Having given up 15 sacks in the last two weeks, it would be fair to say that the California offensive line is going through a rough stretch. Even with USC and Ohio State now in the rearview, the team has another tough matchup on Saturday with the Arizona State Sun Devils, who rank 10th nationally in total defense.
On Wednesday, left guard Jordan Rigsbee spoke to The Bear Insider about what was being done to shore things up in the pass protection, and gave his thoughts on the player everyone's been talking about - Brendan Bigelow.
"We took that [USC] film and came into this week trying to improve on everything. That's one thing that kind of game shows you, just things you can improve on," Rigsbee said.
"Coach [Michalczik] always talks about us being real competitive guys, but sometimes we just need to take a deep breath on pass protection. You really get down to your technique – I think that's really what it comes down to, all five of us. Most sacks that we gave up, when you go back and look at it, weren't really mental mistakes or physical. It was mostly technique."
"We're trying to go back to basics in pass protection, really relaxing and working on our fundamentals."
On the run game, which has been inconsistent at times and great at others, Rigsbee said, "We're all big, strong guys. We're all very competitive, and we love to run the ball. We really love to go out there, high tempo."
"Maybe at the beginning of the game, we're only getting two yards a carry, or even getting stuffed. But as the game goes on and as we keep grinding, maybe those four yard carries become six yard carries." When asked if he was referring to a game like Ohio State, where the rushing attack got stronger in the second half, Rigsbee said, "Exactly. That's our mentality, that's what we like to do."
One player who could soon be a key in that running game is the "Fresno Flash", Brendan Bigelow.
"All of our backs - especially Bigelow - are real fun to block for, because they have big playmaker ability. We know they've got our backs. Just like we block for them, they run for us. We mess up maybe a little bit; they can pick us up and make a play here and there. It's awesome to have those guys behind us, because you know that if you do your job, they're going to make a play."
"With his speed that he has, it's just a real attribute to the team."
Ahead of Saturday's matchup against the Sun Devils, Rigsbee believed that the real point of emphasis was on what the Bears needed to accomplish up front.
"They have a good front seven. Everyone in the Pac-12, everyone that we play this year has an awesome front seven. That's just how it is, so we just have to go out there, do our thing and get after it out there. I think the way we matchup with them is good for us. I think we can run the ball and do what we need to do."
There is no extra motivation to win this game, Rigsbee said, even after the team's 1-3 start. "Every game is a potential win. Every game is a potential hard game. That's how college football is. You can't really come into it thinking about what's happened in the past. You really just try to move ahead and focus on this week."
"When we beat Arizona State, we'll go ahead and focus on the next team. That's just kind of how we run things."
To the Golden Bear faithful – many of whom are beginning to lose that faith - Rigsbee did have this to say: "Keep coming out, keep supporting us. We're getting it together. We're going to come out strong against Arizona State, get a good home win for [you guys], and keep the season rolling."