Golden Bears Tangle with the Oregon Ducks on Saturday
Oct. 27, 2008
2008 CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL
Saturday, November 1, 12:30 p.m. (PT)
California (5-2, 3-1 Pac-10) vs. Oregon (6-2, 4-1 Pac-10)
Berkeley, Calif. - Memorial Stadium
TV: ABC Broadcast team: Terry Gannon, David Norrie, Todd Harris.
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: 55-28/7th
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: 71
Series Record: Cal leads 38-30-2
First Meeting: 11/18/1899, W, 12-0
Last Meeting: 9/29/07, Cal, 31-24
Current Streak: Cal 3-1, last four
Tedford vs. Oregon: 3-2
Opening Kickoff Fresh off a 41-20 victory over UCLA - California's largest over the Bruins since 1992 - the Golden Bears enter, perhaps, the most significant stretch of their season, starting with Saturday's contest against Oregon. The game kicks off at 12:30 p.m. from Memorial Stadium and will be televised regionally by ABC (locally on KGO TV 7).
Cal's next three opponents - No. 23 Oregon, No. 7 USC and Oregon State - are a combined 16-6 overall and 11-3 in the Pac-10. Along with the Bears (5-2, 3-1), all four schools have just one loss each in conference action.
The Bears, who held UCLA to 16 yards on the ground and have limited four of their first seven opponents to less than 100 rushing yards, will have their mettle tested against an Oregon squad that is fifth in the country in rushing offense (278.8 ypg) and averages 6.0 yards per carry.
Overall, Cal is holding teams to 301.4 ypg, the Bears' lowest since the 1994 squad surrendered 299.9 ypg. In the win over the Bruins, Cal recorded three sacks and picked off four passes for the second time this year (also at Washington State), two of which were returned for touchdowns.
The interceptions raised the Bears' season total to 15, five more than they had for all of last year. Combined with four fumble recoveries, Cal has forced 19 turnovers in seven games and has a +10 turnover margin. The Bears' average margin of +1.43 per game is tied for third highest in the country behind only Minnesota (+1.88) and TCU (+1.56).
Cal has scored 80 of its 265 points off turnovers this year (30.2%). Add in another 28 points off three blocked kicks taken back for scores and a 73-yard punt return for a TD by Syd'Quan Thompson vs. Colorado State, and it shows how much the Bears have taken advantage of big plays by their defense and special teams so far in 2008.
The unsung hero of the defense may be versatile sophomore LB Mike Mohamed. Although he doesn't start in Cal's 3-4 alignment, he can play any of the four linebacker spots and is second on the team with 45 tackles. In the UCLA game, for example, he finished with nine solo stops, including a sack and two tackles for loss, and returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown. He also corralled TB Kahlil Bell for a one-yard loss on third-and-1 from the Cal 4, forcing the Bruins to settle for a field goal late in the second quarter.
Offensively, sophomore TB Jahvid Best seems to be showing few effects from a dislocated left elbow suffered against Colorado State Sept. 27. Although he missed the Arizona State game a week later, he has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last two contests at Arizona and vs. UCLA. For the year, Best is second in the Pac-10 with 107.2 ypg, and his 643 total yards have him well on track to become Cal's seventh 1,000-yard rusher in the last seven years.
Sophomore Kevin Riley, who started the first four games of the season, was back in the opening lineup against UCLA. He completed 11-of-22 attempts for 153 yards and two touchdowns, increasing his touchdown-to-interception ratio to 9-to-2.
The Bears have won their last two games vs. Oregon in Memorial Stadium by decidedly different fashions. In 2004, Cal prevailed, 28-27, on its way to a 10-1 regular season, with the difference being a missed extra point in the second quarter. Then in 2006, the Bears broke out gold jerseys for the first time and rushed out to a 28-3 advantage in the first half en route to a 45-24 decision. Over the last 30 contests in Berkeley dating back to the middle of the 2003 campaign, Cal is 26-4 with the only setbacks coming against USC and Oregon State (twice each).
Cal-Oregon Matchup This will be the 71st meeting between these two programs since the series began in 1899 ... Cal leads the all-time series, 38-30-2, including last season's thrilling 31-24 win in Eugene between the No. 6 Bears and No. 11 Ducks ... DeSean Jackson scored two touchdowns as the Bears snapped a seven-game losing streak at Autzen Stadium ... with 22 seconds left in the game, Oregon's Dennis Dixon connected with receiver Cameron Colvin, who fumbled when he was hit by Marcus Ezeff while trying to reach the ball to the goal line ... the loose ball went through the end zone and was ruled a touchback and possession for Cal, preserving the 7-point win ... the Bears have won three of the last four meetings against Oregon, including two straight in Berkeley ... Oregon won seven straight meetings over Cal from 1994-2001 (Jeff Tedford was the offensive coordinator at Oregon from 1998-01) ... Cal's 12th-ranked rush defense in the country (95.7 ypg) will be put to the test as the Ducks sport the fifth-best ground attack in the nation at 278.8 ypg ... Oregon also has the ninth-ranked scoring offense at 41.5 ppg, while Cal is 16th in scoring at 37.9 ppg.
Cal Offense Quick Notes Cal has the 16th-best scoring offense (37.9 ppg) in the nation ... Cal has won 20 straight games when scoring 30 or more points since 2005 (including 4-0 this year) ... the Bears are also 30-2 when totaling 40 or more under Jeff Tedford (since 2002) ... sophomore TB Jahvid Best ranks third in the NCAA in all-purpose yards, averaging 186.8 ypg despite not returning kickoffs the last two weeks ... in addition, he is second in the Pac-10 and 20th in the nation in rushing (107.1 ypg) ... junior TE Cameron Morrah hauled in his sixth touchdown of the season against UCLA, tying Garrett Cross' mark in 2004 for the most touchdowns in a season by a Cal tight end under Tedford ... Cal leads the Pac-10 (3rd in the nation) in turnover margin (+10) ... 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 Shane 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 ... 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) ... Cal has not been shut out in a school-record 114 straight games dating back to Sept. 11, 1999 ... Cal has scored 2,793 points, the second most of any other team in the Pac-10, since 2002 (USC, 3,191).
Cal Defensive Quick Notes Cal has scored 80 points off its opponent's 19 turnovers (11 TDs and a FG) this season ... in its last four games (Arizona State, Colorado State, Arizona and UCLA), Cal has recorded 14 sacks, 10 interceptions, 26 pass break-ups, 27 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles ... the Bears rank second in the nation in INTs (15) and returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the win over UCLA, marking the first time since Arizona State on Sept. 23, 2006 that two INTs were taken back for scores ... Cal's rush defense was stout against UCLA, holding the Bruins to just 16 yards rushing ... the last time Cal held an opponent such a low amount was against Stanford in 2005 (also 16 yards) ... the Bears registered four INTs against UCLA (also four picks at Washington State) ... Cal had 10 interceptions all of last season ... the Bears rank 10th in the nation in pass efficiency defense (third in the Pac-10) ... the Bears boast the second-best rush defense in the Pac-10 (12th in the nation) at 95.7 ypg and the league's third-best total defense (301.4 ypg) ... Cal also sports the top-ranked red-zone defense in the league (65.2%) ... the Bears have allowed just one individual 100-yard rusher all season, and impressively held Michigan State's Javon Ringer (152.5 ypg; #2 in NCAA) to 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 48 tackles this season ... senior LB Zack Follett has team highs with 8.5 tackles for loss and is tied for the team lead with Tyson Alualu in sacks with four ... Mike Mohamed tied his career high with nine stops against UCLA and recorded his first career INT and sack against the Bruins, as well; he ranks second on the team in tackles with 45 ... 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).
Special Teams Quick Notes Bryan Anger ranks eighth in the nation (tops in the Pac-10) in punting at 44.8 ypp ... 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) ... 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 has connected on four straight field goals over the past two weeks (Arizona, UCLA), including three of 40 yards or more ... he 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-UCLA: Postscript Sophomore TB Jahvid Best ended the game with 115 yards on 17 carries - his fourth 100-yard rushing performance of the season ... his 14-yard run in the fouth quarter mark the 51st play of his career of 10 yards or more ... junior S Marcus Ezeff recorded his first collegiate interception and later added a 69-yard pick that he returned for a touchdown - the longest interception return for a TD since Nnamdi Asomugha sprinted 85 yards with a pick against Arizona State on Nov. 9, 2002 ... Ezeff's first interception came on the game's first play from scrimmage ... junior CB Syd'Quan Thompson tipped the pass that was picked off by Ezeff ... with the breakup, Thompson has 23 for his career and is tied with David Wilson for seventh place on the school's all-time list ... Thompson also recorded a team-high 10 total tackles ... freshman DB Sean Cattouse recorded his second career interception in the second quarter. ... sophomore LB Mike Mohamed tallied Cal's fourth interception of the day in the fourth quarter and returned it for a touchdown ... he also recorded his first career sack in the first quarter ... Cal's rush defense was stingy all afternoon, holding UCLA to 16 yards ... the last time Cal held an opponent to under 25 yards was against Arizona (21 yards) in September 2007 ... junior DT Tyson Alualu notched his third and fourth sacks of the season; he also blocked two pass attempted ... junior TD Cameron Morrah caught his team-leading sixth TD pass of the year in the fourth quarter ... Giorgio Tavecchio was 2-for-2 on field goals (26, 42).
Mack, Thompson Receive Midseason Notice After reaping a large share of awards, including All-Pac-10 and All-America recognition, last year, senior C Alex Mack is seeing his name pop up all over again in 2008. Already, he has been named a semifinalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award, given to the nation's best lineman, and a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, for achievement on and off the field. In addition, he has been named a first-team midseason All-American by both College Football News and Sporting News Today.
On the other side of the football, junior CB Syd'Quan Thompson, who has three interceptions and nine pass break-ups to date, has been selected a second-team All-American by College Football News and SportsIllustrated.com.
It's Better to Receive Not 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 second on the team with 19 catches (despite missing one game), while fellow TB Shane Vereen is third with 17 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) 32
The Plus Side of Turnovers Head 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.
The result is that Cal now leads the Pac-10 and ranks third nationally in turnover margin, having forced 19 turnovers through seven games. The Bears' 15 interceptions is already five more than last year. Only twice since 1993 has Cal had more picks (21 in 2006, 17 in 1999).
A look at the stats during Tedford's tenure backs up his assertion of the value of TOs. In his seven years at Cal, the Golden Bears are 31-3 (.911) 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 20-1 (.952) with a positive margin and 6-16 (.272) with a deficit (7-4 when turnovers are tied). Cal lost the turnover battle in each of its six losses in 2007.
In Tedford's first season in Berkeley, the Bears were third in the country in turnover margin (+18 total, +1.5 per game).
Cal's Record and Turnover Margin Ranking since 2002 2008 (+1.4), 3rd 5-2 2004 (+0.2), 51st 10-2 2007 (-1.2), 76th 7-6 2003 (+0.2), 50th 8-6 2006 (+0.5), 30th 10-3 2002 (+1.5), 3rd 7-5
2005 (-0.5), 88th 8-4
Defense Shows Major Improvement from 2007 Cal didn't allow an opponent to tally 300 yards are more of total offense for the fourth time this season after holding UCLA to 253 yards last week. In fact, the Bears are giving up just 301.4 ypg, nearly 80 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 301.4 (23rd) - through seven 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 It With its defense switching to a 3-4 alignment, Cal has significantly improved its rush defense from a year ago, ranking 12th in the country at 95.7 ypg. Since the 1945 season, only one other Bear unit has held the opposition to less than 100 ypg; in 2004, Cal was second in the country in rushing yards allowed with 82.5 ypg. That team gave up 2.7 yards per carry, while the 2008 Bears are surrendering just 2.6 ypc. Cal has only allowed one individual 100-yard rusher in seven games this season (Arizona's Keola Antolin, 149).
More With Morrah With a team-high 20 catches for 259 yards, junior TE Cameron Morrah has become the favorite target for Cal quarterbacks. In fact, he has six touchdown receptions on the year - most for a Cal tight end since Garrett Cross also had six in 2004. In fact, Morrah has one TD in each of the Bears' last five games. At 6-4, 245 pounds and owner of 4.6 speed in the 40, Morrah possesses the size and swiftness 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) 20 rec, 259 yards, 6 TDsCraig 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 Bears Many 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 5-2 record.
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)UCLA: 69-yard interception returned for touchdown (Marcus Ezeff) 53-yard flea flicker for a touchdown (Kevin Riley to Nyan Boateng) 19-yard interception returned for a touchdown (Michael Mohamed)
Pick 6 Cal returned two interceptions to the house against UCLA, bringing its total to three INTs returned for touchdowns this season (Marcus Ezeff, Michael Mohamed, Brett Johnson). Cal brought back three INTs for touchdowns in 2006 and 2002, and set a school record with five INTs returned for six points in 1999.
Overall, the Bears have snared 15 interceptions, which ranks second in the nation. No Cal team has snared more than 22 since the 1948 Bears set a school record with 30 picks.
Ten Cal defenders have joined in the action, led by Syd'Quan Thompson's three interceptions. Ezeff and Mohamed both had their first career INTs against UCLA last week.
Tedford Trends I Of 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 II Since Jeff Tedford's arrival in 2002, Cal has scored 30+ points 44 times, posting a 40-4 record in those games. The Bears are 4-0 this season when scoring 30 or more points, and have won 20 in a row since 2005. Additionally, Cal is 30-2 when amassing at least 40 points since 2002.
Depth Counts A 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 a dislocated left elbow, redshirt-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 vs. ASU, recording his first two sacks of the season and earning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week notice.
In Cal's game at Arizona, PK Georgio Tavecchio ably replaced David Seawright (groin), booting field goals from 40 and 42 yards - the Bears' longest of the season to that point.
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 16 TD passes against just six interceptions.
The Best Man TB Jahvid Best produced his fourth 100-yard rushing effort against UCLA (115), while finding paydirt for the sixth time this season on a 34-yard run. The sophomore speedster already has 51 plays of at least 10 yards in his brief career (rushing, receiving, kick returning).
Best didn't skip a beat when he returned as the starting tailback against Arizona after missing one game with a dislocated left elbow. He rushed for 107 yards, including a 67-yard scamper to the end zone. He also had 33 yards receiving to give him 140 all-purpose yards in the contest.
Best is third in the country in all-purpose yards (186.8 ypg) and is second in the Pac-10 and 20th in the nation in rushing yards (107.1 ypg). He has gained 643 yards on the ground on 92 carries this season (7.0 ypc). In addition, Best is second on the team lead in receptions (19) for 194 yards and has returned nine kickoffs for 284 yards (31.6 ypr).
Best tallied 158 all-purpose yards before leaving the game 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.
Best racked up a career-high 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 touch, he dashed 86 yards for another score. Best's rushing 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.
Best's 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)UCLA: 119 (115 rush, 4 receiving)
Mighty Mo Despite not starting a game this season, sophomore LB Mike Mohamed has made an impact on the field, recording the second-most tackles on the team with 45. He added a career-high nine stops against Colorado State, and matched that total again vs. UCLA.
The 6-3 product of Brawley, Calif., also had his first career sack and first career interception (returned 19 yards for a touchdown) against UCLA. He has appeared in 20 games (one start) and is nine tackles away from 100 in his career.
All-Purpose Ross Sophomore Jeremy Ross has been an offensive and kick retun threat of late, recording six catches for 100 yards the last two weeks. Ross has also combined for seven kickoff returns for 164 yards, including a career-long 47-yard return against UCLA. Ross has led the Bears in all-purpose yards the last two weeks, notching 123 vs. the Bruins and 141 against Arizona. The sophomore from Sacramento recorded his first career touchdown against Colorado State earlier this season. He has 286 all-purpose yards on the year.
Boateng Boost As Cal's leader in receiving yards (268), junior WR Nyan Boateng has caught a touchdown pass in three of his last four games, including a season-long 53-yard touchdown reception against UCLA. He finished with a season-high 67 yards receiving against the Bruins. A transfer from Florida in the spring of 2007, Boateng is tied for fourth on the team with 16 receptions.
No Stopping Syd Not only has CB/RET Syd'Quan Thompson developed into a lock-down corner for the Bears this season, he has also become a threat as a punt returner on special teams.
Now 22nd in the country in punt returns (12.4 ypr), Thompson's biggest thrill came against Colorado State when he brought back a kick 73 yards for a TD. For the game, he had 131 punt return yards against the Rams, just seven yards shy of the Cal record. Defensively against CSU, he recorded his second sack of the season to go along with a team-high nine tackles.
In his third season as a starter (33 straight starts, five career INTs, 23 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 Up Syd'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 equaled his career best with three pass break-ups against UCLA, after turning in another solid performance earlier in the month against Arizona State with a career-best eight tackles, to go along with a 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 31 tackles (sixth on the team), an interception and nine 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.
3-4 Showcases Linebacker Strength The 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 seniors in Anthony Felder, Zack Follett and Worrell Williams who were also starters in 2007.
Felder, who leads the team with 48 stops, had seven against Arizona shoot him past the 200 mark. He now has 206 tackles. His high game in 2008 came against Michigan State when he finished with 12 stops
Follett moved to 10th 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 35 stops (fourth on the team), 4.5 tackles for loss and two pass break ups.
Other Bear linebackers have contributed, as well, in 2008. Sophomore Mike Mohamed, despite not starting a game, has 45 stops, while junior Eddie Young, who has started all seven games this season, recorded a career-high seven tackles against Colorado State and has 27 for the season. 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 Management Freshman 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.
The Camarillo native is currently averaging 44.8 yards per punt this season - eighth-best in the nation (school season mark of 45.3 ypp by Scott Tabor in 1987). Additionally, 10 of Anger's 37 punts have traveled 50+ yards and 16 of his punts have placed inside the 20-yard-line.
Against Arizona State, for example, 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).
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 Touch Freshman 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 two weeks ago, 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.
Tavecchio was called again to handle kickoff and field goal duties against UCLA and promptly nailed 26 and 42-yard field goals, while hitting all of his extra points. He has connected on four straight field goals, including three of 40 or more yards.
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.
Dial Up Nate Senior QB Nate Longshore continued his climb up the Cal career charts in passing yards and passing touchdowns after his performance against Arizona Oct. 18. 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 TD tosses (48).
Longshore has appeared in five games at quarterback this year (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.
Lightning and Lightning While 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 seven games, the tandem of Best and Vereen have amassed 1,137 yards and eight 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 80s The 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.
Early Action Guys Head coach Jeff Tedford has inserted 11 newcomers in 2008, and all have contributed in key moments - Trevor Guyton (DT), Verran Tucker (WR), Anthony Miller (TE), Donovan Edwards (OL), Bryant Nnabuife (DB), Marvin Jones (WR), Mychal Kendricks (LB), David Seawright (PK), Kendrick Payne (DT), Giorgio Tavecchio (PK) and Robert Mullins (LB). Last year, Cal played four newcomers (true freshmen Jahvid Best, Chris Conte and Cameron Jordan, and Zach Smith, a transfer from Duke).
The Tedford Era Jeff 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 55-28 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 55-28 .662 Five straight bowlsEarly 90s 1990-93 30-17 .638 Three bowlsMike White Era 1972-77 35-30 .538 Pac-8 title in `75