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Hitting them where they live.

Byline: Ryan Thorburn The Register-Guard

Oregon's visit to Berkeley in two years will have a homecoming theme for Morgan Mahalak.

At least that's the plan, according to California quarterback Jared Goff, a former high school teammate of Mahalak's in the Bay Area.

"We've talked about it," Goff said at the Pac-12 media day event before the season. "My senior year we play Oregon at Cal, which is where we live, our hometown area. If he happens to win the job by then, that would be really cool to play against each other."

Right now, the Marcus Mariota-led Ducks (6-1, 3-1) are preparing to play Cal under the Friday night lights at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (7:15 p.m., Fox Sports 1).

Goff, a sophomore, has already passed for 2,482 yards with 24 touchdowns and four interceptions this season in Sonny Dykes' "Bear Raid" offense. His passing efficiency rating of 167.3 is second among his Pac-12 peers, trailing national leader Mariota (191.0).

Oregon's defense hopes to play better than it did at Washington State, which runs a similar system, when Connor Halliday passed for 436 yards and four touchdowns.

"I think Cal's quarterback does an excellent job of running their offense," defensive coordinator Don Pellum said. "He gets rid of the ball on time, he's not going to let you get to him much, he reads the field really well, he does a nice job pre-snap. ...

"When you play a team that spreads you out and puts the ball all over the place, you have to get extra defenders running to the ball."

The Bears (4-3, 2-3) are averaging 41.6 points per game, which is second in the Pac-12 behind Oregon (43.6 ppg). Running back Daniel Lasco has added some balance to the offense with 523 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

The 6-4, 210-pound Goff was the bright spot during the Bears' dark 1-11 2013 campaign, earning honorable mention all-Pac-12 honors after setting program records for passing yards (3,508) with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He played sparingly during the Bears' 55-16 loss at Oregon last season after having trouble holding onto the ball in the monsoon-like conditions at Autzen Stadium.

"I've learned a lot, I've matured a lot, I've grown a lot physically, mentally, emotionally," Goff said. "It was definitely a great year to learn about college football and what it takes to be great."

The 6-4, 195-pound Mahalak is helping Oregon's defense get prepared this week by simulating his friend Goff on the scout team.

"I think they're similar. They can make plays with both their hands and their feet, and they're good at anticipation," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "I obviously don't know Jared that well, I know him a little bit from limited contact with him, but he's a great kid and a heck of a competitor."

Mahalak, who was a prep star at Marin Catholic High last year after taking the torch from Goff, plans to compete for the starting job when Mariota leaves Oregon for the NFL, whether that's after this season or in 2015.

The Ducks, No. 6 in the Associated Press poll after impressive victories over UCLA and Washington, will host North Division rival Cal at Autzen Stadium next season.

The series, which will be the first college game at the San Francisco 49ers' new stadium on Friday, is scheduled to return to the Cal campus in Berkeley in 2016 when Goff will be a senior and Mahalak will be a redshirt sophomore.

"Morgan is a great dude," Goff said. "I got a chance to play with him for a few years in high school, and he's a really good football player. He's going to help a lot up there at Oregon."

Follow Ryan on Twitter @rgduckfootball. Email
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Title Annotation:Oregon Football; Morgan Mahalak and Jared Goff hope they're facing off when Oregon and Cal play in 2016
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Oct 23, 2014
Previous Article:FOR THE RECORD.
Next Article:Coaches stay calm, cool, collective.

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