Cal Notes for Emerald Bowl
Dec. 18, 2008
California Golden Bears (8-4) vs. Miami Hurricanes (7-5)
Saturday, Dec. 27, 5 p.m., AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA
Radio: Cal/ISP Radio Network (KGO 810 AM, San Francisco flagship)
Radio: ESPN Radio
After finishing the regular season with an 8-4 overall record and a 6-3 mark in the Pac-10, California will make its school-record sixth consecutive postseason appearance when the Golden Bears meet Miami in the Emerald Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 27. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. in San Francisco's AT&T Park.
Cal began its bowl run at the Insight Bowl in 2003, followed by the first of two trips to the Holiday Bowl (2004 & 2006), the Las Vegas Bowl (2005) and the Armed Forces Bowl (2007). The Bears are 4-1 in bowl games under head coach Jeff Tedford and own a 9-8-1 all-time mark in postseason contests.
Prior to Tedford's arrival, Cal had earned bowl bids just five times since 1959, going to the Garden State Bowl (1979), Copper Bowl (1990), Citrus Bowl (1992), Alamo Bowl (1993) and Aloha Bowl (1996).
Cal Bowl Games under Jeff Tedford2003 Insight Bowl Phoenix, AZ Cal 52, Virginia Tech 492004 Holiday Bowl San Diego, CA Texas Tech 45, Cal 312005 Las Vegas Bowl Las Vegas, NV Cal 35, BYU 282006 Holiday Bowl San Diego, CA Cal 45, Texas A&M 102007 Armed Forces Bowl Ft. Worth, TX Cal 42, Air Force 362008 Emerald Bowl San Francisco, CA Cal vs. Miami
Cal and the ACC
Cal is 1-2-1 all-time against teams from the ACC: 1-0 vs. Clemson (37-13 win in the Jan. 1, 1992 Citrus Bowl), 0-1-1 vs. Duke and 0-1 vs. Maryland (lost 35-27 this year). The Bears have played other schools in the ACC that were not members of the conference at the time, including Georgia Tech, Miami and Virginia Tech.
Against teams in the present ACC lineup, Cal is 2-1 in bowl games, starting with the 1929 Rose Bowl when Georgia Tech emerged with an 8-7 victory. The decisive play was Roy Riegels' infamous wrong-way run with a recovered fumble that eventually led to a Cal safety.
Cal played Clemson in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 1992, prevailing 37-13. Russell White gained 103 yards on the ground and the Bears scored 17 first-quarter points, including a 72-yard punt return for a TD by Brian Treggs, en route to the victory.
In 2003, Cal outlasted Virginia Tech (then of the Big East) in a 52-49 shootout at the Insight Bowl in Phoenix, Ariz. QB Aaron Rodgers was 15-for-17 for 245 yards in the second half and his 8-yard TD run put the Bears up, 42-28, late in the third quarter. But after Virginia Tech tied the score with 3:11 left in the game, Tyler Fredrickson made a 35-yard field goal as time expired for the deciding points.
Alex Mack: Smarter Than the Average Bear
Consistently rated the No. 1 public university in the country, California can now boast the nation's No. 1 football scholar-athlete.
On Tuesday, Dec. 9, senior center Alex Mack was named winner of the National Football Foundation's 2008 Draddy Trophy during a ceremony in New York. Also referred to as the 'Academic Heisman,' the Draddy Trophy is one of college football's most sought-after and competitive awards, recognizing an individual as the best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and community leadership. The award comes with a 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship.Having already graduated with a 3.61 GPA and a bachelor's degree in legal studies, Mack is currently pursuing a master's in education. Named the 2008 Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year for football, he is a three-time first-team Pac-10 All-Academic choice.
On the field, Mack is a two-time first-team All-American, earning honors from The Sporting News in 2007 and Rivals.com this year (as of Dec. 15). Recipient of the Morris Trophy as the top offensive lineman in the Pac-10, he was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy the past two seasons and was a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award this fall.
Best in Show
Sophomore TB Jahvid Best enters the Emerald Bowl with 1,394 yards rushing, an average of 126.7 ypg that ranks fifth in the nation and first in the Pac-10. Perhaps most amazing, he averages 8.0 yards per carry, which is the best in the country for any runner with at least 125 attempts this year and the highest for Cal's leading rusher ever.
The 5-10 speedster really turned on the jets the last couple of weeks of the regular season, totaling 512 yards on just 38 carries (13.5 ypc), He ran through Stanford for a then-career-high 201 yards and two TDs Nov. 22, then exploded for a school-record 311 yards on 19 touches vs. Washington Dec. 6. His UW performance included touchdown runs of 60 and 84 yards among his four scores. Best's 311-yard effort is the No. 4 output in Pac-10 history and the fourth-best in the NCAA FBS this year.
In addition to his rushing prowess, Best also paces the Bears in receptions (27) and could become the first Cal player to lead the team in rushing and receptions since Chuck Muncie in 1973.
Top 4 Rushing Performances in Pac-10 History1. Rueben Mayes, Washington St. vs. Oregon, 1984 3572. Ricky Bell, USC vs. Washington St., 1976 3473. Maurice Drew, UCLA vs. Washington, 2004 3224. Jahvid Best, Cal vs. Washington, 2008 311
Top 4 Rushing Performances in the FBS in 20081. Shun White, Navy vs. Towson, 8/30 3482. Morgan Williams, Toledo vs. Miami (Ohio), 11/21 3303. Tarrion Adams, Tulsa vs. Tulane, 11/22 3234. Jahvid Best, Cal vs. Washington, 12/6 311
Golden Guys: 4 on All-Pac-10 1st Team
Four Golden Bears - center Alex Mack, tailback Jahvid Best, linebacker Zack Follett and cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson - were named first-team All-Pac-10 in a vote of the conference coaches. In addition, offensive guard Noris Malele, defensive end Tyson Alualu and punter Bryan Anger were chosen to the second-team unit. Linebacker Anthony Felder, defensive end Cameron Jordan, linebacker Mike Mohamed, fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou and linebacker Worrell Williams all earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors.
Mack, who was named on nine of 10 ballots, is a three-time first-team choice, while Best earned first-team notice for the second consecutive season after claiming a spot as a special teams performer in 2007.
Bears Earn Pac-10 All-Academic Honors
Center Alex Mack, offensive guard Mark Boskovich, fullback Zach Smith and linebacker Mike Mohamed were named to the Pac-10 All-Academic first team, with fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou and offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz earning honorable mention notice. No school had more first-team selections than the Bears, with Oregon and Oregon State also having four first-team players.
During his seven seasons as head coach, Jeff Tedford has seen Cal players claim Pac-10 All-Academic honors 74 times.
23 Interceptions for Cal D
Cal enters the Emerald Bowl with 23 interceptions to its credit this season, a figure that stands as the most at the school since the Bears also picked off 23 passes in 1953. As a result the Bears are third in the country in interceptions, a big reason they are seventh nationally in turnover margin (+14). The number is even more remarkable when considering Cal had just 10 interceptions last season.
NCAA Passes Intercepted Leaders1. Boston College 262. Florida 243. California 234. Troy 214. East Carolina 21
Cal Season Interception Leaders1. 1948 302. 1947 273. 1953, 2008 234. 1949, '68, '70, '91 22
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 ranks first in the Pac-10 and seventh nationally in turnover margin (+14, +1.7 per game), having forced 32 turnovers in 12 games, leading to 118 points (29.5% of the Bears' total output). On the flip side, the Bears have committed just 18 turnovers themselves and if they maintain it through the Emerald Bowl, they will tie the school mark for fewest TOs in a season.
A look at the stats during Tedford's tenure backs up his assertion of the value of turnovers. In his seven years at Cal, the Bears are 33-3 (.916) when winning the turnover battle and 13-19 (.406) 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 22-1 (.956) with a positive margin and 7-17 (.291) 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 under TedfordYear Margin per Game NCAA Rank Record2002 +1.5 3rd 7-52003 +0.2 50th 8-62004 +0.2 51st 10-22005 -0.5 88th 8-42006 +0.5 30th 10-32007 -1.2 76th 7-62008 +1.7 7th 8-4
1,000-yard Runners Again and Again
With Jahvid Best rushing for 1,394 yards so far, Cal has now produced a 1,000-yard rusher during each of Jeff Tedford's seven seasons in Berkeley. The streak is the second longest ever in the Pac-10 behind USC's 10 in a row from 1972-81.
On the national level, only one other school can boast seven having a 1,000-yard rusher seven years running - New Mexico - although Missouri could join the list as Derrick Washington has 992 yards entering the Alamo Bowl.
Since 1936, Cal backs have won the conference rushing title just seven times, with Best aiming to become the eighth. However, he would be the Bears' third champion in five years, following in the steps of J.J. Arrington (2004) and Marshawn Lynch (2006).
Cal's 1,000-yard Rushers since 20022002 Joe Igber (1,130)2003 Adimchinobe Echemandu (1,195)2004 J.J. Arrington (2,018)2005 Marshawn Lynch (1,246)2006 Marshawn Lynch (1,356)2007 Justin Forsett (1,546)2008 Jahvid Best (1,394)
Cal has set a school record with 19 different players scoring touchdowns this season. Sophomore running back Jahvid Best has taken it to the house a team-high 14 times. Three scores have come on the defensive side as Michael Mohamed, Marcus Ezeff and Brett Johnson all recorded pick sixes. Bryant Nnabuife, meanwhile, has been big on special teams, returning two blocked punts for scores.
The previous mark was 16 players in the 1946 and '47 seasons, while 15 players scored in 1949, and 14 scored in 1993, 2000 and 2006.
With its victory against Stanford Nov. 22, Cal secured its school-record seventh straight season with at least seven wins - each year that Jeff Tedford has overseen the program. Tedford's turnaround has been quite remarkable, especially considering that the Bears were coming off a 1-10 campaign in 2001 and had not had a plus .500 season since 1993.
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 seven years. Others: Frank Kush (ASU), John Robinson (USC) and Mike Bellotti (Oregon). Since he arrived in 2002, the Bears have won 58 games, second among Pac-10 teams to USC's 81, played in five bowl games going on six, second only to USC's six going on seven; won four bowl games, second only to USC's five; and earned three top-3 finishes in the Pac-10, second only to USC's six. Tedford is also 6-1 in the Big Game vs. Stanford.
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, leaving 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
Unkind in the Red Zone
Opponents have struggled to score in the red zone against the Bears all season, shown by the fact that Cal ranks second in the country (No. 1 in the Pac-10) in red-zone defense (66.0%). Prior to the Big Game, Stanford ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 and in the top 10 nationally in red-zone offense, but only came away converting on 2-of-4 tries. Cal forced a fumble in addition to a missed field goal by the Cardinal. Overall, the Bears have allowed 19 TDs and 8 field goals in 41 opponent trips inside their 20-yard-line.
When it comes to stopping opponents on third down, Cal ranks among the best in the country, having limited teams to 30.3% (54-178) - second in the Pac-10 and ninth in the NCAA. Among conference schools, only USC (26.6%, 2nd NCAA) is better. Eight of 12 opponents have converted four third downs or fewer, and only Maryland (6-12) has reached the 50 percent threshold.
Cal has returned three interceptions for touchdowns this year, including two in the Bears' 41-20 win over UCLA Oct. 25. Marcus Ezeff returned one pick 69 yards for a TD, while Mike Mohamed added a 19-yard TD return in the fourth quarter. Brett Johnson was the first Bear to get a pick 6 with 43-yard return vs. Colorado State Sept. 27.Cal also returned three INTs for touchdowns in 2002 and 2006, and set a school record with five interceptions returned for TDs in 1999.
Cal's defense has given up 3,785 yards through 12 games this season, 715 yards less than the Bears surrendered through 12 games last year. Cal's per-game average of 315.4 ypg allowed is the lowest during Jeff Tedford's tenure as head coach. The last time the Bears had a lower per-game rate was in 1994 when they gave up 299.9 ypg.
Overall, Cal's defense rates among the NCAA leaders in several categories: No. 4 in turnovers gained (32), No. 3 in passes intercepted (23), No. 9 in third-down conversion defense (30.3%), No. 3 in fourth-down conversion defense (25.0%), No. 2 in red-zone defense (66%), No. 5 in pass efficiency defense (97.01 opponent QB rating) and No. 7 in turnover margin (+1.17 per game, +14 total).
3-4 Showcases Linebacker Strength
The Cal 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. Each member of the trio earned All-Pac-10 recognition this fall, as well as reserve Mike Mohamed.
Felder, who leads team with 89 stops, has reached double digits in tackles three times this season with 12 stops vs. Michigan State, 10 at USC and 13 vs. Stanford. Felder has also cracked Cal's top 10 career tackles chart (9th) with 247 after posting nine tackles against Washington.
Follett continues to climb up Cal's career chart in tackles for loss (47.0), now eighth on the list after recording a team-high 19.0 this season (sixth in the country). In his last five games, he has 40 tackles, 10.5 for loss, two forced fumbles and 4.5 sacks. Follett had 10 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 5 TFLs against Stanford, while he earned Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week recognition after recording 11 tackles, three for loss, and a pass break-up in the Oregon game.
Williams has been active around the ball all season, recording 61 stops (fifth on the team), 5.0 tackles for loss and six 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. Mohamed is second on the team with 80 tackles, while junior Eddie Young, who has started 10 games this season, picked off his first interception of the season against Stanford to help set up a Cal touchdown. He recorded a personal-high seven tackles against Colorado State, and has 38 on 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 (14 tackles) and true freshman Mychal Kendricks (15 tackles) all are in the mix.
Cornering the Market
Cal features two of the better cornerbacks in the Pac-10 in junior Syd'Quan Thompson and sophomore Darian Hagan. Together, they have combined for seven interceptions and 34 passes defensed.
Thompson, who has started every game of his 38-game career, earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors this fall. He has four interceptions himself, including two at Washington State when he set a school record with 108 return yards. His 90-yard runback of one INT was the fifth-longest in Cal history.
In addition, Thompson is 23rd in the country in punt returns (12.3 ypr), with his biggest thrill coming 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.
Not to be outdone, Hagan ranks second in the Pac-10 in passes defensed with 18, a total that matches the Cal season record. The product of Crenshaw HS in Los Angeles equaled his career best with three pass break-ups against Oregon Nov. 1. He recorded his first career two-INT game against Washington, joining Thompson as the other Bear to accomplish that feat this season.
Last season, Hagan saw action in just five games, primarily on special teams. He has started every game for the Bears this year.
Freshman P Bryan Anger saved his best performance of the season for the Big Game vs. Stanford Nov. 22. Anger booted a career-long 76-yard punt in the first quarter (pinning Stanford on its one-yard line), the fourth-longest punt in Cal history and furthest since Scott Tabor kicked one a school-record 89 yards against USC in 1987. Anger followed up with a 75-yarder in the third quarter, which tied Ryan Longwell for No. 5 in school history. His 60.2 average on four kicks set a Cal single-game record.
Anger was named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2008 Ray Guy Award, which identifies the nation's top collegiate punter, and was the only freshman and Pac-10 player on the list.
The Camarillo native is currently averaging 43.65 yards per punt this season - 14th-best in the nation. Sixteen of Anger's 66 punts have traveled 50+ yards and 25 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 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.
Through 12 games this season, Cal has outscored its opponents 94-40 in the first quarter and 124-58 in the second, giving up an average of just 8.1 ppg in first halves. Only three opponents - Maryland, Oregon and Oregon State - have managed to score a touchdown in the first quarter. In fact, the Bears have shut out their foes in the opening period seven times and limited two teams - USC and Washington State - to just one field goal each. Overall, Cal has outscored opponents nine times in the first quarter and 10 of 12 times in the second quarter.
Big Numbers at the Gate Again
Cal finished the 2008 regular season averaging 61,634 fans per contest, the fourth time in the last five years the Bears have drawn more than 60,000 fans per game. In terms of pure numbers, Cal attracted its second-highest total ever this year. With 431,437 fans having passed through the gates, only the 2006 season, which drew 450,223 fans and averaged a record 64,318, had a higher total.
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 58-30 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 BowlsJeff Tedford Era 2002-current 58-30 .659 Six 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 have appeared 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 regular-season finale vs. Washington was aired nationally on Fox Sports Net. The Emerald Bowl match-up vs. Miami will be broadcast on ESPN.