This Q and A is in collaboration with Write for California, a Cal dedicated site that covers all things Cal. These questions and answered will give another perspective in the last meeting between the two programs ahead of the Week 5.
Which player on offense should ASU fans know about?
Jaydn Ott is the key player on offense. He has good speed and is able to force missed tackles, allowing him to get into the open field. He’s a legitimate threat in the passing game, but we haven’t seen it yet this season. He missed just about a game and a half this season after a hard fall, but I’d fully expect Ott to start posting big numbers again. Additionally, Jeremiah Hunter is good for a couple of acrobatic catches in a game as well.
Which player on defense should ASU fans know about?
Kaleb Elarms-Orr is having a breakout year at inside linebacker and he will likely have the assignment of keeping ASU’s runners at bay.
Who’s one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for you?
Other than Kaleb Elarms-Orr, I’d say that the most improved player for Cal over the last year or so has been WR Trond Grizzell. After redshirting his freshman year and not playing many snaps last year, he’s gotten touchdowns in consecutive weeks and has increased his receiving yards each week. Cal has a fairly deep WR group, but it hasn’t really been much of a factor outside of the week one game against North Texas. With defenses focused on slowing down Hunter and Ott, look for Trond Grizzell to have open moments to go down the field.
What does ASU need to do to win the game?
On defense, get pressure on Sam Jackson V, force him out of the pocket, and generate turnovers. He has elite speed, but he also has a habit of not securely holding the ball when he’s running with it. On offense, control the clock on the ground and limit possessions from a Cal offense that has shown it can be explosive but equally as inconsistent.
What does Cal need to do to win the game?
Shut down the ASU run attack and generate huge chunk plays on offense.
How do you see the game going?
I expect a very closely contested affair with two very flawed teams with identifiable weaknesses. Cal is slightly better but not significantly so where they will just pull away. Cal 24, ASU 21.
Chemistry and future with Sam Jackson V and QB position:
Sam Jackson V is definitely very talented but has very low lows. He’s only played 1 season at QB in high school (was previously a WR) and 1 collegiate game as a quarterback from start to finish (against Idaho) so he’s still clearly learning how to play quarterback. Ben Finley, on the other hand, is more consistent, but he struggles reading high-level defenses, which was evident in last week’s game against Washington when he threw 3 interceptions before leaving the game with an injury. It’s safe to say QB is Cal’s weakest position right now and Jake Spavital will have to figure out his starter to right the ship.
Cal beaten by Washington, what did Cal learn:
Cal has a lot to figure out after getting smashed by Washington. They probably are not as bad as they looked, but there are significant talent deficiencies that won’t be solved this year. Most importantly though, the quarterback play has to improve significantly to compete with our conference opponents and any other higher-level competition.