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Cal Football

Cal Football Tuesday Notebook

October 31, 2023
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With stormy weather conditions expected for this weekend’s game against No. 6 Oregon, California is expected to lean heavily on its running game. Unfortunately for the Bears, they may be down to their third-string running back when the team travels to Autzen Stadium.

Jadyn Ott, the Pac-12’s leading rusher, left early in the fourth quarter of Cal’s loss to USC last Saturday and is still on the mend. Head coach Justin Wilcox said the expectations are that Ott will play, which is always critical, especially this week.

“The thing about Jadyn, he really wants to get back in there,” Wilcox said Tuesday. “He’s doing everything he can. That’s between him and the sports-med staff. We are ready for him to get back to full speed. When he’s out there, he’s obviously a dynamic player so we’re looking forward to having him back.”

Ott has 784 yards and eight touchdowns on 125 carries this season and is coming off arguably his best game of the season when he rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns, including a pair of long scoring runs of 61 and 43 yards before he got hurt.

Cal’s offense relies heavily on its running game, so if Ott is unable to play against Oregon the Bears will have to switch things up.

Back-up Isaiah Infanse is also nursing an unknown injury and is listed as day-to-day. If neither is cleared for a full go, freshman Jaivian Thomas could get the nod to start against the Ducks. Redshirt freshman Justin Williams-Thomas, a transfer from Tennessee, might also get into the mix.

“At that position we’re a bit banged up and we kind of need everybody in that room,” Wilcox said.

That’s true, especially against Oregon’s stout defense. The Ducks are giving up 95.6 yards a game on the ground, third-best in the Pac-12. Part of that is because Oregon’s offense has been so successful in building big leads that other teams have had to basically abandon the running game while trying to play catch-up.

“They’re very sound in what they do,” Bears offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “One of the bigger fronts we’ve seen in a while. Their overall numbers defensively are great across the board. We’re going to have to get a lot of misdirection in. We’re going to have to get them thinking a little bit.”

Ott, who missed the second half against Auburn and was held out of the game against Idaho because of injuries, and Ifanse have provided the bulk of the Bears running game success this season. Thomas has carried the ball only 15 times in six games. He also caught a 13-yard touchdown swing pass from Fernando Mendoza late against USC that put Cal in position to win a game that they ultimately lost when the Bears failed to convert a two-point attempt.

“He’s gaining more confidence as the season’s been going on,” Spavital said of Thomas. “We know what he’s capable of doing. I think he’s going to be a very good all-purpose back. He’s going to have to do it this week. He’s going to have to grow up a little bit but he’s going to be ready for that challenge.”

Williams-Thomas, who had been nursing a leg injury, ran the ball four times against the Trojans, one of them resulting in a 23-yard gain.

“We’re ready to use him,” Spavital said. “We’ll see how the week progresses. He’s going to be a guy that we’re going to have to count on, especially if those other guys aren’t ready to go.”

One player who could be back in the backfield is linebacker Cade Uluale. The Bears toyed with the idea of using Uluale on offense in practice a few weeks ago because he played the position in high school, but with fellow linebacker Jackson Sirmon out with a season-ending injury, Uluale has taken on a more significant role on the Bears defense, making another position switch less likely.

While the Bears are hoping that Ott will be healthy enough to play, quarterback Sam Jackson V is also doubtful with his own injury.

Fernando Mendoza, who will be making his fourth consecutive start against a ranked opponent, has been preparing for the expected rains in Oregon this week by using footballs that have been doused in water. Wilcox noted that one of his assistants has been responsible for spraying the ball and Mendoza’s throwing hand before every snap in practice.

“He’s the one demanding more water on the ball and more water on his hands,” Wilcox said.

Other stories:

Weekend Visits a Hit With Cal Targets and Commits

ACC Announces Conference Football Matchups For 2024-30

Discussion from...

Cal Football Tuesday Notebook

2,878 Views | 5 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by JimSox
JimSox
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Jackson V not listed on the depth chart.
KoreAmBear
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JimSox said:

Jackson V not listed on the depth chart.
I haven't given up on him, so I hope he doesn't enter the portal. But I would imagine he is vastly disappointed -- who wouldn't be when brought in as the guy.
oskidunker
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KoreAmBear said:

JimSox said:

Jackson V not listed on the depth chart.
I haven't given up on him, so I hope he doesn't enter the portal. But I would imagine he is vastly disappointed -- who wouldn't be when brought in as the guy.


Link to current depth chart? Who is in 3 rd position?
Go Bears!
heartofthebear
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What is the status of the OL for Saturday's game.
Are Vatikani, Wykoff and Sessions available?
JimSox
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heartofthebear said:

What is the status of the OL for Saturday's game.
Are Vatikani, Wykoff and Sessions available?


All three are listed as starters. No third QB is listed, just Mendoza followed by Finley.
Sorry, I don't do links very well. Just go to calbears.com, choose football, find the Oregon game story, choose Game Notes. The depth chart is on page 4 of the notes.

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