Apparently it does rain at Autzen Stadium.
The downpour became a storyline early leading to five California turnovers in the first quarter, four of them coming on fumbles in four consecutive Golden Bear possessions.
Oregon had fumble issues of their own, starting with Byron Marshall‘s fumble on just the Ducks second play from scrimmage, but while Cal was unable to fall on their loose balls Oregon was able to retain possession.
The rain wreaked havoc on Cal’s passing game, a big problem for a team that has been one dimensional so far in 2013 and with freshman quarterback Jared Goff fumbling the ball away twice on his team’s first four possessions the Bears elected to go with backup Zach Kline, ending Goff’s day before the second quarter started.
[gn_quote style=”1″]”We had a whole bunch of disguises,” defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said, “and stuff we were gonna to that young quarterback…and we didn’t use any of them. We didn’t need to, the weather was so horrible that they got off to about as bad a start as they could get off too.”[/gn_quote]
It proved not to be a cure all, but it appeared to be at least a step in the right direction for California as Kline led a drive into the red zone–the first time the Bears had crossed midfield–only to throw an interception to Ifo Ekpre-Olomu for the Bears fifth turnover on their first seven possessions.
“We expect to get something like that every drive, really,” Ekpre-Olomu said.
Somewhat forgotten amidst the rain was De’Anthony Thomas‘ injury, suffered on the opening kickoff. He was able to limp off the field mostly under his own power, but he was seen on crutches on the Duck sideline in the second half.
Thomas’s injury led to more carries for Marshall. Entering the season, Marshall was expected to split carries more or less evenly with Thomas, but Thomas had taken the majority of the first-team reps through the first three weeks.
[gn_quote style=”1″]”You never sit down beforehand,” head coach Mark Helfrich said, “and say let’s give this guy number of carries and this guy y number of carries, but we’ve been talking the past couple weeks about trying to balance out the carries between those top three guys.”[/gn_quote]
Marshall finished north of the 100 yard plateau with 89 yards coming on his 11 first quarter touches. Thomas Tyner continued to ease his way into the college game rushing in the neighborhood of 100 yards and a touchdown, but there was room for improvement.
On his first carry of the game Tyner coughed up the football for one of the Ducks two turnovers on the night. At other times Tyner appeared to be one move away from breaking off a huge run, an adjustment that will come with more experience at the college level.
Meanwhile, Bralon Addison took over Thomas’s punt return duties and was as close to perfect as it gets, taking both of his punt returns back for touchdowns, first a 75 yarder, then a 67 yard return that was even more impressive than the first.
“That second run I think he ran 500 yards to go 70 yards,” Aliotti said. “It was incredible.”