Who needs to step up vs. California

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Sophomore Anthony Wheeler (center) has made a name for himself among the young Longhorn linebacking corps, but will be challenged by Cal’s short passing attack
Photo Credit: Emmanuel Briseño | Daily Texan Staff

The true freshman gets the first road test of his young career this week in primetime. Buechele appears to be the answer Texas has waited now years for at quarterback. Through two games the newcomer has completed 71.7 percent of his passes for 524 yards, six touchdowns and only one interception that sailed through a receiver’s hands. 

That result is better than what Texas could have hoped for before the season. Buechele appears to have found a very sound strategy — hand it off to the two bruising backs in junior D’Onta Foreman and sophomore Chris Warren III, and keep dropping dimes downfield. The Cal defense has been erratic through two games. The Golden Bears have given up 31 and 45 points to open the season. 

Last year’s game in Austin between Cal and Texas was a shootout, and this year’s game has the potential to be that way again. Buechele and the explosive weapons around him should have little trouble scoring points.

Defensive Ends — Naashon Hughes, Breckyn Hager and Charles Omenihu

Sophomore Breckyn Hager broke onto the scene last week against UTEP, recording a team-high eight tackles and a sack. 

Hager moved from outside linebacker to defensive end, and it paid off. Junior Naashon Hughes and sophomore Charles Omenihu, along with Hager, will all need to help put pressure on Davis Webb. The Cal senior quarterback lit up San Diego State in week two, throwing for 522 yards and five touchdowns. However, he is prone to making mistakes as he also threw three picks last week. This is a game where Texas’ pass rush will have to show up in full force.

Linebackers — Malik Jefferson, Anthony Wheeler

Head coach Charlie Strong stressed that defense is what wins on the road. The best player on this defense is sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson, who also leads the team in tackles. He will need to lead the way and help set the tone early. Jefferson and fellow sophomore Anthony Wheeler will face a tough test in coverage against arguably the most lethal passing attack Texas will face all season. If the Golden Bears abandon the run game early like they’ve been prone to do and resort to short passing, then Jefferson and Wheeler will need to be ready.

Defensive Backs

Cal doesn’t call its offense the “Bear Raid” for nothing. Golden Bear junior Chad Hansen is the nation’s leading receiver. Hansen has 28 catches, 350 yards and three touchdowns through two games and is unquestionably Davis Webb’s favorite target. 

Seven other Cal receivers are averaging at least 11 yards per catch. The Texas secondary will need a great game in pass coverage and will have to tackle well in space to contain this dynamic passing attack.