Cal Hosts No. 3 USC Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 22, 2003
USC Trojans (3-0, 0-0 Pac-10) at California Golden Bears (2-3, 0-0 Pac-10)
Saturday, Sept. 27, Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA
3:30 p.m. PT
Radio: KGO (810 AM) with Joe Starkey, Lee Grosscup and Mike Pawlawski
TV: Fox Sports Net with Steve Physioc and Tom Ramsey
This Week's Game
After facing a non-conference schedule that included three road trips and three games against teams that participated in bowl games last year, California begins the Pac-10 portion of its 2003 slate with the league favorite - third-ranked USC - Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.
The Golden Bears put a scare into the Trojans during their Pac-10 co-championship run last season, jumping out to a 21-3 lead before eventually falling, 30-28, in the L.A. Coliseum. Still, Cal has won three of its past five meetings with the Trojans, including a 17-7 decision in Berkeley in 1999.
This year's Bear unit rebounded from two disappointing losses to hold off a fast-charging Illinois eleven last Saturday in Champaign. Cal held fourth-quarter leads over both Colorado State and Utah, but succumbed in the closing minutes of both contests. Against the Illini, the Bears built a 31-14 advantage, only to watch Illinois score 10 points to close within 31-24 with under two minutes left. The Illini then recovered an onsides kick and drove to the Cal 8-yard-line with four seconds to go. However, junior LB Wendell Hunter broke through on a blitz and sacked QB Jon Beutjer for an eight-yard loss on the game's final play to preserve the victory.
Hunter recorded a career-best 15 stops in the contest, including three sacks. For the year, he ranks second on the team in total tackles (40), tackles for loss (4.5) and quarterback sacks (4.0). The leader in all three categories is sophomore ROV Donnie McCleskey, who tops the Bears with 54 tackles, 9.0 for loss and 5.5 sacks - the latter figure a school record for a Cal defensive back.
Offensively, sophomore Aaron Rodgers performed well in his first start, completing 20-of-37 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown. This season, the Butte JC transfer has connected on 58.2 percent (46-79) of his attempts for 623 yards, four touchdowns and, perhaps most importantly, no interceptions.
Junior WR Geoff McArthur has been the primary target down field, already hauling in 35 catches for 625 yards and six touchdowns. He has topped 100 yards in receiving three times in five games, including 169 yards against Kansas State and 155 more at Illinois. The receiving corps got a further boost with the return of senior Jonathan Makonnen last week. Out three games with a thigh injury, Makonnen, who was Cal's leading pass-catcher in 2002, had three receptions for 68 yards vs. the Illini.
USC owns a 56-29-5 advantage against the Bears. However, Cal has held its own in recent years, winning three of the past five and four of the last seven contests. Last season, Cal narrowly missed another win in Los Angeles, building a 21-3 lead in the second quarter. USC, though, battled back for a 30-28 triumph behind 176 rushing yards by TB Sultan McCullough.
A Quick Look at USC
USC has won 11 straight games dating back to last season, its longest streak since the 1979-80 seasons. The Trojans are led by a defense that is allowing just 50.7 yards per game on the ground, 1.9 yards per rush and no rushing touchdowns. Through three games, USC is already +6 in turnover margin and has recorded 14 sacks. Six different players have picked off a pass, while five different defenders have recovered a fumble. LB Lofa Tatupu leads the charge, averging nine tackles per game, including three sacks.
On offense, USC has replaced Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer with Matt Leinart. The southpaw has played efficiently in the early going, completing 60.0 percent of his passes for 647 yards, including six for touchdowns. Sophomore WR Mike Williams, a second team All-Pac-10 choice last season, has a team-high 21 catches for 298 yards and four scores. Keary Colbert has caught the other two TD passes.
Jeff Tedford, California (Fresno State '83), who directed Cal to its first winning football season (7-5) in nine years and the nation's biggest one-year turnaround in the regular season in 2002, owns a 9-8 mark in his second season as head coach of the Golden Bears. After taking over as the program's 32nd head coach in December 2001, he transformed Cal from a 1-10 team in 2001 to a 7-5 club last year. A vote of his fellow conference coaches awarded him the 2002 Pac-10 Coach of the Year award. Tedford arrived at Cal after four highly successful seasons at Oregon, where he served as offensive coordinator and helped the Ducks to a combined 38-10 record, including an 11-1 mark in 2001 when Oregon won the Pac-10 championship and earned a No. 2 national ranking. Tedford began his coaching career in 1989 as an offensive assistant with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders. In 1992, he returned to his alma mater, Fresno State, as quarterback coach. A year later, he was elevated to offensive coordinator, a position he held through 1997. A native of Downey, Calif., Tedford was a record-setting quarterback as a player at Fresno State, graduating with a degree in physical education in 1983.
Pete Carroll (Pacific '73) is in his third season with the Trojans after leading USC to an 11-2 record, including an Orange Bowl victory over Iowa, last year. He began his coaching career at Pacific in 1974, before moving to Arkansas, Iowa State, Ohio State, North Carolina State and back to Pacific. Carroll then made the jump to the NFL as defensive backs coach at Minnesota, a position he held from 1985-89. After spending the next four seasons as defensive coordinator with the New York Jets, he took over as the Jets' head coach in 1994 (6-10). Carroll was defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers from 1995-96, and served as head coach at New England from 1997-99 (27-21) before going to USC in 2001.
IKON Office Solutions Play of the Week
Each week throughout the 2003 football season, IKON Office Solutions salutes the Golden Bear Play of the Week. At Illinois, senior Vincent Strang returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown, giving Cal a 21-7 lead just before halftime.
The Times Player of the Game
Each week throughout the 2003 football season, the Contra Costa Times will recognize the Cal Player of the Game. In the Illinois contest, junior LB Wendell Hunter rang up 15 tackles, including three sacks. His final sack came on the last play of the game, with Illinois threatening to tie the score on the Cal 8-yard-line.
California Relishes 'Road Warriors' Role Under Tedford; Bears Topple 2nd Big Ten Opponent During Coach's 2-Year Tenure
One of the early trademarks of a Jeff Tedford-coached team is a winning record on the road. Saturday's 31-24 win at Illinois only followed a pattern set in the coach's first season in Berkeley. Last year, the Golden Bears etched a 3-2 mark on foreign soil, registering away victories over three nationally-ranked opponents for the first time in school history with triumphs over No. 12 Washington (34-27), No. 15 Michigan State (46-22) and No. 25 Arizona State (55-38). Prior to Tedford's arrival, Cal had posted a combined 3-14 ledger in road games over the previous three seasons. Tedford's troops are 1-2 thus far on the road this fall, having dropped a 42-28 decision to then-nationally No. 5 ranked Kansas State in the Aug. 23 season opener at the BCA Classic in Kansas City and also close-shaved at Utah, 31-24, Sept. 11.
Golden Bears' Last 3 Games Decided in Final 2 Minutes; Club Only 2 Defensive Stops Away from Possible 4-1 Record
Saturday's win was sweet, indeed, for the Golden Bears, as it halted a two-game losing streak and ended a recent trend of Cal's defense coughing up late leads. When Wendell Hunter sacked Illinois quarterback Jon Beutjer on the game's final play, it sealed a much-needed Cal victory. The win came on the heels of two straight losses in which Cal roared back from two-touchdown deficits in the third quarter to claim short-lived leads over both Colorado State Sept. 6 and Utah Sept. 11, only to lose both games by slim margins. The Golden Bears, trailing 20-7 in the fourth quarter against visiting Colorado State, stormed back with two Reggie Robertson-to-Geoff McArthur touchdown strikes of six and 17 yards in the span of five-and-a-half minutes to give Cal a 21-20 lead with 6:34 left in the game. But the Rams, fueled by the brilliant passing and running of 2002 MWC Offensive Player of the Year Bradlee Van Pelt (317 yards passing/60 rushing), rallied in the final two minutes to set up a game-winning 32-yard field goal by placekicker Jeff Babcock. Then in Salt Lake City Sept. 11, the Bears wiped out a 21-7 Utah cushion by scoring 17 unanswered points in the third period. But the Utes regrouped to ring up 10 straight points in the fourth quarter, including a 14-yard winning TD run by Brandon Warfield with only 1:06 left on the clock. For California head coach Jeff Tedford, who now owns a 9-8 overall record since arriving in Berkeley last season, his Bears have endured four losses by seven points or less in his brief Cal career (including three by two-point margins-a 30-28 tear-jerker at USC last year and a pair of 23-21 decisions to visiting Air Force in 2002 and Colorado State this year). In fact, Tedford's eight defeats at Cal over the past two years have been decided by an average of 7.2 points.
Rifle-Armed JC Transfer Aaron Rodgers Emerges as QB Force with Impressive 263-Yard Starting Debut for Bears
Belying the fact that he was starting his first major college football game, sophomore quarterback Aaron Rodgers had the look of a veteran as he guided the Bears to a critical win at Illinois. Named a third team JC All-American at Butte College last year, Rodgers completed 20-of-37 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown and has still not thrown an interception this season-a current streak of 79 attempts without a pick. He relieved Reggie Robertson, who started the first four games of 2003, late in the first quarter of the Utah contest Sept. 11, hitting on 15-of-25 attempts for 224 yards and two TDs. Rodgers further solidified his position at QB by shredding the Illini for an eye-popping 236 yards on 17-of-28 passing in the first half alone last week. For the season, Rodgers is now completing 58.2 percent of his passes (46-of-79) for 623 yards, four TDs and no interceptions. Despite losing Kyle Boller to the pros (first round, Baltimore Ravens), the Cal passing game under Tedford continues to roll. The Bears are averaging 258.4 yards through the air this year, which ranks fifth in the Pac-10, with Rodgers and backup Robertson (52-85, 61.2%, 669 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INT) combining for a .597 completion percentage (98-of-164) for 1,292 yards, 12 TDs and three interceptions. Robertson (151.29, 20th) and Rodgers (141.8, 34th) both rank among the nation's Top 35 in passing efficiency.
California Junior Wideout Geoff McArthur Leads NCAA Division I-A in Receiving Yards Through 5 Contests
Off to a blazing start, junior wide receiver Geoff McArthur has hunted down 35 passes for 625 yards and six touchdowns--all team highs--in the Bears' first five games. Those numbers translate into some gaudy early-season averages of 7.0 receptions (3rd Pac-10, 17th NCAA), 125.0 yards (2nd Pac-10, 6th NCAA) and 17.9 yards per catch. His 625 total receiving yards rank first among all NCAA Division I-A receivers, while his six TD grabs are tied for second nationally. He caught a career-high 10 passes for 155 yards and one TD last weekend at Illinois, the most catches by a Cal receiver since Dameane Douglas snared 13 vs. Stanford in 1998. Remarkably, McArthur had already cashed in nine receptions for 143 yards by halftime. He has caught eight passes or more three times this season, tracking down eight for a career-high 169 yards at Kansas State (including a career-best 65-yard TD grab), eight for 130 and two TDs at Utah, and his 10-for-155 effort last Saturday. His 169-yard performance at K-State was the most receiving yards by a Cal player in six years (Bobby Shaw, 11 rec. for 204 yards at Houston, 1997). Interestingly, McArthur was well on his way to a big year in 2002, averaging 6.0 caches and 60 yards per game over his first five contests, but a hamstring injury limited him to one start and six receptions in the final seven games of the season.
With Only 2 Starters Back from 2002, Still-Improving Cal Defense Yielding 418.4 Yards Per Game to Rank 9th in the Pac-10
Still a work in progress, California's defense continues to show signs of both growth and inexperience. Featuring nine new starters from last year's unit, the Golden Bears have weathered a choppy early season. Allowing 418.4 yards and 24.4 points per outing, the Bears' D has performed relatively well in three games this year. Cal spun a defensive shutout (34-2) against Southern Miss in its Aug. 30 home opener, and held Colorado State and Illinois-both potentially explosive clubs-to 23 and 24 points, respectively.
Bears Eyeing 1st Win Over Top 5 Ranked Team in 28 Years, Seeking 1st Victory Over Nation's No. 3 Club Since 1951
If the Golden Bears were to score an upset victory over the nationally No. 3 ranked (AP/ESPN/USA Today) Trojans, it would mark the first time a California football team has beaten a Top 5 opponent in 28 years. And who was the opponent in 1975? Why, the USC Trojans. Led by Chuck Muncie and Joe Roth, that '75 Co-Pac-10 Champion Cal team led the nation in total offense and ambushed the Trojans at Berkeley's Memorial Stadium, 28-14. The last time Cal had played a Top 5 club was 2001, when the Bears lost 56-17 at No. 4 ranked UCLA. However, the Bears have not played a school ranked this high since 1998, when they lost, 28-16, to a visiting UCLA team that was listed second in the AP poll. The last time they beat a team ranked this high was 52 years ago, when the Bears upset nationally No. 3 ranked Stanford, 20-7, in the 1951 Big Game on the Farm. The Trojans enter this Saturday's game having won 11 straight games dating back to last year, the school's longest victory skein since 1979-80 and the second-longest current streak in the country behind Ohio State (18).
With QBs Palmer & Boller Gone, USC/Cal Offenses Still Produce
A year ago, USC rode the right arm of Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer to the Pac-10 and Orange Bowl championship. And one season ago, All-Pac-10 second team quarterback Kyle Boller spearheaded Cal's first winning season (7-5) in nine years. Of course, Palmer and Boller-selected first (Cincinnati Bengals) and 19th (Baltimore Ravens) overall in the 2003 NFL Draft's first round-have departed to the pros this fall. But if you expected a large dropoff in offensive production for both schools, you would be mistaken. Cal has experienced a slight increase in offensive yardage categories, but is averaging 8.0 less points per game. USC, meanwhile, is significantly down in yardage figures, but actually has enjoyed more success in the most important category-points scored (where it leads the Pac-10).
What's the Rush? Cal's Running Game to Face No. 4 Defense
California's ground game, which averages 119.4 per game (6th Pac-10, 85th NCAA) through five contests, will collide with the nation's No. 4 defense vs. the rush. In its first three games this season, USC has parceled out only 50.7 ground yards per tilt and just 1.9 yards per rush. The Trojans have not allowed a rushing touchdown in the past 22 quarters, dating back to their 2002 Orange Bowl season, while no opposing rusher has gained 100 yards in the past 16 games. Six starters return from the '02 defense, including linebacker Matt Grootegoed, a 2002 first team All-Pac-10 choice who reeled off 81 tackles and a team-high eight sacks last year, and defensive end Kenechi Udeze, a 2002 second team All-Pac-10 selection who pocketed 44 tackles, forced a team-high six fumbles and bagged seven-and-a-half sacks.
Sophomore McCleskey Already Vying for Post-Season Honors With Team-Leading 54 Tackles, 5.5 Sacks & 9 Tackles for Loss
Donnie McCleskey's resume is growing-fast. Making a remarkable transformation from high school running back to the college secondary, McCleskey averaged 5.4 tackles in starting the Bears' final seven games at rover as a true freshman last year. A member of The Sporting News' Pac-10 All-Freshman Team, he finished the season with 45 tackles, five pass break-ups and one interception. After five games this year, McCleskey has clearly established himself as one of the premier sophomores in college football. Flying around with reckless abandon, he has already posted 54 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 9.0 tackles for losses of 41 yards-all team-leading figures-while emerging as one of the Pac-10's finest players. The 5-10, 180-pound defender has been a one-man wrecking crew the past four weeks. Against Southern Miss, he swarmed for a game-high 14 tackles, including two sacks and four tackles for losses of 19 yards. Versus Colorado State, he nailed a team-high nine tackles, two sacks and three tackles for losses of 14 yards, while forcing a key fourth-quarter fumble that led to Cal's go-ahead TD. And he has swarmed for 13 stops at Utrah and 12 more at Illinois. Remarkably, after only five games, McCleskey has already set the school record for most sacks by a DB in a season. The previous mark was held by CB Nnamdi Asomugha, the Oakland Raiders' first-round pick this year, who had three sacks in 2000. McCleskey currently has more sacks (5.5) than any other defensive back in NCAA Division I-A football this year, while his tackles-for-loss figure (9.0) ranks among the nation's leaders for a defensive back. Overall, his 10.8 tackles-per-game average is the second-best mark for all Pac-10 players.
Starting Freshman CB Tim Mixon (Knee) Lost for the Season
Cal's defense received a big blow last week when it was learned that starting redshirt-freshman cornerback Tim Mixon had suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. Mixon, who was beginning to resemble last year's Cal freshman of the year, Donnie McCleskey, before the injury was sustained in the Utah game, will undergo season-ending surgery this week. In the team's first three games of 2003, Mixon bagged 14 tackles and one sack, and had broken up a team-high five passes. He has been replaced in the starting lineup by senior CB James Bethea.
2nd Quarters Tell the Tale of Cal's Victories This Season
Colossal second quarters have spelled the difference in both Cal victories this year. In the 34-2 triumph over Southern Mississippi, the Bears outscored the Golden Eagles by a whopping 20-0 count in the second period. And in last weekend's stirring win in Champaign, California out-pointed the Ilini, 14-0, in the second stanza. Yet, while the Bears hold a 34-0 edge in second quarters in their victories, they have been outscored 31-14 in the second periods of their three losses.
Yo Vinny! Cal's 150-Pound Strang Comes Up Big in Illinois Win
While he only weighs 150 pounds--up from a playing weight of 137 pounds last season--senior Vince Strang plays much bigger. The senior wide receiver/punt returner has already scored three touchdowns this season in part-time work. Filling in for the injured Mixon last week in Illinois, Strang returned five punts for 107 yards, including an electrifying, change-of-field 69-yard TD scamper with only 23 seconds left before halftime that gave Cal what seemed to be a commanding 21-7 lead. Thus far this year, Strang has also caught 10 passes for 137 yards and two TDs in reserve. And his early 17.83 yards per punt return ranks first in the Pac-10 and ninth in the NCAA.
Toler & Strang Pick Up Slack for Injured WR Makonnen
Junior Burl Toler III and Strang, both of whom entered Cal as walk-on wide receivers, have performed surprisingly well to pick up the slack left by the injured senior Jonathan Makonnen, last year's team reception leader (54 rec., 682 yds., 7 TDs). With Makonnen out for three games until returning Saturday at Illinois, Toler (15-194, 0 TDs) and Strang (10-137, 2 TDs) have shouldered the load, combining for 25 receptions, 331 yards and two scores this fall. Toler is the son of ex-Cal linebacker great Burl Toler Jr. (another Cal walk-on, now a Bay Area architect) and grandson of former USF football legend and long-time NFL game official Burl Toler Sr.
Averaging Nearly 5 Yards Per Carry, Echemandu & Arrington Provide Potent 1-2 Ground Punch for Cal's Offense
Despite inexperience at key positions like quarterback and running back, the Cal offense is averaging 27.6 points and 377.8 yards per game in registering a 2-3 record after five games. Besides the consistent quarterback play of sophomore JC transfer Aaron Rodgers and returning junior Reggie Robertson, it has been the tailback tandem of senior Adimchinobe Echemandu and junior J.J. Arrington that has been an early-season revelation. In Week Two, Cal's rushing game steamrolled Southern Mississippi's nationally acclaimed defense for 260 yards on 48 carries, as Echemandu (formerly Joe Echema) and JC transfer Arrington became the first Cal tandem to rush for 100 yards in the same game since 1993. Echemandu, returning to the lineup after a two-year absence due to personal reasons, bolted for a career-high 127 yards on 17 carries against the Golden Eagles, including a 60-yard touchdown that was the longest run from scrimmage by a Cal back since the year 2000 (Joe Igber, 80 yards at Arizona State). Arrington, who transferred from College of the Canyons this year, topped his two-touchdown game in the Kansas State opener with a 114-yard, 16-carry effort against Southern Miss. While neither back has pierced the 100-yard mark in their last three games, they still lug impressive numbers into this week's Pac-10 opener against USC. They have combined to score six touchdowns and rush for 538 yards on 109 carries (4.93 yards per carry). Echemandu is averaging 5.23 yards per carry this season, netting 345 yards and three touchdowns on 66 attempts. He carved up Illinois for 64 yards on 12 attempts in the second half Saturday after managing only four yards on four carries in the first 30 minutes of the game. The 6-0, 225-pound back currently ranks fifth among Pac-10 rushers with a 69.0 yards-per-game average. And Arrington-who also has snared eights passes for 47 yards and two TDs-is gaining 4.49 yards per carry with 193 yards on 43 attempts.
An Appendectomy Behind Him, Freshman Brandon Sanders Provides Critical Interception to Repel Illini's 2nd Half Surge
After complaining of stomach discomfort the previous night, true freshman cornerback Brandon Sanders underwent an emergency appendectomy early on the morning of Cal's season opener against Kansas State. As he lay in a hospital bed in Overland Park, Kan., little did he know that four weeks later he would make one of the defensive plays of the early season. With Illinois having already closed the gap to 21-14 and driving for a possible tying score in the third quarter, young Sanders picked off a Jon Beutjer pass at the Illinois 44-yard line and returned it 18 yards to the Illini 26. That play set up another Cal score moments later when Echemandu punched it in from five yards out to give the Bears a 28-14 lead.
All-Pacific-10 Conference Candidate Mark Wilson Anchors California's Veteran Offensive Line at Left Tackle
With 39 starts to his credit entering Saturday morning's game at Illinois, senior offensive tackle Mark Wilson ranks first among all Pac-10 offensive linemen and tied for third in the nation for most career starts. Wilson, voted All-Pac-10 honorable mention last year, is the quiet leader of a veteran offensive line that appears to be one of the strengths of the 2003 California Bears. Thus far, Wilson and his fellow starting interior linemen-tackle Chris Murphy, center Nolan Bluntzer, and guards Jonathan Giesel and Ryan O'Callaghan-have opened up holes for 597 rushing yards and have protected quarterbacks Rodgers and Robertson for 1,292 passing yards. While admittingly facing some of the nation's best defensive clubs thus far, the Cal O-Line has yielded 13 sacks in the first five games. However, they have allowed only three sacks over their last two games vs. Utah (one) and Illinois (two).
Senior Tyler Fredrickson 1st Starting Punter-Kicker at California Since Ryan Longwell in 1996
When senior Tyler Fredrickson replaced JC transfer Lucas Everett at punter in the second quarter of the Southern Miss game Aug. 30, it marked the first time in seven years that a Cal player as done double duty as the No. 1 punter and placekicker. From 1994-96, Ryan Longwell handled both chores and still ranks in the school's Top 10 in both punting (5th, 41.9 avg.) and kick scoring (9th, 177 points). Longwell, now the long-time NFL kicker with Green Bay, was brilliant as a Cal senior in '96 with a 45.2-yard punting average and 70 points, including 11 of 16 in field goal attempts. Fredrickson, a film major who has already held summer jobs at George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch and Dreamworks Studio, averaged 39.5 yards per punt last year, including seven punts of 50 yards or better and 19 boots that landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Thus far in 2003, Fredrickson has had mixed results in both roles, averaging 38.1 yards per punt while connecting on 16 of 16 PATs and four-of-eight field goal attempts. He comes off a solid effort at Illinois, where he converted his only field goal try-a 32-yarder that lifted Cal into a 31-14 fourth-quarter lead-and despite averaging only 36.4 yards punting, booted four of his seven punts inside the Illini's 20-yard line (including balls downed at the six, seven and twice at the eight). Three of his four field goal misses this year have been narrow misses-two have hit the goal post upright (a 48-yarder vs. So. Miss and 32-yarder at Utah), while another narrowly missed from 54 yards out at Utah.
Cal Seeks to Continue Recent Trend vs. SoCal Schools
While USC (56-29-5) and UCLA (46-24-1) own sizeable edges over Cal in the two schools' all-time series records, the Golden Bears have fared well in recent years against their cross-state rivals. California, which traditionally features many players from the Southland, halted a three-game losing streak to the schools down south when the Bears beat UCLA, 17-12, in Berkeley last Oct. 19. Even with that recent three-game skid, Cal still has won six of its last 10 meetings with its intrastate rivals. What's more, despite last year's 30-28 loss at USC, the Bears boast a 4-3 record in their last seven outings vs. USC, including winning three of the last five meetings.
Last-Minute Trojan Win Has Cal Wondering What Might Have Been
Last year's 30-28 loss to USC was truly a bitter pill for an upstart Cal football team to swallow. The Bears, who had just improved their record to 4-2 with a 34-27 upset victory over nationally No. 12 ranked Washington in Seattle the previous week, stormed out to a 21-3 second-quarter lead over USC in the Los Angeles Coliseum on Oct. 12. Kyle Boller was carving up the Trojans' vaunted defense at will, as the Bears-one of the nation's Cinderella stories after a catastrophic 1-10 season in 2001-appeared on the verge of their second straight upset. However, Carson Palmer and the Trojans righted their ship, responding with two touchdowns before intermission to pull within 21-17. When the second half began, USC blew by the Bears to claim a 27-21 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Then, with 3:23 left in the game, Cal forced a USC fumble on the Bears' 19-yard line. Jeff Tedford's troops had a chance to regain the lead, but a Boller interception pass squelched any comeback notions. After the Trojans widened their lead to 30-21 with another field goal, Boller did connect with tight end Tom Swoboda with a five-yard TD strike with 35 seconds left. A Mark Jensen extra point shaved the lead to 30-28. Jensen then tried an on-side kick, but USC recovered to clinch the hard-fought contest. It marked the Bears' second two-point loss in four weeks, causing the Cal faithful to wonder what might have been, as a 7-5 final record could very well have been better.
Cal's D-Line Dumps USC Passers for 27 Sacks in Last 5 Meetings
From future NFL first-round end Andre Carter (school-record 31 career sacks) from 1997-2000 to the Pac-10's best pass-rushing tandem of ends Tully Banta-Cain (13 sacks) and Tom Canada (12) last year, the California defensive line has been a constant source of irritation for USC's quarterbacks. Over the past five meetings, Cal has averaged 5.4 sacks per game. The Bears reeled off six sacks in the 1998 meeting with USC, followed by sack totals of nine in 1999, seven in 2000, two in '01 and three in '02.
USC Series is Cal's 2nd Longest Running Pac-10 Rivalry
In the history of Cal football, the Bears-Trojans series is the school's second-longest running rivalry among Pac-10 opponents. This Saturday marks the 91st renewal of the series, with USC holding a 56-29-5 edge. The only Cal series that features more meetings is the Big Game with Stanford (105 games, Cardinal leading 54-40-11).
Cal Features 56 Players, 3 Coaches from SoCal
As has been the norm for many years, the Cal football program is bloated with Southern California refugees. No less than 56 Golden Bear football student-athletes have called or do call the Southland their home. The most accomplished include WR Geoff McArthur, who was named the Los Angeles Times' Westside High School Player of the Year at Pacific Palisades High after catching 91 passes for 1,779 yards (a state mark) and 28 TDs in 1999; RB Adimchinobe Echemandu (formerly Joe Echema), a prep All-American at Hawthorne High; RB Marcus O'Keith, another prep All-American who led Narbonne High to the CIF 3-A division title; DB Donnie McCleskey, the Los Angeles Times San Gabriel Valley Region Player of the Year who, as a running back, rushed for 2,236 yards and 29 TDs as a senior at Bishop Amat High; DE Monte Parson, former two-time first team All-City performer for Carson High; LB Wendell Hunter, the Los Angeles Times City Player of the Year for Carson High; and DB Tim Mixon, a member of the Long Beach Press-Telegram's 2001 Dream Team at Dominguez High. On the sidelines, Cal coaches who hail from SoCal include head coach Jeff Tedford, who played QB at Warren High in Downey and later at Cerritos College; WR coach Eric Kiesau, born in Pasadena and later coached at Moorpark High and Glendale CC; and defensive line coach Ken Delgado, the former defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at San Diego State.
Trojans Feature 9 Players, 5 Coaches with NorCal Roots
On the other sideline, USC features nine players and five coaches with some Northern California roots. The student-athletes include defensive backs Kevin Arbet (Stockton, St. Mary's HS), Forrest Mozart (Los Altos Hills, St. Francis HS), Ronald Nunn (San Mateo, CC of San Francisco), Brandon and Ryan Ting (both Woodside, James Logan HS) and Eric Wright (San Francisco, Riordan HS), wide receiver D. Hale (Sacramento, Hiram Johnson HS), defensive end Omar Nazel (Oakland, Skyline HS), and linebacker Thomas Williams (Vacaville, Vacaville HS). The USC coaching staff's Bay Area connection starts with head coach Pete Carroll, a San Francisco native who became a three-sport star at Redwood High School in Larkspur. Carroll later attended the University of the Pacific, twice earning All-Pacific Coast Conference honors at free safety, and also served as defensive coordinator for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers in 1995-96. Other SC coaches from NorCal: Greg Burns (attended San Jose State), Tim Davis (Castro Valley HS), Nick Holt (Bellarmine Prep in San Jose) and Brennan Carroll (Saratoga HS).
USC, Cal Enjoy Top '03 Recruiting Classes in State of California
Following their banner season, it was no surprise that USC enjoyed an equally impressive recruiting season. But what may be surprising is the success that Cal football experienced in the 2003 recruiting wars. On National Letter of Intent Day, USC landed 20 of the Top 100 players in the state of California, according to Rivals.com. That figure was far-and-away No. 1 among the nation's colleges. However, Cal-coming off the nation's biggest turnaround season from 1-10 in 2001 to 7-5 in '02-garnered 14 of the state's Top 100 high school recruits, according to the same recruiting web site, to rank second. In fact, no other college in the country signed more than six of California's Top 100, based on Rivals.com's rankings. What's more, according to another national recruiting service, PrepStar magazine, Tedford's Golden Bears ranked 13th in the nation in the final 2003 recruiting analysis.
Football is All in the Family for 5 Trojan Players
Fives Trojan players have rich football bloodlines. Cornerback Kevin Arbet is the stepson of former USC wide receiver Jeff Simmons, who caught a then school-record 106 passes during his Trojan career. Another cornerback, Willie Buchanon, is the son of ex-San Diego State All-American and three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Willie Buchanon (Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers). Defensive end Van Brown is the brother of Chad Brown, a former All-Pro linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks. Offensive guard Sam Baker is the son of David Baker, the current Commissioner of the Arena Football League. And middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu is the son of ex-USC and NFL tailback Mosi Tatupu, who played 14 pro seasons with New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.
Victimized by 13 Plays of 30 Yards or More in 1st 5 Games, California's Inexperience Shows on Defense
While California's defense continues to make strides, they have been short-circuited by numerous big plays this year. Through their first five games, the Bears have already allowed opponents to uncork 13 plays of 30 yards or longer-seven vs. Kansas State, one vs. Southern Miss, three vs. Colorado State, none vs. Utah and two vs. Illinois. What's more, five of those explosive plays have measured 50 yards or more. Last week at Illinois, the Bears fell prey to two big-chunk plays in the third quarter in a 72-yard TD pass play from Jon Beutjer to Kelvin Hayden and a Beutjer to Eric McGoey 44-yard non-scoring pass.
Incoming JC Talent Beginning to Make Impact on '03 Bears
As the need dictates, Cal's incoming junior college transfers are beginning to make a strong impact on the 2003 Golden Bears. No less than eight new JC players have claimed starting jobs or significant playing time. On defense, linebacker Francis Blay-Miezah has started every game and safety Matt Giordano has started all but one contest. Also, hard-charging end Ryan Riddle made his first start of the season on Saturday and leads all linemen with three sacks this season. In fact, it was Riddle on special teams, who sprung loose Strang for his 68-yard punt return TD with as vicious block. Another linebacker, Joe Maningo, had impressed with his hyperactive play with five tackles and one tackle for loss in Cal's first two games. But a knee injury has sidelined him during the past three games and is questionable at best to return this week against USC. And a fifth JC defender, Ray Tago, continues to get more and more playing time since joining the team late, seeing action in the Bears' last three contests. Giordano (33) and Blay-Miezah (22) currently rank third and fourth, respectively, on Cal's tackle list. On offense, three JC transfers are already key contributors-QB Aaron Rodgers and TE Garrett Cross (a lethal pass-catch tandem at Butte College last year) and TB J.J. Arrington.
Rebuilding or Reloading? Cal's Recruiting Class Must Help '03 Club That Returns Only 9 Starters
It's not Jeff Tedford's style to lay awake at night worrying about his team's potential, but any way you slice it, the Bears suffered heavy losses from last season's 7-5 club. Tedford and his club were forced to say farewell to the school's No. 2 career passer (Kyle Boller), No. 2 all-time rusher (Joe Igber), No. 3 career sack leader (Tully Banta-Cain) and No. 5 career kickoff returner (LaShaun Ward), plus a cornerback in Nnamdi Asomugha who joined Boller as NFL first-round picks last spring. Yet, perhaps more importantly, Cal lost 23 seniors from last year's team, and returns only nine starters-a figure that ranks dead last (tied with Florida and South Carolina) among 117 NCAA Division 1-A schools. While those facts and figures may sound gloomy for the '03 Bears, there may be reason to believe another winning season may be in the cards. Why? Because Tedford and his Cal coaching staff enjoyed one of the finest recruiting years in school history. The Bears signed 28 players in February, including 11 who received All-American accolades. Virtually every recruiting publication and web site ranked Cal's incoming class among the nation's Top 20. In Rival.com's ranking of the state's Top 100 prep players, the Bears landed 14 from the list (only USC had more among NCAA schools). Cal also boasted six of the country's Top 125 junior college players, according to PrepStar magazine.
California's 6-Win Increase in 2002 Tied Nation's Lead, Ranked 2nd Best Ever in School History
With their impressive 7-5 mark last season, the 2002 Golden Bears produced one of the biggest one-year turnarounds in college football history. They bettered the previous year's mark by six wins, which tied for the biggest increase among NCAA Division 1-A teams last year (regular season games only). And their 5.5-game improvement (margin of wins and losses divided by two) equals the second best one-year turnaround in Cal history. The greatest one-year flip by a Cal team came in 1947, when first-year coach Pappy Waldorf led his Golden Bears to a 9-1 record-a six-and-a-half game improvement from the previous season (2-7 in '46 under Frank Wickhorst).
Total Transformation: Cal Made Dramatic Upgrade in '02
Very few college football programs underwent such a positive one-year transformation as the likes of last year's California team. In their 11-game schedule in 2001, the Bears were saddled with an 1-10 record and were outdistanced by an average score of 39.2 points to 18.3 points. A year later, a revitalized Cal club carved out its best record (7-5) since 1994 and outscored its opponents by a margin of 9.1 points (35.6 to 26.5).
One area where Cal's inexperience has not been a factor is penalties. The Bears have been flagged for only 24 infractions and 177 yards in four games. In fact, Cal has only lost 91 yards in penalties total over the past four games, including an unbelievable two penalties for 10 yards in its 31-24 loss at Utah Sept. 11....While the Bears' kickoff coverage ranks last in the Pac-10, allowing 23.0 yards per return, and the team's net punting ranks eighth in the conference at 35.0, there have been a couple of bright individual spots on special teams. James Bethea is the Pac-10's fourth-leading kickoff returner at 22.54, while Strang (17.8) and the injured Mixon (10.2) rank first and fifth, respectively in conference punt return average....Cal head man Jeff Tedford has been associated with teams that have carved out a 30-11 record since the start of the 2000 season, as Oregon reeled off 11-1 and 10-2 marks in 2000 and '01 with Tedford serving as offensive coordinator, while Cal posted a 7-5 record in '02 and are 2-3 this year...The Bears have not scored first in each of their last six games dating back to the 2002 season final vs. Stanford. Cal is 3-3 in those six tilts....Saturday's 31-point output marked the 12th time in 17 games under Tedford that the Bears have scored at least 28 points; prior to Tedford taking over the program last year, the Bears had reached the 28-point plateau only 10 times in their previous 48 contests....Pete Carroll is one of three former NFL head coaches Cal will face this year. Carroll, who served as head coach for both the New York Jets and New England Patriots, is joined by Oregon State's Mike Riley (San Diego Chargers) and Arizona's John Mackovic (Kansas City Chiefs) on the Bears' 2003 slate....USC's sophomore fullback David Kirtman has ties to Berkeley, as his father, Louis Kirtman, once ran track at Cal....The University of California began playing football six years before USC did, with its charter season being 1882 (compared with the Trojans christening their football history in 1888)...USC, the home of four Heisman Trophy-winning running backs-Mike Garrett (now the school's athletic director), O.J. Simpson, Charles White and Marcus Allen-ironically ranks seventh in the Pac-10 and 86th nationally with 119.3 ground yards per game...Southern California has won 71 men's NCAA team championships, the most in the nation. Eight of those titles have been in football, although the last grid crown occurred 24 years ago in 1978...When Carroll arrived at USC in 2001, he started a new tradition at Trojans' home games. The USC team buses unload the players in front of the Coliseum peristyle more than two hours before kickoff and USC players walk through the tailgaters into the stadium. Coincidentally, Cal coach Jeff Tedford began a similar tradition in Berkeley last year called the 'March to Victory.' Cal's team buses drop off the players near Maxwell Family Field before the game and the team walks through the parking lot, which is lined by approximately 1,000 well-wishers....USC has a history of notable graduates. Among the more famous: actors John Wayne and Tom Selleck, movie directors Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Ron Howard, satirist Art Buchwald, musician Lionel Hampton and the military leader of Desert Storm, U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf.
Bears Play One of Nation's Toughest Schedules in 2003
The California Golden Bears have traditionally played one of the nation's most challenging schedules, and 2003 is no exception. Of their 13 opponents, nine were bowl teams in 2002USC (Orange), Washington (Sun), UCLA (Las Vegas), Arizona State (Holiday Bowl), Oregon State (Insight), Oregon (Seattle), Kansas State (Holiday), Southern Mississippi (Houston) and Colorado State (Liberty). What's more, three other 2003 foes were bowl bound two years ago-Illinois (Sugar), Stanford (Seattle) and Utah (Las Vegas). Another challenging aspect of Cal's 2003 schedule is travel mileage. The Bears have already logged 7,836 miles in their first three road trips to Kansas City, Salt Lake City and Champaign, Ill. The good news is, Tedford's club only will travel 2,834 more miles in their final four away games this season (for a total of 10,770 miles for the year). One added travel note: Cal joins Temple as one of only two teams in NCAA Division 1-A football to play seven road games during the regular season in 2003.
Tedford Already Tied for 5th in Pac-10 for Seniority
Just how unstable is it to be a Pac-10 head football coach? Well, consider this: Cal head coach Jeff Tedford, who enters only his second year at the helm, is already tied for fifth in seniority among conference head coaches. Tedford, named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year after transforming Cal from a 1-10 team in 2001 to 7-5 in 2002 in his first season, trails only Oregon's Mike Bellotti, Arizona's John Mackovic, Arizona State's Dirk Koetter and USC's Pete Carroll in consecutive years of service.
Cal Defense to Face 4 of Nation's Top 10 QBs, Says The Sporting News
Cal's defense, which returns only two starters (tackle Lorenzo Alexander and rover Donnie McCleskey) from 2002, will square off against four of the NCAA's Top 10 quarterbacks, according to The Sporting News' pre-season magazine. They are Washington's Cody Pickett (4,458 yds., 28 TDs), Kansas State's Eli Roberson (1,032 yds. and 16 TDs rushing, 1,580 yds. and 7 TDs passing), Arizona State's Andrew Walter (3,877 yds. and 28 TDs) and Colorado State's Bradlee Van Pelt (2,073 yds. and 10 TDs passing, 819 yds. and 11 TDs rushing).
Cal Has Produced 20 1st Round Draft Picks
With QB Kyle Boller (19th, Baltimore) and CB Nnamdi Asomugha (31st, Oakland) both selected in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, Cal has now produced 20 first-round picks in its history. The Bears also can claim eight NFL first-rounders in the past eight years-Regan Upshaw (12th, Tampa Bay) and Duane Clemons (16th, Minnesota) in 1996, Tony Gonzalez (13th, Kansas City) and Tarik Glenn (19th, Indianapolis) in 1997, Deltha O'Neal (15th, Denver) in 2000, Andre Carter (7th, San Francisco) in 2001, and Boller and Asomugha in 2003.
Cal Posted First Winning Season in Nine Years in '02
Not only did Cal rebound dramatically from its 1-10 debacle the previous year, the 7-5 Bears established themselves as a nationally respected program almost overnight. The 30-7 Big Game victory over Stanford Nov. 23 clinched Cal's first winning season since 1993, when Keith Gilbertson's club etched a 9-4 mark. By shredding No. 25 Arizona State, 55-38, in Tempe Nov. 9, the 2002 Bears became the first Cal team in history to score three road wins against nationally ranked opponents in the same season. The Bears also defeated No. 15 Michigan State (46-22) and No. 12 Washington (34-27). In fact, it had been 52 years since a Cal team had simply beaten three nationally ranked teams in the same campaign period. And national media began to take notice of last year's upstart team. In the Associated Press poll, the Bears were ranked 23rd on Sept. 15, and received 80 votes-29th most in the nation-Oct. 6. To add further credibility, the New York Times' Computer Rankings rated Cal 12th in the country as the Pac-10's highest-rated school on Oct. 6.
Cal Adds Serious Speed to 2003 Team Roster
One of Cal's recruiting priorities was speed, and the incoming 2003 Bear class may be one of the swiftest in recent school history. No less than nine recruits have been clocked in 4.5 seconds or faster in the 40-yard dash. Headed by mercurial wide receiver Noah Smith of Taft High School (Woodland Hills, Calif.), who has blazed to a 4.29 time, the group includes six players with 4.4 times on their resumes. The Torrid Nine also includes wide receivers Devin Stearns (Serra HS), Sam DeSa (Monte Vista HS) and Sean Young (Berkeley HS), running back J.J. Arrington (College of the Canyons), linebacker Francis Blay-Miezah (Mt. San Antonio College), defensive backs Brandon Sanders (Oakland Skyline HS), Kenny Frank (Cerritos HS) and Daymeion Hughes (Crenshaw HS).
Bears Ranked Among 2002 NCAA Leaders in TO Margin
The Bears were one of the nation's best in the all-important turnover department in 2002. During the year, Cal forced 36 turnovers and committed only 18 for a conference-leading TO margin of +18-the nation's third-best figure (+1.50 per game). In fact, that +18 figure was the school's best turnover margin since 1951, when Pappy Waldorf's 8-2 Bears finished with a +21 differential. The Bears lived on the other side of the turnover ledger in 2001, finishing 114th out of 115 Division I-A schools with a woeful -17 margin. The club's 36 takeaways (tied for 7th in the NCAA) last fall were 18 more than Cal managed in an 11-game slate the previous season. Included in that total were 21 fumble recoveries, second most in the nation. What's more, Cal scored no less than 121 points off turnovers last season. After five games in 2003, Cal is -2 in the turnover margin department, having committed eight (3 INT, 5 fumbles) and caused six (3 INT, 3 fumbles).
Three Negative Streaks Came Crashing Down in 2002
Coach Tedford put an axe to more than the 2002 Big Game vs. Stanford. He led his Golden Bears to three victories last year that mercifully ended long losing streaks. The first win came in Seattle Oct. 5, as the Bears beat the Huskies, 34-27, to halt a 19-game losing streak to Washington that had spanned 26 years. Then on Nov. 9, Cal exorcised another demon when it snapped a 12-year victory drought in Tempe, Ariz. by thumping the Arizona State Sun Devils, 55-38. The Bears had previously dropped five straight at Sun Devil Stadium, all by blowout scores. And then in the 2002 season finale, Tedford's troops capped their remarkable turnaround season by scoring their first Big Game win (30-7) over Stanford in eight years.
Cal 9th in 2002-03 Director's Cup Standings
On the strength of eight sports that finished ranked in the nation's Top 5 last year, Cal earned ninth-place-its highest finish ever-in the Director's Cup standings in 2002-03. It was the Golden Bears' fourth consecutive Top 20 finish among an NCAA Division 1-A field of 326 colleges. Cal's finish would have been even higher except that three teams, all of whom finished among the nation's top three last year-men's water polo, crew and rugby-did not count in the cup standings. In its overall history, Cal teams have captured 62 national team championships, including 19 in rugby, 14 in men's crew and 11 in men's water polo.
Cal's National ChampionshipsRugby - 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
Men's Crew - 1928, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1939, 1949, 1960, 1961, 1964, 1976, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002; Women's Crew - 1980
Men's Water Polo - 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992
Men's Gymnastics - 1968, 1975, 1997, 1998
Men's Tennis - 1925, 1980, 1989
Baseball - 1947, 1957; Softball - 2002
Football - 1922, 1937
Men's Swimming - 1979, 1980
Men's Track & Field - 1922, 1970
Men's Basketball - 1959
Cal's Ticket Sales Up 34% for 2003 Home Games
The Bears' first two home games have outdrawn each of Cal's first four home contests of last year. Cal drew 35,880 in its Aug. 30 opener, surpassing last year's home debut by more than 8,000. And the team's second home game against Colorado State attracted 34,096 to Memorial Stadium. California has sold more than 22,000 football season tickets this year, a 34 percent increase over last season's total.
Momentum Turf Installed in California Memorial Stadium
California Memorial Stadium celebrates its 81st season as Cal's home venue this fall. And the venerable old stadium will be featuring new playing surface, as Sportexe's Momentum Turf was installed this summer to replace natural grass. This marks the second time that Memorial Stadium has featured synthetic turf. The field was outfitted with Astroturf from 1981-94 before natural grass was installed prior to the 1995 season. The total project cost approximately $975,000 and was completely funded by private donations. Designed to maximize player speed and performance, Momentum Turf is Sportexe's premier sand and rubber infill surface. The turf's special mix of sand and granular rubber provides stability, traction and speed, simulating a perfect natural grass surface. The 73,347-seat stadium-this year reduced to 67,537 capacity due to Gold and Blue Zone signage-first opened with the 1923 Big Game between Cal and Stanford on Nov. 24, 1923 - a 9-0 Bear victory. In the ensuing years, Cal has compiled a 278-200-16 record in the stadium for a .578 winning percentage. With Strawberry Canyon to the east and a sweeping view of San Francisco Bay to the west, Sports Illustrated named Memorial Stadium the best place to watch college football in the country in 1997.
Cal Ranked as No. 1 Public University in the Country
Cal maintained its position as the No. 1-ranked public university in the country in the latest U.S. News and World Report ratings, although Virginia moved into a first-place tie this year.Cal Hall of Fame Adds 7 New Members in '03
Three football All-Americans, including the school's career rushing leader, Russell White, headline a list of seven former athletes who have been selected for induction into the California Athletic Hall of Fame this fall. Formal induction ceremonies are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 24, and the group will be introduced at halftime of the Cal-Arizona football game Oct. 25.
Strong Oregon Connection on Cal Coaching Staff
Cal head coach Jeff Tedford, who spent four years as offensive coordinator at Oregon before accepting the Cal job, has assembled a coaching staff that has a distinctive Duck flavor. Four assistant coaches, plus four staff members, either coached, worked or played at the Eugene school.
Pac-10 is Truly the 'Conference of Champions'
Entering the 2003-04 season, the Pacific-10 Conference continues to uphold its tradition as the 'Conference of Champions.' Pac-10 members have claimed 73 NCAA titles over the past nine seasons, for an average of more than eight championships per academic year. Even more impressive is the breadth of the Pac-10's success, as those 73 crowns have come in 21 different men's and women's sports. The Pac-10 has led the nation in NCAA championships 38 of the last 43 years and finished second the other five times. Spanning nearly a century of outstanding achievement, the Pac-10 has captured 323 NCAA titles (243 men's, 82 women's) overall, far outdistancing the runner-up Big Ten Conference's 193 titles.
'02 Bears Outscored Foes, 244-127, in 1st Halves
Roaring out of the gates like few others, Cal feasted on 2002 opponents in the first half last year. The Bears outscored their foes by a whopping 244-127 margin. This season hasn't gone quite as smoothly. After five games, the 2003 Bears have been outscored by their opponents, 74-69, before intermission (although the Bears staked claim to a 21-7 halftime cushion last Saturday at Illinois). Cal was particularly lethal in first quarters last year, outscoring its opponents, 116-43. But the early stages of the 2003 season has not followed the same pattern, as the Bears have been out-pointed 42-21 in first quarters this year. Last week, Cal and Illinois were tied 7-7 after one quarter, marking the first time this year the Bears had not faced a deficit after one period. What's more, the 2003 Bears have trailed at halftime in three of their first five games (27-14 vs. K-State, 17-7 vs. Colorado State and 21-7 at Utah). In contrast, Tedford's first Cal club only trailed at intermission two times all season in 2002 (at Oregon State, 21-10, and vs. Arizona, 24-17). In USC, the Bears will be facing a team that has pounced on its 2003 opponents in the opening halves. The Trojans have outscored their foes by a 62-11 margin in first halves and have yet to allow even one touchdown before intermission in its first three games.
Tedford Continues QB Tradition at Cal
Since the days of All-American John Meek, who led Cal to an unbeaten season and Rose Bowl title in 1937, the Golden Bears have been a cradle for college quarterbacks. Twelve years later in 1949, Bob Celeri also earned All-American honors after guiding the Bears to a 10-1 mark and Rose Bowl appearance. In the past four decades, Cal has produced an extraordinary list of polished passers. They include such legends as Joe Kapp (1956-58), Craig Morton (1962-64), Steve Bartkowksi (1972-74), Pat Barnes (1993-96), Joe Roth (1975-76), Rich Campbell (1977-80), Gale Gilbert (1980-84), Troy Taylor (1986-89), Mike Pawlawski (1988-91) and Pat Barnes (1993-96). Perhaps, the best is yet to come in Berkeley, thanks to the arrival of head coach Jeff Tedford last year. Tedford, himself a former All-American honorable mention QB at Fresno State, has recruited and/or developed five quarterbacks who have become high first-round draft choices in the NFL. As offensive coordinator at Fresno State, he worked his magic with Trent Dilfer (No. 6 pick by Tampa Bay, 1994) and David Carr (No. 1 by Houston, 2002). As offensive coordinator at Oregon, he transformed Akili Smith (No. 3 by Cincinnati, 1999) and Joey Harrington (No. 3 by Detroit, 2002) into college superstars. And last year at Cal, he inherited senior Kyle Boller, who after three previous seasons of frustration, blossomed into perhaps the nation's most improved quarterback. Boller, who later would become a first-round draft choice of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, finished his Cal career ranked first in TD passes (64) and second all-time in passing yards (7,980) in school history.
Gregory a Wizard in Molding Turnover-Minded Defenses
At age 40, Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory may be one of the top young defensive minds in all of college football. As defensive coordinator at Boise State two years ago, he molded that unit into the Western Athletic Conference's No. 2 ranked scoring defense. And inheriting a Cal defense that had surrendered a school-record 432 points (39.2 ppg) in 2001, he transformed virtually the same group of players into one of the Pac-10 most opportunistic defenses. The 2002 Bear defense yielded 26.5 points per contest-almost two touchdowns less per game than the year before-and ranked among the nation's best in many key statistical categories. Cal boasted a +18 turnover margin, which led the Pac-10 and ranked No. 7 nationally. Much of the credit for that wide differential must be given to Gregory's defense, which ranked second in the NCAA in fumble recoveries (21) and seventh in total takeaways (36). Last year's Bears also ranked fifth in the Pac-10 and 19th nationally in rushing defense (114.0). In fact, the Bears held their last three 2002 opponents to 87 combined rushing yards-vs. Arizona (-5), Arizona State (-2) and Stanford (94). Gregory heads a defensive coaching staff that features another former defensive coordinator (defensive line coach Ken Delgado at San Diego State), a former four-time Super Bowl starter (DB coach J.D. Williams at Buffalo), and the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Dave Wilcox (linebacker coach Justin Wilcox).
Bears Tied for Pac-10 Lead in Most Current NFL Players
California has been perennially ranked among the nation's Top 20 in former players currently in the NFL. As of August 30, Cal had 29 alumni on NFL rosters, tied for first in the Pac-10 and tied for the 14th in the country.