  September 1, 2009; 12:06 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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My own final score prediction:

California wins 45-17

Posted by: polycalsq | September 1, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

How do you plan on scoring 45 points with a questionable QB? UMD will just stack the line and dare a QB with a 50% completion percentage to beat them. Tate will eat him alive all day.

Terps 21 Cal 17

Posted by: fushezzi | September 1, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Cal has far more talent than Maryland and Riley will be improved. Should be fun.

Posted by: cjroses | September 1, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

let the games begin...So you say you will beat us by 28..Iknow they have good weed out trere but that is a pipe dream...

i see our defence having a man shadow him which will force the inexperienced qb to make mistakes... inexperienced get rattled and with a all out blitz ya start to get dancing feet...

No predition till friday

Posted by: carolina1 | September 1, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

This team had trouble scoring on a Chris Cosh defense. They scored all their points during garbage time in 4th qt last year.

How the F will Cal score points on a real defense?

Posted by: | September 1, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Realness1 | September 1, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

The team arrives at Cal Thursday night.

Posted by: jake177 | September 1, 2009 2:32 PM

If i were Fridge I would've had them in California a full week. Jet lag and 3 hour time difference will be tough to overcome in 2 days. This is really my biggest fear going into this game. I believe we got up 21-0 vs Cal in the 1st quarter last year largely because the game was being played at 9:00 a.m PT.

Now, Cal gets that same time difference benefit this year and will be very tough to overcome after only being out there 2 days. There is a reason NFL teams from the west coast rarely win on the road in 1:00 ET games.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 1, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Gotta hope they'll be as awake as they would be early on a Saturday night at Santa Fe!

Posted by: Realness1 | September 1, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Best has barely practiced this summer because of a number of injuries, including a bad toe. Coach Brown will stack the line, blitz a lot (Cal has 3 offensive line starters with little to no gameday experience) and dare Riley to throw. Cal will start off trying to run but Best will get hit hard and get winded early. If Maryland gets an early lead like last year and the offensive line opens holes for the running game, it's over. Chris Turner will come up big for this one.

As is the case every year, Cal is one of the most overrated teams in the country. Maryland is one of the most underrated. The two biggest jokes in Vegas is MD + 21.5 for this game and over/under wins @ 5.5 for the year.

Nice idea Barno but, unlike other schools, these kids do and are required to go to class and classes have already started. A week away is too much. Besides, I seriously doubt a college kid will have any trouble being up at 10 PM EST ;)

Posted by: virtueandvice | September 1, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm definitely worried about the late start considering last season: 8-0 in games starting before 7 PM; 0-5 in games started at 7 PM or later. I cannot explain it. I just hope it's fixed.

Posted by: TerpFan2001 | September 1, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

As for my prediction: Terps 27-24 with 1 TD on defense, another on special teams, and one of the FGs set up by the defense.

Posted by: TerpFan2001 | September 1, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Gotta hope they'll be as awake as they would be early on a Saturday night at Santa Fe!

Santa Fe is no longer open. It has been shut down due to a dispute between the building owner and the franchise/bar owner.

Posted by: fushezzi | September 2, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

My score prediction was just that, a prediction, and not meant to dismiss or disrespect your team. Dismiss me as high or whatever, but enjoy Saturday. I know you guys are basing your thoughts in part on what you saw last year. You are not going to see that again. Realize that Cal at home and Cal in Maryland are apples and oranges (and yes, not playing well on the road is an admitted weakness for Cal right now, but this game is at home). Cal was undefeated at home last year. The year before that, their only loss was to USC. Their average margin of victory at home last year was more than 20 points. You saw a very weak moment for Jahvid Best. The way Cal will score 45 points is by Best lighting you up a few times, the defense having to collapse down on him, and then Riley showing he can play (by the way, he was 7-2 last year and threw for 400 yards in the Maryland game, so it isn’t like he’s never thrown a ball or won a game). Or maybe that will all happen in reverse. Either way. Also don’t forget that this Cal defense is very solid and held USC to 17 points last year (and count on the defense scoring a touchdown or two of their own).

A 28 point margin of victory is not an unreasonable prediction, especially given that even Vegas is giving you 21 points.

Finally, what are you talking about, inexperience? Half your team has never even played a D-1 game. And they're gonna get their feet wet at Memorial Stadium, 2500 miles from home in front of 70,000 screaming people?

Let’s all agree to revisit this thread on Sunday.

Yeah, the weed is good. I hope it helps take the sting off the beatdown that is coming your way.

Posted by: polycalsq | September 2, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Yes,I hope you do have the stones to revisit the game sunday morning... I will be traveling out to the game and return on tuesday(golf sunday)..I will have my Terp golf bag with me so it will be enjoyable when i go to the course( claremont cc) So it will be nice to take cal money home with me..first saturday and then on sunday

chow..Take a puf for me (:

Posted by: carolina1 | September 2, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Bears win 52-24. It will be similar to what happened to Tenn when we got them a home. If Best is stopped or injured, we still have Vereen and like 3 other 4 star RBs. We also have a great DL, secondary, and one of the best punters in the nation. Riley is at least OK, and can be good.

Go Bears!

Posted by: oskibear | September 3, 2009 3:52 AM | Report abuse

What happened to the Terp fans who were so cocky and confident like Carolina1, jdgreger, virtueandvice? You guys here? I thought you guys agreed to revisit?

Oops it turns out the 21 points was a little too low. How about 39 points?

Seriously, if it wasn't for Tedford calling off the dogs in the third quarter, we easily could have laid 70 points on you guys. But Tedford isn't that kind of coach.

Enjoy the rest of your year. Keep watching the Jahvid Best puke video if it makes you guys feel better.

Posted by: Bearfan2 | September 7, 2009 3:57 AM | Report abuse

Where are you, Carolina1? You delusional Maryland homer.

I hate to be a poor loser, but you suckers deserve it after mocking my 45-17 prediction.

Yes sir, that weed is good. Unfortunately, I smoked too much and decided Maryland was at least good enough to score 17 and hold Cal to 45. Ooops.

Maryland is a joke, or Cal is monstrous. I'll let you sorry sacks of turtle crap pick. I'm too tired from digesting all this turtle all weekend.

Posted by: polycalsq | September 8, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

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