The Bruins head back to Berkeley this week to face a team that UCLA has not beat on the road since 1998. In fact, the last time Coach Mora led a UCLA team to Berkeley his team was whipped 43-17 by a pretty horrible team. Despite the recent struggles, UCLA still leads the all-time series against Berkeley 51-32-1, but in order to add to the dominance, Coach Mora is going to have to motivate a squad that saw it's season crash and burn over the past two weeks.
Berkeley is led by Sonny Dykes, a coach that falls under the Mike Leach coaching tree. Dykes has a pretty solid resume, having spent the three years as Head Coach at Louisiana Tech, where he turned a relative nobody into one of the most prolific offenses in college football. Before getting hired there, he was at Texas Tech as a wide receivers coach from 2000-2006 and served as offensive coordinator or co-offensive coordinator his last three years. He then moved to run the offense and coach quarterbacks at Arizona from 2007-2009, the (Nick Foles-Willie Tuitama teams that embarrassed CRN three times). Last season, Dykes opened his tenure at Berkeley with a 1-11 year that had the folks in Strawberry Canyon wondering where their beloved Jeff Tedford had gone. He's turned things around so far this year, opening 4-2, including a 2-2 conference record.
Dykes is an offensive-minded guy, who along with offensive coordinator Tony Franklin has Cal playing at a pretty high level on that side of the ball. The defense was a problem last year, and it seems like more of the same this season. Their DC is Art Kaufman, who replaced Andy Buh in the offseason. Kaufman was previously the DC at Texas Tech and Cincinnati under Tommy Tuberville. Despite the coaching change, Berkeley is giving up over 500 yards per game, most of which is coming through the air where the Bears allow over 400 yards passing per game.
Berkeley has been outstanding at defending returns of kickoffs where they allow only 17 yards per return, and punter Chris Leininger and the coverage team have only allowed 6 of his 25 punts to be returned thus far. The kicking game is solid with placekicker James Langford hitting 7/10 field goal attempts this season.
On the opposite end, Berkeley is averaging nearly 25 yards per kick return, including two touchdowns by Trevor Davis, who is averaging over 40 yards per return. They will also use Khalfani Muhammad, who has elite level trackspeed, on kick returns, and he is averaging over 20 yards per return as well. Kicking the ball deep into or out of the end zone will be crucial on Saturday.
Fire away with any additional thoughts, and be sure to check back in over the next couple of days for our offensive and defensive previews.