Saturday will mark the ultimate Large Recreation between Stanford and Cal earlier than they go away the Pac-12 for the Athletic Coast Convention. Though each have wealthy histories behind them, they every enter the matchup below .500 for the third yr in a row. Nonetheless, as is the case with any Large Recreation, loads is at stake with Cal’s bowl eligibility nonetheless on the road and the Cardinal trying to keep away from their third straight dwelling loss to Cal, which final occurred in 1951. The Every day’s Zach Zafran spoke with Mia Wachtel, head sports activities editor on the Every day Californian, to speak about Cal’s season, the battle of their quarterback room, the way forward for this system with convention realignment and what’s to come back this weekend within the 126th Large Recreation.
This transcript has been frivolously edited and condensed for readability.
The Stanford Every day (TSD): Inform me a bit bit about Cal’s season to this point. How has it stacked up in opposition to expectations?
Mia Wachtel (MW): We’re 4-6 general, 2-5 in convention play. I believe a variety of Cal followers had increased expectations as a result of we onboarded offensive coordinator Jake Spavital this previous summer season. I don’t know in case you noticed the Twitter hashtag #HogsForSpav, nevertheless it was an enormous deal after we acquired him as a result of he acquired a few good guys from the switch portal. So I believe a variety of Cal followers had increased expectations for the season than what has occurred. We now have 4 straight losses to ranked opponents, which I believe is a bit disheartening to Cal followers as a result of we first got here out in opposition to North Texas with a 30-point lead and received that, after which misplaced a recreation that Cal ought to have received in opposition to Auburn.
There’s this quote, “The worst factor a Cal fan can have is hope,” and I believe that this season is outlined very nicely by that. It’s simply been a bit little bit of a curler coaster, a tumultuous journey, and I suppose we’re using the ultimate waves.
TSD: Maybe the brightest spot of this Cal staff is sophomore operating again Jaydn Ott, who’s amongst Pac-12 and nationwide leaders in nearly all main dashing statistics. Are you able to inform me extra concerning the season he’s having and what it means to this staff?
MW: All people is aware of that Ott is the standout operating again. All people expects him to go professional, he’s nice. He truly simply broke 1000 dashing yards this previous weekend, the primary Cal participant to take action [in six years].
You’ll see in each postgame press convention, somebody talks about Ott not less than as soon as. We at all times put the ball with the particular person we belief most, and that particular person has been Ott all through the season. He actually is the lifeline of this staff, and I believe that lots of people have been apprehensive that he was going to hit the switch portal, however he didn’t. And now you’ll see this each week that he’s popping out with [honors and awards]. I might be stunned if he didn’t make it to the league in a few years.
TSD: Within the quarterback room, a three-way quarterback battle headlined coaching camp till redshirt sophomore Sam Jackson V received the beginning job at the start of the season. Since then we’ve seen all three command motion till not too long ago, because it appears redshirt sophomore Fernando Mendoza has earned the position. How has this quarterback carousel impacted the staff this yr, and the way assured are you in Mendoza shifting ahead?
MW: It’s exactly what you stated. It was a carousel, and I don’t assume that’s one thing that’s useful for any staff, ever. We didn’t have our definitive quarterback till the fifth recreation of the season, which isn’t the place faculty soccer packages have to be at in the event that they need to have critical competition for bowl eligibility. Now I do know that if Cal wins these subsequent two video games, they’ll have the chance to go to a bowl, however clearly it’s difficult when the quarterback is the commander of the staff and you haven’t any flat out commander for many of the season.
In my view, Fernando Mendoza is the appropriate alternative at quarterback. He has probably the most correct arm. He’s the very best resolution maker. He’s a scrambler, not nearly as good on his ft as Sam Jackson V is, however I believe Sam Jackson V is missing in different methods. I believe Fernando is probably the most well-rounded quarterback that we have now in our carousel, and head coach Justin Wilcox made the appropriate resolution in protecting him in play. That stated, he may be higher with resolution making, and I believe that’s one thing that should enhance. I imply, he’s a redshirt freshman and his first ever profession begin was this season, so there’s room to enhance; and I’m positive that the offense will simply continue to grow in these subsequent couple of years as he turns into a extra developed quarterback.
TSD: On the opposite facet of the ball, Cal’s protection is giving up probably the most factors per recreation within the Pac-12. What has to alter for this unit coming into Large Recreation?
MW: We took heavy hits this season when it comes to our line of defense. Matthew Cindric, the Cal staff captain and a sixth-year senior, was taken out of the season early due to a bicep tear. He had a bicep tear final season as nicely, however this time it was the opposite bicep. His loss was vastly detrimental to the protection, particularly as a result of Cal’s protection hasn’t been significantly good. We do have some brilliant spots in guys like Kaleb Elarms-Orr, who was main the Pac-12 in tackles a pair weeks in the past. We now have robust guys on the staff, I believe that they’re simply not being put collectively. That’s what we’ll want to alter heading into Large Recreation.