Cal’s secondary has been compared to some of the best in the country, but we will find out just how good the Bears’ defensive backs are when they go up against USC’s talented wide receivers on Saturday night in Berkeley.
Cal defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter and head coach Justin Wilcox suggest the Trojans’ receiving corps may be the best in the nation, and they showed their ability while dominating Utah’s strong defense on Sept. 20. Despite close coverage and sometimes being double-teamed, USC’s big and skilled wide receivers made big play after big play in the Trojans’ 30-23 victory led by USC’s third-string quarterback, Matt Fink.
USC’s 6-foot-4, 220-pound receiver Michael Pittman Jr. had 10 catches for 232 yards and a touchdown in that game. He is the receiver who gets the most attention, but he is not the only star in that group. Amon-Ra St. Brown had eight catches or 112 yards and a score against Notre Dame, and last week he had eight receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown in the win over Arizona State.
Finally there is 6-foot-2, 190-pound Tyler Vaughns, who has surpassed 10 yards in receiving three times this season. Vaughns is questionable for Saturday’s game because of an injury, but USC is loaded at the position even if he doesn’t play.
“Arguably the best receiving corps in the entire country,” Cal defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said. “You’ve got guys in Vaughns and St. Brown and Michael Pittman that are physical freaks that are going to be playing on Sunday; unfortunately they’re playing Saturday.”
Cal head coach Justin Wilcox is complimentary regarding USC freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis, saying in the video below, “Looks like he’s in total control for a freshman, which is pretty impressive.”
But Wilcox takes the praise up a notch when discussing the Trojans’ receivers.
“That receiver group – and I don’t know what else is out there in the country – but the talent and the ability in that group I got to think is as good as anybody,” Wilcox said. “I mean, those are NFL players.
“They get them the ball whether it’s the timing passing game, whether it’s mesh, down the field, which they do, they want to launch it and throw it deep and test people vertically, which they’ve had a lot of success in.
“They’ll throw it up, when people think, when you look at the video, if you’re looking at just an X and an O, you’d say it’s a 50-50 ball, but they haven’t been 50-50 balls for them. They’ve been much higher percentage, because those guys go up and get it or run past somebody.”