Over the last few seasons, Cal has defended Oregon better than most teams in the country, and come Saturday, the Bears will gear up to face the Blur offense once again.
When asked what he was seeing of this incarnation of the Ducks, Chris McCain said that they were the “same team as last year. Same schemes and everything – they like to use their speed guys to attack the edges. They like to use a lot of pullers just to mess with our eyes.”
“We haven't seen anything as fast as Oregon this year, but we've seen similar types of offenses. We can use things that we've seen from this year. We just have to put more speed to it, practice faster this week.”
McCain expressed solid confidence that the team could slow down the Oregon attack, saying that “we should be able to have the edges on lock.”
“I have faith in Brennan Scarlett, and with the set up that Coach Pendergast and Coach Thompson are gonna have us in, we should be able to have the edges on lock. Force a lot of things up the middle.”
Cal led Oregon at the half last season, but one of the reasons that the score got out of hand quickly in the second half was some admittedly poor play by McCain.
“I have to be more patient. I was moving way too fast last year,” he said. “(I was) too worried about protecting the C gap so they couldn't cut it back tight, and I was getting beat on the outside. That's my issue. From last year, I just work on being more patient. Not letting my eyes play games with me.”
One of the key players in the Oregon offense will be Kenjon Barner, who McCain said benefitted from backing up LaMichael James the last few seasons. “When he started off, he used to hit the holes real fast and juke the linebackers, but now he sets up and lets his blockers do what they have to do, which allows him to make the big gains that he does.”
McCain was asked if facing such a prolific offensive attack gave him any extra motivation, to which he replied, “No, it's not an ultimate challenge, just because of the simple fact that we've seen the offense before.”
“If anything, it could be an ultimate challenge because it's Oregon, and they're number four in the nation. Our ultimate challenge is ourselves, really.”
“They haven't scored less than 42 points this year, but I don't see us giving up 42 points. I believe we can do that. I believe we can make that happen.”
“It's going to be athletes versus athletes. They're big and physical; our front seven is big and physical. Our back four is physical, and they're fast. The front seven has to get pressure in pass situations, let our corners do what they have to do, hopefully get sacks. If not, just get pressure so that [Mariota] has to throw a bad ball, either low, over the head, or hopefully interceptions.”
While the Bears may be underdogs heading into Saturday night, McCain said, “Watch the game. Nobody will know until the game is played. Nobody can predict the future.”
“People may not think we have a chance, but Cal, two years ago didn't go to a bowl, but Oregon came in here and only scored one time on offense. It's not easy coming in here and beating us.”
“We're not thinking about points-wise, really. We hear about it a lot – they put up big numbers every game, have the most rushing yards or passing yards or someone close to breaking a record in every game.
“We just run to play. We ain't worried about numbers and what not.”
“We're all fighting for our pride, now. We know we can't go to a bowl game, so we're going to come out there fighting real hard. Whatever they get, it's not going to be easy.”