California head coach Jeff Tedford has confirmed today in a press conference that star wide receiver Keenan Allen will not be available to play in tomorrow’s game against Washington due to a sprain of his left MCL sustained in last week’s game against Utah. Rumor had started up early yesterday that this was the case because of Allen’s absence from practice, but it was not for sure until this morning.
As I discussed yesterday, the loss of Keenan Allen can hardly be overstated. The 6’3″ 210 pound junior from Greensboro, North Carolina has been by far the most productive player on Cal’s offense, with 61 catches for 737 yards and 6 touchdowns, and without him, the Bears are simply not as formidable. In fact, I fully expect the betting line, which currently favors Cal by around 4, to shift a little, possibly even into Washington’s favor, just because of this one injury.
The only two members of the wide receiving core that have produced at a respectable level this season beyond Allen are both true freshmen, Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs. Harper has 29 catches for 380 yards and 2 touchdowns while Treggs has managed 21 receptions for 216 yards and a single score. Considering that the secondary is definitely Washington’s strongest asset on defense, this is a serious issue for Cal. Trufant will certainly blanket one of those players each play, and hard hitters like Shaq Thompson and Sean Parker will be patrolling the defensive backfield. That just isn’t a great environment for two true freshman to succeed.
Also, expect Washington to devote even more attention to stopping Cal’s triple-headed rushing attack, as running the ball is pretty much the only thing the Bears have done well this year on offense that hasn’t involved Allen. More on the Cal game today and tomorrow.