Nov. 3, 2008
PDF of Official Cal Game Notes
Mack On Lowe's Senior CLASS Award List
Golden Bears Shine in Rainfall vs. Ducks, 26-16
Oregon State, Stanford Games on ABC Regional TV
Follett Named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week
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 USC Website
PDF of Official USC Game Notes
2008 CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL
Saturday, November 8, 5:00 p.m. (PT)
#21 California (6-2, 4-1 Pac-10) at #7 USC (7-1, 5-1 Pac-10)
Los Angeles, Calif. - Los Angeles Coliseum
TV: ABC Broadcast team: Sean McDounough, Chris Spielman.
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: 56-28/7th
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: 95
Series Record: USC leads 60-30-5
First Meeting: 10/23/1915, USC 28-10
Last Meeting: 11/10/07, USC 24-17
Current Streak: USC 4 in a row
Tedford vs. Oregon: 1-5
Opening Kickoff California (#21 AP/#22 USA Today) travels to Los Angeles to face USC (#7 AP/#6 USA Today) Saturday at the LA Memorial Coliseum in a showdown of one-loss teams in the Pac-10 standings. The Bears, at 6-2 overall and 4-1 in conference action, are one-half game behind the Trojans, who are 7-1 overall and 5-1 in league play. The contest will be televised by ABC (locally on KGO TV 7) starting at 5 p.m.
Two of the better defensive teams in the country will be on the field this weekend with both squads among the Top 25 in several categories. Cal is 23rd nationally in total defense, giving up an even 300.0 ypg, and third in the NCAA in pass efficiency D, having allowed opponents a meager 92.64 quarterback rating. The Bears are also tied for the national lead with 17 interceptions, including three that have been returned for scores.
USC, meanwhile, paces the country in total defense (211.6 ypg), pass efficiency defense (82.33 rating) and scoring defense (7.13 ppg).
Cal will be seeking its first victory on the road in the series since the 2000 squad's 28-16 decision capped a run of three straight wins at the Coliseum. Under head coach Jeff Tedford, the Cal-USC battles in Southern California have all been closely fought affairs, although the Trojans have prevailed each time - 30-28 in 2002, 23-17 in 2004 and 23-9 in 2006 (when Cal held a 9-6 halftime edge).
The Bears are coming off a 26-16 triumph over then-No. 23 Oregon in a game that was played in a constant downpour in Berkeley. Cal converted two of the Ducks' three turnovers into touchdowns, including a muffed fair catch on a punt that gave the Bears the ball on the Oregon six with 10:07 left in the game. Two plays later, Shane Vereen went over from two yards out, stretching Cal's lead to 10 points with the final score of the afternoon.
Oregon entered the game averaging 474.9 ypg, but managed just 290 yards against the Bears. It marked the fifth time this season Cal has surrendered less than 300 yards to an opposing team. As a comparison, the Bears yielded more than 300 yards in all but one contest last fall.
Sophomore linebacker Mike Mohamed, who had his first start of the season vs. Oregon, paced Cal with 14 tackles to raise his team-leading total to 59 stops on the year. Senior LB Zack Follett (11 tackles, 3 TFL) and sophomore end Cameron Jordan (10 tackles, 3 TFL) also reached double digits vs. the Ducks.
On the offensive end, senior Nate Longshore took over for an injured Kevin Riley (concussion) at quarterback late in the first quarter and engineered the offense the rest of the day, completing 13-of-27 passes for 136 yards and a score.
Sophomore TB Jahvid Best continued his quest for a 1,000-yard season with 93 yards on 16 rushes. For the year, he has 736 yards on the ground and averages 6.8 yards every time he carries the ball. Vereen passed the 500-yard mark himself with 61 yards vs. Oregon and now had 555 yards total.
On the outside, junior WR Verran Tucker corralled six passes for 83 yards. He has 11 catches for 168 yards in his past three outings after having only two catches over the year's first five games.
With its 6-2 record, Cal has now won at least six games all seven years Tedford has overseen the program, marking the first time that the Bears have had six or more wins at least seven consecutive seasons since 1931-38 (8 seasons).
Cal-USC Matchup This will be the 96th meeting between the two programs since the series began in 1915 ... USC leads the all-time series by a count of 60-30-5 ... the Trojans have won four in a row over the Bears since 2004, and six of the last seven dating back to the 2001 season ... USC outlasted Cal, 24-17, in a rain-soaked game in Memorial Stadium last season ... Cal tied the contest in the final minute of the third quarter when Lavelle Hawkins caught a 20-yard TD pass from Nate Longshore, who went 13-of-20 for 199 yards ... down, 24-17, Cal mounted a promising drive from its 8 in the final minutes, with Justin Forsett scampering deep into USC territory on a 34-yard screen pass with 3 minutes to go ... but Longshore missed his target and cornerback Terrell Thomas' interception sealed the outcome ... USC's offense ranks10th in the country in yards per game (460.1) ... three Rotary Lombardi Award semifinalists will be on the field on Saturday - Cal's Alex Mack, and USC's Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing ... Cushing also joins Bear linebacker Zack Follett as quarterfinalists for the Lott Trophy.
Cal Offense Quick Notes Cal has the 19th-best scoring offense (36.4 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 sixth in the NCAA in all-purpose yards, averaging 173.7 ypg ... in addition, he is second in the Pac-10 and 23rd in the nation in rushing (105.1 ypg) and needs 43 more yards rushing for 1,000 for his career ... senior QB Nate Longshore passed Dave Barr for fourth all-time at Cal with 49 career touchdown passes after tossing a strike against Oregon ... 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 (14th 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 ... Cal has not been shut out in a school-record 115 straight games dating back to Sept. 11, 1999 ... Cal has scored 2,819 points, the second most of any other team in the Pac-10, since 2002 (USC, 3,247).
Cal Defensive Quick Notes The Bears 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 22 turnovers (13 TDs and a FG) this season ... in its last five games (Colorado State through Oregon), Cal has recorded 16 sacks, 12 interceptions, 35 pass break-ups, 35 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles ... the Bears are tied with North Carolina for the national lead in interceptions (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 third in the nation in pass efficiency defense (second in the Pac-10) ... the Bears boast the fourth-best rush defense in the Pac-10 (27th in the nation) at 109.5 ypg and the league's third-best total defense (300.0 ypg) ... Cal also ranks first in red-zone defense in the league (63.0%) ... the Bears have allowed two individual 100-yard rusher all season, and impressively held Michigan State's Javon Ringer (142.7 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 ... 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 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 (t-19th in the nation) and sacks with five ... he also tallied a career-high 11 stops against Oregon ... 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 last season (also in 1983).
Special Teams Quick Notes Bryan Anger ranks 14th in the nation (third in the Pac-10) in punting at 43.9 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 five of his last six field goals over the past three 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 ... snapper Nick Sundberg, a three-year starter, was perfect on 128-of-129 (99.2%) snaps in 2007.
Cal-Oregon: Postscript Oregon's touchdown on its opening drive resulted in the first points the Bears have allowed in the first quarter since the Maryland game Sept. 13 ... five of the last six games vs. Oregon have been decided by a touchdown or less ... Oregon's Jeremiah Johnson was just the second rusher this season to gain 100 yards on the ground against Cal, finishing with 122 yards on 20 carries ... the Bears surrendered five turnovers in the game - the most since Cal had five turnovers vs. USC on Nov. 12, 2005 ... in the first half, Cal outgained Oregon 264 to 76 in total yardage ... the Bears held the Ducks to 0-of-7 on third downs and 0-of-2 on fourth downs in the first two quarters ,,, Nate Longshore's touchdown pass to Nyan Boateng was his 49th and ranks him fourth all time in career passing touchdowns at Cal ... Boateng, meanwhile, recorded his fourth touchdown in his last five games ... Sean Cattouse's interception in the second quarter tied him for the team lead with three ... Worrell William's interception in the second quarter was his first of the season ... the Bears 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 (Mike Mohamed, 14; Zack Follett, 11; Cameron Jordan, 10) ... Follett also had a sack and added two additional tackles for loss, which moved him up to eighth on Cal's all-time list for tackles for loss with 39.5 ... Cal continued its impressive record at Memorial Stadium with its 26-16 victory over Oregon; the Bears have now won 27 of their last 31 home games.
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. Last week, 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 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, who has 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 with North Carolina atop the national rankings. However, the Bears are the clear leader in percentage of passes intercepted, having snared 6.32 percent of opponent attempts. Boston College, at 6.01 percent, is the only other school over six, while UNC's rate is 5.63 percent. Cal's total of 17 picks is seven more than the team had for all of last year, and with up to five games remaining (four 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 Leaders 1. California 17 1. North Carolina 17 3. Iowa 16 4. Georgia Tech 15 4. San Jose State 15 4. Troy 15 4. Texas Tech 15 4. 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 leads the Pac-10 and ranks 14th nationally in turnover margin, having forced 22 turnovers through eight games. The Bears' 17 interceptions are already seven more than last year, tying the 1999 mark of 17. Only one other time since 1993 has Cal had more picks (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 12-7 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 (7-4 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 Turnover Margin Per Game, NCAA Ranking and Team Record since 2002 2008 (+1.0), 14th 6-2 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 Cal didn't allow an opponent to tally 300 yards or more of total offense for the fifth time this season after holding Oregon to 290 yards last week. In fact, the Bears are giving up just 300.0 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 Maryland (297), Arizona State (236) and UCLA (253) 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 300.0 (23rd) - through eight 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 5-2 record.
Michigan State: Blocked punt (Brett Johnson) returned 5 yards for a TD (Bryant Nnabuife) 81-yard touchdown run (Shane Vereen)
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 Tied with a team-high 21 catches for 264 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 six 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 Tedford Cameron Morrah (2008) 21 rec, 264 yards, 6 TDs Craig Stevens (2007) 17 rec, 204 yards, 3 TDs Garrett Cross (2004) 30 rec, 362 yards, 6 TDs Tom 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.
Even at quarterback, Cal has two capable signal callers in senior Nate Longshore and sophomore Kevin Riley. Both rate among the Pac-10 leaders in efficiency (Longshore 5th, Riley 6th), and together, they've tossed 18 TD passes against just seven interceptions.
The Best Man Sophomore TB Jahvid Best went over 700 yards rushing (736) against an Oregon team that ranked 17th in the nation in rush defense entering the game, grinding out 93 yards on 16 carries. He is 43 yards rushing away from 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 to his season 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.
Still, Best is sixth in the country in all-purpose yards (173.7 ypg) and is second in the Pac-10 and 23rd in the nation in rushing yards (105.1 ypg). He has gained 736 yards on the ground on 108 carries this season (6.8 ypc). In addition, Best is tied for the team lead in receptions (21) for 196 yards.
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 59 total stops 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 has appeared in 21 games (two starts) and surpassed the 100-career tackle plateau (against Oregon) with 105.
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 39.5 - eighth-best in program history. The Colvis product tallied a season-best three tackles for loss against Oregon to raise his total for the season to a team-high 11.5, which ties for 19th best in the nation. Follett had 12.5 tackles for losses last season.
Overall, he has 49 stops on the year, which includes a team-best five quarterback sacks. In last week's Oregon game, Follett recorded 11 total tackles, with three for loss and a sack, in addition to breaking up a pass attempt.
All-Purpose Ross Sophomore Jeremy Ross has been an offensive and kick-return threat of late, recording eight catches for 138 yards and a touchdown the last three weeks. Ross has also combined for 11 kickoff returns for 245 yards, including a career-long 47-yard return against UCLA. Ross has led the Bears in all-purpose yards the last tree weeks, notching 119 vs. Oregon, 123 vs. the Bruins and 141 against Arizona.
The sophomore from Sacramento recorded his second career touchdown against Oregon and his first career TD earlier this season against Colorado State. He has 405 all-purpose yards on the year.
Boateng Boost Cal's leader in receiving yards (324), junior WR Nyan Boateng has caught a touchdown pass in four of his last five games, including a two-yard score against Oregon. Two weeks ago, Boateng hauled in a season-long 53-yard touchdown reception against UCLA, while finishing with a season-high 67 yards receiving against the Bruins. A transfer from Florida in the spring of 2007, Boateng is fourth on the team with 19 receptions behind tri-leaders Cameron Morrah, Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen, who have 21 catches each.
Tucker Target Junior wideout Verran Tucker has become a consistent target in the passing game of late, registering career bests in receptions (6) and yards (83) in Cal's win over Oregon last weekend. Tucker was instrumental on Cal's second offensive drive vs. the Ducks 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 has 13 catches for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
Keen on Vereen Over the past five games, redshirt-freshman tailback Shane Vereen has led the team with 13 receptions, compiling 111 yards in the process. He has also been productive on the ground when called upon to give starting tailback Jahvid Best a breather, racking up 351 yards in his last five games with a touchdown, including a big fourth-quarter plunge into the end zone against Oregon to put Cal up by 10 points with 8:57 left in the game.
For the season, Vereen has 555 yards on the ground on 101 carries, while snaring 21 catches for 136 yards.
Cattouse is Loose Redshirt-freshman Sean Cattouse, Jeff Tedford's first recruit from the state of Illinois, has patrolled the secondary with a watchful eye, after recording his third interception (in the last four games) of the season against Oregon. The play came in the end zone in the second quarter to thwart a Duck drive.
Cattouse's other picks came vs. Arizona State (at the Cal 6 early in the fourth quarter) and UCLA (at the Cal 3 in the second quarter).
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 25th in the country in punt returns (11.2 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 (34 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 to give him seven PBUs in his last three games. Overall, he leads the team with 12.
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 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 50 stops, had seven against Arizona shoot him past the 200 mark. He now has 208 tackles. His high game in 2008 came against Michigan State when he finished with 12 stops.
Follett inched up to eighth on Cal's career charts for tackles for losses (39.5) after recording three against Oregon. Follett, who recorded a career-high 11 tackles against the Ducks, had a key sack on Jeremiah Masoli late in the fourth quarter on a third-and-nine, forcing 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. He leads the Bears with 11.5 tackles for losses this season, tied for 19th in the country.
Williams has been active around the ball all season, recording 43 stops (fourth on the team), 4.5 tackles for loss and four 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, who earned his first start of the season against Oregon, has a team-best 59 tackles, while junior Eddie Young, who has started 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 11 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 (11 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. 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 43.9 yards per punt this season - 14-best in the nation (school season mark of 45.3 ypp by Scott Tabor in 1987). Additionally, 10 of Anger's 44 punts have traveled 50+ yards and 18 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 and made a 33-yarder against Oregon.
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 and passing touchdowns after his performance against Oregon on Nov. 1. The senior product of Canyon Country, who is sixth in career passing yards (6,499), took sole possession of fourth place for TD tosses (49).
Longshore has appeared in six games at quarterback this year (two starts) with 767 yards passing and eight touchdowns, including a season-high three strikes in his first start of the season against Arizona State.
Home Cooking Cal continued its impressive record at Memorial Stadium with its 26-16 victory over Oregon. The Golden Bears have now won 27 of their last 31 home games, including five in a row. Overall, Cal has out-scored opponents, 1,195-588, in these contests, including 303-159 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). Neither opponent visits Berkeley this year.
50,000 Fans Again The Oregon attendance of 61,432 marked the 29th straight home game with over 50,000 fans - every home game over the last five years. The Oregon game was also the 17th game of 60,000+ fans under head coach Jeff Tedford; Cal had nine 60,000+ games in the 12 years prior to Tedford's arrival.
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 1,291 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.
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.
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 years - but they are also counted on to receive, as well. This year, for example, Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen are tied for the team lead with 21 (with TE Cameron Morrah). 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 2002 1. Joe Igber (1999-2002) 86 2. Marshawn Lynch (2004-06) 68 3. J.J. Arrington (2003-04) 42 4. Justin Forsett (2004-07) 41 5. Jahvid Best (2007-current) 34
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 56-28 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 56-28 .667 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
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.