The Arizona Wildcats are coming off a heart breaking loss to USC and are currently sitting at 2-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play. Their sights are now fixed on the California Golden Bears in a rematch of last season’s double overtime thriller in Berkeley.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. MST and will be aired on Fox Sports 1. Let’s get to know Cal.
2018 Record — 3-1 (0-1): Week 1 win versus North Carolina (24-17), Week 2 win at BYU (21-18), Week 3 win versus Idaho State (45-23), Week 4 loss versus No. 19 Oregon (42-24)
Key Offensive Players — Chase Garbers (QB), Patrick Laird (RB), Kanawai Noa (WR), Patrick Mekari (OT)
Key Defensive Players — Evan Weaver (LB), Jordan Kunaszyk (LB), Ashtyn Davis (Safety/KR), Jaylinn Hawkins (S)
Cal enters this game with a 3-1 record through the first third of the regular season and is averaging 28.5 points and 368.8 yards per game. Head coach Justin Wilcox has done a great job building off an overachieving first year.
Entering the season, junior quarterback Ross Bowers was declared the starting quarterback. By the start of the second half week one, that all had changed. The quarterback duties have been divvied up between redshirt freshman Chase Garbers and South Carolina transfer Brandon McIlwain.
Offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin has turned to this combination which offers a pocket passer in Garbers and a dual threat in McIlwain. It has proved to be successful thus far as Garbers is completing a tick over 65 percent of his passes and has thrown for six touchdowns (and four interceptions) while McIlwain is the team’s leading rusher with 252 yards and tied for first in rushing touchdowns with two.
Productive quarterback play can often be tied to a strong running game and senior Patrick Laird is everything you want. Last season, he was the first Cal running back to rush for more than 1,000 yards since 2014. He isn’t quite on pace to achieve this milestone in 2018 but he will likely come close to reaching 1,000 rushing and passing combined yards.
The receiving corps is deep and experienced with Kanawai Noa, Vic Wharton III and Jordan Duncan. When you combine these three with Laird, who is the leader in receptions, you get four very dangerous pass catchers.
As for the defense, their two leading tacklers are linebackers Evan Weaver and Jordan Kunaszyk. These two will be all over the field and make it very difficult on UA’s already struggling rushing attack.
Safeties Ashtyn Davis and Jaylinn Hawkins are two other key pieces on defense that you should know. They have combined for 20 tackles and five interceptions through the first four games.
Davis is also dangerous in the kicking game. He has returned 11 kicks for 308 yards and a touchdown.
The Wildcats are in need of wins if they want to keep their postseason hopes alive. This will be another quality test as Cal is a good team but by no means is UA overmatched.