It's Air Raid vs. Bear Raid when Cougars host Cal
NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
Oct. 03, 2014
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Expect a whole lot of offense when Mike Leach pits his "Air Raid" offense against Sonny Dykes' "Bear Raid" on Saturday.
Coming into this weekend's game in Pullman, Leach's Washington State team has the nation's No. 1 passing offense, while Cal's is No. 8. And it's not a coincidence.
Dykes was an assistant to Leach at Texas Tech, where the current Cal coach was schooled in the Air Raid. But the Cal offense features more running plays than Washington State uses.
"Quite a bit different," Leach said this week, referring to the two offenses. "They do some of that double tight stuff that we've messed with over the years. They'll do some quick game, a screen on this side, a quick game on the other side."
"They've got really good receivers and a good quarterback so they do a good job," Leach said.
Washington State (2-3, 1-1 Pac-12) averages 480 yards passing per game, while California (3-1, 1-1) averages 363 yards through the air. A victory would give the Golden Bears their first 4-1 start since the 2008 season.
Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday has already thrown for 2,318 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. Halliday's 78 career touchdown passes are the most in school history.
"You just see he's more and more comfortable every game he plays in," Dykes said. "He's taking better care of the football."
Cal quarterback Jared Goff won several national offensive player of the week honors for throwing seven touchdowns against Colorado in a 59-56 win in double overtime last week. Goff completed 24 of 42 passes for a season-high 458 yards.
"He throws the ball really well," Leach said. "I also think he's a pretty mature guy."
Washington State has played well in three straight games, beating Portland State and Utah and losing narrowly to No. 2 Oregon.
Leach said good practices lead to improvement.
"It's always important to steadily improve your skills," Leach said. "You can constantly be building and improving."
Dykes has been impressed by WSU's play.
"The last two weeks they've come into their own," Dykes said. "They played well against Oregon. I know they were disappointed they didn't find a way to win the game."
Dykes said Cal's offense is still evolving, and will be tested by WSU.
"We're not trying to lead the league in anything other than winning," he said. "We're certainly far from a finished product offensively. This will be in a lot of ways the best defense we've played just because the front is so good."
Things to know when California plays at Washington State:
GROUND GAME: Cal is pretty effective on the ground, averaging 172 yards per game behind top rusher Daniel Lasco. Washington State isn't nearly as productive, rushing for 52 yards a game, last in the Pac-12. But the Cougars have piled up some yardage the past two games behind Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks.
MIKE AND SONNY: Leach and Dykes coached together at Texas Tech and Kentucky. "I see him a couple times a year and we always talk," Leach said. "We've known each other for a long time."
BOMBS AWAY: Cal leads the Pac-12 with an average of 17 yards per completion. Six Cal players are averaging 18 yards or more per catch.
REMEMBERING UTAH: Washington State fell behind 21-0 early at Utah last weekend but recovered to win 28-27. "At Utah, we grew up as men," said linebacker Jeremiah Allison.
"Everyone had that look in their eyes and the determination that we were going to win that game," added offensive lineman Gunnar Eklund.
DOOMED HUMANITY: Asked at his weekly press conference if he had a stereo, Leach replied with a speech about the evils of technology. "I'm not really good with technology," he said. "Conversations won't happen 10 years from now. There aren't going to be people to talk to." Instead, people will communicate remotely with portable devices, he said. "In the end, it's going to be tough to perpetuate the species. There's no question about that. So we're all going to look in this box and eventually be extinct. That's how it ends."