Oct. 24, 2004
Game No. 7: Arizona State Sun Devils (6-1, 3-1 Pac-10) at
California Golden Bears (5-1, 3-1 Pac-10)
Date: Saturday, Oct. 30, Memorial Stadium (67,537 - Momentum Turf), Berkeley, CA
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. Radio: KGO Radio (810 AM) with Joe Starkey, Mike Pawlawski, Roxy Bernstein and Lee Grosscup
Television: TBS with Ron Thulin, Charles Davis and Craig Sager
Attendance: 51,000 (est.)
This Week's Game
After playing four of its first six contests on the road, California (#7 Associated Press/#8 ESPN/USA Today) starts a two-game homestand with Arizona State Saturday night. The matchup is the first between two ranked teams in Memorial Stadium since Oct. 9, 1993 when No. 13 Washington edged No. 16 Cal, 24-23.
In posting its 38-0 victory at Arizona last Saturday - the Bears' first shutout in five years - Cal maintained its national lead in total offense (508.33 ypg) while moving up to ninth in Division I-A in total defense (268.83 ypg).
The Bears' three most recognizable offensive stars - QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Geoff McArthur and TB J.J. Arrington - all enjoyed banner days vs. the Wildcats to further entrench their names in the Cal record book.
Rodgers, who was 20-for-27 for 235 yards and three TDs, ranks second in the country in passing efficiency with a 178.91 rating, just behind the 179.20 by Louisville's Stefan Lefors. Career-wise, Rodgers' 156.20 rating not only ranks fourth highest among all active players, but it is nearly 14 points higher than the school mark of 142.6 set by Dave Barr (1992-94).
McArthur placed his name atop Cal's career receiving yards chart with his six-catch, 94-yard performance vs. the Wildcats. With his 11-yard TD catch at the end of the first half, he passed Bobby Shaw (2,731 yards, 1994-97) to claim the Bears' all-time lead, now entering the ASU game with 2,768 yards.
Finally, Arrington extended his own school record for consecutive 100-yard games to six with 135 yards on 25 carries at Arizona. So far this season, the nation's fourth-leading rusher has 918 total yards, needing just 82 more to become the 11th 1,000-yard runner in school history.
On the defensive front, the Pac-10's top unit has limited five straight opponents to less than 100 yards on the ground, including just 37 yards by New Mexico State and 41 yards by USC. Cal is surrendering only 86.0 ypg and 2.6 yards per carry overall, and has not allowed a rushing TD in any of its last three games.
Senior SAF Matt Giordano leads the squad with 38 stops, although senior LB Wendell Hunter has paced the Bears in tackles in four consecutive games - with a best of 10 tackles at both Oregon State and Arizona. Senior DE Ryan Riddle has a team-high seven sacks among his 10.5 tackles for loss.
Cal-Arizona State Series
Arizona State owns a 13-11 series lead, but Cal has captured the last two contests, 55-28 in 2002 and 51-23 in `03. In last year's game, the Bears scored 27 points in the second quarter to grab a 41-17 halftime lead. QB Aaron Rodgers was 17-for-22 for 307 yards and three scores, while WR Geoff McArthur had four catches for 160 yards and a TD. ASU, which is 5-4 all-time in Memorial Stadium, is making its first visit to Berkeley since 1999 after three straight games in the series staged in Tempe.
A Quick Look at Arizona State
Led by senior QB Andrew Walter, Arizona State features one of the most explosive offenses in the country, averaging 32.1 ppg and 391.4 ypg. In last week's 48-42 win over UCLA, Walter was 25-for-51 for 415 yards and six touchdowns. He enters this week's game with 76 TD tosses, one shy of the 22-year-old Pac-10 record set by Stanford's John Elway. Walter's 21 touchdown throws this season lead the nation, and he is averaging 263.6 ypg through the air. The chief beneficiary of Walter's passing is Derek Hagan, who has 45 catches for 695 yards and eight TDs. ASU's only loss this year was a 45-7 setback at USC, while the Sun Devils defeated then-No. 16 Iowa, 44-7, Sept. 18.
Jeff Tedford, California (Fresno State '83), who has orchestrated one of the greatest recent turnarounds in college football during his brief tenure in Berkeley, has led Cal to a 20-12 mark. After taking over as the program's 32nd head coach in December 2001, he transformed Cal from a 1-10 team in 2001 to a 7-5 club in `02 and claimed Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors. Last fall, Tedford directed the Bears to an 8-6 mark and the school's first bowl win - 52-49 over Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl - in 10 years. He began his coaching career in 1989 as an offensive assistant with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders. In 1992, he returned to his alma mater, Fresno State, as quarterback coach. A year later, he was elevated to offensive coordinator, a position he held through 1997. Tedford then served four seasons as offensive coordinator at Oregon, helping the Ducks to a combined 38-10 record and a Pac-10 title in 2001. A native of Downey, Calif., Tedford was a record-setting quarterback as a player at Fresno State, graduating with a degree in physical education in 1983.
Dirk Koetter, Arizona State (Idaho State `81) is in his fourth season as head coach of Arizona State and owns a 23-21 record with the Sun Devils. Prior to moving to ASU, he was 26-10 in three seasons as head coach at Boise State. A native of Pocatello, Idaho, Koetter's coaching career began close to home, starting as a graduate assistant at Idaho State. After serving as head coach at Highland HS in Pocatello, he was offensive coordinator at San Francisco State (1985) and later offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at UTEP (1986-88), Missouri (1989-93), Boston College (1994-95) and Oregon (1996-97), where he preceded current Cal head coach Jeff Tedford.
Hall of Fame Inductions
The new class of Cal Athletic Hall of Fame members will be inducted Friday night and introduced at Saturday's game. The Class of 2004: Sarah Anderson (swimming, 1988-91), Kirk Everist (water polo, 1985-88), John Fiscalini (baseball, 1946-48), Bob Milano (baseball coach, 1974-99), Hardy Nickerson (football, 1983-86), Havey Salem (football, 1979-82), Frank "Bud" Van Deren (football, 1947-48) and Arleigh Williams (football/baseball, 1932-35).
The SBC College Football Experience will occur in the southwest corner of Maxwell Family Field from 3-7 p.m. on Saturday. In addition, Enterprise key chains will be distributed to fans as they enter the stadium, while supplies last.
IKON Office Solutions Play of the Week
Each week throughout the 2004 football season, IKON Office Solutions salutes the Golden Bear Play of the Week. Against Arizona, CB Thomas DeCoud blocked a 45-yard field goal try by UA's Nick Folk to help preserve Cal's first shutout since 1999.
The Times Player of the Game
Each week throughout the 2004 football season, the Contra Costa Times will recognize the Cal Player of the Game. Against Arizona , WR Geoff McArthur caught six passes for 94 yards and a touchdown to become Cal's all-time leader in receiving yards (2,768).
Golden Bear Notes
Cal's Defense Steals Spotlight Away From Tedford's Offense With School's 1st Shutout Since 1999
While Cal's high-performance offense features a galaxy of stars such as 2004 All-America candidates Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Arrington and Geoff McArthur, the Golden Bears' defense has demanded "equal time" this season. Taking a backseat to no one, coordinator Bob Gregory's defensive unit was thoroughly dominant last Saturday night in Tucson, as it posted the school's first shutout since 1999 (17-0 at UCLA) in a 38-0 whitewash of Arizona. The Bears muzzled the Wildcats for a scant 245 yards, 12 first downs and a 3-for-15 third-down conversion rate. In a memorable third-quarter flurry, end Ryan Riddle, tackle Brandon Mebane and rover Donnie McCleskey batted down passes on three consecutive plays to punctuate a brilliant display of defensive dominance. In their past two games vs. UCLA and Arizona, Gregory's defense has held the opposition to a 21.4% success rate in third-down conversion (6-for-28).
Gregory's Unheralded Unit Taking its Place Among NCAA's Finest; Ranks 9th in Total Defense, 13th in Scoring Defense
Under coordinator Bob Gregory, the Cal defense emerged last year as one of the Pac-10's finest units by season's end. Featuring nine new starters, that 2003 defense endured early-season growing pains and gained valuable experience that has served this year's unit well. After being gouged for 423.0 yards and 26.9 points per game in their first seven contests last year, the Bears rose up and held opponents to a mere 312.7 yards and 17.3 points per outing in the final six games of the regular season. Nine starters--linemen Lorenzo Alexander and Tosh Lupoi (albeit injured), linebackers Wendell Hunter, Joe Maningo and Francis Blay-Miezah, and defensive backs Donnie McCleskey, Ryan Gutierrez, Harrison Smith and Daymeion Hughes--return from that 2003 group. Since a wobbly first half at Air Force in the opener, Gregory's defensive unit has shined this year. Allowing only 11 TDs in six games, the Bear hitmen have parcelled out 14.3 points and a Pac-10 best 268.8 yards per game in 2004, which rank 13th and ninth, respectively, among NCAA Division I-A schools. Listed below is the night-and-day tale of Cal's defense, a unit that has yielded 132.3 less yards and 11.1 less points per game in its last 12 regular-season games dating back to last year, compared to the previous seven regular-season contests (the opening seven games of 2003).
Bears' Rush Defense Has Held Last 5 Foes Under 100 Yards
Cal's conference-leading rush defense has suffocated 2004 opponents for only 86.0 yards per game (7th in NCAA) and 2.57 yards per carry. Arizona rushed for exactly 86 yards on 29 attempts Saturday, marking the fifth straight Cal opponent not to reach the 100-yard barrier. Over the past three games against USC (41), UCLA (79) and Arizona, the Bear defense has allowed only 206 yards on 84 carries - an average of 68.7 yards per game and 2.4 yards per attempt. That same Cal defense has not yielded a rushing touchdown in its last three games and only three ground TDs all season.
All-American Geoff McArthur Sets Career Receiving Record at California with 2,768 Yards, Surpassing Bobby Shaw
Rebounding from an abdominal strain in the early season that has impacted his 2004 numbers, All-American wide receiver Geoff McArthur has begun to look like his old self the past three games. He's snared 22 passes for 368 yards and four TDs during that period, averaging 7.3 receptions and 122.7 yards per contest. The Bear senior made school history last weekend in Arizona, as his six-catch, 94-yard effort propelled him past Bobby Shaw (2,731, 1994-97) to claim Cal's all-time receiving yardage record. The new mark was set when McArthur corralled an 11-yard scoring strike from Aaron Rodgers with 11 seconds left before halftime, which gave Cal a 28-0 lead at intermission. He now has 2,768 yards. Leading up to Saturday's historic effort, McArthur had secured seven catches for 101 yards and one TD at USC Oct. 9 and erupted for nine receptions, 163 yards and two touchdowns vs. UCLA Oct. 16, which included a dazzling 80-yard scoring pass from Rodgers in the final quarter against the Bruins. His recent three-game tear comes on the heels of a phenomenal 2003 season for McArthur, who arguably posted the finest all-around receiving statistics in the Pac-10 with 85 grabs for 1,504 yards and 10 TDs last year. His 1,504 yards were a school record, while his 85 catches were the second most in Cal annals. Named a second team All-American last season--and 2004 preseason first team All-American by Sports Illustrated--he ended his remarkable run by breaking the Cal single-season record for most receptions with 16 for 245 yards and two TDs in the Bears' 28-16 victory over Stanford in the 2003 Big Game. Had it not been for a freak injury (fractured arm) in practice Dec. 21, McArthur would have shattered the Pac-10 season receiving yardage record during the Insight Bowl. He fell 16 yards shy of Johnnie Morton's 10-year-old mark of 1,520 yards. Entering Week 7 of the 2004 season, McArthur (174 for 2,768 yards) now needs only 22 catches to set Cal's career reception record, currently held by Dameane Douglas at 195 from 1995-98.
Arrington Rushes for 6th Consecutive 100-Yard Game, Extending Cal Record Set by Chuck Muncie in 1975
Perhaps J.J. Arrington is no longer Cal's little secret. There is no denying his gargantuan rushing statistics this year, as he's on pace to obliterate Chuck Muncie's school single season rushing record (1,460 in 1975) with his current 153.0 yards-per-game average. At his current rate, he would rush for 1,683 yards in the Bears' 11-game regular season. On Saturday in Tucson, he barrelled through Arizona's defenders for 135 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries. It marked his sixth consecutive 100-yard game, extending his own school record. Entering this season, Muncie held the mark with four straight 100-yard rushing games, which he accomplished on two separate occasions during that 1975 season.
J.J. Gaining 7.17 Yards Per Carry as Pac-10's No. 1 Rusher
with 918 Yards and 10 TDs in 1st 6 Games of 2004
Adimchinobe who? Last year, first team All-Pac-10 tailback Adimchinobe Echemandu finished second in the conference rushing race with 1,195 yards and 13 touchdowns. One would think his departure to the NFL this year would have left a large void in the Bears' ground game. Not so. In fact, J.J. Arrington seems intent on making his senior year even more eventful that Echemandu's was. Thus far, the 5-11, 210-pound back has flattened Cal's first six opponents for 918 yards and 10 touchdowns on only 128 carries, including breathtaking runs of 89 (at Air Force) and 69 (vs. NMSU) yards. He enters the Arizona State game ranked fourth in the nation in rushing (153.0 ypg), stands seventh in scoring (10.0 ppg) and ninth in all-purpose (164.0 ypg). He bolted for 181 yards and three TDs on 16 carries at Air Force Sept. 4--the second most rushing yards in a season opener in Cal history--and for encore performances, has jetted for 177 yards and three TDs vs. New Mexico State, 108 yards and one TD at Oregon State, 112 yards at USC (the first back to rush for 100 vs. the Trojans in 14 games), 205 and two TDs vs. UCLA, and 135 last weekend. His 7.17 yards-per-carry average leads the Pac-10 and ranks third nationally among the Top 50 rushers, trailing only Auburn's Ronnie Brown (7.46) and Army's Carlton Jones (7.21). If J.J. (which, incidentally, stands for Johnathan Jerone) were to be crowned the Pac-10's rushing champion this year-he leads the conference's No. 2 rusher, UCLA's Maurice Drew by more than 40 yards per game-he would become the first Cal player to win a conference rushing title since quarterback Joe Kapp outdistanced the field with 616 yards on 152 carries on the Bears' 1958 team that lost to Iowa (38-12) in the 1959 Rose Bowl.
Arrington Now Owns 4 of Top 23 Rushing Efforts in Cal History; 1st Bear to Run for 3 TDs in Back-to-Back Games Since 1993
Although he's only played in 18 games and made seven starts in his brief Cal career, J.J. Arrington certainly has made his mark. He's already rushed for 100 yards or more seven times in his career, and owns four of the Top 23 all-time single game rushing efforts in Golden Bear history--tying Russell White for the most spots among the Top 23. Arrington, who transferred to Cal from College of the Canyons in Southern California last year, has been the author of rushing outbursts of 205 (tied for 9th, vs. UCLA), 185 (15th, vs. Washington, 2003), 181 (20th, at Air Force, 2004) and 177 (22nd, vs. New Mexico State, 2004) yards. His 205-yard outburst two weeks ago vs. UCLA marked the third time this season and fourth time in his career that Arrington has rushed for at least 170 yards in a game. By rushing for three touchdowns in each of his first two 2004 contests, J.J. also became the first Bear to accomplish that feat in back-to-back games since Lindsey Chapman turned the trick during the 1993 season. With 10 scores to date, Arrington is more than halfway to the school's record for rushing TDs in a season (14), held by both White (1991) and Chapman. Interestingly, in his last seven starts at tailback, Arrington is averaging 157.6 yards per carry in gaining a robust 1,103 yards and 11 touchdowns on 142 carries. Those starts occurred against Washington (54-7) last year, and all six games this season, contests in which Cal has outscored its opponents by a whopping 300-93 count.
Churning Out 508.3 Yards & 41.0 Points Per Outing, Bears Rank
1st in Total Offense & 5th in Scoring in NCAA Division I-A
Scoring at least 40 points four times this year--and eight times in the last 12 games dating back to 2003--California's lethal offense enters the Arizona State game with some weighty statistics for the season. Nationally, head coach Jeff Tedford's offense ranks first in both passing efficiency (185.09) and total offense (508.3), fifth in scoring (41.0) and ninth in rushing (245.5). The Bears' 508.3 yards-per-game average is 50 yards above the school's all-time single season record of 458.5, set 29 years ago by the Chuck Muncie-led team of 1975.
Balancing Act: Cal Offense Averages 263 Passing, 245 Rushing
One of the nation's most balanced offenses will be on display this Saturday as Cal's multi-pronged attack--the brainchild of head coach Jeff Tedford--spews out a Pac-10 best 245.5 yards per game and 5.85 yards per attempt on the ground, while also averaging 262.8 yards through the air. With the conference's No. 1 rusher J.J. Arrington (153.0 ypg) and true freshman Marshawn Lynch (42.0 ypg, 16th in Pac-10) paving the way with gaudy averages of 7.2 and 7.6 yards per carry, respectively, the Bears have visions of repeating as Pac-10 rushing leaders in 2004. And Cal's passing game is also in good hands with junior Aaron Rodgers, who ranks second only to Louisville's Stefan Lefors (179.2) in national passing efficiency (178.91), completing 75.0 percent of his passes (111-of-148) for 1,376 yards, 14 TDs and four INTs.
Dating Back to 2003, California Has Averaged 40.8 Points & 509.9 Yards in Winning 8 of 9 and 10 of its Last 12 Games
Picking up where it left off last season, California's dismantling its five 2004 victims (Air Force, New Mexico State, Oregon State, UCLA, Arizona) by a combined 219-63 margin only adds more juice to the rising reputation of Jeff Tedford and his Bears. One of the hottest teams in college football dating back to last year, Cal has cashed in victories in eight of its last nine games and 10 of its last 12 contests. During that stretch--a period in which they have mowed down the likes of Virginia Tech (52-49), Washington (54-7), Arizona State (51-22), Air Force (56-14) and Arizona (38-0)--the Good News Bears have averaged 40.8 points and 509.9 yards.
McArthur Heads One of Deepest Receiving Corps in Cal History
Position coach, Eric Kiesau, calls them a "special group," a collection of players he might not see again if he "coaches for another 30 years." A close knit unit that hangs together in off hours--they even took a yoga class en masse this summer--this year's Cal wide receiver corps is much more than All-American Geoff McArthur. The unit lost only 17 of 165 receptions (10%) from last year's unit through graduation, and is ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 and No. 4 nationally by Athlon Sports in its preseason magazine. A blend of veterans and youth, the group includes five seniors, as well as three redshirt-freshmen, creating a veritable logjam at wideout. Tedford must now dip into the depth of this unit this Saturday, as three of his veteran receivers are banged up. Chase Lyman is lost for the season with ACL knee surgery, while Jonathan Makonnen is doubtful due to an internal contusion suffered in last week's Arizona game. Burl Toler, who started 10 games last year, should hopefully return this week after sitting out the Arizona tilt with an injured knee.
Ranking No. 2 Nationally in Pass Efficiency, Rodgers Netting 270.2 Yards Per Game in Last 11 Contests Dating Back to '03
Complementing a dominant ground game thus far in 2004, Aaron Rodgers has served as a highly-efficient field general for Cal. The junior signal-caller has completed 75.0 percent of his passes for 1,376 yards, while throwing 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. He opened last week's game with arm blazing, completing 9-of-11 passes for 103 yards in the first quarter in Tucson. Incidentally, both of his interceptions last week came on tipped balls (in fact, three of his four INTs this year have been tipped by either a teammate or a defender). Rodgers, who owns the nation's second-best passing efficiency rating (178.91), has thrown seven TD passes in his last two games (4 vs. UCLA and 3 at Arizona). Dating back to last year, he owns a 12-4 career record as the Bears' starting quarterback and has connected on 71.5 percent (216-of-302) of his attempts in averaging 270.2 passing yards with 26 TDs and only six interceptions in his last 11 games. His numbers are even better over the last nine games: 72.7 percent (184-of-253), 275.3 ypg, 22 TDs, 5 INTs. Despite starting only 16 games and playing in 19 contests in his brief Cal tenure, Rodgers is already perched in ninth place on the school's career total offense chart with 4,532 yards. He has eclipsed such legends as Chuck Muncie (3,205 yards), Russell White (3,381), Joe Roth (3,447), Steve Bartkowski (3,938) and Craig Morton (4,130) in the process.
Rodgers' 75.0 Completion Percentage (111-of-1148) Threatens NCAA, Pacific-10 Conference Single-Season Marks
By connecting on 75.0 percent of his passes (111-for-148) thus far in 2004, Rodgers is on an early pace to challenge both the NCAA and Pac-10 single-season records for completion percentage. The NCAA mark is 73.6 percent (296-of-402) by Daunte Culpepper of Central Florida in 1998, while the Pac-10 standard is held by a fellow Golden Bear, Rich Campbell, who completed 70.7 percent of his attempts (193-of-273) in 1980.
Cal QB Also Eyes Pac-10 Career INT Percentage Mark
Aaron Rodgers, benefiting under the tutelage of Jeff Tedford and his QB legacy of developing five previous NFL first-round draft picks, tied a school record with five 300-yard passing games and set a Cal record for lowest interception percentage (1.43%) last fall. But most importantly, he inherited a 1-3 team and led it to a 7-3 record as the Bears' starting quarterback. Four of his 300-yard efforts came in the final five games of the season, capped by a classic performance that won him the Offensive MVP Award in the Insight Bowl. In arguably the finest passing display in Cal bowl history, Rodgers set school bowl records for yards and completion percentage in slicing up favored Virginia Tech for 394 yards and two TDs on 27-of-35 passing with no interceptions, while also rushing for 30 yards and two more scores. And he did all that on an injured left knee that would require surgery after the season. Rodgers, who entered his junior year having been named the preseason 2004 Pac-10 Player of the Year by Athlon Sports, has already developed a reputation for mistake-free football. Dating back to his only season at Butte College (28 TDs, 4 INTs in 2002), Rodgers has thrown 61 touchdown passes and only 13 interceptions combined over the past two-plus years (including 2004). Despite throwing two picks at both Oregon State and Arizona, his current career interception percentage is a microscopic 1.81 (9 INT, 497 attempts). That's a figure that is well below the Pac-10 career mark of 2.59 (13 INT, 501 att.) set by USC's Paul McDonald in 1976-79 and the Cal record of 2.74 (26 INTs, 950 att.) by Pat Barnes in 1993-96. The NCAA career record for interception percentage, minimum 1,050 attempts, is 2.12 by Jeff Kingsbury of Texas Tech, who threw 40 picks in 1,883 attempts from 1999-2002. In the category 600-1,049 attempts in a career, the record holder is Billy Volek of Fresno State, who was intercepted 12 times in 934 attempts (1.28%) from 1997-99. And who was Volek's offensive coordinator in 1997? A guy named Tedford.
A Victory This Saturday Gives California Its 3rd Straight Winning Football Season for 1st Time Since 1952
After wallowing in the Pac-10's lower division for more than a decade, Cal football was in dire need of dynamic leadership following an ulcerating 1-10 season in 2001. The not-so-Golden Bears endured the worst record at the school in 104 years that season and were outscored by their opponents by an average margin of three touchdowns. In December of 2001, Jeff Tedford was introduced as Cal's new head coach. Inheriting one of the nation's biggest challenges, the former Oregon offensive coordinator addressed that December press conference by calmly saying, "We plan on having a winning record next season." That 2002 club, comprised of mostly players from the 2001 squad that had gone 0-8 in the Pac-10, proceeded to post a 7-5 record - the school's first winning mark in nine years. Then last fall, the 2002 Pac-10 Coach of the Year took a Cal team with the fewest returning starters (nine) in the nation and molded it into an 8-6 club that tied for third in the conference (5-3), hung the season's only defeat on co-national champion USC (34-31 in triple OT). The Bears went on to claim back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 12 years and a bowl game victory for the first time in 10 years. Now, if Tedford's 2004 club prevails this Saturday against Arizona State, it would mean a third straight winning campaign for the Golden Bears, the first time that has been accomplished at Cal in 52 years (Pappy Waldorf's juggernaut teams reeled off six straight winning marks from 1947-52).
Tedford's Bears Carved Up ASU Defense for 106 Points in Back-to-Back Wins
When teams coached by Jeff Tedford and Dirk Koetter square off on the same field, there's a good chance the stadium scoreboard operator will be busy. In their first two meetings as head coaches, Tedford and Koetter have combined for 167 points. Tedford's Golden Bears have reeled off impressive road victories at Sun Devil Stadium by counts of 55-38 in 2002 -- which snapped a 12-year win drought for Cal in Tempe, Ariz. and 51-23 last fall.
Rodgers, Walter Continue Quarterback Traditions at Cal, ASU
Cal and Arizona State have both enjoyed a quarterback legacy through their storied football histories. For the Golden Bears, the list includes such passing giants as Craig Morton (1962-64), Joe Kapp (1956-58), Mike Palawski (1988-91), Steve Bartkowski (1972-74) and Joe Roth (1975-76). For the Sun Devils, the QB legends include the likes of Danny White (1971-73), Mark Malone (1977-79), Mike Pagel (1979-81), and Jake Plummer (1993-96). This weekend's opposing quarterbacks, Cal's Aaron Rodgers and ASU"s Andrew Walter, seem poised and ready to join this illustrious group. Rodgers, selected the first team quarterback on SportsIllustrated.com's Midseason All-America Team last week, has registered a 178.91 passing efficiency rating this season, within range of the NCAA record of 183.3 set by Tulane's Shaun King in 1998. The Golden Bear has feasted on 2004 defenses for 1,376 yards, a .750 completion percentage, 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions while leading his 5-1 Bears to a No. 7 national ranking. Walter, meanwhile, enters the Cal game needing only two touchdown passes to break the Pac-10 career mark of 77, held by Stanford's John Elway (1979-1982). Walter leads the nation in TD passes this season with 21 -- including six last week against UCLA -- completing 142 of 264 attempts (53.8%) for 1,845 yards with six interceptions. He is the only Sun Devil quarterback to ever post two 3,000-yard passing seasons and he certainly appears headed toward his third three-grand campaign. Rodgers sliced up the ASU defense of 307 yards on 17-of-22 passing (77.3%) in last year's blowout win, rifling three touchdown passes with no interceptions. He was near perfect in the first half, completing 11 of 14 attempts for 246 yards and all three TD strikes in paving the way for a 41-17 lead at intermission.
Known for Their Wide-Open Offenses, Cal and ASU Also Feature Stifling Defenses in 2004
California's Jeff Tedford and Arizona State's Dirk Koetter are unquestionably two of the premier offensive minds in college football today. So, the fact that both the Bears (41.0, 1st) and Sun Devils (32.1, 4th) are ranked among the Pac-10 top four in scoring offense this year should be no surprise. What is a bit surprising, however, is the resurgence of both school's defenses in 2004. The Bears, who have not allowed more than 23 points in any of their last 11 regular season games dating back to 2003, rank second in the Pac-10 in scoring defense at 14.3 ppg. The Sun Devils' "D" has allowed only 21.57 points to rank fourth in the conference.
ASU Honors Fallen Hero Pat Tillman by Retiring No. 42 Jersey on Nov. 13 at Arizona State-Washington State Game
Arizona State will honor Cpl. Pat Tillman this year by retiring his No. 42 jersey at the ASU-Washington State football game at Sun Devil Stadium, Nov. 13. Tillman, who was killed in the line of duty in April in Afghanistan, earned 1997 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year honors as an Arizona State linebacker. The three-time All-Pac-10 choice went on to enjoy a five-year NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals before enlisting in the U.S. Army. An Academic All-American and three-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection, Tillman graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State's W.P. Carey School of Business in 1997. The Pac-10 Conference has also honored Tillman by renaming its Defensive Player of the Year Award after the fallen hero.
Like Ships Passing Through the Night: Arizona State, Cal Coaches Have Similar Work Backgrounds
While none have worked together on the same staffs, some Arizona State and Cal coaches have worked at the same schools in their past. ASU head coach Dirk Koetter served as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Oregon in 1996-97, the same positions that current Cal head coach Jeff Tedford filled from 1998-2001. The Golden Bears' defensive coordinator Bob Gregory, who coached the Ducks' defensive backs from 1998-2000, served in 2001 as defensive coordinator at Boise State -- the same school where Koetter held the head coaching post from 1998-2000 before accepting the ASU job in `01. Another Cal coach who joined Oregon's staff just as Koetter left for Boise State was wide receiver coach Eric Kiesau, who was the Ducks' teamwork coordinator. One current member of the ASU staff, assistant head coach/special teams coach Tom Osborne, did serve three years with Tedford on the Oregon staff as special teams and tight end coach from 1998-2000.
Twelve ASU Players Hail from Northern California, Including Three from Sacramento's Valley HS, a Pair from San Ramon HS
The Arizona State football program certainly has dipped into Northern California to field its 2004 roster, as no less than 12 Northern Californians dot the Sun Devils' media guide. Three of those NorCal products--linebacker Ishmael Thrower, who also attended Sacramento City College, center Grayling Love and offensive lineman Zach Krula--graduated from the same high school, Valley High in Sacramento. Two others--quarterback Sam Keller and wide receiver Alex King--once comprised the pass catch combination for San Ramon Valley High in San Ramon. Other Northern Californians include offensive linemen Drew Hodgdon (Palo Alto, Palo Alto HS) and Bradis McGriff (Vallejo, Vallejo HS), defensive linemen Connor Banks (Richmond, St. Mary's HS), Tashaka Merriweather (Richmond, Richmond HS) and Kyle Kingsbury (Sunnyvale, Monte Vista HS), safety Darnel Henderson (Oakland, McClymonds HS), and wide receiver Moey Mutz (Livermore, Granada HS).
Three Sun Devil Players Feature NFL Bloodlines
Three Arizona State players are blood relatives to current or former National Football League standouts. Junior cornerback Mike Davis, Jr. is the son of Mike Davis, who plaed 11 seasons with Oakland-Los Angeles Raiders, including two Super Bowl teams. Junior tailback Hakim Hill is the son of ex-Arizona State and Buffalo Bill All-Pro J.D. Hill. And junior offensive tackle Chaz White is the cousin of former ASU All-American and first round NFL draft pick (Baltimore) Todd Heap.
The Bears will place a four-game home winning streak on the line Saturday. Cal is 2-0 this year at Memorial Stadium....At the midseason point, Cal still dominates the Pac-10 team rankings. The Bears rank No. 1 in 11of the listed 30 team statisitcal categories in this week's Pac-10 release: total offense, total defense, scoring offense, rushing offense, pass efficiency, pass defense, fewest opponents first downs, third down conversions, time of possession, punt returns and red zone defense ...The Bears are outscoring their opponents by a 111-28 margin in the second half this year, as Cal's defense has allowed one touchdown in the third quarter (at USC) in 2004...Cal has scored 28 points or more in 23 of 32 games of the Tedford Era; prior to Tedford taking over the program in 2002, the Bears had reached the 28-point plateau only 10 times in their previous 48 contests...Arrington's 7.17 ypc average this season is within range of the Cal single season mark of 7.3, set by Bear legend Jackie Jensen in 1948...Third-string tailback Terrell Williams, a former high school quarterback, has completed four of five passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns on halfback pass plays during his Cal career....Freshman wide receivers Robert Jordan (five for 40 yards) and Sam DeSa (one for three yards) made the first receptions of their college careers last Saturday in Tucson....While California special teams continue to endure a choppy season thus far-the Bears' punt and kickoff converage units rank 93rd (12.30) and 80th (21.76) in NCAA standings this week-three shining lights Saturday were punter David Lonie, punt returner Tim Mixon and coverage man Tag McCurdy. Lonie-who had a rooting section (completed with Australian flag) that included his brother and several friends from the Midwest in attendance in Tucson-boomed a career-best 61-yarder on his first punt of the game and averaged 48.8 yards on four punts during the evening. Two of his punts placed Arizona on its own 13- and 10-yard lines. Mixon-who ranks 27th nationally with a 12.29-yard average-returned three punts for 61 yards, an average of 20.3 yards per return. And McCurdy delivered a big-time hit on Arizona returner and later in the game recovered a fumbled punt return on the Arizona 10-yard-line...Rodgers' first of two interceptions at Saturday's game snapped a streak of 72 consecutive passes without a pick that dated back to the Oregon State game on Oct. 2...The Bears unleashed six plays of 30 yards or more last year at Arizona State...The all-time ASU-Cal series has been full of lopsided verdicts, as only four of the 24 meetings have been decided by less than a touchdown. The last nail-biter occured in the last game played in Berkeley, a 24-23 Cal win in 1999...Arizona State ranks second in the Pac-10 and seventh nationally with a +1.43 turnover margin, while Cal is listed seventh in the conference and 84th nationally at -0.50...The Golden Bears are the Pac-10's most veteran team, leading the circuit in both senior starters (12) as well as seniors on the two-deep (19)...Notable Arizona State alumni: the Giants' Barry Bonds, MLB's single season home run kind and a first-ballot Hall of Famer; Warrior's owner Christopher Cohan; baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson; Stephen Knott, fomer managing partner of Knott's Berry Farm; ABC Monday Night Football broadcaster Al Michaels; Barry Rosenblum, president of Time Warner Cable; comedian/act of television's "Just Shoot Me" fame, David Spade; and network TV talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.