In its last two games, the Cal football team has been perfect on three scoring chances from inside the 20-yard line. It has also made a habit of bypassing the red zone altogether. Before Jahvid Best's two-yard touchdown run with 11:07 left in the third quarter against Washington State, the Bears' last 10 offensive touchdowns had come from outside the red zone -- and even Best's scamper was set up by a 61-yard pass from Kevin Riley to Jeremy Ross.
But as coach Jeff Tedford cautioned during Tuesday's press conference, Saturday's game against Arizona State will probably require a little more patience by Best and the Cal offense. The Sun Devils have the stingiest defense in the Pac-10, allowing just 280 yards a game, and featured the conference's best rushing defense until Stanford overpowered them on the ground for 236 yards last weekend.
Still, currently allowing just 83.4 rushing yards per game, ASU is only one of two Pac-10 teams -- USC being the other -- that is giving up under 100 rushing yards per game. "Ripping off big chunks, well, you don't do that against these guys," Tedford said. "You're going to have to stay patient. There's going to be some two-yard gains and some eight-yard gains and some zero-yard gains, and you have to stay patient and hopefully leave yourself in situations where you can convert third downs. It's going to be that type of game."
That type of game hasn't been the Bears' strong point this season. In its five wins, Cal is averaging 6.56 yards per carry, compared to 2.9 yards per rush in losses to Oregon and USC. The Bears also appeared to go away from the running game early against the Ducks and Trojans, when those defenses showed they could consistently keep Best and Shane Vereen from breaking loose into the open field.