Cal is off to its first 0-3 conference start under coach Jeff Tedford, and a loss Saturday against Utah would mark another first for the Bears: the first four-game losing streak under Tedford.
Cal (3-3, 0-3 Pac-12 North) fell 30-9 to Southern Cal last week and Tedford felt it was more about the offense than the team’s defense.
“We didn’t put them in a good situation,” Tedford said.
Quarterback Zach Maynard struggled against the Trojans as he failed to throw a touchdown for the first time this season and threw three interceptions.
“It’s his first year in our program,” Tedford said. “He’s done some really good things. Last week, he tried too hard.”
Luckily for the Bears, Utah (3-3, 0-3 Pac-12 South) has also struggled to get any sort of rhythm going in conference play, but is coming off a nonconference win against Pittsburgh.
“They’re very physical,” Tedford said.
That physicality has been in large part to running back John White.
White has rushed for 671 yards and six touchdowns, including 171 yards against Pittsburgh.
But Utah coach Kyle Whittingham knows his team cannot solely rely on the production from White.
“We’ve got to supplement what John White does for us in the running game with something in the passing game,” Whittingham said.
Whittingham also said White has similarities to Cal running back Isi Sofele.
Sofele has settled into his role as the featured running back, running for 543 yards and four touchdowns.
Tedford said Utah defensive end Derrick Shelby will be somebody the Bears will have to keep an eye on Saturday.
“[Shelby’s] one of the top defensive linemen in the conference,” Tedford said.
Shelby already has a career-high 3½ sacks this season, with a 21-yard touchdown interception return.
Cal vs. Utah
WHEN: Saturday, 4 p.m.
WHERE: AT&T Park
TV: Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
RADIO: KGO (810 AM)