Two teams that have yet to put together a full 60-minute performance hook up Saturday afternoon when California visits TCU in a non-conference football game at Fort Worth, Texas.
The Golden Bears (0-1) began their campaign with a brilliant first quarter, but then saw their offense mostly disappear in a disappointing 22-17 home loss to Nevada last Saturday night.
The Pacific-12 squad will be up against a much more formidable opponent when they duel the Horned Frogs (1-0), whose 45-3 home demolition of Duquesne had to be shortened by six minutes due to the visitors’ uncompetitive effort.
The schools have met just once in football, with TCU claiming a 10-7 overtime victory in the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix.
Chase Garbers was a freshman starter at quarterback that day for Cal, and now he’s a senior with 25 games of experience. He rushed for Cal’s only touchdown in the bowl game.
The Golden Bears looked like a running-game juggernaut against Nevada, marching 63 yards on 15 plays on their first possession, followed by 72 yards on nine plays the second time they had the ball.
After one quarter, Cal led 14-0, having already accumulated 76 rushing yards and a 13:21-1:39 dominance in time of possession.
But Cal didn’t score again until a Dario Longhetto field goal in the third minute of the fourth quarter, and finished the game with just 153 rushing yards. Garbers wound up with more passing attempts (38) than the Golden Bears had runs (27).
“There wasn’t any drastic changes. We really struggled to stay in rhythm after that (first quarter),” Cal coach Justin Wilcox noted. “We didn’t go into the game saying, ‘Hey, in the second and third quarters, we’re not going to run it.’”
Neither did TCU in its win over Duquesne.
Like Cal, the Horned Frogs of the Big 12 Conference scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the season. Unlike Cal, they added three more before halftime once they had the opponent down.
“It was good for us to get started fast and stay on them,” assured junior quarterback Max Duggan, who threw for one score and ran for another. “We didn’t want to play sloppy and make errors. It was a good half, and I was happy with it.”
Ten different Horned Frogs got an opportunity to run the ball, with none gaining more than 54 yards. Four different guys rushed for scores.
Aside from Garbers, several combatants Saturday should be at least vaguely familiar with one another.
Running back Christopher Brooks, then known as Christopher Brown Jr., was Cal’s leading rusher in the Cheeze-It Bowl meeting, while Nikko Remigio, who scored the Golden Bears’ second touchdown against Nevada, was the game’s leading pass-catcher.
Three years later, TCU returns running back Emari Demercado, who rushed for a touchdown against Duquesne, and wideouts Taye Barber and Derius Davis, who combined for 91 yards of receptions in the opener.
–Field Level Media