California enjoys its success in running past Washington State
Bears look to continue their recent trend of beating teams on the ground
PULLMAN — The past two years, California's football team has treated the Washington State run defense like a traffic cone.
The Cougars have been ignored, knocked around and run over.
In the past two games between the two schools, the Bears have run for 700 yards.
So 359 of those yards were collected by Jahvid Best, who is now doing his sprinting in Detroit. The Bears' running game still seems to have WSU's number, which just might be 8.9. That's the average gain Cal has each time it has run the ball in the two easy victories.
"They run a lot of different plays, a lot of different formations, a lot of different looks," said WSU co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball.
But all those different plays and looks had one thing in common against the Cougs. Since Best opened the 2008 game with an 80-yard touchdown run, they've pretty much all been successful in winning 66-3 and 49-17.
So what do the Cougars (1-8, 0-6 Pac-10) do Saturday at Martin Stadium to slow down this Cal (4-4, 2-3) running attack? Led by 5-foot-10, 204-pound junior Shane Vereen and his 774 yards, the Bears are averaging 158.8 yards a game.
"We've got to be sure we're aligned right, in the right spot," Ball said. "That's probably the most important thing, that we get lined up right."
The alignment will probably include strong safety Deone Bucannon closer to the line of scrimmage.
Bucannon has 39 tackles in the past three weeks and leads Pac-10 freshmen with 44 solo tackles in conference games,
"We're probably going to be in the box a lot more than usual," he said this week.
The goal, he said, is to force first-time starting quarterback Brock Mansion, a redshirt junior, to convert third-and-longs.
"We feel if we stop the run, the rest of the game is going to be a lot easier," Bucannon said.
Mansion replaces injured starter Kevin Riley, who blew out his left knee last week.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.