Cal Visits Oregon Saturday at 7 p.m. on TBS
Nov. 2, 2003
Game No. 11: California Golden Bears (5-5, 3-2 in Pac-10) at Oregon Ducks (5-4, 2-3 in Pac-10)
Date: Saturday, Nov. 8, 2003, Autzen Stadium (54,000, FieldTurf), Eugene, OR
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
Radio: KGO Radio (810 AM) with Joe Starkey, Lee Grosscup and Mike Pawlawski
Television: TBS with Ron Thulin, Charles Davis, Craig Sager and Erin Andrews
A Quick Look at California
Buoyed by convincing victories over Arizona and Arizona State, California tries to extend its winning streak to three games when the Golden Bears visit Oregon Saturday night before a TBS national television audience.
Since scoring a season-low 20 points in an overtime loss at UCLA, the Bears have averaged 46.5 ppg, defeating Arizona, 42-14 at home and ASU, 51-23, on the road. In fact, the Bears scored on eight consecutive possessions against the Sun Devils last weekend and broke open a tight game with 30 straight points after ASU closed the gap to 21-17 in the second quarter.
Sophomore QB Aaron Rodgers was particularly sharp in Tempe, completing 17-of-22 passes for 307 yards and three scores. Rodgers, who is riding a streak of 79 pass attempts without an interception, has 10 touchdown tosses, compared to just three picks, in his first season in a Cal uniform.
In the ASU contest, two Bears reached the 1,000-yard plateau for the year - senior TB Adimchinobe Echemandu and junior WR Geoff McArthur. Echemandu rushed for 128 yards on 21 carries vs. the Sun Devils - his fifth 100-yard outing of the season and fourth in his last five games - to give him 1,009 yards. That total already places him seventh on Cal's single-season list, and he can jump all the way to fourth with just 72 yards more.
With 58 catches for 1,037 yards, McArthur is Cal's first 1,000-yard receiver since Dameane Douglas in 1998, and he is only the fourth Bear wideout ever to accumulate 1,000 yards in one year. McArthur's yardage total leads the Pac-10 and ranks second in the country to Pittsburgh's Larry Fitzgerald (1,174 yards).
Not to be overlooked by the gaudy offensive numbers, Cal defense has matured into a formidable unit this year. Despite beginning the season with just two returning starters, the Bears are surrendering fewer points than they did last season (24.8 ppg to 26.5 ppg). Proving that it is a team effort, eight different players have at least one interception and six players have at least one fumble recovery - none with more than two.
Cal owns a 35-28-2 all-time record against Oregon in a series that dates back to 1899, but the Ducks are currently riding a six-game winning streak over the Bears. Cal has not defeated Oregon since 1993 and the Bears' last victory in Eugene was a 20-6 victory on Oct. 31, 1987. In the most recent match-up, Oregon, with Jeff Tedford serving as UO's offensive coordinator, routed Cal, 48-7, in Berkeley's Memorial Stadium. The two teams did not play last season.
A Quick Look at Oregon
Oregon, which jumped out to a 4-0 start, has lost four of its past five games to fall to 5-4 overall on the season. The most significant victory a 31-27 triumph over then-No. 3 Michigan on Sept. 20. Sophomore Kellen Clemens and senior Jason Fife have split time at quarterback this season. Clemens has completed 109-of-191 passes for 1,612 yards and nine TDs, while Fife is 55-of-102 for 759 yards and five scores. With 567 yards, Terrence Whitehead ranks third in the Pac-10 in rushing, averaging 70.9 ypg, and senior Samie Parker is the Ducks' top receiver, having hauled in 46 catches for 721 yards and three touchdowns.
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 12-10 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 Bellotti, Oregon (UC Davis '73) is in his third season has head coach of the Ducks, and he enters Saturday's contest against Cal with a 72-33 record in Eugene. After spending four years at UC Davis as a football and baseball assistant, Bellotti got his first opportunity as an offensive coordinator at Cal State Hayward in 1977. He moved on to became coordinator at Weber State for a year, before returning to Hayward from 1980-83. He received his first head coaching position at Chico State in 1984 and spent five seasons there going, 21-25-2. In 1989, Bellotti joined the Oregon staff as offensive coordinator and six years later, he was named head coach of the Ducks.
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 Arizona State, junior TB J.J. Arrington's 24-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter started a streak of 30 consecutive points by the Bears.
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 Arizona State contest, sophomore QB Aaron Rodgers enjoyed his finest day of the season, completing 17-of-22 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns.
Cal's Coach Jeff Tedford Makes 1st Return Visit to Oregon's Autzen Stadium, Where He Went 23-1 as the Ducks' Offensive Coordinator from 1998-2001
Many different emotions will be felt by California head coach Jeff Tedford this weekend, when he faces his old school for the first time and makes his first return visit to Autzen Stadium-a place where he experienced only one loss in four seasons during his tenure as the Ducks' offensive coordinator. From 1998-2001, Tedford contributed to an Oregon club that reeled off a 23-1 record at Autzen. In fact, Tedford's offense produced 42 points in that only defeat, a 49-42 verdict to Stanford in 2001. During his tenure in Eugene, Tedford was part of a Duck program that registered a 38-10 overall record, two Pacific-10 Conference championships (2000 and 2001), two Top 10 final national rankings (No. 2 in '01 and No. 7 in '00), and four straight bowl game victories (Aloha, Sun, Holiday and Fiesta). In the four years, Tedford developed two quarterbacks (Akili Smith and Joey Harrington) who became NFL first-round draft picks, and three running backs (Reuben Droughns, Maurice Morris twice and Onterrio Smith) who produced 1,000-yard rushing seasons at Oregon.
Tedford's Bears Eyeing 1st Back-to-Back Winning Seasons in 12 Years, 1st Bowl Appearance Since Mariucci's 1996 Team
The arrival of Jeff Tedford continues to transform the Cal football program. In his first season at the helm in 2002, Tedford inherited a Golden Bear club that had gone 1-10 the previous season and promptly staged one of the biggest one-year turnarounds in school history in leading Cal to its first winning season (7-5) in nine years. Named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2002, Tedford has now continued his coaching wizardry in his second campaign at Cal. Picked to finish eighth in the conference by Pac-10 media in the pre-season survey, the Bears once again have risen above outside expectations to post a 5-5 overall record and 3-2 mark in the Pac-10. Among their 2003 victims are nationally No. 2 ranked USC and Arizona State, schools which were selected in that same media poll to finish first and second, respectively, in this year's conference race. Winners of four of their last six games, the Bears are now eyeing the school's first back-to-back winning seasons in 12 years-not since Bruce Snyder's teams finished 7-4 in 1990 and 10-2 in 1991-and gunning for Cal's first post-season bowl appearance since Steve Mariucci's 1996 club registered a 6-6 ledger and earned an invitation to the Aloha Bowl. What makes this year's record all the more impressive is the fact that Tedford and his coaching staff lost 23 seniors and 15 starters off the 2002 club.
Echemandu Averages 132.8 Rushing Yards in Past 5 Games as Pacific-10's 2nd Leading Ground Gainer With 1,009 Yards
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's premier rushers. Averaging an eye-bulging 5.5 yards per carry this year, Echemandu became the 10th player in Cal history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season when he bowled over the Sun Devils for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries last weekend. The Nigeria native has chalked up 1,009 yards and 10 touchdowns on 185 carries through 10 games this season, already ranking No. 7 on Cal's all-time single season rushing list. If he hits his season average this Saturday night at Eugene, he will vault into fourth place on the school's season chart, passing the legendary Jackie Jensen, who rushed for 1,080 yards and averaged 7.3 yards per carry in 1948. His 100.9 yards-per-game average ranks second in the Pac-10 behind Oregon State's Steven Jackson, who's out of sight at 124.2 ypg. Buoyed by a career-high 201 yards (30 carries) and three touchdowns on the ground against Arizona and his 128-yard performance in Tempe the past two weeks, the 225-pound senior has averaged a jaw-dropping 132.8 rushing yards per game over his last five appearances. Echemandu has reeled off the four best rushing days of his career over the Bears' last five games-128 yards (21 carries) at Arizona State last Saturday, 201 yards (30) vs. Arizona Oct. 25, 147 yards (34) vs. USC Sept. 27 and 146 yards (19) vs. Oregon State Oct. 4. With his 201-yard rushing bonanza vs. Arizona, he became only the eighth player in Cal history to puncture the 200-yard barrier in a game. And last weekend at Arizona State, he became the fifth player in school history to rush for 10 TDs in a season, the sixth player in Cal history to post five 100-yard rushing games in one year, and 10th player in school annals to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. With 1,248 career rushing yards, the 'Etch Man' needs only 289 more yards to pierce Cal's Top 15 all-time list (Vic Bottari, 1,536, 1936-38). During the season, Echemandu has enjoyed other noteworthy milestones: his 60-yard touchdown jaunt against Southern Miss was the longest run from scrimmage by a Cal back since the year 2000 (Joe Igber, 80 yards at Arizona State), and his 147-yard outburst against USC marked the first time an opposing running back had rushed for 100 yards in a game against the Trojans in 17 contests. While projections can be faulty at best, it's interesting to note that Echemandu's current rushing rate would compute out to 1,312 yards for a 13-game season. That figure would rank second behind Chuck Muncie (1,460) on Cal's single season list.
Bears Post Consecutive 28-Point Wins vs. Arizona Schools; 5 of Previous 6 Games Had Been Decided in Final 2 Minutes
Cal's Cardiac Kids may be only 5-5 this season, but virtually every one of their games has been great theater. While their last two contests proved to be cakewalks-beating both Arizona (42-14) and Arizona State (51-23) by whopping 28-point margins-it has been a campaign of dramatic finishes. In fact, prior to its two blowout wins, five of its previous six games had been decided in the final two minutes of the game, with California prevailing in only two of those five nail-biters (a 31-24 win at Illinois Sept. 20 and 34-31, 3 OT triumph vs. USC). 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. The Bears' most heartbreaking loss may have come Oct. 18 at the Rose Bowl, where UCLA edged UCLA, 23-20 in overtime, after Cal had tied the game with 11 seconds left in regulation when Aaron Rodgers hit Burl Toler with a 35-yard TD strike and then Rodgers connected with Echemandu with a two-point pass play to knot the score, 20-all. For California head coach Jeff Tedford, who now owns a 12-10 overall record since arriving in Berkeley last season, his Bears have endured five 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-plus the three-point setback at UCLA two weeks ago. In fact, Tedford's 10 defeats at Cal over the past two years have been decided by an average of 7.5 points.
McArthur Ranks 2nd Nationally With 1,037 Receiving Yards
Emerging as one of the nation's leading receivers this year, junior wide receiver Geoff McArthur has pierced the 100-yard receiving mark five times this year in ranking second among all NCAA Division I-A players in total receiving yards (1,037) through 10 games. McArthur leads all Bear receivers in receptions (58), yards (1,037) and touchdowns (seven). Those numbers translate into some impressive averages of 5.8 receptions (4th Pac-10, 30th NCAA), 103.7 yards (2nd Pac-10, 6th NCAA) and 17.9 yards per catch (2nd, Pac-10). He averaged 40.0 yards per grab in snaring four passes for 160 yards (all in the first half), including a 43-yard touchdown catch, at Arizona State Saturday. He caught a career-high 10 passes for 155 yards and one TD in Game 5 on Sept. 20 at Illinois-the most catches by a Cal receiver since Dameane Douglas snared 13 vs. Stanford in 1998-and has hunted down eight passes or more four times this season. He tracked down eight balls 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, his 10-for-155 effort in Illinois, and nine for 128 at UCLA Oct. 18. 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.
Only a Junior, McArthur Moving Up Cal's Career Charts
Only a junior, wide receiver Geoff McArthur is swiftly climbing the school's all-time lists in receiving. He currently stands tied at No. 9 in career receiving yards (1,859) and is No. 10 in career receptions (118). He figures to move up higher on both lists this weekend.
More McArthur: California Star on Pace to Shatter School's Single Season Record for Receiving Yards
Besides his ascent on Cal's career receiving lists, McArthur is also hot on the trail of the school's single season record for receiving yards. His 103.7 yards-per-game average, if he continues to stay on pace, would project to 1,348 yards through a 13-game season, which would shatter the school record by 255 yards.
Minus Oregon State Debacle, Rodgers Completing 64.5% of Passes in His Rookie Season as Cal's Starting Quarterback
Cal's sophomore quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has started the last six games in his first season of major college football, continues to experience personal growth as the Bears' promising young field general. Last weekend, he completed 77.3% of his passes (17-of-22) for 307 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in fueling Cal's lopsided win at Arizona State. In back-to-back weeks, he has engineered the two widest margin Pac-10 victories (both 28 points) by a Golden Bear team in 11 years (46-17 at Stanford, 1993), leading his club to a 42-14 decision vs. Arizona Oct. 25 and 51-23 verdict at ASU last Saturday. While Rodgers has posted a respectable .585 completion percentage (127-of-217) for 1,614 yards, 10 TDs and three interceptions in nine games this season, his accuracy has actually been much better. If you subtract his nightmarish performance in the 35-21 loss vs. Oregon State Oct. 4-when he was held to 52 yards on 9-of-34 passing (.265)-the Butte College transfer has completed a more robust .645 percentage (118-183) for 1,562 yards in his other eight games of 2003. And providing the Bears with one of the nation's best backup QBs is Reggie Robertson, who started the first four games of 2003 and currently ranks second in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency (155.76). He 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. Despite losing Kyle Boller to the pros (first round, Baltimore Ravens), the Cal passing game under Tedford has thrived, now ranking seventh in the Pac-10 at 241.6 aerial yards per contest. Rodgers, a third team JC All-American last year, has thrown all three of his interceptions in his last 119 attempts, after opening his Cal career interception-free in his first 98 passes. Robertson, meanwhile, has connected on 63.3 percent (62-of-98) of his attempts for 797 yards, nine TDs and three interceptions. Combined, Rodgers and Robertson have launched 19 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. Those six picks have come in 317 total pass attempts for an unworldly interception percentage of .189.
First Halves Have Been Mister Rodgers' Neighborhood
Rodgers, who has already gained national kudos for his early-season showings for Tedford's club, has particularly shined in first halves this year. Four games where he has especially excelled in the opening 30 minutes are the wins over Illinois, USC and Arizona State, and the overtime loss at UCLA.
With QB Boller & RB Igber Gone, Cal Offense Still Produces; Ranks 2nd in Rushing, 4th in Scoring, 6th in Total Off. in Pac-10
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 total offensive yardage this year and leads the Pac-10 in total first downs (219). In addition, the Golden Bears' offense has averaged 46.5 points, 279.5 rushing yards and 486.5 total yards per game in its last two weeks. This year's club, however, is averaging 5.0 less points per game than 2002 (a figure that encompasses scoring from all three facets of the game-offense, defense and special teams).
With Only 2 Starters Back from 2002, Inexperience of Cal Defense Spells Up-and-Down Year for Pac-10's 9th Ranked Unit
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 season that has seen it allow 394.2 yards (9th, Pac-10) and 24.8 points (7th, Pac-10) per outing. However, the Bears' 'D' has performed relatively well in seven of their 10 games this year. They spun a defensive shutout (34-2) against Southern Miss in its Aug. 30 home opener, and held Colorado State, Illinois and Arizona State-all potentially explosive clubs-to 23, 24 and 23 points, respectively. Against the Los Angeles schools, Cal limited USC to 24 points in regulation, some 15 points below its league-leading 39.7 ppg average entering the game, and held UCLA to 228 total yards and 23 points. And two weeks ago, despite allowing 404 total yards of offense, Cal's defense limited Arizona to 14 points.
Cal's Leader in Tackles, Sacks & Tackles for Loss, McCleskey A Bona Fide All-Pac-10 Choice As One of Nation's Top DBs
Cal's Donnie McCleskey has been nothing short of sensational as the sophomore leader of the Bears' defense. McCleskey, the Golden Bears' second-year starter at rover, has posted 85 tackles, 5.5 sacks, two interceptions and 11.0 tackles for losses of 46 yards-all team-leading figures-while emerging as one of the Pac-10's finest players. A former Los Angeles Times San Gabriel Valley Player of the Year who rushed for 2,236 yards and 29 TDs as a senior at Bishop Amat High School last fall, McCleskey has already set the school record for most sacks by a defensive back in a season (eclipsing the three sacks set by CB Nnamdi Asomugha (the Raiders' first-round pick this year) in 2000. McCleskey leads all Pac-10 defensive backs in tackles-per-game (8.5, 3rd), sacks per game (0.55, 9th) and tackles for loss per contest (1.10, 6th), ranking in the conference's Top 10 in each category among all position players. He also ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in passes defensed with a 1.10 per game average (11 overall). McCleskey reached double figures in tackles for the fourth time this season in the UCLA game, making 10 stops against the Bruins Oct. 18.
Yo Vinny! Cal's Strang Tied for 6th in Pac-10 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 scored three touchdowns this season in part-time work. First filling in for the injured Mixon Sept. 20 at 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. Thus far this year, Strang has also caught 15 passes for 179 yards and three TDs in reserve. And his 9.4 yards per punt return (18 for 170 yards) is tied for sixth in the Pac-10.
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 in picking up the slack left by the injured Jonathan Makonnen, who played in only three games before undergoing season-ending surgery. Toler (35-473, 3 TDs) and Strang (15-179 3 TDs) have shouldered the load, combining for 50 receptions, 652 yards and six scores in ranking second and fourth, respectively, in catches on the team. Toler hunted down four passes for 81 yards (all in the first half) vs. USC Sept. 27 and cracked the century mark for the first time in his career with seven catches for 104 yards at UCLA two weeks ago. His 37-yard reception in the first quarter at Arizona State was the longest of his career. 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.
All-Pacific-10 Conference Candidate Mark Wilson Anchors California's Veteran Offensive Line That Sizzled at Arizona State
With 44 starts to his credit entering the Oregon game, senior offensive tackle Mark Wilson ranks first among all Pac-10 offensive linemen and third nationally for most career starts. Wilson, voted All-Pac-10 honorable mention last year, is the quiet leader of a veteran offensive line that has shredded Arizona's and Arizona State's defensive fronts the past two weeks in opening gaping holes for a combined 559 rushing yards in paving the way for two 28-point wins. Thus far, Wilson and his fellow starting interior linemen-tackle Chris Murphy, centers Nolan Bluntzer and Marvin Philip, and guards Jonathan Giesel, Ryan O'Callaghan and Aaron Merz-have been the foundation for a Cal offense that has spewed out 397.5 yards and 30.6 points per game. While admittingly facing some of the nation's best defensive clubs thus far, the Cal O-Line has yielded 23 sacks in the first 10 games. However, they have allowed only 13 sacks over their last seven games vs. Utah (one), Illinois (two), USC (two), Oregon State (none), UCLA (five), Arizona (two) and Arizona State (one). And the Cal interior line has kept on rolling, despite having to find temporary replacement for injured starters. Giesel, nursing an ankle injury, returned to his customary left guard spot in the starting lineup against Arizona Oct. 25 after missing the previous two games vs. Oregon State and UCLA, as Merz ably started in his place in those two games. And last weekend, it was Marvin Philip who drew his first start of the season and performed admirably in place of the injured Nolan Blunzer (ankle sprain), who sat out the ASU tilt but should be ready to return to action in Oregon.
A Win for the Ages: Cal Shocks USC in Pac-10's Biggest Upset This Year, As Bears Win 1st Game over No. 3 Team Since 1951
When Cal scored a 34-31 triple overtime win over then-nationally No. 3 ranked USC in its Pac-10 opener Sept. 27-severing the nation's second-longest current winning streak (11 games)-it was truly 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.
Fredrickson, 1st Starting Punter-Kicker at Cal Since Longwell, Has Experienced Highs & Lows of College Football in '03
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 experienced the true highs and lows of college football. He averages 39.1 yards per punt (9th in the Pac-10) while connecting on 35-of-35 PATs and 11-of-21 field goal attempts. He has played key roles in three Cal wins, converting his only field goal try at Illinois-a 32-yarder that lifted Cal into a 31-14 fourth-quarter lead-then booting a 38-yard FG that sealed Cal's 34-31 triple-overtime victory against No. 3 USC, and drilling three field goals (47, 33 and 29) in as many attempts to crown the Bears' 51-23 victory at Arizona State. A footnote to Fredrickson's season: seven of his 10 field goal misses this year have been by the narrowest of margins, with three hitting the goal post upright, four that were blocked, and two that just pulled wide from distances of 54 and 51 yards.
Cal Victimized by 23 Plays of 30 Yards or More in 1st 10 Games, But It Was the Bears Who Ripped Off Long Plays at ASU Saturday
As Cal's young players continue to gain experience, the Bears have been susceptible to giving up the big play in 2003. Through their first 10 games, the Bears have allowed opponents to uncork 23 plays of 30 yards or longer. However, seven of those 23 plays came in Cal's very first game against Kansas State, while three occurred in their contests vs. Oregon State and UCLA. Eight of the opponents' big plays this season have measured 50-plus yards or more. The Bears have improved in their last two wins, as they allowed only one big play (a 49-yard run by Michael Bell) against Arizona and two 30-yard-plus plays by ASU (32-yard receptions by both Skyler Fulton and Hakim Hill). And, bringing a smile to Tedford, it was the Bears who turned the tables on Arizona State, unleashing six plays of 30 yards of their own during the afternoon.
Sack-Happy Bears Continue to Harass QBs Despite Loss of 2 of Pac-10's Top 5 Pass Rushers from '02 in Banta-Cain & Canada
Last year, the Golden Bears were the third-best sack unit in the Pac-10. Cal featured ends Tully Banta-Cain (13) and Tom Canada (12), who ranked second and fifth, respectively, on the conference sack list. While both players are gone in 2003, the Bears continue to mount pressure on opposing passers. Cal has corralled 28 sacks in 10 games to rank fourth in the Pac-10, with rover Donnie McCleskey and Ryan Riddle sharing the individual team lead with 5.5 sacks each, and linebacker Wendell Hunter close behind at 5.0. The Bears have turned up the heat in their last three games, when they've swarmed inside for 12 of their 28 sacks, including five last weekend in Tempe.
Golden Bears Recover from Early Season Red Zone Woes to Go 11-for-11 in Last 2 Games vs. Arizona & Arizona State
One of the key barometers for a football team is success in the red zone. Entering the back side of the 2003 season, Cal has rebounded from its early-season struggles in the red zone. The Golden Bears, who led the conference in red zone offense last year through the first eight games (32-of-33) before fading down the stretch, has scored 29 times (21 TDs, 8 FGs) in 37 red zone chances this year to rank fourth in the conference at 78.4 percent. Cal has been a perfect 11-for-11 in scoring (9 TDs, 2 FGs) when venturing into the red zone the past two games.
Nighttime in Eugene-Yet Another New Experience for '03 Bears
When Jeff Tedford and his Golden Bears learned recently that Saturday's game had been shifted from a 12:30 p.m. start to a 7 p.m. kickoff due to television, the prospects of possibly playing in cold, damp Northwest weather at night barely registered a ripple on their radar screen. After all, this Cal football team-which featured only nine returning starters from 2002-has already been confronted with some unusual circumstances this season. To wit:* They have played the earliest season opener in school history (Aug. 23 vs. Kansas State in the BCA Classic at Kansas City).
* They have played six games on their schedule before the end of September.
* They've experienced near 100-degree heat in games at Kansas State and UCLA, and now face the prospect of cold and damp weather this weekend.
* They answered an early wakeup call Sept. 20 to kick off their Illinois game at 9:10 a.m. PDT.
* Along with Temple, the Bears are one of only two NCAA Division 1-A schools who play seven road games this year.
* Cal will travel more than 13,000 miles for those seven road games.
* The Bears have played five games that have been decided in the final two minutes.
* They have been involved in two overtime games, losing in a single overtime at UCLA (23-20) and beating nationally No. 3 ranked USC in a triple OT game (34-31).
Bears Own Slight Edge in Record vs. Common '03 Opponents
California and Oregon have played three common opponents-Arizona, Utah and Arizona State-thus far this season, with the Golden Bears holding a slight edge. Cal has gone 2-1 vs. those three schools, while Oregon went 1-2.
Cal's Ball Carriers Face NCAA's No. 20 Rush Defense
Perhaps the key matchup Saturday night will be when Cal's rushing game, which ranks second in the Pac-10 at 155.9 yards per contest, squares off against Oregon's rush defense, which has doled out a paltry 104.8 yards per game to rank fifth in the conference and 20th nationally. The Golden Bears, led by the conference's second-leading rusher, Adimchinobe Echemandu, have spewed out 962 yards on the ground over their past five games-a robust average of 192.4 yards per tilt. While the Ducks field one of the conference's leading rush defenses, they rank last in pass defense (274.1) and second-to-last in scoring defense (29.7) among Pac-10 schools.
A Monumental Mismatch in 2001: Ducks 48, Bears 7
The last time Cal and Oregon met was 2001 at Berkeley, in a game that proved to be one of the greatest mismatches in recent history. Entering the contest, the Ducks were 5-0 and ranked No. 5 nationally, while the Golden Bears were 0-4 and trying to apply the brakes to a seven-game losing streak dating back to the 2000 campaign. Oregon, riding a two-year winning wave of 20 victories in 22 games when the Ducks arrived in Berkeley, sported a +11 turnover margin. Cal, meanwhile, came in with -13 turnover figure. But if the facts and statistics sounded daunting for Cal entering the game, the numbers only worsened when the contest had ended. With Heisman Trophy candidate Joey Harrington at the controls, the Ducks ransacked the Bears, 48-7. The 41-point margin of defeat tied for the third-worst Cal loss in Memorial Stadium history, and was the widest point differential in the 104-year history of the Bears-Ducks rivalry.
Ducks Feature 7 Coaches, 20 Players With NorCal Connections
The Ducks' football program might as well be called 'Bay Area North,' as no less than seven coaches and 20 players offer Bay Area connections. Head coach Mike Bellotti was born in Sacramento, earned his bachelor's degree at UC Davis and completed his master's at Cal State Hayward. Assistant head coach Neal Zoumboukos, the dean of Pac-10 assistant coaches with 24 seasons in Eugene, is a San Francisco native who graduated from St. Ignatius High School, UC Davis (B.A., history) and San Francisco State (master's, P.E.). Defensive coordinator Nick Alioto was born in Walnut Creek, graduating from Pittsburg High, UC Davis (B.S., P.E.) and Chico State (master's, P.E.). Wide receiver coach Dan Ferrigno is another San Francisco product who attended Riordan High and earned two degrees at San Francisco State (B.S., P.E. and teaching credential) before logging two coaching stints at Cal in 1981 and 1996-99. Secondary coach John Neal was born in Los Altos and attended both Los Altos High and Foothill College. Linebacker coach Don Pellum served one year at Cal as assistant athletic director for student services. And special teams/tight ends coach Robin Ross coached linebackers for the Oakland Raiders in 1999 and 2000. Among the Duck players with NorCal roots are such standouts as placekicker Jared Siegel (Sacramento, Jesuit HS), guard Nick Steitz (Los Banos, Los Banos HS), defensive tackle Igor Olshansky (San Francisco/St. Ignatius HS) and linebacker Ramone Reed (Berkeley, Berkeley HS).
Reserve Tight Ends Hunter & Rust the Only Oregon Natives on Cal's '03 Roster
Almost exclusively a California-bred team, the Golden Bears feature only two Oregon natives on their 2003 team roster. Jordan Hunter of South Albany High School and John Rust of Lake Oswego High School, both reserve tight ends who have been limited to special team duty, are the only Cal players returning to their home state this weekend.
Former Duck Justin Wilcox Now Coaching at Cal
The Wilcox family has bled green and gold over the years, first with linebacker Dave Wilcox, who was a Duck All-American linebacker in 1962-63, and more recently with son Justin, who was a standout defensive back at Oregon form 1995-99 and earned second team All-Pac-10 honors as a senior. While the senior Wilcox went on to a brilliant career with the San Francisco 49ers that last year led to his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the junior Wilcox joined the Cal coaching staff this season and will be roaming the sidelines Saturday as the Bears' linebacker coach.
Bears Enjoy One of Their Finest Recruiting Years Ever
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. The recruits came right on time for Cal, which tied for the fewest returning starters (nine) among NCAA Division 1-A schools this year.
2nd Quarters Tell the Tale of Cal's 4 Victories This Season
Colossal second quarters have spelled the difference in all five 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. Against USC in the Pac-10 opener, the Bears hung another 14-0 score on their opponent in the second quarter. Two weeks ago, Cal fleeced Arizona in the second quarter by a 21-0 margin, while last Saturday's 27-7 second stanza at Arizona State was the Bears' highest-scoring quarter this year. Yet, while the Bears hold a remarkable 96-7 edge in second quarters in their victories, they have been outscored 38-21 in the second periods of their five losses.
Cal Leads Pac-10 in Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game
Tedford preaches mistake-free football and at least in the penalty department, his Bears have taken heed. California has been whistled for only 57 penalties for 479 yards over its first 10 games, which averages to a Pac-10 low 47.9 yards per contest. Interestingly, 216 of those 479 penalty yards came in three games-nine infractions for 86 yards in the Kansas State opener, six flags for 60 yards vs. Oregon State Oct. 4, and seven penalties for 70 yards last week at Arizona State.
8 Bear Defenders Account for Club's 11 Interceptions
With linebacker Joe Maningo, Mike McGrath and rover Donnie McCleskey leading the way with two picks each, Cal's defense has now made 11 interceptions this season. Interestingly, eight different players have intercepted passes.
Incoming JC Talent Beginning to Make Impact on '03 Bears
As the need has dictated, Cal's incoming junior college transfers have made 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-who clutched his first sack of the year vs. Oregon State-has started nine games and safety Matt Giordano has four starts. Also, hard-charging end Ryan Riddle has made three starts and leads all linemen with 5.5 sacks (tied for first on team overall) this season. Another linebacker, Joe Maningo, who transferred from nearby Foothill College, has impressed with his hyperactive play. He missed four games with a knee injury, but drew his first career start at UCLA Oct. 18, and has contributed 15 tackles, three tackles for loss and two interceptions in his six game appearances. His two interceptions have come in the last two games, as he picked off a Kris Heavner pass at the Cal eight-yard line and set up the Cal-Arizona game's first score with an electrifying 51-yard return Oct. 25, and then picked off an Andrew Walter errant toss last week at ASU and returned it six yards. And a fifth JC defender, Ray Tago, who joined the team late, has seen action in five games despite injuries. Giordano (42) and Blay-Miezah (34) currently rank fourth and fifth (tied), 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 by a Cal tight end in eight years with seven for 41 yards and one TD vs. USC) and TB J.J. Arrington (335 yards, 63 carries, 6 TDs, 5.3 ypc).
Tedford Already Tied for 4th in Pac-10 for Coaching Seniority
Just how unstable is it to be a Pac-10 head football coach? Well, consider this: Cal head coach Jeff Tedford, in only his second year at the helm, is already tied for fourth 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 State's Dirk Koetter and USC's Pete Carroll in consecutive years of service.
Strong Oregon Connection on Cal Coaching StaffCal 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.
Bob Gregory Cal: Def. Coordinator Ore: DB Coach ('98-00)Ron Gould Cal: RB Coach Ore: G.A. ('90-91), Player (DB, '87)Eric Kiesau Cal: WR Coach Ore: Teamwork Coordinator ('99)Justin Wilcox Cal: LB Coach Ore: Player (DB, '95-99)John Krasinski Cal: Strength Coach Ore: Asst. Strength Coach ('96-00)Eric Young Cal: Asst. Strength Coach Ore: G.A. Strength Coach ('96-97)Kevin Parker Cal: Recruiting Asst. Ore: Player (TB, WR, '95-96)Mike McHugh Cal: FB Operations Dir. Ore: FB Operations Dir. (`99-00)
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 11,860 round-trip miles in their first five road trips to Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Champaign, Ill., Pasadena and Tempe, Ariz. The good news is, Tedford's club only will travel 1,360 more round-trip miles in their final two away games this season (for a total of 13,220 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.
A Tale of 2 Years: Bears +3 in TO Margin vs. +20 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, even though the Bears still rank third in the Pac-10 in TO margin (+0.30). After 10 games, Cal is +3 in turnover margin department-thanks to a +3 showing last weekend in Tempe when the Bears forced a season-high tying four turnovers (2 INT, 2 fumbles). For the season, the Bears have committed 15 (6 INT, 9 fumbles) and caused 18 (11 INT, 7 fumbles) turnovers. A year ago through 10 games, Cal had only committed eight turnovers.
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, although through 10 games, the 2003 Bears have outscored their foes by a 169-133 margin before intermission (note: in its last four wins, Cal staked halftime leads of 21-7 in both the Illinois and USC games, a 21-0 edge at intermission against Arizona, and a colossal 41-17 halftime cushion at ASU. Cal was particularly lethal in first quarters last year, outscoring its opponents, 116-43. But the 2003 season has not followed the same pattern, as the Bears have been on the other side of the ledger of a 87-52 differential in first quarters this year. Cal has faced a deficit after one period in six of its 10 games this year, a stark comparison to Tedford's first Cal club which only trailed at intermission two times all season (at Oregon State, 21-10, and vs. Arizona, 24-17).
Starters Jonathan Makonnen & Tim Mixon Sidelined With Season-Ending Injuries
Cal's fortunes took a downward turn by mid-season when wide receiver Jonathan Makonnen (stress fracture of left foot) and cornerback Tim Mixon (torn ACL in left knee) suffered season-ending injuries. Both have undergone successful surgeries, but their presence is missed. Makonnen, the Bears' leading receiver as a junior in 2002 with 54 catches for 682 yards and seven TDs, was limited to 14 receptions, 209 yards and one TD in three games played this fall. Mixon, who was beginning to resemble last year's Cal freshman of the year, Donnie McCleskey, before the injury was sustained at Utah (Sept. 11), had bagged 14 tackles and one sack, and had broken up a team-high five passes in his first three games this year as a redshirt freshman.
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 (LB coach Justin Wilcox).
Adimchinobe Echemandu and J.J. Arrington have combined to rush for 473 yards and eight touchdowns on 69 carries in the Bears' past two games. That's a robust 6.86 yards-per-carry average for Berkeley's dynamic duo over those last two contests...The 41 points scored in the first half last week at ASU were a season high for the Bears and the most tallied in one half by a Tedford team since Cal rang up 49 first-half points in last year's season opener against Baylor (a game eventually won, 70-22)...Echemandu has rushed for 100 yards five times this year and Geoff McArthur has racked up 100-yard receiving games first times this season as well. But last Saturday marked the first time this year that both players cleared the century mark in the same game...Safety Ryan Guiterrez, fully recovered from his early knee injury, has peeled off team-high tackle totals of 13 vs. Arizona and eight (tied with Donnie McCleskey) at Arizona State...In punt return average, Cal ranks second as a team (11.2) while Vincent Strang individually (9.44) is tied for sixth in the conference...Cal head man Jeff Tedford has been associated with teams that have carved out a 33-13 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 5-5 this year...The Bears seized 7-0 leads against the Arizona schools, marking only the second and third time in the last 11 games (dating back to the 2002 Big Game vs. Stanford) that Cal has scored first in a game. The Bears are 6-5 in those 11 tilts...Cal opponents have returned only 18-of-44 punts this year for a scant 4.4-yard average and a long of only 15 yards...The Bears have now tallied 28 points or more in 15 of the last 22 games under Tedford; 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...Under Tedford, Cal has also now scored 20 points or more in 13 consecutive games for the first time in school history...Good news, bad news department: Cal has attempted the second most field goals in the conference with 21 (Washington State is 20-for-22 in FG attempts). However, the Bears have only made 11 of those 21 attempts...Under Mike Bellotti, Oregon has cashed in more victories (72) than any other Pac-10 school during the past eight-plus years...The Ducks sport a .796 winning percentage (43-11) at Autzen Stadium during that period...Oregon has won the last six meetings between the two schools, with the most recent Cal win coming in 1993 when the Bears overcame a 30-point first-half deficit to eke out a dramatic, 42-41 victory in Berkeley...The 13 schools on Cal's 2003 schedule have posted a combined 63-53 record (.543) thus far this year...This marks the second straight 7 p.m. game for the Ducks, who kicked off at the same time last Saturday at Washington...Oregon has produced more first team All-Pac-10 quarterbacks (six) than any other Pac-10 school since 1977...Oregon is looking to notch its 29th consecutive home sellout on Saturday at Autzen Stadium...Cal (139.5) and Oregon (132.4)-who both have utilized two quarterbacks this season-rank second and third, respectively, in passing efficiency in the conference...Cal's offense also ranks third in the always-important third-down conversion category, clicking on 56-of-141 attempts for a .397 success rate...Oregon's noteworthy alumni include Phil Knight, CEO and co-founder of Nike; Ann Curry, news anchor for the NBC Today Show; David Jeremiah, Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Berkeley native James Ivory, the Academy Award-winning film director who has directed such movies as The Remains of the Day, Howard's End, and Le Divorce.