Cal Hosts Michigan State on Aug. 30 to Open 2008 Football Season
Aug. 21, 2008
2008 CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL
Saturday, August 30; 5 p.m. (PT)
California (0-0, 0-0 Pac-10) vs. Michigan State (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Berkeley, Calif. - Memorial Stadium
TV: ABC. Broadcast Team: Ron Franklin (PxP), Ed Cunningham (analyst), Heather Cox (sidelines).
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
2007 Record: 7-6
Head Coach: Jeff Tedford
Alma Mater/Year: Fresno State/1983
Record at Cal/Year: 50-26/7th
Career Record/Years: Same
Football SID: John Sudsbury
Office Phone: 510-643-4723
Ticket Info: 800-GO-BEARS
Games Played: 3
Series Record: Cal trails, 2-1
First Meeting: 10/5/57, MSU, 19-0
Last Meeting: 9/14/02, Cal, 46-22
Current Streak: MSU win two of three
Tedford vs. Michigan State: 1-0
The California football team kicks off its 113th season of football on Saturday, Aug. 30 against Michigan State University at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. Under the direction of head coach Jeff Tedford, the Golden Bears are angling for their seventh consecutive winning season - something that has not been achieved at Cal since the dazzling Wonder Teams tallied eight straight winning seasons (with a phenomenal 63-7 record) from 1918-25.
Cal, which has the second-most overall and league wins in the Pac-10 in the last six years, is also one of just three Pac-10 teams to have advanced to bowl games in each of the last five campaigns (joined by USC and UCLA).
The opening match-up with Michigan State is a return-game by the Spartans, who hosted the Bears on Sept. 14, 2002 and lost 46-22 in Tedford's first year as head coach. That game was Tedford's first victory over a ranked team as Michigan State held the No. 15 ranking at the time. Can has 10 victories over ranked opponents in Tedford's tenure, matching the total number of wins over ranked teams from the 13 years before his arrival.
Cal's offensive lineup will feature quite a few changes as the squad's top running back, top tight end and top three receivers all departed for the NFL. In addition, to offensive linemen headed to the pros and the Bears are in the midst of a quarterback competition between senior Nate Longshore and sophomore Kevin Riley. Tedford has said that both QBs could see action in the opener.
Defensively, Cal returns seven starters, but is making a shift to a 3-4 alignment to take advantage of its talent and depth at the linebacker position. Seniors Anthony Felder, Zack Follett and Worrell Williams are the top LBs, while senior safety Bernard Hicks and junior cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson are also defensive players to watch.
Another top story line for Cal is sophomore speedster Jahvid Best taking over at tailback - Cal has registered 1,000-yard rushers in each of the last six seasons. Best is a top-level sprinter on the track, having clocked a top time of 10.31 seconds in the 100-meters and 20.65 seconds in the 200 in high school. He suffered a hip injury and missed the final three games of 2007 as well as spring workouts, however, he has looked sensational in preseason camp action.
Following a theme of 'Every Game Counts,' the Bears have had a focused preseason camp and are counting on another strong season.
In Cal's football history, the Golden Bears have posted a 69-39-4 record in season-openers. Jeff Tedford has recorded a 4-2 mark in lid-lifters. Leonard 'Stub' Allison, who was far-and-away the most successful Cal coach in season-opening contests. During his 10-year tenure in Berkeley, Allison posted a 9-1 mark in contests that christened the season. Currently Cal is on a stretch of winning nine of its last 12 opening games.
Cal-Michigan State Series
Michigan State holds a 2-1 season series advantage over the Golden Bears:
9/14/02 - Cal 46, at Michigan State 22
9/27/58 - at Michigan State 32, Cal 12
10/5/57 - Michigan State 19, at Cal 0
Big Ten Battles
In addition to Michigan State, the Cal football team has played each of the other 10 Big Ten teams at least once in history (the first was a 28-0 win over Ohio State in the 1920 Rose Bowl). Cal's overall record against the Big Ten is 14-21 while head coach Jeff Tedford is 4-0 (the Spartans in 2002, Illinois in 2003 and 2005 and Minnesota in 2006).
August and Everything After
The Golden Bears have played three football games in the month of August, posting a 2-1 record all under Jeff Tedford. Tedford's head coaching debut was a 70-22 victory over Baylor on Aug. 31, 2002. Cal opened the 2003 season with a 42-28 loss at Kansas State on Aug. 23 and then defeated Southern Miss at home, 34-2, on Aug. 30, 2003.
Cal Offense Quick Notes for 2008
Five starters return on offense, including center Alex Mack, tackle Mike Tepper, guard Noris Malele, quarterback Nate Longshore and fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou ... Mack, a Playboy Preseason All-American, anchored an offensive line that allowed a Pac-10-low 11 sacks in 2007 ... Longshore has thrown for over 5,000 career yards and his 41 career touchdown passes rank sixth all-time at Cal ... Jahvid Best had 21 plays of 10 yards or more and averaged 12.3 yards per touch as a true freshman ... Cal will look for its seventh straight season with a 1,000-yard rusher in 2008 after Justin Forsett ran for 1,546 yards last year ... the Bears have just 13 returning catches by its receivers - 10 by senior LaReylle Cunningham ... Cal has not been shut out in a school-record 107 consecutive games dating back to Sept. 11, 1999.
Cal Defensive Quick Notes for 2008
Cal returns nine starters on defense for 2008 ... linebacker Zack Follett led the Bears with 12.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks ... Anthony 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 (1983) ... the 52 tackles by defensive tackle Tyson Alualu were the most by a defensive lineman at Cal since 2000 ... cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson has started every game in his career and led the team with 10 pass breakups in 2007 ... cornerback Chris Conte had 32 tackles, the most by a Cal true freshman since 2002 ... Williams is the fourth-leading returning tackler in the Pac-10 for 2008 ... Cal forced a fumble in 11 of its 13 games and recovered a fumble in 10 of those ... the defense led the nation with three fumble-recovery touchdowns in 2007.
Special Teams Quick Notes for 2008
The Golden Bears lead the Pac-10 in net punting over the last two years at 37.9 net yards per punt ... Cal looks to replace DeSean Jackson, who had six career punt returns for touchdowns ... Cal foes booted 21 field goals in 2007, matching 1983 for the most field goals by an opponent ... Jordan Kay was perfect on PAT's (48-of-48) ... snapper Nick Sundberg, a three-year starter, was nearly perfect on 128-of-129 (99.2%) snaps last year.
The 2008 season will mark the first time since 2003 that the Golden Bears are not ranked in the preseason polls - Cal is 'Also Receiving Votes' in the AP poll with 59 (28th overall) and No. 32 in the Coaches Poll. Last year, the Bears entered the season No. 12 in both polls - Cal's fourth-highest preseason ranking of all-time. Under Jeff Tedford, the Bears have been No. 13 (2004), No. 19 (2005), No. 9 (2006) and No. 12 (2007) in the AP Preseason Polls. Cal was picked No. 4 in the Pac-10 in the preseason media poll for the league.
The Best of Times
Sophomore Jahvid Best is expected to take on a major role in 2008 after recording a break-out rookie season last year as a true freshman. The product of nearby Vallejo, Calif., tallied 10 or more yards on 21 of his 57 touches last season, including a 64-yard touchdown run against Colorado State and a 54-yard kick return against UCLA. He ranked second in the Pac-10 with 27.0 yards per kick return and also established himself as one of the top gunners in the nation - a position he will not return to in 2008 with his increased offensive role. Best missed the final three games of 2007 and 2008 spring workouts with a hip injury, but is back at full strength for the upcoming campaign.
Quarterback Depth is Priceless
While Cal quarterbacks Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley continue to push each other to new heights in their competition for the starting role, an under-appreciated bonus is the value of having two experienced quarterbacks ready to go. Here's a look at Pac-10 teams with multiple returning quarterbacks who have started games:
Ben Olson 14/10 1873 12 (injured)
Patrick Cowan 19/13 2478 15 (injured)
Oscar Rasshan 6/2 259 0
Mark Sanchez 8/3 695 7
Mitch Mustain 10/8 894 10 (2006 at Arkansas)
Sean Canfield 21/9 1996 11
Lyle Moevao 9/4 876 2
Punt Return Posse
With the departure of DeSean Jackson and his Pac-10 record six punt return touchdowns, the Cal coaching staff is evaluating multiple players as replacements. The top candidates appear to be junior cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson, who had five punt return TDs in one high school season, senior receiver Sean Young, who successfully gained a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, redshirt freshman tailback Shane Vereen, who scored 89 touchdowns during a three-year high school career, and Jahvid Best, the sizzling speedster from nearby Vallejo.
3-4 Showcases Linebacker Strength
The California coaching staff has 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 returning senior starters in Anthony Felder (101 tackles in 2007), Zack Follett (two-time All-Pac-10 selection, led team in sacks in 2006 and 2007) and Worrell Williams (preseason All-American, 105 tackles in 2007). However, a host of other 'backers are making a case for playing time. Junior Eddie Young has climbed to the top at the outside opposite Follett, while sophomore Mike Mohamed, who showed his ability in 2007 with 46 takedowns, will play both inside and outside. Junior Devin Bishop, the younger brother of former Cal star linebacker Desmond Bishop, has come on strong in camp, while sophomore Charles Johnson, redshirt freshman D.J. Holt and true freshman Mychal Kendricks are also making their cases for playing time.
Focus on 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. A look at the stats in Tedford's tenure backs up his assertion of the value of turnovers. In his six years at Cal, the Golden Bears are 27-2 (.931) when winning the turnover battle and 11-18 (.357) when losing that statistical comparison (as well as 12-6 when tied). In Pac-10 games, the stats are even more decisive, as Cal is 17-1 (.944) when winning the turnover battle and 6-16 (.272) when losing it (7-3 when turnovers are tied). Cal lost the turnover battle in each of its six losses last year.
Early Action Guys
Head coach Jeff Tedford has been very pleased by the performance of many of the newcomers to the squad this year. The Bears played four newcomers in 2007 (Jahvid Best, Chris Conte, Cameron Jordan and Zach Smith - a transfer from Duke), but based on preseason performance a number of newcomers could see immediate action in 2008 including true freshmen Marc Anthony (DB), Covaughn DeBoskie (RB), Trevor Guyton (DT), Josh Hill (DB), Marvin Jones (WR), Mychal Kendricks (LB), Anthony Miller (TE), Kendrick Payne (DT), Charles Satchell (WR), David Seawright (PK) and Aaron Tipoti (DE), as well as junior-college transfers Bryant Nnabufie (DB) and Verran Tucker (WR).
Draft Day Records
Cal had a record NFL Draft in 2008 with six players being selected in the two-day event. Six is the largest group of players drafted in seven rounds in school history. In 1977, when the draft included 12 rounds, the Golden Bears also had six selections, while the 30-round 1952 draft had 10 Bear selections. Receiver DeSean Jackson was Cal's first player selected, as he went in the second round (Philadelphia). Tight end Craig Stevens (Tennessee) and safety Thomas DeCoud (Atlanta) followed in the third round and receiver Lavelle Hawkins (Tennessee) was picked in the fourth round. Offensive lineman Mike Gibson (sixth round) went to Philadelphia as well, while running back Justin Forsett was drafted in the seventh round by Seattle.
Talent Is Never Enough
Despite having six players selected in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Golden Bears slipped to 7-6 during the 2007 campaign. In the midst of a thorough review of the program, Jeff Tedford picked up a book that Athletic Director Sandy Barbour had distributed to all of Cal's head coaches and senior staff members - 'Talent Is Never Enough' by John C. Maxwell.
'I started reading it and I found myself highlighting half of pages, or full pages. It was so relevant to what our situation was,' Tedford told the Contra Costa Times. 'I felt like we needed to spend time on a lot of the things in the book and go back and redefine who we are.'
The book focuses on 13 things which affect talent and allow a team to go beyond its talent: Belief, Passion, Initiative, Focus, Preparation, Practice, Perseverance, Courage, Teachability, Character, Relationships, Responsibility and Teamwork.
Mack is Back
Referenced by Jeff Tedford as the program's top recruit for 2008, All-America center Alex Mack announced on Jan. 8 that he will return for his senior season with the California football team. Mack earned All-America honors from multiple entities, including first-team recognition by The Sporting News.
'This is a really great opportunity for me to help the team,' Mack said. 'There is a lot I can do at Cal to improve my game and to further my career. I didn't want to miss the experience of my senior season and helping the team get back on track and finish things right. This also gives me an opportunity to finish my degree and continue my education.'
Mack was also a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which goes to the nation's top center, and was the winner of the Morris Trophy in the Pac-10. The 6-4, 316-pounder's excellence is not limited to the playing field either, a legal studies major, he earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honors for the second straight year in 2007 and was named to the Pac-10 All-Academic first team. He earned his bachelor's degree in legal studies in May and is working on a master's degree.
Running Back Replacements
While replacing running back Justin Forsett and his 1,500+ yards may seem like quite a challenge for the Golden Bears, it has become nearly an annual occurrence for Jeff Tedford and running backs coach Ron Gould. In 2002, senior Joe Igber became Cal's first 1,000-yard rusher in nine years. With his departure, senior Adimchinobe Echemandu stepped into the primary back role and surpassed Igber's rushing total. For 2004, Cal simply handed the ball to J.J. Arrington, who promptly led the nation in rushing with over 2,000 yards on the ground. After Arrington's early departure to the NFL, local product Marshawn Lynch tallied a pair of 1,000-yard seasons and then jumped to the NFL himself, leaving the Bears to rely on Forsett. Prior to his own move to the NFL, the Texas product produced his big year, recording more rushing yards than any other back in Cal history besides Arrington. For 2008, Cal will look to sophomores Jahvid Best and Tracy Slocum and redshirt freshman Shane Vereen to fill the latest void.
We're Men, We Won 40
The Bears have won 43 games over the past five seasons. It is the most victories by California over a five-year period since the 1948-1949-1950-1951-1952 teams combined to win 44 games.
The California football team will have a new look for the 2008 season. Head coach Jeff Tedford, the players and the staff worked with Nike to develop an overall new look, which incorporates aspects of the previous uniforms with new stream-lined patterns.
'I think the new look will help us build a new image,' Cal senior linebacker Worrell Williams said. 'It keeps us up to date and it shows the dedication that our coaches, administration and Nike have to the Cal program. A change in uniform always adds excitement to the team.'
Cal, which has changed its uniforms periodically over the years, will still easily be recognized by the script 'Cal' logo on the helmets, as it has been in one form or another since 1979. Since World War II, the Bears have sported at least 15 different helmet versions and countless variations on its uniforms. During the 2006 season, Cal unveiled an alternate gold uniform for its crucial home showdown with Oregon and the team responded with an impressive 21-point victory. In two years, the Bears have posted a perfect 5-0 record in the gold-based outfits. Last year, the Golden Bears battled USC in a driving rainstorm while wearing throwback uniforms, replicas of Cal's 1976 uniforms as a tribute to former Bear All-American Joe Roth.
Tony Gonzalez - Life Saver
Former Cal tight end great, and current Kansas City Chief, Tony Gonzalez, saved a man from choking to death at a restaurant earlier this summer. Gonzalez, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who has set numerous NFL records, was having dinner with his wife, brother and 5-week-old daughter at Capone's restaurant in Huntington Beach, saw the distressed patron at the table next to his, jumped out of his chair and came up behind the stricken man and began to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
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' six-year record of 50-26 is among the best-ever at Cal.
Era Years Record Pct. Highlights
The Wonder Teams 1920-24 44-0-4 .958 Three National Titles
The Thunder Teams 1937-38 20-1-1 .932 One Championship
Pappy's Boys 1947-52 53-9 .855 Three Rose Bowls
The Tedford Era 2002-current 50-26 .658 Five straight bowls
Early 90s 1990-93 30-17 .638 Three bowls
Mike White Era 1972-77 35-30 .538 Pac-8 title in `75
The spring season marked the debut of two new coaches for the Golden Bears. Frank Cignetti took over as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and Al Simmons returned to the Bears for his second stint as defensive backs coach. Cignetti, who brings 19 years of coaching experience at both the collegiate and professional levels to the program, joined the Bears after coaching the San Francisco 49ers' quarterbacks in 2007. Simmons, a Bay Area product, also served as Cal's cornerbacks coach from 1998-2000. He coached at Arizona State last season.
DeSean Moves On
DeSean Jackson, Cal's All-America receiver and return man, announced on Jan. 15 that he would forego his senior year with the Golden Bears and enter the NFL Draft. He went on to get selected in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles. In Jackson's three seasons, the speedster finished third all-time at Cal in receiving yards (2,423), third in receiving touchdowns (22) and sixth in total receptions (162). He had 28 touchdowns in 36 career games and 52 career plays of 20 or more yards (23.0 percent of his 226 touches). Jackson also had six punt return touchdowns, the most in Cal and Pac-10 history.
Signing Day Score
Five high school All-Americans highlighted the 21-player recruiting class head coach Jeff Tedford announced on National Signing Day Feb. 6. The Golden Bears added 19 high school stars, as well as two junior college transfers. Eleven of the signees will bolster the offensive side of the ball, while nine are defensive players and one is a specialist.
'We are very excited about this class,' Tedford said. 'It addresses all of our needs. What we look for are young men who will fit in with our program and with the university. We are excited about all of our signees and confidant that they all have the potential to succeed as student-athletes at the University of California.'
In addition to the All-America signees, 14 of Cal's newcomers were rated in the top 50 in the nation at their respective positions. The recruits include four from the Bay Area, five Central Valley players, three standouts from Southern California and one signee from the northern section of the state. As a group, the receivers are rated in the top 10 in the nation and the tight ends are rated fifth in the country by Rivals.com.
Cal had a few new faces in place for the 2008 spring practice slate. A pair of its 2008 signees graduated high school early and enrolled at Cal in January, taking full part in spring drills. Running back Covaughn DeBoskie was a high school All-American for Hamilton HS in Chandler, Ariz., rushing for over 2,000 yards with 42 touchdowns in his last two years. Kendrick Payne is a powerful defensive lineman from Houston, Texas, who was his district's co-MVP after leading Klein Forest High to a 9-2 record. In addition, junior wide receiver Nyan Boateng, a transfer from Florida who sat out last year, was in action this spring and is eligible for the fall. Linebacker Robert Mullins and offensive lineman Matt Summers-Gavin, who signed in 2007, did not enroll in school until January and participated in spring action as well.
California rallied from a 21-0 deficit behind quarterback Kevin Riley's 269 yards and three touchdowns to defeat Air Force, 42-36 in the 2007 Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 31 in Fort Worth, Texas. The Golden Bears got on the scoreboard in the second quarter when DeSean Jackson made an acrobatic 40-yard grab for Cal's first touchdown. Robert Jordan had an 18-yard touchdown in the third quarter, then a 52-yard catch to set up the go-ahead 1-yard TD run by Justin Forsett with 1:33 left in the third quarter. The Bears put the game away on a 21-yard TD run by Forsett on their next drive. Forsett ran for 140 yards and two TDs on 23 carries. Riley was named the Offensive MVP of the game.
Cal Posts Sixth Straight Winning Season
Cal's sixth straight winning season in 2007 marked the first time the Golden Bears have reached that level of consistency since Pappy Waldorf's juggernaut teams reeled off six straight winning marks from 1947-52. Since posting the worst record at Cal in 104 years (1-10) in 2001, the Golden Bears hired head coach Jeff Tedford and have rolled to marks of 7-5 (2002), 8-6 (2003), 10-3 (2004), 8-4 (2005), 10-3 (2006) and 7-6 (2007).
In 2007, for the first time in program history, every Cal football game was televised. In Jeff Tedford's six years at the helm of the Bears, 60 Cal football games were televised; in the six years prior to his arrival, 35 Cal games were televised. National television broadcasts have more than doubled in that time.
The USC attendance of 72,516 last Nov. 10 was just the seventh non-Big Game sellout in the last 51 years for Cal. The Bears sold out three games in 2006 (Oregon, UCLA and Stanford) and two in 2007 (Tennessee and USC). Cal has now sold out multiple games in each of the last two seasons. The Golden Bears have sold out the Big Game against Stanford 15 times in the last 50 years.
50,000 Fans Again
The USC attendance of 72,516 marked the 24th straight home game with over 50,000 fans - every home game over the last four years. That game was also the 13th game of 60,000+ fans under Jeff Tedford; Cal had nine 60,000+ games in the 12 years prior to Tedford's arrival.
Despite a loss in its final home game of 2007 to USC, Cal enters 2008 with 22 victories in its last 26 home games. Overall, Cal has out-scored opponents 1024-500 in these contests, including 244-128 in the fourth quarter. The only losses suffered in Memorial Stadium were to Oregon State (Oct. 15, 2005 and Oct. 13, 2007) and to USC (Nov. 12, 2005 and Nov. 10, 2007).
Senior running back Justin Forsett and junior center Alex Mack headlined 12 individuals from Cal on the 2007 Pac-10 all-conference football teams. Both Forsett and Mack collected first-team honors, while wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins garnered second-team notice. Freshman Jahvid Best earned first-team honors as a special teams player, while Jackson was a second-teamer as a punt returner. Zack Follett was also a second-team defensive choice at linebacker. Six Golden Bears were honorable mentions as well: Thomas DeCoud, Brian De La Puente, Anthony Felder, Mike Gibson, Robert Jordan, Craig Stevens.
Cal hopes to avoid the injury bug in 2008 after seeing probable starters miss a total of 36 games in 2007. While Nate Longshore's injured ankle drew the most attention, an often-forgotten key injury was that to senior placekicker Tom Schneider, who missed the entire season after a leg injury. A top candidate for the Lou Groza Award entering the year, Schneider, who missed just two field goals inside 50 yards in 2006, was also slated to be Cal's kickoff man. Another critical injury-loss was defensive end Rulon Davis. After winning the starting job in fall camp, Davis played in just six games. He hurt his foot in the third game of the year and came back for limited action against Arizona State, tallying 1.5 sacks, before injuring his knee. Safety Marcus Ezeff missed five games due to a quad injury; linebacker Zack Follett missed nearly three games with a neck injury; starting tackle Matt Malele missed four full games due to an injured knee; fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou missed two full games and parts of others due to knee injuries; receiver Robert Jordan missed one game with an injured shoulder; tackle Mika Kane was out one game after a concussion; tailback/return specialist Jahvid Best did not play after the USC game due a hip injury; and receiver DeSean Jackson missed the second half of the Washington game and the entire Stanford contest, while also being hampered by a thumb injury in the first half of the season.