Arizona State football faces Cal with Trenton Bourguet back at quarterback
Sep 29, 2023, 1:10 PM
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
After close to a month of regular-season play, Arizona State football is hitting the road.
The Sun Devils (1-3) are traveling to Berkeley, California to take on the California Golden Bears (2-2), riding off improvements from last week’s marathon against now-No. 8 USC.
Exceeding expectations in the team’s 42-28 loss to the Trojans, the vibe in the locker room has shifted.
“I think they can just see how if you put in the work, it actually works,” coach Kenny Dillingham told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday. “If you keep putting in the work, keep showing up with an attitude that you want to be better and you do it on repeat for a long period of time, you’re going to win a lot of football games.”
It’ll be the final Pac-12 meeting for the two teams, with Cal headed to the ACC and Arizona State heading to the Big 12 in 2024. Cal holds an all-time record of 18-17 over Arizona State. Here’s a few pointers to watch out for on Saturday:
Trenton Bourguet will start at QB
It didn’t look too good when quarterback Trenton Bourguet went down grabbing his ankle against Fresno State two weeks ago.
Luckily for the Sun Devils, it was only a minor ankle roll. Bourguet was running with the first team during practice during the week.
“Once I heard it would just take a couple weeks or something like that, I definitely saw big progress within a couple days or so,” Bourguet told reporters on Tuesday. “My goal is to get back for this game, I feel really good and healthy to do so.”
Quarterbacks Jaden Rashada and Drew Pyne are both injured and out for the near future, leaving Bourguet to pick up right where he left off.
In 2022, Bourguet threw 11 touchdowns and six interceptions, completing 71% of his passes. Before going down with the ankle injury, he completed 6 of 8 passing attempts and threw an interception.
Will the offense show up again?
The Sun Devils put on their best offensive display of the season last week against the Trojans.
Despite a season high 28 points last week, the Sun Devils are still last in the Pac-12 and 124th of 130 FBS teams in scoring offense, averaging 16.8 points through four games.
Dillingham took over play-calling duties last week, replacing offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, and will continue to do so this week versus Cal.
Running back Cam Skattebo put on an offensive clinic last week, rushing for 111 yards, completing two of the three passes he attempted for 42 yards, catching four passes for 79 yards and scoring two touchdowns.
The Sacramento State transfer will look to continue being an all-around weapon going forward.
“… In the first few games, I think he was kind of getting his feet wet with this level, with the change. I think last week he really he really snapped into a different mindset,” Dillingham said. “Hopefully he continues that mindset and that way of playing.”
Cal’s quarterback situation
Cal has also faced adversity at the quarterback position.
Golden Bears head coach Justin Wilcox has not announced whether Sam Jackson V or Ben Finley will be Cal’s starting quarterback.
Both quarterbacks have started two games apiece this season. Jackson has completed 57.4% of his passes with four touchdowns, while Finley has completed 62% of his passes with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
With that being said, the Golden Bears will likely continue to utilize their run game. Cal running back Jaydn Ott ranks second in the Pac-12 in rushing, averaging 102.7 yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry.
“They’re running the ball at an elite level right now … they present tempo in the run game,” Dillingham said. “So I think for us, it’s going to be getting down and getting set, getting the call and then playing sound football to stop the run.”
“If we can stop the run, we can limit the vertical pass play action game because that’s who they want to be and if so, it all stems and stopping the run.”
Kickoff for Arizona State-Cal will be at noon Arizona time on the Arizona Sports app, 98.7 and ArizonaSports.com.