Cal Hosts Oregon State Saturday at 2 p.m.
Sept. 28, 2003
Cal (3-3) Hosts Oregon State (4-1)
Game No. 7: Oregon State Beavers (4-1, 1-0 Pac-10)at California Golden Bears (3-3, 1-0 Pac-10)
Date: Saturday, Oct. 4, 2003, Memorial Stadium (67,537 - Momentum Turf), Berkeley, CA
Kickoff: 2:00 p.m.
Radio: KGO Radio (810 AM) with Joe Starkey, Lee Grosscup and Mike Pawlawski
Attendance (est.): 35,000
This Week's Game
Coming off one of the most monumental victories in school history, California tries to continue its winning ways when the Golden Bears host Oregon State Saturday at 2 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.
Just two weeks removed from being 1-3 on the year, Cal has now captured two straight contests-31-24 at Illinois and 34-31 in triple overtime over No. 3 USC-and is earning votes in both national polls.
The USC contest, which wasn't decided until Tyler Fredrickson kicked a 38-yard field goal in the third extra period, marked the Bears' first win over a Top 5 team since tripping then-No. 4 USC, 28-14, in 1975, and it was their first victory over a team ranked as high as No. 3 since upending third-ranked Stanford, 20-7, in the 1951 Big Game.
Cal accomplished the upset behind a strong running attack, solid play from both of its quarterbacks and a defense that limited USC to just two offensive touchdowns in regulation.Senior TB Adimchinobe Echemandu burst off right tackle for 36 yards on the game's second play to set the tone. Echemandu finished with a career-high 147 yards on 34 carries against a Trojan D that entered the game allowing just 50.7 yards per game on the ground.
And with sophomore QB Aaron Rodgers completing 17-of-21 passes for 203 yards in the first half and sub Reggie Robertson taking over down the stretch, going 9-for-12 for 109 yards and a score, the Bears held on in the end.
For the season, Echemandu is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 82.0 yards per game, while both Rodgers (61.5%) and Robertson (62.9%) are connecting on more than 60 percent of their pass attempts.
Junior WR Geoff McArthur, with 40 catches for 682 yards, continues to lead the nation in total receiving yards. With 100 career receptions, he is poised to move into Cal's all-time Top 15 list this week, needing just four more catches to tie No. 15 Paul Jones, who corralled 104 passes from 1977-79.
Cal-Oregon St. Series
Cal leads the all-time series, 31-24, although Oregon State has won the last four contests, including a 24-13 decision last Oct. 26, in Corvallis. In that game, the Beavers compiled 301 yards on the ground, led by 239 yards from TB Steven Jackson. Cal's last win came on the road in 1998 when the Bears edged OSU, 20-19.
A Quick Look at Oregon StateCapitalizing on six Arizona State turnovers, Oregon State routed the Sun Devils, 45-17, at home last week to improve to 4-1 on the season. The Beavers feature 10 offensive starters back from a 2002 squad that went 8-5, including a berth in the Insight.com Bowl. Junior TB Steven Jackson leads the attack with an average of 130.0 yards per game on the ground, including seven touchdowns. QB Derek Anderson has also thrown for seven scores. However, he has also been picked off 10 times and is completing just 47.4 percent of his attempts. FL James Newson is Anderson's favorite target, having pulled down 30 catches for an average of 137.5 ypg. Defensively, freshman DB Brandon Browner had three interceptions against ASU, while LB Richard Seigler, OSU's leading tackler last year, again paces the team with 33 tackles, including 11 for loss.
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 10-8 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.
Mike Riley (Alabama '75) is in the first year of his second stint as head coach at Oregon State. Riley first held the position from 1997-98, compiling an 8-14 record, before leaving for the NFL as head coach of the San Diego Chargers from 1999-01. He started his coaching career in 1975 at Cal under Mike White as a graduate assistant. Over the next 18 years, Riley spent time at Whitworth College and Linfield College and in the CFL at Winnipeg prior to going to USC, where he was the offensive coordinator for John Robinson from 1993-96.
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. Against USC, Tyler Fredrickson kicked a game-winning 38-yard field goal in the third overtime to lift Cal to the upset.
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 USC contest, TB Adimchinobe Echemandu rushed for a career-high 147 yards to become the first player to break the 100-yard mark against the Trojans in 17 games.
A Win for the Ages: Cal Shocks USC in College Football's Biggest Upset This Year, Bears' 1st Win over No. 3 Team Since 1951
Saturday's 34-31 triple overtime win over nationally No. 3 ranked USC was a victory for the ages. Not since 1975-when Joe Roth and Chuck Muncie led the eventual Co-Pacific-8 champion Bears to a 28-14 triumph over then No. 4 ranked Southern Cal-had Cal posted a win over a Top 5 opponent. And it had been 52 years since California had beaten a No. 3 ranked foe (Stanford in the 1951 Big Game, 20-7). In its history, Cal has only beaten a Top 10 team seven times and a Top 5 school on only three occasions.
Bears Halt the Nation's Second-Longest Current Winning Streak (11 Games) With 34-31 Triple Overtime Verdict vs. Trojans
By virtue of Saturday's monumental win, the Golden Bears also severed USC's 11-game winning streak, which first began last season with the Trojans' 30-28 victory over Cal at the L.A. Coliseum. The 11-game streak was USC's longest victory skein since 1979-80 and the second-longest current streak in the country behind Ohio State (18).
Golden Bears' Last 4 Games Decided in Final 2 Minutes; Club Only 2 Defensive Stops Away from Possible 5-1 Record
Cal's Cardiac Kids may be only 3-3 this season, but virtually every one of their games has been great theater this year. Each of the Bears' last four games have been decided in the final two minutes of the game, with California prevailing in the last two weeks with heart-banging victories at Illinois Sept. 20 (31-24) and vs. USC Saturday (34-31, 3 OT). The Bears, who roared to a 21-7 hafltime lead over the No. 3 ranked Trojans, finally had their hand raised in victory on a 38-yard Tyler Fredrickson field goal in the third overtime. The previous week in Champaign, Ill., Cal staved off a furious Illinois rally that saw a 31-14 lead dissipate to 31-24 before Bear linebacker Wendell Hunter sacked Illini quarterback Jon Beutjer on the game's final play to seal a Cal victory. Those two last-minute wins 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 10-8 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.
Cal Passing Game Continues to Hum Along at 269.7 YPG, As JC Transfer Aaron Rodgers Produces 2nd Straight 200-Yard 1st Half
Although he was sidelined with multiple injuries (ankle, ribs, finger) midway through the third quarter of the USC game, sophomore Aaron Rodgers impressed again in his second straight start at quarterback for the Bears. Named a third team JC All-American at Butte College last year, Rodgers completed 17-of-21 attempts for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the first half against USC's vaunted defense. It marked the second straight game that Rodgers has pierced the 200-yard barrier in the first half, as he hit on 17-of-28 passes for 236 yards two weeks ago in Cal's win at Illinois. Rodgers exited the USC game with 7:16 left in the third period, having connected on 18-of-25 passes for 217 yards and two TDs. He also rushed for a three-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, the first rushing TD allowed by USC's defense in 23 quarters. Rodgers, however, also threw the first two interceptions of his young Cal career, as the Trojan picks snapped an season-opening string of 98 consecutive passes without an interception for the Bear QB. 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 263 yards two weeks ago at Illinois in his first career start. Robertson, who subbed for the wobbly Rodgers in the USC tilt and proceeded to thread nine of 12 attempts for 109 yards and one TD in the final 22 minutes of regulation and the three overtimes, has worked with Rodgers in forming one of the better QB tandems in college football in 2003. Despite losing Kyle Boller to the pros (first round, Baltimore Ravens), the Cal passing game under Tedford continues to roll, averaging 269.7 yards through the air this year, which ranks fourth in the Pac-10, with Rodgers (64-104, 61.5%, 840 yards, 6 TDs, 2 INT) and backup Robertson (61-97, 62.9%, 778 yards, 9 TDs, 3 INT) combining for a .622 completion percentage (125-of-201) for 1,618 yards, 15 TDs and five interceptions. Robertson (154.69, 9th) and Rodgers (144.58, 22nd) both rank among the nation's Top 25 in passing efficiency.
California Junior Wideout Geoff McArthur Leads NCAA Division I-A in Receiving Yards Through 6 Contests
Off to a blazing start, junior wide receiver Geoff McArthur has hunted down 40 passes for 682 yards and six touchdowns-all team highs-in the Bears' first six games. Those numbers translate into some gaudy early-season averages of 6.67 receptions (4th Pac-10, 22nd NCAA), 113.7 yards (2nd Pac-10, 6th NCAA) and 17.0 yards per catch. His 682 total receiving yards rank first among all NCAA Division I-A receivers, while his six TD grabs are tied for fourth nationally. After snaring a career-high 10 passes for 155 yards and one TD two weeks ago at Illinois-the most catches by a Cal receiver since Dameane Douglas snared 13 vs. Stanford in 1998-McArthur was harnessed to a season-low 57 yards on five catches Saturday by the Trojans. McArthur 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 in Illinois. 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 catches 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, Cal Defense Forces 4 USC Turnovers & Holds Trojans to 7 Points, 122 Yards in 1st Half
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 that has seen it allow 411.3 yards (9th, Pac-10) and 25.5 points (8th Pac-10) per outing. The Bears' 'D' has performed relatively well in four games this year-they spun a defensive shutout (34-2) against Southern Miss in its Aug. 30 home opener, held Colorado State and Illinois-both potentially explosive clubs-to 23 and 24 points, respectively, and then limited USC to 24 points in regulation, some 15 points below their league-leading 39.7 ppg average entering the game. Against USC, the Bears held the Trojans to only seven points and 122 yards in the first half. On the game, Cal's defenders forced a season-high four turnovers, doubling their interception total to six with three picks (Matt Giordano, Sid Slater and Donnie McCleskey).
Penalty Disparity Tilts Toward Cal's Favor in Saturday's Matchup
California and Oregon State are polar opposites when it comes to penalty yardage this year. The Golden Bears have been whistled for a Pac-10 low 39.5 yards per game, flagged for 31 infractions for 237 yards over their first six games. The Beavers, who led the nation with 100.2 yards in penalties per contest last fall, rank ninth in the Pac-10 for the most penalty yards per game (104.0, 53 for 520 yards in five games) this year.
With QB Boller & RB Igber Gone, Cal Offense Still Produces
A year ago, the school's No. 2 all-time passer Kyle Boller and No. 2 career rusher Joe Igber spearheaded Cal's first winning season (7-5) in nine years. While Boller-selected 19th overall (Baltimore Ravens) in the 2003 NFL Draft's first round-and Igber have departed to the pros this fall, Cal has actually experienced a slight increase in offensive yardage categories this year. However, this year's club is averaging 6.9 less points per game than 2002 (a figure that encompasses scoring from all three facets of the game-offense, defense and special teams).
Sophomore McCleskey Already Vying for Post-Season Honors With Team-Leading 59 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 six 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 59 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 five 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 swarmed for 13 stops at Utah and 12 more at Illinois. And while his tackle output was only five vs. USC, he corralled his first interception of the season against the Trojans. Remarkably, after only six 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 is tied for most sacks (5.5) in NCAA Division I-A and averages more sacks per game (0.92) than any other defensive back in the nation this year. Overall, his 9.8 tackles-per-game average is the third-best mark for all Pac-10 players.
Action Jackson: Cal Tries to Try to Avoid Another Running Rampage by Beavers' All-American Steven Jackson
It was all Steven Jackson in last year's 24-13 Oregon State win over Cal in Corvallis, as the 6-3, 229-pound running back bowled over the Bears' defense for a career-high 239 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries. His 239-pound outburst ranks second on Oregon State's all-time single game list, 60 yards shy of Bill Enyart's 299 yards (50 carries) against Utah in 1986. Jackson, named to the Associated Press third team All-American squad, claimed the 2002 Pac-10 rushing title with 1,690 yards and 15 TDs on 319 carries-the Pac-10's sixth-greatest season and an Oregon State record for yards on the ground. Jackson currently ranks first in the conference and sixth nationally in rushing, averaging 130.0 yards per game (650 yards, 148 att., 7 TDs). The Beavers, who led the conference in rushing last year and rank first (174.60) among Pac-10 schools this season, will face a Cal team that has allowed 148.5 yards per game on the ground, second-to-last in the league.
OSU the Next of Many Great Defenses on Cal's 2003 Schedule
Very few schools in the nation have faced more quality defenses this year than the California Golden Bears. Kansas State, USC and Southern Mississippi all have thrown suffocating Top 20 defenses at Tedford's club in the early season. Cal's offense performed reasonably well against those three teams, tallying 28 points vs. K-State, 34 vs. USC last week and 34 vs. Southern Miss. Now, the Bears will face another staunch defense in Oregon State. The Beavers, led by 2002 first team All-Pac-10 linebacker Richard Seigler, currently rank among the nation's Top 25 in rushing defense (14th, 81.60) and scoring defense (21st, 16.00). Oregon State, which ranked second in the Pac-10 and 11th in the NCAA in total defense (293.54 yards per game) last season, harnessed Cal's high-powered offense to a season-low 13 points in its 2002 meeting at Corvallis, a 24-13 Beaver win.
Starting Freshman CB Tim Mixon (Knee) Lost for the Season
Cal's defense received a big blow recently when it learned that starting redshirt-freshman cornerback Tim Mixon had suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during the Utah game. Mixon, who was beginning to resemble last year's Cal freshman of the year, Donnie McCleskey, before the injury was sustained, underwent successful season-ending surgery last Friday. 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 freshman CB Daymeion Hughes, backed up by senior James Bethea.
Yo Vinny! Cal's 150-Pound Strang Leads Pac-10 in Punt Returns
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 two weeks ago 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 15.1 yards per punt return (9 for 136) ranks first in the Pac-10 and 12th 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 oft-injured senior Jonathan Makonnen, last year's team reception leader (54 rec., 682 yds., 7 TDs). With Makonnen missing three games this year, Toler (19-275, 1 TDs) and Strang (10-137, 2 TDs) have shouldered the load, combining for 29 receptions, 421 yards and three scores in ranking second and fourth, respectively, in catches on the team. Toler, who hunted down four passes for 81 yards (all in the first half) including grabs of 17, 21 and 27 yards, 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 5 Yards Per Carry in '03, Echemandu Erupts for Career-High 147 Yards in Becoming 1st 100-Yd. Rusher vs. USC in 17 Games
Senior tailback Adimchinobe Echemandu has been perseverance personified, having overcome back-to-back missed seasons due to personal reasons to finally emerge as one of the Pac-10 premier rushers. 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 J.J. Arrington became the first Cal tandem to rush for 100 yards in the same game since 1993. Echemandu 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. Neither back had pierced the 100-yard mark this season until Echemandu dissected USC Saturday for 147 yards on 34 carries, both new career highs. His 147-yard outburst marked the first time an opposing running back had rushed for 100 yards in a game against the Trojans in 17 contests. Echemandu is averaging 4.92 yards per carry this season against some of the nation's stingiest defenses, netting 492 yards and three touchdowns on 100 attempts. He carved up Illinois for 64 yards on 12 attempts in the second half two weeks ago, then proceeded to punish USC for 79 yards on 15 carries in the first half Saturday. The 6-0, 225-pound back currently ranks fourth among Pac-10 rushers with a 82.0 yards-per-game average.
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 41 starts to his credit entering Saturday morning's game vs. Oregon State, 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 740 rushing yards and have protected quarterbacks Rodgers and Robertson for 1,618 passing yards. While admittingly facing some of the nation's best defensive clubs thus far, the Cal O-Line has yielded 15 sacks in the first six games. However, they have allowed only five sacks over their last three games vs. Utah (one), Illinois (two) and USC (two).
Tyler Fredrickson, 1st Starting Punter-Kicker at California Since Ryan Longwell in 1996, Plays Key Role in Cal's Last 2 Wins
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 gained momentum in both roles after slow starts. He averages 38.1 yards per punt while connecting on 20-of-20 PATs and six-of-six field goal attempts. He has played key roles in Cal's last two wins. He converted his only field goal try at Illinois two weeks ago-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 10-yard line (including balls downed at the six, seven and twice at the eight). Last Saturday against USC, he endured a topsy-turvy field goal day. First, he connected on a career-best 51-yard field goal that gave Cal a 24-21 edge in the fourth quarter. That was followed by another 51-yard attempt, which was blocked with 4:54 left in regulation. Then, in heart-breaking fashion, Fredrickson had a second FG blocked-this one from only 29 yards in the second overtime, which would have won the game. But the Cal kicker preserved, finally drilling a game-winning 38-yard FG in the third OT. A footnote to Fredrickson's season: three of his six field goal misses this year have been narrow misses, with two hitting the goal post upright (a 48-yarder vs. So. Miss and 32-yarder at Utah), and another narrowly missing from 54 yards out at Utah. And, of course, two of his other three misses were blocked.
Cal's Michalczik Once Served on Oregon State's Coaching Staff
Jim Michalczik, the Golden Bears' assistant head coach and offensive line coach, played a prominent role in the resurgence of Oregon State football during the early part of the Dennis Erickson Era. He spent three seasons coaching special teams, tight ends and offensive line on Erickson's staff at Oregon State from 1999-2001. In 1999, he contributed to OSU's first winning season and bowl berth in 29 years. In 2000, he played a key role in the Beavers' earning a share of the Pac-10 title and logging an 11-1 record en route to a No. 4 national ranking. As Cal's offensive line coach, he reshaped a Bears' interior line that tied for first in the Pac-10 for fewest sacks (25) and provided the blocking that help produce 355.6 offensive yards per game.
Victimized by 14 Plays of 30 Yards or More in 1st 6 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 six games, the Bears have already allowed opponents to uncork 14 plays of 30 yards or longer. However, seven of those 14 plays came in Cal's very first game against Kansas State. Since then, Cal has allowed only one vs. Southern Miss, three vs. Colorado State, none vs. Utah, two vs. Illinois and one vs. USC. Five of the opponents' big plays this season have measured 50 yards or more.
Eleven Beaver Players Have Northern California Roots
Oregon State features 11 football players who cut their teeth in Northern California. That group is led by three starters in wide receiver and All-America candidate James Newson (Edison HS, Stockton), guard David Lose (Luther Burbank HS, Sacramento) and offensive tackle Brian Kilkenny (Montgomery HS, Santa Rosa). Other NorCal products include defensive linemen Sir Henry Anderson (McClymonds HS, Oakland) and Joe Rudolph (Natomas HS, Sacramento), defensive backs Brandon Catanese (Trinity Shasta HS, Weaverville) and Justin Williams (Los Banos HS, Los Banos), offensive lineman Kyle DeVan (Vacaville HS, Vacaville), wide receiver Phil Ghilarducci (Gunn HS, Palo Alto), quarterback Danny Kalari (Luther Burbank HS, Sacramento) and tight end Jeff Kruskamp (Milpitas HS, Milpitas). In addition, the Beavers feature one assistant coach who returns to familiar territory-special teams coach LeCharls McDaniel, a Seaside High School product (near Monterey, Calif.) who played on the Washington Redskins' Super Bowl XVII team, and served as Cal's special teams coach on Tom Holmoe's 2001 staff.
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 the last two contests. Also, hard-charging end Ryan Riddle has made his first two starts of the season the past two weeks 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 against Illinois Sept. 20. 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 four 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 four contests. Giordano (33) and Blay-Miezah (24) 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 (who equalled the most receptions-seven for 41 yards and one TD-by a Cal tight end in eight years) and TB J.J. Arrington (193 yards, 3 TDs, 43 carries).
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.
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.
Cal's 469 yards in total offense against USC was a season high, topping the 440 yards it banked against nationally No. 7 ranked Kansas State in the season opener....The Bears outplayed the Trojans in many statistical categories last weekend, including total yardage (469 to 376), first downs (24 to 18) and third-down efficiency (11-of-18 to 3-of-12), and perhaps the most important department-time of possession, where Cal logged 53:26 to USC's 21:34 in the three OTs....USC entered the Cal game as the nation's No. 4 rush defense, parcelling out only 50.7 yards per game and 1.9 yards per rush. The Bears, led by Echemandu and an inspired offensive line, cranked out 143 yards on 48 carries, an average of 2.98 yards per attempt....While the Bears' kickoff coverage ranks 10th in the Pac-10, allowing 22.0 yards per return, and the team's net punting ranks eighth in the conference at 35.1, there have been a couple of bright individual spots on special teams. James Bethea is the Pac-10's fourth-leading kickoff returner at 22.19, while Strang (15.11) leads the conference in punt return average....Cal head man Jeff Tedford has been associated with teams that have carved out a 31-11 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 3-3 this year...With Rodgers scoring on a three-yard run to give Cal a 7-0 lead with 11:02 left in the opening period, the Bears scored first for the first time in seven games dating back to the 2002 season final vs. Stanford. Cal is 4-3 in those six tilts....Saturday's 34-point output marked the 13th time in 18 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....Cal is now 5-2 all-time in overtime games....Fredrickson's 51-yard FG was only four yards short of the school record of 55 yards, set by Robbie Keen against Washington in 1988....Cal's starting defensive line of ends Ryan Riddle (240) and Monte Parson (265), and tackles Lorenzo Alexander (295) and Tom Sverchek (295) are outweighed by Oregon State's starting offensive line by an average of 40.1 pounds. The Beavers' O-line averages 313.8 pounds-the eighth-highest average in the country and heaviest among Pac-10 schools-while the Bears' D-Line averages 273.7 pounds....Two of Oregon State's backup quarterbacks have notable fathers. Redshirt freshman Anton Clarkson (Los Angeles, Venice HS) is the son of former San Jose State and Canadian Football League QB Steve Clarkson, while freshman Danny Southwick (Provo, Utah, Timpview HS) is the stepson of TV and radio talk show personality Larry King....Before accepting the head coaching job with the San Diego Chargers, Mike Riley recruited many of the players who eventually starred on Dennis Erickson's 2000 Pac-10 Co-Champions. Riley, who led Corvallis High to the 1970 state prep football title, led his last Beaver team (1998) to a 5-6 record-the school's best mark in 27 years....Four OSU assistant coaches were also on Riley's staff with the Chargers: Paul Chryst (offensive coordinator/tight ends), Mark Banker (defensive coordinator), Delvaughn Alexander (wide receivers) and Lee Hull (running backs)....Under former head coach Dennis Erickson, Oregon State made postseason bowl appearances in three of the last four years (1999 O'ahu, 2001 Fiesta and 2002 Insight)....Cal and Oregon State have both retired only one uniform number in their long football histories. The Bears honor their late quarterback Joe Roth (1975-76), having retired his No. 12 jersey, while the Beavers have taken No. 11 out of circulation to pay tribute to former 1962 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Terry Baker....Baker was the first of eight Pac-10/Pac-8 players to win the Heisman. The other Pac-10 Heisman winners are RB Mike Garrett of USC (1965), QAB Gary Beban of UCLA (1967), RB O.J. Simpson of USC (1968), QB Jim Plunkett of Stanford (1970), RB Charles White of USC (1979), RB Marcus Allen of USC (1981) and QB Carson Palmer of USC (last year). While Cal has never had a Heisman winner, the Bears have placed five players among the Top 5 in the Heisman voting since the award was started in 1935, with RB Chuck Muncie coming the closest to winning when he was the 1975 runner-up to Ohio State's Archie Griffin. The other Bears to finish among the Top 5 were RB Vic Bottari (5th in 1938), RB Jackie Jensen (4th in 1948), QB Paul Larson (5th in 1954) and QB Joe Kapp (5th in 1958)....The Cal-Oregon State series has been a streaky one of late, with the Beavs winning five in a row from 1977-83, then the Bears claiming six straight from 1991-98, followed by Oregon State's current four-game victory string vs. Cal from 1999-2002....Perhaps one of the most memorable games between the two schools occurred in 1996 in Berkeley, when Bear QB Pat Barnes scored the winning touchdown on a three-yard run up the middle in a third overtime to give Cal a 48-42 decision over the visiting Beavers....Among Oregon State's most notable alumni: Linus Pauling, the only winner of two unshared Nobel Prizes (Chemistry, 1954, and Peace, 1962) in the history of the award; Milton Harris, founder of Harris Research Labs; George Bruns, former musical director of Walt Disney Productions and producer for '101 Dalmatians' and 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer;' Cecil Andrus, Secretary of Interior for the Jimmy Carter Administration; Dick Fosbury, inventor of the 'Fosbury Flop' in the high jump and gold medal winner in the '68 Olympics; and E.H. Wiegand, inventor of the Maraschino cherry!
2nd Quarters Tell the Tale of Cal's 3 Victories This Season
Colossal second quarters have spelled the difference in all three 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. In the stirring Sept. 20 win in Champaign, California out-pointed the Ilini, 14-0, in the second stanza. And last weekend against USC, the Bears hung another 14-0 score on their opponent in the second quarter. Yet, while the Bears hold a 48-0 edge in second quarters in their victories, they have been outscored 31-14 in the second periods of their three losses.
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 2002 USC (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.
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).
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 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).
A Tale of Two Years: Bears -2 in TO Margin vs. +18 in '02
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. What's more, Cal scored no less than 121 points off turnovers last season. It's been a different story in 2003. After six games, Cal is -2 in the turnover margin department, having committed 12 (5 INT, 7 fumbles) and caused 10 (6 INT, 4 fumbles).
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.
Vital Signs: Cal's Ticket Sales Up 34% for 2003 Home Games
The Bears' first three 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. The team's second home game against Colorado State attracted 34,096 to Memorial Stadium, while the Cal-USC tilt last weekend saw 51, 208 fans file through the turnstiles--the largest non-Big Game crowd in Berkeley since 53,000 watched the Bears beat UCLA, 46-38, in triple OT in 2000. California, which is averaging 40,395 fans this season, 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 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. Class of 2003: Troy Auzenne (football) 1988-91; Matt Lucena (tennis) 1989-92; Charles Lucchesi (gym/swim)1946-49; Lawrence Lutz (football) 1933-35; Milica Vukadinovic (basketball) 1991-93; Russell White (football) 1990-92; Jon Zuber (baseball) 1989-92.
1st Half Reversal: Bears Not Starting as Fast as '02 Team
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 six games, the 2003 Bears have outscored their opponents by a slim 90-81 margin before intermission (although the Bears have staked claim to 21-7 halftime cushions in both of their last two games vs. Illinois and USC). Cal was particularly lethal in first quarters last year, outscoring its opponents, 116-43. But the early stages of the 2003 season have not followed the same pattern, as the Bears have been out-pointed 49-28 in first quarters this year. Cal had faced a deficit after one period in each of its first four games, but have battled to 7-7 ties in each of its last two games vs. Illinois and USC. 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).
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 (LB 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 Sept. 26, Cal had 28 alumni on NFL rosters, tied for first in the Pac-10 and tied for the 12th in the country.
TOMORROW | 12:00pm PTLive