Cal Expects to Be Without 3 Offensive Line Starters Again vs. Stanford

Bears running back Christopher Brown Jr., center Michael Saffell questionable for Big Game; tight end Collin Moore, outside linebacker Braxten Croteau could be out too
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It appears Cal will have the same depleted offensive line for Friday's 1:30 p.m.  home game against Stanford that it had in Saturday’s loss to Oregon State, while Bears running back Christopher Brown Jr. and center Michael Saffell remain questionable for the Big Game.

Starting offensive linemen Jake Curhan, Will Craig and Valentino Daltoso did not play against the Beavers as a result of contact-tracing protocols following a positive COVID-19 test of a Cal player.

Brandon Mello, Brayden Rohme and Matthew Cindric replaced the absent linemen, and the substitutes did a pretty good job against Oregon State, at least in the first half.

Head coach Justin Wilcox suspects the Bears will be without their three starting linemen again this week.

“That's what it looks like, just based on the guidelines that we have been given,” Wilcox said in the final seconds of the video below. “We’ll know a little bit more closer to game time, but we’re anticipating that being the case.”

Starting tight end Collin Moore and starting outside linebacker Braxten Croteau were also unavailable for the Oregon State game for unspecified reasons, although it is presumed that they were part of the group undergoing contact-tracing protocols.

Based on the assumption that the contact-tracing players must be quarantined for 14 days, it seems unlikely that any of them will be available for the Stanford game.

The Bears lost a fourth starting offensive lineman in the second quarter of the Oregon State game when Saffell went down with a leg injury. He was on crutches in the second half, but Wilcox has not ruled out the possibility of Saffell playing against Stanford.

“Progress, and Mike is as tough as they come,” Wilcox said in the video above the story, “so we’re hopeful he’ll be available, but we won’t know or announce anything until game time.”

Brown traveled with the team to Oregon State, but after pregame drills, it was decided he would not play against the Beavers. He spent that game on the sidelined, although it appears there is a pretty good chance he will play Friday.

“We’re hopeful,” Wilcox said.

Marvel Dancy (76 yards rushing) and freshman Damien Moore (33 yards) provided a ground-game threat in Brown’s absence. Brown gained just 25 yards on eight carries in the loss to UCLA the previous week.

Cal and Stanford are both 0-2.

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Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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