Guest Post: How UW Can Beat Cal


Special to is Shaan Franchi, the founder and lead editor for the He has been following California athletics for the majority of his life. If there is anyone that can give an insight into how to beat Cal, this is your guy.

The Washington Huskies play host to the Cal Bears in the Pac-12 opener this Saturday (well the official one anyway, see Cal vs. Colorado). Cal hasn’t won there since 2005 and hasn’t even beat the Huskies since 2008. This season, Cal is coming to Washington with a 3-0 record, after wins over Fresno State, Colorado, and Presbyterian. UW suffered a 51-38 loss to Nebraska last week. UW is 2-1 now with wins over Eastern Washington and Hawaii.

Washington would like to continue that trend of beating Cal in Husky Stadium for over half a decade. After reviewing Cal’s games this season, their plan of attack will probably focus on these couple strategies:

  • Unleash Chris Polk

Polk has been a world-beater for UW as expected this season so far. He will face

one of the best Run Defenses in the Pac-12 in Cal, but if he can shed a couple tackles, this will create many opportunities for Washington. Cal got absolutely demolished on screens as well against Colorado. The Buffs did a screen play over and over again and the Bears couldn’t stop it. If Polk can be used effectively by the UW coaching staff, it will make it a lot harder for the Cal Defense to zero in on Keith Price.

  • Force Turnovers

Sure, every single coach and analyst out there always says to force turnovers, but this strategy is especially important against the Cal offense. Cal has won all of their games so far, but fans have been worrying that the ugly turnovers that the offense has played through in previous games don’t come back to bite them against Washington. Zach Maynard, Cal’s QB, has thrown one interception per game so far. Two of the three were returned for Touchdowns including the one against Presbyterian. Maynard has made some great passes, but he stared down his receivers and then had poor mechanics during these throws causing these INTs. Although UW’s secondary hasn’t been very good so far, if one player can just read his pass and try to jump the route, they might be able to put up six on the board. Additionally, Maynard is a mobile Quarterback and has fumbled a couple times on his runs after a hard hit. These fumbles were recovered by Cal and didn’t affect the game, but if UW could capitalize, that would go a long way toward a W for the Huskies.

  • Take Advantage of Penalties

Cal has been one of the most penalized teams in the nation so far including getting 10 penalties for 94 yards against Presbyterian last week. If they haven’t fixed their errors, then that might be an area that UW can exploit. Penalties can kill drives on offense and they keep the opponent in the game on defense. The thing is that Washington must take advantage of these penalties and score some points and not let the opportunity go by. They also can use penalties to change the momentum of the game which leads in to the last point.

  •  Control the momentum

This game is a near toss-up so any momentum either side can get could be the difference between a victory or loss. The Huskies will have an easier time getting momentum because they are playing at home so if they can keep that, then they have a great chance to win the game.

All in all, this game will be an interesting one to watch. The Huskies have a real chance to show Cal that their season won’t be as easy as it has been.

Shaan is the founder and editor of, Fansided’s Cal Sports Blog. Follow the blog on Twitter, @GoldenBearLair, for game updates and analysis from a Cal perspective.