Arizona State (3-1) has dropped out of the rankings after a loss to Colorado (3-1) last Saturday. Now, the Sun Devils are wheels up to Berkeley for a Friday night showdown on ESPN with the #15 California Golden Bears (4-0).
Cal sits atop the Pac-12 North at the moment, and is the only remaining undefeated team in the conference. The last time ASU won in Berkeley was 2012; the last time Arizona State played in Berkeley they lost 48-46 on a last-second field goal. With all of that being said, Friday’s game promises to be interesting at the very least. Here are the California players to watch:
Senior linebacker Evan Weaver - The best player on Cal’s defense, Weaver’s numbers so far this season have been off the charts. The senior leads the FBS in solo tackles with 40, and his 15.8 tackles per game (62 total over four games) are the best out of everybody in the conference.
Last week against Ole Miss, Weaver wrapped up 22 Rebels to help the team secure a 28-20 win in Oxford. With time expiring, Weaver stuffed Ole Miss Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee at the goal line to give California the win. He’s the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week heading into Friday’s game, and he’s a big reason why the Golden Bears are only allowing opponents to score 17.3 PPG on average.
Junior linebacker Kuony Deng - The Robin to Evan Weaver’s Batman, Deng ranks second on the team in tackles with 36. Twenty-three of those tackles have been unassisted. His 2.5 sacks are tied with nose tackle Luc Bequette for most on the team. California has 11 sacks as a team on the year, and Deng has certainly done his part to contribute. Jayden Daniels took just one sack against the Buffaloes, so Deng, Weaver, and the rest of the Cal defense will try to bump that number up Friday.
Sophomore running back Christopher Brown jr. - After carrying the ball just 37 times his freshman season, Brown has carried the ball 73 times already in 2019. The only Pac-12 running back with more touches is Eno Benjamin. Brown has accumulated 335 rushing yards on the season (83.8 Y/G), and trails only Utah’s Zack Moss (393 YDS) for the most rushing yards by a Pac-12 running back through four games.
The sophomore’s production has decreased since the season opener against UC Davis, but Brown has still managed to find the end zone in three of the four games he has played in (two rushing; one receiving). He is currently listed as questionable for the game on Friday against Arizona State. If Brown does play, he’ll need to be someone the ASU defense is aware of.