Cal Heads to the Northwest to Take on #23 Oregon State
Nov. 10, 2008
PDF of Official Cal Game Notes
Mack On Lowe's Senior CLASS Award List
USC Edges Cal, 17-3
Anger a Semifinalist for Ray Guy Award
Follett a Quarterfinalist for Lott Trophy
Mack a Receives National Football Foundation Scholarship
Big Game Ticket Info
2008 Cal Schedule and Results
Official Oregon State Website
PDF of Official Oregon State Game Notes
2008 CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL
Saturday, November 15, 12:30 p.m. (PT)
California (6-3, 4-2 Pac-10) at #23 Oregon State (6-3, 5-1 Pac-10)
Corvallis, Ore. - Reser Stadium
TV: ABC Broadcast team: Joe Tessitore, Rod Gilmore, 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: 56-29/7th
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: 60
Series Record: Cal leads, 33-27
First Meeting: 10/28/1905, Cal, 10-0
Last Meeting: 10/13/07, Oregon State, 31-28
Current Streak: Oregon State has won 7 of last 9
Tedford vs. Oregon State: 2-4
Opening Kickoff California embarks on its final road trip of the season when the Golden Bears visit Oregon State Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in Corvallis. The contest will be televised on a regional basis by ABC (locally on KGO TV, Channel 7).
After this weekend, Cal returns home to host Stanford in the 111th Big Game on Nov. 22 and Washington on Dec. 6 in Memorial Stadium.
At 6-3 overall and 4-2 in Pac-10 play, Cal is just out of both national polls this week, coming in at 26th in the Associated Press and USA Today rankings, while OSU (6-3, 5-1), which has won four straight games, is 23rd according to AP and 25th by USA Today.
Over the past four seasons, the road team has prevailed in the Bear-Beaver series, with Cal winning in 2004 (49-7) and 2006 (41-13) in Corvallis and OSU coming out on top in Berkeley in both 2005 (23-20) and 2007 (31-28). During their last visit to Reser Stadium, the Bears jumped out to a 31-0 lead in the second quarter, and QB Nate Longshore had a career afternoon, completing 22-of-31 passes for 341 yards and four touchdowns.
A mere two seasons later, Cal's lineup features just one other player who recorded an offensive stat in the game - FB Will Ta'ufo'ou, who had one rush for two yards. The youth on the 2008 Bears can be seen in the number of first-time starters they have had on offense this year (11), including six first-time starters along the offensive line alone.
Sophomore Jahvid Best, now in the lead role at tailback, continues to pace Cal's ground attack with 95.8 ypg and an average of 6.3 yards per carry. Back-up Shane Vereen (5.3 ypg), a redshirt-freshman, is also churning out good yardage for the Bears, adding another 558 yards.
On the outside, Nyan Boateng, Jeremy Ross and Verran Tucker have emerged as the leaders of the wide receiver corps, having corralled 35 catches between them over the last four contests after combining for just 15 receptions the first five games of the year.
Cal's defense continues to rank among the national leaders in several categories, now 30th in total defense with an allowance of 312.3 ypg. The Bears are also sixth in the country in pass efficiency defense (98.2 rating) and tied for second in interceptions (17).
Even in its 17-3 defeat at USC last Saturday, Cal's defense limited the Trojans to 20 points under their season scoring average. Overall, the Bears are giving up 20.6 ppg - 6.1 ppg less than they did a year ago.
Three Cal players have earned Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors this fall, with the most recent being senior LB Zack Follett - one of 15 semifnalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award as the NCAA's best defensive player - who claimed the award following the Bears' 26-16 victory over Oregon Nov. 1. DE Cameron Morrah (Oct. 6) and LB Mike Mohamed (Oct. 27) have also garnered the conference recognition.
Cal-Oregon State Matchup This will be the 61st meeting between the two programs since the series began in 1905 ... Cal has a 33-27 all-time mark against the Beavers and has won the last two games in Corvallis in 2004 (49-7) and 2006 (41-13) ... Oregon State, however, has prevailed in the last four match-ups in Berkeley and is 7-2 vs. the Bears since 1999 ... last season, Yvenson Bernard leaped into the end zone on fourth down from the 1 with 8:30 remaining and OSU delivered an upset over No. 2-ranked Cal, 31-28; Nate Longshore was unable to play because of a sprained right ankle, allowing Kevin Riley to make his first career start - he finished with 294 yards passing and two touchdowns ... Oregon State ranks ninth in the country in fewest sacks allowed (9) and has the top rusher in the Pac-10 - Jacquizz Rogers - who averages 121.0 ypg (also 10th in the nation) ... the Bears though, have only yielded only two individual 100-yard rushers this season.
Cal Offense Quick Notes Cal has the 27th-best scoring offense (32.7 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 14th in the NCAA in all-purpose yards, averaging 157.6 ypg ... in addition, he is third in the Pac-10 in rushing (95.8 ypg) and needs 13 more yards reach for 1,000 for his career ... senior QB Nate Longshore moved ahead of Gale Gilbert in career passing yards and into fifth place on Cal's all-time list, now with 6.578 yards after his performance at USC ... junior TE Cameron Morrah leads the Bears with six touchdown receptions ... Cal is tied for the Pac-10 lead (18th in the nation) in turnover margin (+8) ... 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; Best has a team-high 766 so far this year ... Cal has not been shut out in a school-record 116 straight games dating back to Sept. 11, 1999 ... Cal has scored 2,822 points, the second most of any other team in the Pac-10, since 2002 (USC, 3,264).
Cal Defensive Quick Notes The Bears sacked USC quarterback Mark Sanchez three times last weekend (the Trojans had given up just nine sacks total entering the game) ... Cal held Oregon's ground attack (No. 5 in the nation entering the game at 278.8 ypg) to 206 yards - its second-lowest output of the season ... the Bears also had three players record double-digit tackles vs. Oregon, marking the first time since last year against Oregon State such a feat had been accomplished ... Cal has scored 94 points off its opponent's 23 turnovers (13 TDs and a FG) this season ... in a span of five games (Colorado State through Oregon), Cal recorded 16 sacks, 12 interceptions, 35 pass break-ups, 35 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles ... the Bears are tied for second in the nation in interceptions with 17 ... Cal 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 sixth in the nation in pass efficiency defense (third in the Pac-10) ... the Bears boast the fourth-best rush defense in the Pac-10 at 116.6 ypg and the league's fourth-best total defense (312.3 ypg) ... Cal also ranks first in red-zone defense in the league (64.5%) ... the Bears have allowed two individual 100-yard rusher all season, and impressively held Michigan State's Javon Ringer (140.7 ypg; #2 in NCAA) to 81 yards in the opener ... sophomore DE Cameron Jordan registered eight tackles, including two sacks and three for loss, plus a forced fumble vs. Arizona State ... Jordan also recorded a career-high 10 tackles against Oregon ... 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 ... sophomore DB Sean Cattouse also has three picks on the year ... sophomore LB Mike Mohamed leads the team with 59 tackles, including a career-high 14 against Oregon, and recorded his first career INT and sack against UCLA ... senior LB Zack Follett leads the team with 11.5 tackles for loss (T19th in the nation) and sacks with five ... Jordan (ASU), Mohamed (UCLA) and Follett (Oregon) have all been named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week.
Special Teams Quick Notes Bryan Anger ranks 16th in the nation (third in the Pac-10) in punting at 43.4 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 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 six of his last seven field goals over the past four weeks, 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.
Cal-USC: Postscript Mike Mohamed recorded his second sack of the season in the first quarter to stop a USC drive in Cal territory, while Cameron Jordan recorded his fourth sack of the season on the last play of the first half. Tyson Alualu had a sack in the third quarter for the Bears as well - just the 10th, 11th and 12th sacks given up by USC this season ... Giorgio Tavecchio connected on a 35-yard field goal in the second quarter to tie the game at 3-3 ... he has hit 6 of his last 7 field goal attempts ... USC entered the game having surrendered just nine drives of 50 or more yards, but Cal registered two against the stout Trojan defense - a 12-play, 63-yard drive that resulted in the field goal and a 69-yard drive to start the second half (ending with an interception in the end zone) ... in the first half, not only did Cal have an 8:10 drive, but the Bears held on to the ball for 18:03 of the first 30 minutes ... Kevin Riley's appearance in the second half marked the seventh time this season that both Nate Longshore and Riley have played QB in the same game ... Will Ta'ufo'ou had a career-long 21-yard rush in the third quarter to extend a drive ... Zack Follett forced his team-leading third fumble of the season (Worrell Williams recovery) - Cal's 23rd forced turnover the season.
Full of First-Time Starters in 2008 Over the course of the season, Cal has had 14 players register their first career starts at some point during the year. Three of the starts have come on the defensive side of the ball in the form of DE Cameron Jordan, LB Eddie Young and CB Darian Hagan. But on the offensive side, 11 different players have made their starting debuts this fall, including six along the offensive line - Chet Teofilo, Chris Guarnero, Mark Boskovich, Justin Cheadle, Mitchell Schwartz and Donovan Edwards. Guarnero (toe) and Teofilo (ankle) both opened the year as starters but have been felled by injuries, while Boskovich, Cheadle, Schwartz and Edwards have taken the majority of snaps the last two games, with senior C Alex Mack the only veteran along the front wall.
First-Time Starters for the Bears in 2008TB - Jahvid Best, Shane VereenWR - Nyan Boateng, Jeremy Ross, Sean YoungOL - Mark Boskovich, Justin Cheadle, Donovan Edwards, Chris Guarnero, Mitchell Schwartz, Chet TeofiloDL - Cameron JordanLB - Eddie YoungDB - Darian Hagan
Six-Win Streak Longest for Cal since 1938 When Jeff Tedford took over as head coach of the Bears, Cal was coming off a 1-10 campaign in 2001 and had not had a plus-.500 season since 1993. But in his first seven years overseeing the program, the Bears have registered at least six victories each time out, including 10-win years in 2004 and 2006. The last time Cal won six or more games for seven straight seasons came 70 years ago when the 1931-38 teams put together an eight-year run. Other than a six-year stretch with six or more victories under Pappy Waldorf from 1947-52, the Bears had just one other three-year run (1977-79) between 1938 and Tedford's arrival in Berkeley.
Cal Streaks of Six or More Wins in a Season8 years - 1931-388 years - 1918-257 years - 2002-current6 years - 1947-52
Golden Spotlight 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. In last October, he was selected one of 15 finalists for the 2008 Draddy Award by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, an award that is presented to the top football scholar-athlete in the country. As a finalist, he will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. Mack is the third Cal player to be named an NFF Scholar-Athlete, joining previous recipients Je'Rod Cherry (1995) and Pat Newell (1959).
In addition, Mack 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. He was also chosen a first-team midseason All-American by both College Football News and Sporting News Today.
Senior linebacker Zack Follett, who leads the Golden Bears with 11.5 tackles for loss and five quarterback sacks this year, is one of 15 semifnalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award (top defensive player), as well as one of 20 defensive players to earn a spot on the Lott Trophy quarterfinalist list.
Freshman punter Bryan Anger has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2008 Ray Guy Award, which identifies the nation's top collegiate punter. Anger, who is averaging 43.9 yards per kick, is the only freshman and Pac-10 player among the candidates.
Junior CB Syd'Quan Thompson, owner of three interceptions and nine pass break-ups to date, has been chosen a second-team midseason All-American by College Football News and SportsIllustrated.com.
Picking Off Passes With 17 interceptions so far this season, Cal is tied for second in the national rankings. Cal's total of 17 picks is seven more than the team had for all of last year, and with up to four games remaining (three regular season plus one bowl), the Bears have a chance to eclipse the high for a Jeff Tedford-coached squad at Cal - 21 in 2006. Unlike that season when Daymeion Hughes intercepted eight passes, no one Bear is dominating the statistical category. To date, 11 different players have recorded at least one INT, with Syd'Quan Thompson and Sean Cattouse topping the list with three picks each.
Passes Intercepted Leaders1. North Carolina 182. California 17 Iowa 174. Texas Tech 16Boise State 166. San Jose State 15 Tennessee 15
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 tied for first in the Pac-10 and ranks 18th nationally in turnover margin, having forced 23 turnovers through nine games. Only one other time since 1993 has Cal had more picks than its current total of 17 (21 in 2006).
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 13-18 (.419) when losing that statistical comparison (as well as 12-8 when tied). In Pac-10 games, the stats are even more decisive, as Cal is 20-1 (.952) with a positive margin and 7-16 (.304) with a deficit (7-5 when turnovers are tied).
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 Turnover Margin Per Game, NCAA Ranking and Team Record since 2002 2008 (+.89), 18th 6-3 2007 (-1.2), 76th 7-6 2006 (+0.5), 30th 10-3 2005 (-0.5), 88th 8-4 2004 (+0.2), 51st 10-2 2003 (+0.2), 50th 8-6 2002 (+1.5), 3rd 7-5
Defense Shows Major Improvement from 2007 In giving up just 312.3 ypg this year, the Cal defense has a nearly 70 ypg improvement over last season when the Bears surrendered 378.8 ypg. As a result, Cal ranks 30th in the country in total defense, up from 58th in 2007 and 91st in 2006 (366.2 ypg). This fall, the Bears have held six of their nine opponents to 40 yards or more under their total offense averages, with the most notable being Oregon, which gained only 290 yards vs. Cal and has a season average of 454.0 ypg. Cal has also limited its last two foes to well under their season scoring rates; Oregon managed 16 points and averages 38.3 ppg overall, while USC totaled 17 points, far less than its 37.7 ppg.
Overall, five teams have not managed 300 yards of total offense against the Bears - Washington State (167), Maryland (297), Arizona State (236), UCLA (253) and Oregon (290). Cal's total defense of 312.3 ypg is the team's lowest since the 1994 squad surrendered 299.9 ppg. Since 1955, the Bears have held opponents to less than 300 ypg just two other times outside of 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 312.3 (30th) - through nine 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)
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 6-3 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)Oregon: 50-yard interception return to the Oregon 3 (Worrell Williams), sets up Cal TD before halftime Fumble recovery (Matt Russi) on a dropped fair catch on a punt at the Oregon 6 sets up Cal TD with 8:57 left in the game
Pick 6 Cal brought back two interceptions to the house against UCLA Oct. 25, bringing its total to three INTs returned for touchdowns this season (Marcus Ezeff, Michael Mohamed, Brett Johnson). Cal also returned three INTs for touchdowns in 2006 and 2002, and set a school record with five interceptions returned for TDs in 1999.
Against the Bruins, Ezeff had a 69-yard return for a score, while Mohamed's TD jaunt covered 19 yards and put the Bears up, 34-13, midway through the fourth quarter. Johnson's return was 43 yards and came in the first quarter against Colorado State.
More With Morrah Third on the Bears with 22 catches for 284 yards, junior TE Cameron Morrah has become a 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. Additionally, Morrah has one TD in five of Cal's last seven 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) 22 rec, 284 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
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.
On the offensive line, sophomore Donovan Edwards and redshirt freshman Justin Cheadle earned their first career starts against Oregon (filling in for injured starters Noris Malele and Chet Teofilo), paving the way for 348 yards of total offense on a rain-soaked field.
The Best Man Sophomore TB Jahvid Best, despite battling through elbow and foot injuries much of the season, is on track for a 1,000-yard campaign with 766 yards to date, an average of 95.8 ypg that is good for third in the Pac-10 and 33rd in the country. He enters Saturday's contest at Oregon State needing 13 yards to reach 1,000 for his career.
Best has produced four 100-yard rushing efforts this season, starting in the opener against Michigan State (111 yards). He followed that performance with 200 yards on just 14 carries at Washington State, which included TD sprints of 80 and 86 yards to become the first Cal player with two 80-yard rushes in one game. Best, who added a five-yard touchdown against the Cougars, was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for his effort.
Best had a slight setback when he dislocated his left elbow in the third quarter of the Sept. 27 Colorado State game. Although he missed Cal's home win over Arizona State, he returned to the field at Arizona Oct. 18 and compiled 107 yards on 16 attempts. He added another 115 yards vs. UCLA and 93 more against Oregon.
In his brief career, the speedster already had 51 plays (rush, receive, KO return) of at least 10 yards. Best began the year as Cal's primary kick returner (9 for 31.6 average), but he has not been on the kickoff team since returning from the elbow injury.
Mighty Mo Sophomore LB Mike Mohamed made the most of his first start of the season (second of his career) against Oregon, by leading the Bear defense with a career-best 14 tackles. A versatile performer who can play any of Cal's four linebacker sports, Mohamed leads the Bears with 66 total stops, 41 of which are solo, despite his primary reserve status.
The 6-3 product of Brawley, Calif., had his first career sack and first career interception (returned 19 yards for a touchdown) against UCLA, giving him Pac-10 Player of the Week honors (Oct. 27). He added another sack and two TFLs at USC last week.
ZFLs Senior linebacker Zack Follett, another key cog in the 3-4 defensive scheme, continues to climb the Cal career chart in tackles for loss, checking in with 40.5 - eighth-best in program history. The Colvis product tallied a season-best three tackles for loss against Oregon and added another one at USC to raise his total for the season to a team-high 12.5, which is 21st-best in the nation. Follett had 12.5 tackles for losses all of last season.
Overall, he has 54 stops on the year, which includes a tie for the team lead in sacks (5, with Tyson Alualu). In the Oregon game, Follett recorded 11 total tackles, with three for loss and a sack, in addition to breaking up a pass attempt to claim Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors.
All-Purpose Ross Sophomore Jeremy Ross has been an offensive and kick-return threat of late, recording 10 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown the last four weeks. Ross has also combined for 13 kickoff returns for 287 yards this season, including a career-long 47-yard return against UCLA. Ross has led the Bears in all-purpose yards the last four games, notching 119 vs. Oregon, 123 vs. the Bruins, 141 against Arizona and 61 vs. USC.
Boateng Boost Cal's leader in receiving yards (367), junior WR Nyan Boateng has caught a touchdown pass in four of his last six games. Three weeks ago, Boateng hauled in a season-long 53-yard touchdown reception against UCLA for a score, while finishing with a season-high 67 yards receiving against the Bruins. He matched his season best in receptions (4) at USC with 43 yards.
A transfer from Florida in the spring of 2007, Boateng is second on the team with 23 receptions behind leader Jahvid Best, who has 24 catches.
Tucker on Target Junior wideout Verran Tucker has become a consistent target in the passing game of late, registering career bests in receptions (5) against Oregon and in yards (68) at Arizona. Tucker was instrumental on Cal's second offensive drive vs. Oregon when he hauled in a 17-yard reception on a 3rd-and-15 (at the Cal 24) to move the chains, then again on a 3rd-and-4 (on the Cal 47), when he nabbed a 24-yard reception to extend the drive. The Bears would eventually score a touchdown to go up 7-6.
For the season, Tucker, who had just two receptions through the years first five games, has 15 catches for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
Keen on Vereen Redshirt-freshman tailback Shane Vereen combines with sophomore Jahvid Best to give the Bears a potent one-two attack in the backfield. Although he has only one start on the year, Vereen has compiled 558 yards on the ground, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. In addition, has caught 22 balls out of the backfield, good for a tie for third on the team.
With Best out of the Arizona State game with an elbow injury, Vereen came through with 93 yards on 27 carries, plus another 51 yards on five catches. He posted his first 100-yard effort in the Michigan State opener, going for 101 yards on nine carries, which included a game-clinching 81-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Vereen also totals 99 rushing yards vs. UCLA.
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 24th in the country in punt returns (11.7 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 (35 straight starts, five career INTs, 23 career PBUs), the junior has three interceptions on the year. 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, spoiling 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 in Los Angeles equaled his career best with three pass break-ups against Oregon Nov. 1, and added another one at USC to give him eight PBUs in his last four games. Overall, he leads the team with 13 - tied for third most in a season in program history.
Hagan turned in another solid performance earlier in October against Arizona State with a career-best eight tackles to go along with a fumble recovery. He picked off his first interception in the Colorado State game, adding seven tackles to his stat line.
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 this year 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 ranks second on the team with 60 stops, reached double digits in tackles for the second time this season after posting a team-high 10 at USC (also had 12 tackles against Michigan State).
Follett continues to climb up Cal's career chart in tackles for losses (40.5) and is now eighth on the list after recording a team-high 12.5 this season - 21st in the country. Follett recorded a career-high 11 tackles against the Oregon Nov. 1, including a key sack on QB Jeremiah Masoli late in the fourth quarter on a third-and-9 which forced Oregon to punt. Follett also had a big day at Maryland with five tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
Williams has been active around the ball all season, recording 45 stops (fifth on the team), 4.5 tackles for loss and five pass break-ups. He recorded his first interception of the season against Oregon and returned it 50 yards to help set up a Cal touchdown just before halftime.
Other Bear linebackers have contributed, as well, in 2008. Sophomore Mike Mohamed has a team-best 66 tackles, while junior Eddie Young, who has started seven games this season, recorded a career-high seven tackles against Colorado State and has 28 for the year. Junior Devin Bishop, the younger brother of former Cal star LB Desmond Bishop, has 11 tackles, including four vs. Colorado State, while sophomore Charles Johnson (six tackles), redshirt freshman D.J. Holt (seven tackles) and true freshman Mychal Kendricks (12 tackles) all are in the mix.
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. Named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2008 Ray Guy Award, which identifies the nation's top collegiate punter. Anger is the only freshman and Pac-10 player on the list.
The Camarillo native is currently averaging 43.4 yards per punt this season - 16th-best in the nation. Eleven of Anger's 51 punts have traveled 50+ yards and 19 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 Arizona State early in the year. Then after David Seawright suffered a groin injury in practice before the Arizona game, he filled in on field goals and extra points vs. the Wildcats and has held the dual role ever since.
Although he was just wide on a 50-yard FG attempt at UA, Tavecchio did nail field goals from 40 and 42 yards, plus all three of his extra points. He added field goals from 26 and 42 yards vs. UCLA, made a 33-yarder against Oregon and booted a 35-yarder at USC.
A native of Milan, Italy, who was a star soccer player at Campolindo HS in nearby Moraga, Tavecchio elected to walk-on at Cal to play football despite offers to play soccer at other schools in California.
Dial Up Nate Senior QB Nate Longshore continued his climb up the Cal career charts in passing yards after his performance against USC on Nov. 8. The senior product of Canyon Country, passed Gale Gilbert for fifth all-time on Cal's career passing chart with 6,578 yards.
Longshore has appeared in seven games at quarterback this year (three starts) with 846 yards passing and eight 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 1,324 yards and nine 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.
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 56-29 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 56-29 .658 Five straight bowlsEarly 90s 1990-93 30-17 .638 Three bowlsMike White Era 1972-77 35-30 .538 Pac-8 title in `75
Bears on TV For the second year in a row, all Cal football games will be broadcast live on television. The Bears will appear on ABC seven times, including five consecutive weeks from Oct. 25 (UCLA) through Nov. 22 (Stanford). Cal was also on ESPN for the game at Maryland and on Comcast SportsNet-California for the Washington State, Colorado State and Arizona contests. The last remaining game to be selected is the Dec. 6 date vs. Washington. It will air on either FSN at 12 noon or ESPN or ESPN2 at 5 p.m., and the decision will be announced approximately two weeks in advance.
For the Big Game on Nov. 22, ABC will show the game over the air in the San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno and Monterey markets in Northern California. Fans can also access the game nationwide through ESPN GamePlan.
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