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Cal Preview Box: Bears Will Face Heat at TCU Saturday

Cal hopes to bounce back from season-opening loss and upset the Horned Frogs

Cal will fly two time zones away and play in oppressive Texas heat when the Bears play their first road game of the season at TCU on Saturday afternoon.

Temperatures in the mid-90s and the time change will be factors, but coaches are wary of placing too much emphasis on those things for fear they will become debilitating issues in players’ minds. Cal coach Justin Wilcox addresses his approach in the video atop this story.

September is the warmest month in Berkeley, but the average high temperature is just 76.6 degrees. The bigger issue is TCU, which is a double-digit favorite.

One name on the TCU roster that might be familiar to Cal fans is tight end D’Andre “D.J.” Rogers. He was the highest rated recruit to sign with Cal in the class of 2020. He never enrolled at Cal for unspecified reasons, although those familiar with the Cal program know why. He is now a freshman at TCU, although he is not listed on this week’s TCU depth chart. Rogers had missed practice time after testing positive for COVID-19.

Here are the important facts for Saturday’s contest:

CAL (0-1) vs. TCU (1-0)

SITE: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas

WHEN: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Pacific time (2:20 p.m. Texas time)

TV: ESPNU – Kevin Brown (Play-By-Play), Huston Mason (Analyst)

RADIO: KGO 810 AM -- Joe Starkey (Play-By-Play), Mike Pawlawski (Analyst), Todd McKim (sideline reporter).

BETTING LINE: TCU is favored by 11 points (as of Friday); Over/Under – 47 1/2 points.

WEATHER FORECAST: Saturday afternoon will be sunny in Fort Worth with a high of about 95 degrees and 36 percent humidity. There is no chance of rain, but winds may gust up to 20 mph.

CAL-TCU HISTORY: Cal and TCU have met just once, and that was in the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl. TCU won 10-7 in overtime in a game that featured nine interceptions. Chase Garbers threw three interceptions in the first half and was replaced by Chase Forrest to start the third quarter, even though Forrest had not attempted a pass during the regular season. Forrest threw two interceptions in the second half. TCU quarterback Grayson Muehlstein threw four interceptions, and three of the picks were by Cal safety Jaylinn Hawkins, who now plays for the Atlanta Falcons.

--Click here for a story on Garbers' recollections of that Cheez-It Bowl--

CAL STORYLINES: Cal will try to bounce back from a 22-17 loss at home to Nevada last week in the season opener. The Bears used impressive drives on their first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead, but did little offensively the rest of the game. . . . The Bears need a win to improve their chances of getting a bowl bid. Before the season started, Las Vegas oddsmakers placed the over/under on Cal wins at six, and the loss to Nevada erased one possible win. Most bowl projections after Week 1 do not have the Bears in a bowl game . . . Cal needs to do a better job on punt coverage. Nevada averaged 27.0 yards on its two punt returns, and TCU has one of the best punt-returners in the country in Derius Davis . . . Cal running backs averaged 7.6 yards per carry against Nevada, but the Bears used the running game less after the first quarter. . . . Cal quarterback Chase Garbers averaged just 4.3 yards per passing attempt last week, and the Bears are still looking for the explosive plays that have been absent over the past four seasons . . . Nikko Remigio led the team in receptions with seven last week, but totaled just 22 receiving yards. . . .Cal running back Christopher Brooks averaged 8.3 yards per attempt against Nevada, but had just three carries as he was limited by an unspecified injury. He is expected to play against TCU, although Damien Moore remains the starter after rushing for 79 yards on 15 carries against Nevada. . . . Look for running back DeCarlos Brooks to get more playing time after rushing for 46 yards on just two carries last week.

--Click for a story and videos of Cal offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon on how their units will improve this week--

TCU STORYLINES: TCU  is coming off a 45-3 win over Duquesne, an FCS team. The third and fourth quarters of that game were shortened to 12 minutes . . . The star of the TCU offense is Max Duggan, a dual-threat quarterback who threw for 1,795 yards and 10 touchdowns but also led the team in rushing with 526 yards on the ground and 10 rushing touchdowns. He provides a much different threat to the Cal defense than Nevada quarterback Carson Strong did. (Duggan reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, but we're a little skeptical of that.) . . . . TCU head coach Gary Patterson is considered one of the top defensive coaches in the game and one of the top college head coaches overall. The Horned Frogs have won 11 games or more 10 times in his 20 seasons as TCU’s head coach. That includes a 13-0 season in 2010, when TCU finished ranked No. 2. A statue of Patterson was put up on the TCU campus in 2016, but the Horned Frogs did not win more than seven games in any of the past three seasons. Patterson is 7-0 against Pac-12 teams as TCU's head coach . . . The Horned Frogs were picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 in the preseason poll, although a number of experts see them as a darkhorse to compete for a conference title. . . TCU’s three-year streak of leading the Big 12 in defense ended in 2020, when the Horned Frogs were fourth . . . TCU has four running backs who had at least 22 carries apiece last season and had at least five carries each in the opener last week. . . . The star of TCU’s defense is cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, an AP second-team All-America selection last year. Opponents tend not to throw in his direction. . . .Another TCU cornerback, Noah Daniels, might be even better and is considered a potential first-round NFL draft choice. But he is still working his way back from last year's season-ending leg injury.  He did not play last week and is questionable for this week's game against Cal. . . TCU defensive end Khari Coleman, a Freshman All-American last season when he had 15.0 tackles for loss, did not play in the opener because of an injury and is unlikely to play against Cal. He is not listed on this week’s TCU depth chart.

--Click here for a TCU beat writer answering five questions about the Horned Frogs--

CAL PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Chase Garbers (fourth year as Bears’ starting quarterback, still looking for big-play opportunities); OLB Cameron Goode (just three tackles last week, none for a loss; Cal needs more from him, especially containing Max Duggan); OLB Kuony Deng (also just three tackles last week and no tackles for loss); RB Damien Moore (Cal’s leading rusher with 79 yards last week); RB Christopher Brooks (important part of Cal offensive if he can stay healthy); WR Nikko Remigio (dangerous on punt returns, averaged 12.5 yards on two returns last week); DE JH Tevis (2.5 tackles for loss last week playing opposite Luc Bequette).

TCU PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Max Duggan (third-year starter led team in passing and rushing in 2020); CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (2020 second-team All-American broke up 13 passes last year, had an interception last week); DE Ochaun Mathis (second-team all-Big 12 last year, when he had 9.0 sacks; added a sack last week); WR Derius Davis (led Big 12 in punt return average in 2020, when he returned two punts for touchdowns, one punt return for 23 yards last week); WR Quentin Johnson (averaged 22.1 yards per catch in 2020 as a true freshman, had four catches last week); RB Zach Evans (averaged 7.7 yards per carry last season, but shares time with three other running backs); NT Corey Bethley (313-pounder anchors the middle of the TCU defense).



JAKE'S PICK: Cal 20, TCU 17

JEFF’S PICK: TCU 27, Cal 21

---Click here for Gary Patterson's Tuesday press conference---

---Click here for Part 1 of the Cal season preview: Strengths and Weaknesses---

---Click here for Part 2 of the Cal season preview: Five Questions That Need Answers---

---Click here for Part 3 of the Cal season preview: The Bears' Stars---

---Click here for Part 4 of the Cal season preview: Best-Case and Worst-Case Scenarios for Bears---


Cover photo of TCU football is by Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports


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

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