GoldenBearReport - Allensworth, Morrow Square Off in Battle of Best Friends
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Allensworth, Morrow Square Off in Battle of Best Friends

Two big things are apparent this week for Darius Allensworth. First, after keeping Cal from being scoreless last Saturday with a nifty fumble return TD, he's in line for more reps for the Bears. Second and probably more importantly, Allensworth gets to play against one of his best friends, who happens to be one of the most versatile offensive players in the Pac-12, Washington State running back Jamal Morrow.

"That's a great dude," Allensworth said, "I've been playing football with him, his first year of football was my second year of football, that's my best friend, talk to him every day, play Xbox with him every day."

Morrow and Allensworth are tied together in Heritage High School football history, as Allensworth was the first from the Menifee high school to earn an FBS scholarship. Morrow was the second, but they've been tied together for longer than that.

"We used to play basketball against each other when we were seven, in San Diego," Allensworth noted. "He moved up to Murrieta/Menifee and then my parents moved up to Murrieta/Menifee in the fifth grade, so at eleven, we became best friends."

They play NBA 2K, Madden, Grand Theft Auto, and Halo together according to Allensworth, who noted that Halo was a big one for the two, but they get the opportunity to compete again tonight, where Allensworth's team is 2-0 when they play (he missed last year's loss with a hamstring injury). As such, a large contingent is making their way up for the Friday night contest.

"We have a lot of people coming up to this game," Allensworth said,"probably over 50 combined between us, so I'm just looking forward to playing the game, coming out with a victory.

"I look forward to having my opportunity to go out on a field and compete against him."

The opportunity for Allensworth wasn't as apparent at the beginning of the year however. While Morrow was scoring game-winning touchdowns early in the year, Allensworth, thought to be one of the cornerstones of the defense going into fall camp, was behind freshmen Cam Bynum and Elijah Hicks on the depth chart.

"It’s about production," defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter noted, "Early on, some of the younger guys were performing better than him, they’ve hit kinda a little bit of a plateau, so he’s earned more reps, and he’s made some plays when he’s had the opportunity."

Those plays involve a couple critical stops against Ole Miss, a 3 and out against Oregon where he made all the tackles during that drive, and the sole touchdown against Washington.

"I had seen the receiver bubble out," Allensworth noted, "I had a guy in front of me, I tried to move the block. Looney did a great job of pursuing, knocked the ball out, and I picked it up. I made up, in my mind, that I’ve got to score and put myself over the top."

On a defense driven by productivity, that play along with his play in weeks prior, brought him back to the top of the depth chart for tonight's game.

"He's done a great job of practicing and getting better," DB coach Gerald Alexander said, "and when he gets his opportunities in the game, just go in there and produce, and make plays, and give us opportunities to get off the field on 3rd down, or make a play for a touchdown like he did last week. He's definitely been a guy who's handled the situation like a true vet, a true professional. Didn't sulk about it, obviously he continued to improve, get his opportunities when he got them, and he's gonna get a good one Friday night."

"He has responded in a great way" DeRuyter added, "Never saw that from him, he’s a guy that kept on working, we told him ‘hey, you never know when you’re going to get that shot again, keep practicing like you’re a starter,’ and he’s getting the opportunities, because we’re constantly evaluating."

That evaluation allowed Allensworth to work his way back into a likely starting role, and while DeRuyter noted that he's seen guys tank because they weren't starting, Allensworth isn't that type of player.

"That's who I am as a person," Allensworth said, "I'm a strong minded person, I don't let anything get to me. Coaches came in, they had their agenda, they thought that was best for the team, and I just let it play out. I wasn't sad or mad about it, I just came into practice each day willing to work, willing to get better, and a lot of Cal fans know what I can do, just had to prove to (the coaches) what I can do."

What he can do is now readily apparent to everyone, and in a week where Alexander has told his defensive backs it's "all legs on deck," Allensworth will have to play up to that to stop Morrow and the Washington State passing attack.