Cal Playing Good Defense But Struggling On Offense As They Trail USC In the Fourth


September 22, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Robert Woods (2) runs the ball against the California Golden Bears during the firsthalf at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Not many people expected USC to lose to Stanford, and not many people expected them to have trouble with Cal. However, one happened, and the other is happening.

Cal is trailing USC 20-9, as they have played good defense but failed to ignite their offense. Zach Maynard hasn’t performed anywhere near as well as he did against Ohio State last week, and Brendan Bigelow hasn’t received an opportunity to build on his incredible performance last week. As a result, Cal has missed an opportunity to make this game closer.

Maynard’s stats aren’t that impressive, as he has completed under 50 percent of his passes for only 116 yards and two interceptions. He hasn’t been accurate, and his inaccuracy led to two interceptions. But, in his defense, because he’s getting no protection. The offensive line has been horrible, and USC’s D-line is getting in Maynard’s head.

He has been sacked a few times, and pressure led to one interception. He threw on the run and underthrew a receiver, and T.J McDonald intercepted his pass. However, he’s been overthrowing a ton of receivers today, which has really hurt the Bears. Cal could definitely be right in the thick of things or even winning if Maynard was at top form.

However, Matt Barkley (USC’s quarterback) hasn’t been much better. Barkley has been intercepted twice, although he does have a touchdown pass. He hasn’t been too accurate or sharp today, and Cal’s defense has done a nice job containing him. Steve Williams made a nice adjustment to intercept a pass in the end zone, when Barkley made a bad throw on a fade route. A batted ball led to an interception in the second quarter, as USC threatened again.

Despite Barkley’s two blunders, USC still has 20 points. Silas Redd found a hole on the left side and ran 33 yards untouched to the end zone for a touchdown, the first of the game. USC extended their lead to 14 points right before halftime when star kicker Andre Heidari made a 40-yard field goal (he made a 41-yarder in the fourth). Vincenzo D’Amato has made three short field goals for Cal, but he also missed another one. His miss extended his streak of missed kicks to four, before he snapped it in the second.

USC has the ball right now as they look to finish off the Bears, something they didn’t do last week against Stanford. Cal’s secondary will seek to keep containing Marquise Lee and Robert Woods, while their front line will look to cease all long runs. Curtis McNeal shed a few tackles and racked up 64 yards on a first quarter run, but an interception by Williams saved the day. If Williams can step up again in the second half, Cal will be in good shape.

So far, Cal has done well. They are showing great signs, and if they can keep playing like this, they will obliterate Arizona State and UCLA. However, they have a lot of work to do. Can Cal win? Find out by checking back in on this article for more updates, or by tuning into the Pac-12 Network.