BERKELEY — Cal left tackle Freddie Tagaloa had several of the Bears' running backs come at him as pass rushers in practice this week to simulate the speed he will encounter tonight against UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr.
That's appropriate because Barr is so fast that he actually has played running back for the Bruins, starting seven games as a sophomore in 2011.
“I'm very confident,” Tagaloa said, “but I've got to respect his speed.”
Tagaloa, a 6-foot-8, 330-pound sophomore from Richmond, might not have a greater challenge all season than Barr.
“This is a game you get up for,” he said.
A first-team All-Pac-12 and second-team Associated Press All-America selection last year, Barr entered this fall as a consensus preseason All-America pick. He is considered first-round NFL draft material.
Last season, after being moved permanently to defense, Barr was second in the nation with 13 sacks. He has three this season, despite the fact he was asked to contain running quarterbacks, not chase after them, in the Bruins' games against Nebraska and Nevada.
A 6-4, 248-pounder, Barr also has forced three fumbles, an area of concern for Cal. The Bears are among the most fumble-prone teams in the country, losing nine in five games.
Tagaloa, who is responsible for protecting the backside of quarterback Jared Goff, said one thing jumps off the video screen when he watches Barr.
“His speed. Speed kills,” Tagaloa said. “I see him get by defenders, dip his shoulder real low, and just how quick he is off the ball.”
The Bears' prolific passing attack can deliver against the No. 11 Bruins, Tagaloa said, if he and his offensive line mates merely provide Goff a few seconds.
“As we've seen, when we give him time, most of the time it's a big play.”
Tagaloa believes he is more ready for the assignment now than a couple weeks ago, when his inconsistent play led coach Sonny Dykes to open up competition for his spot during the Bears' bye week. Tagaloa refocused and retained his job.
“It was something I needed, honestly. You become complacent and think you have the job,” Tagaloa said. “Everybody needs a wake-up call, and I thank Sonny Dykes for doing that.”
Cal's Oct. 19 home game against Oregon State will kick off at 7:30 p.m. The game will be carried on ESPN2 or ESPNU, to be announced next week.