Aug. 30, 2003
Today's attendance of 33,552 surpasses last year's Baylor home opener attendance of 27,185. In fact, today's attendance is a higher figure than in any of Cal's first four home games from the 2002 campaign. This season, Cal has sold 20,000 season tickets, a 30 percent increase over last year's season ticket total.
Cal defeated Southern Mississippi, 34-2, today to even its record at 1-1, while the Golden Eagles fell to 0-1. The Bears have now won seven of their last eight home openers.
Cal's Defensive Turnaround Key in Bears Win
Cal's defense put the clamps down on Southern Miss' offense as the Bears' recorded their first defensive shutout since 1999 when Cal defeated UCLA, 17-0. The Bears held the Golden Eagles to 277 total yards, as opposed to the 535 total yards by Kansas State last week. In particular, the Bears' improvement can be seen in the rushing yards category, as Cal held Southern Miss to 65 rushing yards, whereas last week Kansas State ran for 340 yards. Also, Mike McGrath recorded the Bears' first turnover this season, with his first career interception in the final minute of the first half. Additionally, Cal also provided a solid defensive front in third and fourth down situations today. The Golden Eagles only managed to convert 3-of-15 third down chances and were 0-for-3 in fourth downs.
Cal's Rushing Game Gets Into Gear
Adimchinobe Echemandu and J.J. Arrington ignited Cal's rushing game today. Echemandu ran for a career-best 127 yards (previous best 72) on 17 carries, including his first TD (career longest rush: 60 yards) since the 2000 season. The 60-yard run was the longest by a Bear since Joe Igber recorded a 80-yard run at Arizona State in 2000. Arrington rushed for 114 yards on 16 carries. The last time Cal had two running backs run for over 100 yards in the same game was Nov. 27, 1993 when Lindsey Chapman (30 att., 147 yds.) and Reynard Rutherford (13, 101) combined for 248 rushing yards at Hawaii. All told, Cal rushed for 260 yards today after posting only 62 yards vs. Kansas State.
McCleskey Has Solid Defensive Outing
Donnie McCleskey sacked Southern Miss QB Micky D'Angelo in the first quarter for his first solo career sack and posted his second later in the quarter. Last week, he was credited with a shared sack against Kansas State. This was the first time a Bear DB has posted two sacks in a game since Dewey Hale had two in the first quarter (1 for 7, 1 for 19 yards) at Washington State on Sept. 22, 2001. McCleskey's 2 ˝ sacks this season are the most by a Cal DB since Nnamdi Asomugha tallied three in 2000. Overall, McCleskey had 13 tackles, including four for a loss today.
McArthur Surpasses 1000 Career Receiving Yards
Junior WR Geoff McArthur began the season with 822 career receiving yards. After catching eight passes for 169 yards against Kansas State and posting 5 catches for 92 yards today, he now has 1,083 career receiving yards to rank 14th on Cal's career chart.
Punting Miscues Leads to Scores for Both Teams
Southern Miss took an early 2-0 lead with 10:29 to play in the first quarter when the Bears surrendered their first safety since Oct. 19, 2002 against UCLA on a bad snap to punter Lucas Everett. With 12 minutes to play in the second quarter, Cal grabbed a 10-2 advantage when Andy Briner blocked Luke Johnson's punt attempt and James Bethea ran the ball in for a TD. This was the Bears first blocked punt returned for a TD since Wale Forrester did it against Arizona State, Nov. 9, 2002. Cal had another scoring opportunity on a Southern Miss punting miscue in the first quarter but failed to take advantage of Harrison Smith's blocked punt that put the Bears deep in Golden Eagle territory.
Tight End Re-Emerges in Bears Offense
The tight end position was an important part of the Bears' offense in 2002. After not having a tight end record a pass in the season opener last week, senior TE Brandon Hall caught 3 passes today for 17 yards, including his first career TD to put the Bears up 20-2 at the half. TE Garrett Cross grabbed his first career reception for a TD in the third quarter, pushing the Cal lead to 27-2.
Robertson Excelling in Starting Role
Junior QB Reggie Robertson has put together two solid outing in 2003. He completed 16-of-29 passes for three TDs and 1 INT and followed that up with 9-of-14 for 142 yards and two TDs today.
Fredrickson Converts First Career FG
After three seasons assuming only punting duties, senior Tyler Fredrickson inherited Cal's place kicking duties this season with the graduation of All-Pac-10 place kicker Mark Jensen. Early in the second quarter, Fredrickson gave the Bears a 3-2 lead with his first career FG from 26 yards. Fredrickson added an 18-yard FG in the second quarter to put the Bears up 13-2.
Cal held Southern Miss to two points in the first half, which is the fewest points Cal has held an opponent to in the first half since shutting out Michigan State on the road on Sept. 14, 2002...the two points also is the fewest points Cal has allowed at home in the first half since giving up three to UCLA on Oct. 19, 2002...Cal's 32-point victory over Southern Miss, 34-2, is the Bears largest margin-of-victory since last season's home opener win over Baylor, 70-22, and the second greatest in the Jeff Tedford era. Cal's 34 consecutive points scored over Southern Miss serves as another similarity between today's and the 2002 home opener. Last year against Baylor, the Bears' scored 35 points in the first quarterĽCal QBs Reggie Robertson and Aaron Rodgers combined for 14 pass attempts today, the fewest since Kyle Boller's 24 pass attempts at Washington, last year.