The ground, Cal
The ground is a critical element of Saturday’s game for the Bears. Quarterback Zach Maynard has spent a lot of time there the past few weeks. With a porous offensive line, Maynard has been sacked 22 times the last three games. He’s also been inaccurate, missing on 19-of-28 attempts in last week’s loss to Arizona State. While most of his passes sail over receivers heads — with balls landing deep on the green turf — those receivers often dive to the ground trying to come away with unlikely receptions.
Then there’s the matchup of the squads’ ground games. After mustering just 48 yards against USC, seniors Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson responded with 183 yards collectively last Saturday. However, third-stringer Brendan Bigelow, averaging 20.6 yards a carry, did not touch the ball once last week. Meanwhile, UCLA is averaging 243.4 rushing yards per game behind star tailback Johnathan Franklin and dual threat quarterback Brett Hundley.
Joseph Fauria, UCLA tight end
The Cal defense will rightfully be focused on the Bruins’ dynamic quarterback-tailback duo of Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin, but the Bears can’t afford to forget about Joseph Fauria or let the Notre Dame transfer out of their sight.
After seeing minimal playing time in 2010 and having moderate success last year, Fauria has become one of UCLA’s essential components in his senior season. With the Bruins’ balance on offense — eight receivers at least 10 receptions, nine have at least 100 receiving yards — Fauria’s numbers don’t necessarily stand out. Moreover, as he is a tight end, his job is often to block for a rushing attack ranks 13th in the country.
But at 6-foot-7, 255 pounds Fauria is indispensable in the red zone and frequently in the end zone. He leads the team with four touchdown receptions — no other UCLA player has more than one. If Cal contains Fauria and holds the Bruins to field goals, that could go a long way in keeping the game close.