A peculiar thing happened after Ernie Owusu was whistled for an offside penalty late in the first quarter of Cal's 52-13 win over Maryland on Saturday. Instead of fretting and elucidating the error that set up an easy third-down conversion for the Terrapins, Owusu decided to play. Just play. "All of a sudden, he was beastly out there," Cameron Jordan said. In a seemingly arbitrary moment, the sophomore responded with a sack and went on to prove he has arrived alongside standout defensive linemen Tyson Alualu and Jordan. Owusu finally got his brain out of the way long enough to let his training and physical attributes shine.
In what was scored as a two-sack, three-tackles-for-loss, one-pass-breakup performance, the third-down pass rush specialist was the most electric cog in a Cal defensive front that dominated Maryland's offensive line. He consistently harassed Chris Turner, tackling the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage three times, and initiating the combined sack of Alualu and Mike Mohamed. "It's whatever," Owusu said. "Most of my plays came on third downs and got us off the field. That's all I care about.
"I don't care if I get credit for (the third or fourth) sacks." Owusu is a thoughtful, team-first guy who had previously been so mentally occupied by trying to do things correctly that he inhibited his physical tools.