Cal Returns Home for an Afternoon Affair Against UCLA
Oct. 20, 2008
PDF of Official Cal Game Notes
Mack On Lowe's Senior CLASS Award List
Arizona tops No. 25 Cal, 42-27
Cal-Oregon Game set for 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 1
Big Game Ticket Info
2008 Cal Schedule and Results
Official UCLA Website
PDF of Official UCLA Game Notes
2008 CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL
Saturday, October 25, 12:30 p.m. (PT)
California (4-2, 2-1 Pac-10) vs. UCLA (3-4, 2-2 Pac-10)
Berkeley, Calif. - Memorial Stadium
TV: ABC Broadcast team: Terry Gannon, David Norrie.Radio: KGO Radio (810 AM) in San Francisco (Joe Starkey, Troy Taylor, Todd McKim) - and affiliate stations KGIL Radio (1260 AM Los Angeles), XSURF Radio (540 AM San Diego), KNTK Radio (102.3 Weed), KCBL Radio (1340 AM Fresno), KESP Radio (970 AM Modesto), KVBL Radio (1400 AM Visalia) and KTKZ Radio (1380 AM Sacramento). The pre-game show begins 30 minutes prior to kickoff.
GOLDEN BEAR FACTS
Head Coach: Jeff Tedford
Alma Mater/Year: Fresno State/1983
Record at Cal/Year: 54-28/7th
Career Record/Years: Same
Football SID: Herb Benenson
Office Phone: 510-642-0515
Secondary Contact: Chris DeConna
Office Phone: 510-643-4724
Ticket Info: 800-GO-BEARS
Games Played: 77
Series Record: Cal trails, 27-49-1
First Meeting: 11/4/33, tie 0-0
Last Meeting: 10/20/07, UCLA, 30-21
Current Streak: Tied 4-4, last 8 meetings
Tedford vs. UCLA: 3-3
Opening KickoffCalifornia returns home to Berkeley for a two-game homestand, starting with a matchup against UCLA Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in the annual Joe Roth Memorial Game. The contest will be televised on a regional basis by ABC (locally on KGO TV 7).
The Golden Bears are coming off a 42-27 setback at Arizona that left their record at 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-10. Cal scored 17 consecutive points on the Wildcats to build a 24-14 halftime lead, but UA responded with a 28-3 barrage in the third quarter to take control.
Sophomore TB Jahvid Best, back on the field after missing the Oct. 4 Arizona State game with a dislocated left elbow, made his presence felt early. He rushed for 91 yards, including a 67-yard TD sprint, and caught four passes for another 33 yards in the first half alone. Best finished the night with 107 yards on the ground on just 16 carries for an average of 6.7 ypc.
Despite not returning kickoffs against Arizona to help limit hits on his elbow, Best still leads the nation in all-purpose yards with 200.4 per game. With 528 total rushing yards (105.6 ypg), he is already more than halfway to becoming Cal's seventh 1,000-yard runner in the last seven seasons - one for each year of coach Jeff Tedford's tenure with the Bears.
Tight end Cameron Morrah caught three passes for 60 yards and a score - a leaping 18-yarder from QB Nate Longshore - vs. the Wildcats to continue his breakout campaign. The 6-4, 245-pound junior is tied with Best for the team lead in receptions with 18, and he paces the squad with 254 yards (14.1 ypc) and five touchdowns. Morrah needs to reach the end zone one more time to match Garrett Cross (2004) for most TD catches by a Cal tight end since Tom Swoboda had seven in 2002.
Longshore and Kevin Riley both saw action in Tucson - the fourth time they have played in the same game this year. Longshore ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency (134.2 rating), with Riley right behind in sixth (123.4). Together, they have combined to throw for 245.5 ypg and 14 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Bears surrendered a season-high 404 yards to Arizona, yet they remain fourth in the Pac-10 and 31st in the NCAA in total defense, allowing 309.5 ypg. Cal registered four sacks of UA QB Willie Tuitama, giving the Bears 15 in their last four games. With 17 sacks overall, Cal is just five shy of its total of 22 for all of last year.
One category that has already topped its 2007 amount is interceptions. Senior LB Anthony Felder picked off a Tuitama pass in the first quarter, the Bears' 11th of the season to put them one up on a year ago. As a result, Cal leads the Pac-10 in turnover margin at +1.00 per game.
Months ago, the Bears coaching staff knew the linebacking corps would be the strength of the defense this fall and decided to implement a 3-4 scheme during spring practice. Now, Cal's top four tacklers - all of which rate in the top 30 in the conference - are LBs, paced by Felder's 44 stops. Fellow linebacker Zack Follett also ranks among the best in the league in both quarterback sacks (4.0) and tackles for loss (8.5).
In the secondary, junior Syd'Quan Thompson broke up another pass vs. Arizona to put him atop the Pac-10 list for passes defensed with 12, a stat that also includes his three interceptions on the year.
1959 Rose Bowl ReunionMembers of the Cal team that played in the 1959 Rose Bowl will hold a reunion Saturday, and they will be introduced on the field during the UCLA game. Coming off a 1-9 campaign in 1957, the Bears -- coached by Pete Elliott and led by QB Joe Kapp -- rebounded from an 0-2 start to capture the 1958 Pacific Coast Conference championship, finishing the regular season with a 7-3 record 50 years ago this fall. Cal, though, lost, 38-12, to Iowa in its Jan. 1 trip to Pasadena. Kapp earned first-team All-America honors after throwing for 775 yards and rushing for 616 more, while HB Jack Hart was voted first-team all-conference.
Hall of Fame Induction WeekendThe California Athletic Hall of Fame adds seven new members to its ranks this weekend with the induction of its 23rd class of former Golden Bears. Formal ceremonies will occur Friday night, and the inductees will be introduced on the field during the game vs. UCLA. The Class of 2008 includes David Ortega, who accumulated a school-record 525 tackles during his football career; Shellie Onstead, the first Golden Bear to earn All-America honors in field hockey; Brian Hendrick, a three-time All-Pac-10 basketball player; Todd Mayo, who led the baseball team to the 1988 College World Series; Kristen Smyth, a three-time All-American gymnast; Derek Van Rheenen, who was league MVP in soccer and later earned his Ph.D. from Cal; and Joan Parker, who spent nearly 40 years at the school as an athlete, coach and administrator. With the addition of the seven members, the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame now features 229 individuals and five rowing teams.
Joe Roth Memorial GameSaturday's Cal-UCLA matchup is designated the Joe Roth Memorial Game, honoring the former Cal quarterback who passed away from cancer in 1977. Roth led the Bears to an 8-3 record and a share of the 1975 Pac-8 title when the team led the nation in total offense. He was also voted a first-team All-American in 1976. Each year since, the Bears' home game against either UCLA or USC honors Roth's memory as the Joe Roth Game.
Coach to Cure MD ArmbandIn a nationwide project designed to build awareness and support researchers trying to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, collegiate coaches around the country this weekend, including Jeff Tedford, will be wearing a Coach to Cure MD armband to draw attention for this effort and strengthen fundraising efforts.
Cal-UCLA MatchupThis will be the 78th meeting all-time between these two programs since the series began 1933 ... UCLA leads the series, 49-27-1, and neither team has put together back-to-back wins in this series since UCLA won four straight from 1995-98 ... Cal has won its last four games at Memorial Stadium against the Bruins since 2000, scoring 38 or more on three occasions ... the Bears lost last season in Pasadena by a score of 30-21 ... Alterraun Verner intercepted a Nate Longshore pass and sprinted 76 yards to the end zone with 1:33 remaining to seal the victory over the 10th-ranked Bears ... in 2006, Longshore tossed three TDs en route to a 38-24 over UCLA in Berkeley ... UCLA ranks 22nd nationally in passing defense, allowing 175.4 ypg through the air ... however, the Bruins are surrending 182.6 ypg on the ground ... QB Kevin Craft, who engineered an overtime win over Tennessee in the opener, is 147-for-251 for 1518 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
Cal Offense Quick NotesCal has the 18th-best scoring offense (37.3 ppg) in the nation ... sophomore TB/RET Jahvid Best leads the NCAA in all-purpose yards, averaging 200.4 ypg ... in addition, he is second in the Pac-10 and 21st in the nation in rushing (105.6 ypg) ... senior QB Nate Longshore tied Dave Barr for fourth all-time at Cal with 48 career touchdown passes after tossing two against Arizona (Longshore also took over sole possession of sixth at Cal in career passing yards with 6,363) ... junior TE Cameron Morrah hauled in his fifth touchdown of the season against Arizona - the most touchdowns in a season by a Cal tight end since Garrett Cross had six in 2004 ... Cal leads the Pac-10 (12th in the nation) in turnover margin (+6) ... Cal has won 19 straight games when scoring 30 or more points since 2005 ... Kevin Riley set a school record with 58 pass attempts against Maryland ... his 423 yards passing vs. the Terps were the third-most in a game in school history and the most single-game passing yards in the Tedford era ... the 81-yard run by Vereen against Michigan State and the 80-yard TD run by Best on the opening play against Washington State marked the first time in program history that Cal had two 80-yard runs in the same season; Best extended that mark by adding an 86-yard run as well against WSU ... Best and Vereen rushed for 100 yards against Michigan State, the seventh time Jeff Tedford has had two 100-yard rushers in the same game ... Vereen set the school record for rushing yards by a freshman in his debut vs. Michigan State with 101 and also set a Cal freshman record for longest run with his 81-yard TD ... the Bears' 391 rushing yards at Washington State are a Tedford-era record and the most by a Cal team since 1991 ... Cal's 66 points at WSU were the second-most scored in the Jeff Tedford era and the third-most for Cal since World War II ... the 63-point margin of victory at WSU was Cal's largest since 1922 ... Cal is looking for its seventh straight season with a 1,000-yard rusher after Justin Forsett ran for 1,546 yards last year ... Cal has not been shut out in a school-record 113 straight games dating back to Sept. 11, 1999 ... Cal has scored 2,752 points, the second most of any other team in the Pac-10, since 2002 (USC, 3,174).
Cal Defensive Quick NotesIn its last three games (Arizona State, Colorado State and Arizona), Cal has recorded 11 sacks, five interceptions, 17 pass break-ups, 21 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles ... after picking off a Willie Tuitama pass against Arizona, Cal has 11 interceptions in six games this season (the Bears had 10 last year) ... additionally, Cal is tied for 10th in the nation with 11 INTs ... the Bears rank 16th in the nation in pass efficiency defense (third in the Pac-10) ... Cal has the third-best rush defense in the Pac-10 (109.0 ypg) and the fourth-best total defense (309.5 ypg) ... Cal also boasts the top-ranked red-zone defense in the league (63.2%) ... the Bears have allowed just one individual 100-yard rusher all season, and impressively held Michigan State's Javon Ringer (147.4 ypg; #2 in NCAA) to a season-low 81 yards in the opener ... sophomore DE Cameron Jordan was named Pac-10 Player of the Week (Oct. 6) after registering eight tackles, including two sacks and three for loss, plus a forced fumble vs. Arizona State ... junior CB Syd'Quan Thompson has three interceptions this year, including two against Washington State; ... his 108 interception return yards against WSU were a school record ... senior LB Anthony Felder leads the Bears with 44 tackles this season ... senior LB Zack Follett has team highs with 8.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks ... three linebackers recorded career highs in tackles against Colorado State: Eddie Young (7), Michael Mohamed (9) and Devin Bishop (4) ... Felder (101 tackles) and Worrell Williams (105 tackles) joined graduated safety Thomas DeCoud to give Cal three 100-plus tacklers for the second time in school history last season (also in 1983) ... the 52 tackles by junior DL Tyson Alualu last year were the most by a defensive lineman at Cal since 2000.
Special Teams Quick NotesBryan Anger ranks fifth in the nation (tops in the Pac-10) in punting at 45.9 ypg ... Anger booted three punts that landed inside the Arizona State 10-yard-line, including a career long 72-yarder, and averaged 47.7 ypp vs. the Sun Devils to earn Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week honors (Oct. 6) ... the Bears rank third the conference in net punting (37.6) after pacing the Pac-10 in net punting in both 2006 and 2007 ... Cal has turned three blocked kicks into 21 points on the board so far this season ... Bryant Nnabuife has a pair of blocked punt returns for TDs - 5 yards vs. Michigan State and 30 yards against Colorado State; the MSU return was Cal's first off a blocked punt for a TD since 2004 ... Rulon Davis also blocked a Washington State field goal that Zack Follett scooped up for a 68-yard score, his first career touchdown ... Syd'Quan Thompson amassed 131 punt return yards and returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown against Colorado State (his first career touchdown on a punt return) ... Cal set a single-game record with 187 punt return yards vs. Colorado State - Thompson (131), Nnabuife (30), Mychal Kendricks (26) ... true freshman Georgio Tavecchio stepped in for an injured David Seawright (groin) vs. Arizona, making two field goals (42, 40) and three extra points in his first action other than kicking off this season ... snapper Nick Sundberg, a three-year starter, was perfect on 128-of-129 (99.2%) snaps in 2007.
Cal-Arizona: PostscriptJahvid Best started at tailback after missing the Arizona State game with a dislocated left elbow ... he rumbled for a 67-yard TD run (his third longest of the season) in the second quarter to help knot the score at 14-14 ... Best, who entered the game as the nation's leader in all-purpose yards per game (215.5), had 140 all-purpose yards ... Best also had 107 rushing yards, his third 100-yard game of the year ... Anthony Felder recovered a fumble in the first quarter, which led to a Cal touchdown ... Cal has now scored 63 points off of opponent turnovers this year ... Verran Tucker, who had a career-high four catches, hauled in his second touchdown reception of the season in the first quarter (from Nate Longshore) ... Cameron Morrah pulled down his fifth touchdown of the season in the second quarter ... Giorgio Tavecchio recorded his first point as a Golden Bear (an extra point) in the first quarter ... he attempted his first career field goal - a 50-yarder in the first quarter (wide right) ... he connected on his second-career field goal attempt - a 42-yarder right before halftime - and added a 40-yarder in the third quarter ... Cal allowed its longest rush (59 yards) and its first 100-yard rusher of the season (Keola Antolin, 149 yards) ... the Bears allowed 28 points in the third quarter - the most given up since the Bears allowed 29 in a quarter vs. Washington State (third quarter) on Sept. 28, 2002 ... this was the first time Cal allowed 40+ points since Oct. 8, 2005 at UCLA (47) ... Cal had its second punt blocked this season in the third quarter (Michigan State).
It's Better to ReceiveNot only do Cal tailbacks carry a load when they are handed the ball - the Bears have produced six 1,000-yard rushers in the last six year - but they are also counted on to receive, as well. This year, for example, TB Jahvid Best is tied for the team lead with 18 catches (despite missing one game), while fellow TB Shane Vereen is tied for third with 16 receptions. Below is a look at career catches by tailbacks who have played for Jeff Tedford at Cal.
Career receptions by running backs at Cal since 20021. Joe Igber (1999-2002) 862. Marshawn Lynch (2004-06) 683. J.J. Arrington (2003-04) 424. Justin Forsett (2004-07) 415. Adimchinobe Echemandu (99-2003) 336. Jahvid Best (2007-current) 31
The Plus Side of TurnoversHead coach Jeff Tedford has focused on turnovers as the No. 1 key to football since his arrival in 2002 and for this season, he and his staff have taken it a step further. Every practice in preseason camp featured a turnover circuit with each payer on the team working on drills related to protecting the football, recovering the football and forcing turnovers. A look at the stats in Tedford's tenure backs up his assertion of the value of turnovers. In his seven years at Cal, the Golden Bears are 30-3 (.909) when winning the turnover battle and 12-18 (.400) when losing that statistical comparison (as well as 12-7 when tied). In Pac-10 games, the stats are even more decisive, as Cal is 19-1 (.950) when winning the turnover battle and 6-16 (.272) when losing it (7-4 when turnovers are tied). Cal lost the turnover battle in each of its six losses in 2007. Cal is tops in the conference (12th in the nation) this season in turnover margin at +6. Additionally, the Bears have scored 63 points off of their opponents' 15 tournovers this season (nine TDs). In Tedford's first season in Berkeley, the Bears were third in the country in turnover margin (+18).
Where Cal has ranked in the NCAA in TO margin since 2006 2008 (+6), 12th (63 points scored) - through six games 2007 (-1.2), 76th (56 points scored) 2006 (+0.5), 30th (104 points scored)
Defense Shows Major Improvement from 2007Despite allowing a season-high 404 yards to Arizona last week, Cal's defense continues to rate among the better units in the country. The Bears are giving up just 309.5 ypg, nearly 70 ypg better than last season and potentially the best of the Jeff Tedford era. Washington State managed only 167 yards vs. Cal, while both Maryland (297) and Arizona State (236) were held under 300 yards. Since 1955, the Bears have held opponents to less than 300 ypg just three times - 299.9 ypg in 1994, 252.2 ypg in 1968 and 268.4 ypg in 1967.
Where has Cal ranked in the NCAA in total Defense since 2002 2008 309.5 (31st) - through six games 2007 378.8 (58th) 2006 366.2 (91st) 2005 359.5 (46th) 2004 320.9 (24th) 2003 384.9 (68th) 2002 392.8 (75th)
Grin and Bear ItEven though Cal allowed its first 100-yard rusher of the season (against Arizona), the Bears still rank amongst the best in rush defense (third in the Pac-10; 28th in the nation).
Leading Rushers vs. Cal This Season Javon Ringer (Michigan State) 81 yards *Ringer ranks second in the in the nation with 147.3 ypg Dwight Tardy (Washington State) 20 yards Da'Rel Scott (Maryland) 87 yards *Scott is 31st in the nation, averaging 96.4 yards per game Gartre Johnson (Colorado State) 63 yards *Johnson is 36th in the nation, averaging 88.0 yards per game Dimitri Nance (Arizona State) 39 yards *Nance ran for 85 yards against Cal last season in Tempe Keola Antolin (Arizona) 149 yards
More With MorrahWith 18 catches for 254 yards, junior TE Cameron Morrah has become the favorite target for Cal quarterbacks. In fact, he already has five touchdown receptions on the year - most for a Cal tight end since Garrett Cross had six in 2004. In fact, he has one TD in each of the Bears' last four games. At 6-4, 245 pounds and owner of 4.6 speed in the 40, Morrah possesses the size and speed to give both linebackers and DBs fits.
A look at some of the best seasons by a tight end at Cal under Jeff TedfordCameron Morrah (2008) 18 rec, 254 yards, 5 TDs - through six gamesCraig Stevens (2007) 17 rec, 204 yards, 3 TDsGarrett Cross (2004) 30 rec, 362 yards, 6 TDsTom Swoboda (2002) 42 rec, 451 yards, 7 TDs
Game Changing BearsMany of Cal's touchdowns this season have been a result of big or game-changing plays on offense, defense and special teams, which have sparked the Bears to a 4-1 start to the campaign.
Michigan State: Blocked punt (Brett Johnson) returned 5 yards for a TD (Bryant Nnabuife) 81-yard touchdown run (Shane Vereen)Washington State: Touchdown runs of 80 and 86 yards by Jahvid Best Blocked field goal attempt (Rulon Davis) returned 68 yards for a TD (Zack Follett)Colorado State: Blocked punt (Mychal Kendricks) returned 30 yards for a TD (Nnabuife) 43-yard interception returned for touchdown (Brett Johnson) 73-yard punt return for touchdown (Syd'Quan Thompson)
Tedford Trends IOf the 86 head football coaches at Pac-10 schools over the last 50 years, Jeff Tedford is one of just four to have winning seasons in each of his first six years. Others: Frank Kush (ASU), John Robinson (USC) and Mike Bellotti (Oregon).
Tedford Trends IISince Jeff Tedford's arrival in 2002, Cal has scored 30+ points 43 times. Cal is 39-4 in those games. The Bears are 3-0 this season when scoring 30 or more points, including 19 in a row since 2005.
Depth CountsA key to any successful football season is to have depth at every position to insure against injury or other factors. This season, Cal has been fortunate to have the services of backups that have stepped up to keep the Golden Bears on track for a winning campaign. For example, when TB Jahvid Best missed the Arizona State game with an elbow injury, freshman Shane Vereen stepped in and finished with 93 yards on 27 carries, to go along with a career-high five catches for 51 yards. In addition, sophomore Cameron Jordan filled in for Rulon Davis on the defensive line and recorded his first two sacks of the season and was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week. In Cal's game at Arizona last week, PK Georgio Tavecchio ably replaced David Seawright (groin), booting field goals from 40 and 42 yards - the Bears' longest of the season. Even at quarterback, Cal has two capable signal callers in senior Nate Longshore and sophomore Kevin Riley. Longshore ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency, with Riley in sixth. Together, they've tossed 14 TD passes.
Best Doesn't Skip a BeatJahvid Best didn't skip a beat when he returned as the starting tailback against Arizona after missing one game with a dislocated elbow. He rushed for 107 yards (third game with over 100 yards), including a 67-yard scamper to paydirt. He also had 33 yards receiving to give him 140 all-purpose yards. Best tops the country in all-purpose yards (200.4 ypg) and is second in the Pac-10 and 21st in the nation in rushing yards (105.6 ypg). He has gained 528 yards on the ground on 75 carries this season (7.0 ypc) with five rushing touchdowns. In addition, Best is tied for the team lead in receptions (18) for 190 yards and has returned nine kickoffs for 284 yards (31.6 ypr). Best tallied 158 all-purpose yards before leaving the game with a dislocated left elbow against Colorado State, ending his streak of three consecutive games with 200+ all-purpose yards. He registered 225 all-purpose yards against Maryland, despite being held to just 25 yards on 10 rushes, as he had five receptions for a career-high 65 yards and four kick returns for 135 yards, including a career-best 54-yard return. Bears racked up a career-best 200 yards (14.3 yards per carry) and three touchdowns rushing at Washington State. On the first play of the game, he broke a then-career-best 80-yard touchdown sprint. And on his final rush, he dashed 86 yards for another score. Best's total was the most by a Bear since Justin Forsett had 235 yards vs. New Mexico State in 2005. The sophomore also became the first player since J.J. Arrington in 2004 to open a season with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. Expected to take on a major role in 2008 after a break-out true freshman season in 2007, Best responded when he rushed 24 times for 111 yards and a touchdown in Cal's 38-31 season-opening win over Michigan State. He also added a 42-yard reception against the Spartans. In 2007, Best's highlights included a 64-yard touchdown run against Colorado State and a 54-yard kick return against UCLA. He ranked second in the Pac-10 with 27.0 yards per kick return and also established himself as one of the top gunners in the nation - a position he will not return to in 2008 with his increased offensive role. Best missed the final three games of 2007 with a hip injury.
Best game-by-game all-purpose yardsMichigan State: 277 (111 rush, 42 receving, 103 kick return)Washington State: 202 (200 rush, 2 receiving, 0 kick return)Maryland: 225 (10 rush, 65 receiving, 135 kick return)Colorado State: 158 (85 rush, 27 receiving, 46 kick return)Arizona State: DNP (elbow)Arizona: 140 (107 rush, 33 receiving)
Dial Up NateNate Longshore continued his climb up the Cal career charts in passing yards and passing touchdowns after his performance against Arizona. The senior product of Canyon Country moved to sixth in career passing yards (6,363) and into a fourth place tie with Dave Barr for TDs (48). Longshore has appeared in five games (two starts) with 631 yards passing and seven touchdowns, including a season-high three strikes in his first start of the season against Arizona State.
No Stopping SydJunior CB/RET Syd'Quan Thompson, who has developed into a true lockdown corner for the Bears this season, now can strike fear into the opponents in a different way - on special teams. Now 18th in the country with an average of 13.9 yards per punt return, Thompson helped set up two Cal scoring drives in the second quarter against Arizona with returns of 20 and 34 yards. Thompson struck paydirt when he scampered 73 yards for a score against Colorado State - Cal's first punt return for a TD (not off a block) since DeSean Jackson's 77-yarder in the 2006 opener vs. Tennessee. For the game Thompson accumulated 131 punt return yards, seven shy of the Cal game record. Defensively against CSU, he recorded his second sack of the season to go along with a team-high nine tackles. Now in his third season as a starter (32 straight starts, five career INTs, 21 career PBUs), the junior is tied for first in the Pac-10 with three interceptions. He came up big defensively against one of the nation's best passers (Rudy Carpenter) knocking down a career-high four passes against the Sun Devils. Thompson picked off two passes against Washington State, becoming the first Cal player since Daymeion Hughes in 2006 to have two interceptions in a game. He returned the second INT 90 yards (fifth-longest in Cal history) to set up a five-yard TD. Overall, he set a school-record with 108 interception return yards vs. the Cougars. Thompson was also instrumental in Cal's 38-31 win over Michigan State. He intercepted a pass at the end of the second quarter near the goal line, thwarting a Spartan scoring drive. The Sacramento product swatted away three total passes while adding five tackles. Two of his tackles came on third down plays and forced punts, and one pass break-up came on a key third-and-18 play to force a punt, as well.
Darian D's UpSyd'Quan Thompson is not the only cornerback to step up for the Bears this year, as sophomore Darian Hagan has developed into a special player in his own right. The product of Crenshaw HS turned in another solid performance against Arizona State, recording a career-best eight tackles, to go along with his first career fumble recovery. Hagan picked off his first interception in the Colorado State game, adding seven tackles to his stat line. For the season, he has 28 tackles (fourth on the team), an interception, and five pass break-ups (second on the team). Last season, Hagan saw action in just five games, primarily on special teams. He has started every game for the Bears this year.
Quick PicksCal has registered 11 interceptions in six games this season, including three by Syd'Quan Thompson and two by Brett Johnson. Cal totaled just 10 interceptions all of last season. Chris Conte and Sean Cattouse recorded their first career interceptions against Arizona State, while Darian Hagan and Cameron Jordan recorded their first picks vs. Colorado State.
3-4 Showcases Linebacker StrengthThe California coaching staff changed its base defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4 to take advantage of its superior talent and depth at linebacker. Recognized among the best linebackers in the nation, the Cal contingent features three senior in Anthony Felder, Zack Follett and Worrell Williams who were also starters in 2007. Felder, who leads the team with 44 tackles, had seven against Arizona to give him over 200 career tackles (202). He had 12 stops against Michigan State - his fourth double-digit tackle performance. Follett moved to tenth on Cal's career charts for tackles for losses (36.5) after recording one at Arizona. Follett also provided a big play for the Bears against Arizona State when he sacked Rudy Carpenter for a 15-yard loss in the fourth quarter (when ASU was in Cal territory) to thwart the drive. Follett also had a big day at Maryland with five tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. He leads the Bears with 8.5 tackles for losses this season. Williams has been active around the ball all season, recording 33 stops (third on the team), 4.5 tackles for losses and two pass break ups. Other Bear linebackers have contributed as well in 2008. Junior Eddie Young, who has started all six games this season, recorded a career-high seven tackles against Colorado State and has 26 for the season. Sophomore Mike Mohamed, who recorded a career-high nine tackles vs. CSU, led the team with eight against Arizona, and has 36 total tackles (second on the team). Junior Devin Bishop, the younger brother of former Cal star LB Desmond Bishop, has nine tackles, including a career-best four vs. Colorado State, while sophomore Charles Johnson (six total tackles), redshirt freshman D.J. Holt (seven total tackles) and true freshman Mychal Kendricks (10 tackles, and recorded his first career sack at Washington State) all are contributing.
Anger ManagementFreshman P Bryan Anger has drawn oohs and ahhs from the crowds this season with his towering punts and pinpoint accuracy to leave the opposition with unfavorable field position. Anger punted seven times against Arizona for a 48.4 average, including a 58-yard boom in the third quarter to pin the Wildcats on their 11-yard-line. Two of his other punts landed inside the 20. Against Arizona State, he punted seven times for a 47.4 average, including a career-long 72-yarder that pinned ASU on its own 4-yard-line with less than five minutes to play. Overall, three of his kicks landed inside the ASU 10, earning him Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week honors (Oct. 6). The Camarillo native is currently averaging a school-record 45.9 yards per punt this season - fifth-best in the nation (school season mark of 45.3 ypp by Scott Tabor in 1987). Additionally, nine of Anger's 31 punts have traveled 50+ yards and 13 of his punts have placed inside the 20-yard-line. Anger booted his first career punt 56 yards, pinning Michigan State on its own 14-yard-line (Cal forced a three-and-out and a punt, which was blocked and recovered for a TD). His second punt went even further at 59 yards, backing the Spartans up to their 17-yard-line. Anger finished the game with an average of 48.0 yards per punt, including three inside the 20.
The Tavecchio TouchFreshman PK Giorgio Tavecchio may not appear in the media guide - he joined the team just three days before the Michigan State opener - but he has quickly become an impact player for the Bears. Tavecchio handled kickoff duties against the Spartans and against vs. Arizona State. Then after David Seawright suffered a groin injury in practice last week, he filled in on field goals and extra points at Arizona. Although he was just wide on a 50-yard FG attempt, Tavecchio did nail field goals from 40 and 42 yards, plus all three of his extra points. A native of Milan, Italy, who was a star soccer player at Campolindo HS in nearby Moraga, elected to walk-on at Cal to play football despite offers to play soccer at other schools in California.
Passing FancyIn its loss to Arizona, Cal's Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley combined to throw 56 passes, marking the first time in school history that 50 or more passes were attempted twice in one season. Riley finished the Maryland game 33-of-58 for a career-high 423 yards and three touchdowns. His 423 yards passing are the third most for a game in school history and the most since Pat Barnes set the school record with 503 yards in a four-overtime win over Arizona in 1996. The 58 pass attempts are an individual record for Cal (the previous record was 57 achieved three times, the last by Barnes against UCLA on Oct. 26, 1996) and the 33 completions are tied for the third-most in program history. Cal has lost both games when attempting 50+ passes.
A Dash of Vereen Goes a Long WayWhile Jahvid Best has received the bulk of the attention, redshirt freshman Shane Vereen solidifies Cal's 1-2 punch in the backfield. For the season, Vereen has racked up 395 yards on 66 carries (6.0 average) and two touchdowns. His rushing scores came on an 81-yard burst to ice the Bears' victory against Michigan State and a 39-yard tackle-breaking score against Washington State. In the opener, Vereen became the first Cal freshman in history to rush for over 100 yards in his first game and just the ninth Bear rookie overall to break 100 yards on the ground. His 81-yard touchdown run is the longest run ever by a Cal freshman. In 1953, sophomore Jerry Drew had a 91-yard run against Penn in his debut game (freshmen were not eligible in 1952) and in 1902, Heine Heitmuller (class information not available) posted a 90-yard gain against the Perris Indians in his first year.
Lightning and LightningWhile many teams with two talented backs employ them in a 'Thunder and Lightning' style attack, the 2008 Golden Bears are using sophomore Jahvid Best and freshman Shane Vereen in more of a 'Lightning and Lightning' attack, as described by former Cal quarterback and current TV analyst Mike Pawlawski. In three games, the tandem of Best and Vereen have amassed 793 yards and six touchdowns and they have tallied three 80-yard runs between them. Best won the California High School State Championship in the 100-meter dash in 2007 with a time of 10.31 seconds, while Vereen's top 100 time was 'only' 10.4 seconds.
I Love the 80sThe tailback duo of Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen are dazzling on the field and on the Cal record books. After Vereen's 81-yard touchdown run against Michigan State, Best logged an 80-yard touchdown run at Washington State to mark the first time in program history that Cal had two 80-yard runs in the same season. Best's 86-yard TD rush later in the WSU game extended that record, while obviously marking the first time two 80-yard runs had happened in the same game. Best and Vereen both rushed for over 100 yards in the win over Michigan State, marking the seventh time in Jeff Tedford's tenure that two backs had broken the century mark in the same game. The last time was the 2006 Holiday Bowl victory against Texas A&M when Justin Forsett tallied 124 yards and Marshawn Lynch collected 111 yards. Forsett and Lynch also had a pair of games in 2005 when both went over 100 yards. In 2004, Lynch and J.J. Arrington both went over 100 rushing yards on two occasions, while Arrington and Adimchinobe Echemandu both hit for 100 once in 2003.
Mack and the Ground HogsSenior center Alex Mack continues to anchor Cal's offensive line - for the third consecutive season. Since Mack stepped into the starting center role for the 2006 opener, Cal has allowed just 33 sacks (second-best in the country in a three-year span). And this year, the o-line is opening up some major holes for its running attack. Against Washington State in its 66-3 win, Cal tallied the most rushing yards (391) in the Tedford era at Cal and the most by a Bear team since the 1991 season.
The Tedford EraJeff Tedford, now in his seventh year at the helm of the Bears, has quickly brought the program into another 'Golden' Age. The Bears' seven-year record of 54-28 is among the best-ever at Cal.
Era Years Record Pct. HighlightsThe Wonder Teams 1920-24 44-0-4 .958 Three National TitlesThe Thunder Teams 1937-38 20-1-1 .932 One ChampionshipPappy's Boys 1947-52 53-9 .855 Three Rose BowlsThe Tedford Era 2002-current 54-28 .659 Five straight bowlsEarly 90s 1990-93 30-17 .638 Three bowlsMike White Era 1972-77 35-30 .538 Pac-8 title in `75
Wide Outs ProducingWith Cal featuring an inexperienced group of receivers to start the year, senior LaReylle Cunningham stepped up and produced the corps' first 100-yard performance of the season against Maryland. After entering the game against the Terrapins with two receptions for 19 yards on the season, Cunningham tallied career-bests of seven catches and 138 receiving yards. His previous best had been five catches for 112 yards at Washington State on Oct. 22, 2005. He also had a season-best 29-yard catch in the second quarter. As a group, the Cal receivers entered the Maryland game with 13 receptions for 179 yards in the first two games. Against the Terrapins, the unit had 19 catches and 293 yards. Cunningham added 42 yards and his first touchdown of the season in Cal's win against Arizona State as well. Junior Nyan Boateng meanwhile turned in a 51-yard performance and added his second touchdown of the season against Arizona State. Junior transfer Verran Tucker hauled in four catches for 86 yards (both career-highs) and a score against Arizona. Jeremy Ross, who had his first career TD reception against Colorado State registered a career-best (and team-high) 141 all-purpose yards vs. Arizona, including career-highs in receptions (3) and receiving yards (56).