Owusu's Two Sacks Lead Defensive Effort for Cal
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Category: Sports > Fall > Football
The defense was expected to perform well this past Saturday against Maryland, but not too many could have predicted Ernest Owusu to be one of the key contributors.
Coming into the game with just five career tackles, the sophomore nearly doubled his career output and put his name on the map in Cal's 52-13 victory at Memorial Stadium.
"He might be one of our most improved guys, but I certainly wouldn't have guessed he would've had the production that he got, so it was great to see," defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said.
Owusu's first big play of the game occurred immediately after the start of the second quarter. On a key third-and-5 for the Terrapins, Owusu took down Chris Turner for a loss of three yards after the quarterback attempted to rush to the left side.
That was only the beginning, though, as Owusu accounted for two of the Bears' six sacks on Turner.
"Owusu got off," linebacker Mychal Kendricks said. "He's been waiting for this moment, and we knew he was ready, and he showed it."
In addition to leading the team in sacks, Owusu also had the most tackles for losses Saturday night. Cal had 11 as a team for a combined 54 yards lost by the Terrapins.
Overall, the defense limited Maryland to less than a handful of big plays. The Terrapins didn't score a touchdown until midway through the third quarter. Outside of a 39-yard touchdown run by Da'Rel Scott, Maryland had just 97 yards rushing for the game.
"Honestly, Cal has one of best defensive fronts we'll see all year, so it was a good test for our O-line," Turner said. "It was probably good for our O-line to go up against that and see what they'll be facing all year in a worst case scenario."
The pressure from the defensive front forced a key fumble in the second quarter, leading to a touchdown for the Bears. In addition to causing turnovers, the linemen prevented the Terrapins' offense from completing more than 25 percent of its third-down attempts.
"I thought we pressured the quarterback pretty well a lot of the time and forced him to either throw the ball away or we sacked him, so I thought the defense played well," coach Jeff Tedford said.
In a game that saw the Cal offense throw up 542 yards, the defense did not disappoint and lived up to its offseason hype.
People pointed to the depth in the secondary and the linebacking position, but with his performance, Owusu showed that the defensive line has more weapons than originally believed.
For Owusu, his gameplan was simple.
"I was just getting after the quarterback," Owusu said. "I put a lot of pressure on him. My game is really to just put as much pressure on the quarterback as I could, and I think I did a good job of that."
Contact Jimmy Tran at [email protected]
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