Oct. 15, 2000
California hopes to build on its major upset of No. 13 UCLA this Saturday, but the Bears will have their hands full with a 5-1 Washington team that is ranked No. 9 nationally. Cal will face a Husky program that not only holds a commanding 43-32-4 series edge, but also is working on a 17-game winning streak against the Bears. Cal's last victory over Washington came in Seattle with a 7-0 shutout in 1976. In the first 31 games played between the two schools in Seattle, the record was tied at 14-14-3. However, since 1982, the Huskies are 8-0 at home vs. the Bears, with an average winning score of 38.1-15.1. Last season in Berkeley, Cal seemingly had control of the game with a 24-10 lead midway through the third period. However, Marques Tuiasosopo hit Todd Elstrom to convert a 3rd-and-13 situation from the Huskies' own 17-yard-line for an 83-yard TD with 9:00 left in the third period to turn the tide. With the game tied at 24, Cal's Mark Jensen hit a 22-yard field goal with 6:50 left, but Washington drove 78 yards in the final three minutes and pulled out a 31-27 victory when Maurice Shaw scored on a 1-yard-run with 0:50 on the clock.
Bears Hope Upset of UCLA Signifies Turnaround in Second Half of 2000 Season
Cal's 46-38 triple-overtime win over UCLA last Saturday brought with it many positive signs for a football team that was clearly struggling during a four-game losing streak. Not only was it the program's first win over a Top 15 team since 1993 (a 24-20 win over 13th-ranked Arizona), but the hope is that it signifies the beginning of a turnaround during the second half of the 2000 season. Cal appeared to be in command for most of the UCLA game, but allowed UCLA to stay in the contest by fumbling the ball away at Cal's own 5-yard-line to hand the Bruins one touchdown in the final minute of the first half. Then, it was two more Cal turnovers in the final 10 minutes of regulation that allowed the Bruins to score two TDs and tie the game at 28. Cal showed some character in fighting through those bad breaks to win the game by scoring a field goal, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in the overtime periods. That marks a breakthrough for a Cal offense that has endured difficulty in opponent territory this season. Quarterback Kyle Boller threw for a career-best 252 yards and would have had over 300 yards except for a half-dozen drops by his receivers. Cal's defense continues to dominate the line of scrimmage as the Bears allowed UCLA just 45 rushing yards on 45 attempts.
With Experience, Cal Aims for Progress
Cal believes it has a bright future as its youthful inexperience turns into veteran savvy. Certainly, the play against an impressive UCLA team last week was a sign of progress. Playing in a hostile environment against a Top 10 team will be a much taller order this week. Cal hopes its very young team can take a major step and compete with Washington on the road. The Bears clearly are one of the youngest teams in college football as the Bears start six sophomores and one freshman on defense and start four sophomores and three freshmen on offense. That's 14 of the 22 starters being underclassmen. Included in that group are potential future All-America candidates in quarterback Kyle Boller, tailback Joe Igber, offensive guard Scott Tercero, safety Nnamdi Asomugha and offensive tackle Mark Wilson. Comparing the Golden Bears with Next Two Opponents California has shown marked improvement offensively, but the Bears still have a ways to go to match their next two opponents as both Washington and USC both rank in the Top 40 nationally in total offense. The match-up this weekend figures to be won at the line of scrimmage. Washington is the Pac-10 leader (22nd in the nation) in rushing offense, averaging 191.7 ypg. Cal, meanwhile, is second in the league (and 24th nationally) in rush defense, giving up just 109.5 yards a game. Last week, Cal held UCLA to just 45 yards on 45 rushing attempts.
Category Cal Washington USC Total Offense 85th (316.2 ypg) 35th (395.0 ypg) 38th (392.5 ypg) Rushing Offense 59th (142.2 ypg) 22nd (191.7 ypg) 58th (143.0 ypg) Passing Offense 84th (174.0 ypg) T66th (203.3 ypg) 25th (249.5 ypg) Scoring Offense 85th (19.2 ppg) 44th (27.5 ppg) 72nd (22.2 ppg) Total Defense 74th (369.8 ypg) 54th (350.2 ypg) 43rd (333.8 ypg) Rushing Defense 24th (109.5 ypg) 51st (136.8 ypg) 36th (117.5 ypg) Pass Eff. Defense 86th (129.99 rating) 66th (120.2 rating) 67th (120.5 rating) Scoring Defense T64th (24.0 ppg) 53rd (21.8 ppg) 56th (22.2 ppg) Turnover Margin T69th (-.17) T69th (-.17) T100th (-1.17) Net Punting 31st (36.9 ypp) 71st (33.75 ypp) 87th (32.27 ypp)Mid-Season Report Card Shows Bears an Improved Football Team
Although Cal's record is a disappointing 2-4 thus far, those close to the program feel strongly the Golden Bears are a much improved football team from last year's squad that posted a 3-3 mark through mid-season and finished with a 4-7 record. The statistics show Cal has made major strides on the offensive side of the football, improving by almost 70 yards per game of total offense. Cal's defensive stats are slightly misleading, as the Bears have played extremely well on defense, aside from the Arizona State game when the Sun Devils connected on seven passes of longer than 30 yards in route to a 566-yard explosion. Take away that game, and Cal would be giving up only 330.6 yards per game. Below is a comparison of where Cal stood at the same time last season (and at the end of last year) along with the team's current stats.
Mid-Season Comparison of Cal Offensive and Defensive Statistics
Current Year (6 gms) Last Year (6 gms) Last Year (final stats)
Total Offense 316.2 ypg 252.7 ypg 250.8 ypg
Rushing Offense 142.2 ypg 113.8 ypg 99.7 ypg
Passing Offense 174.0 ypg 138.8 ypg 151.1 ypg
Scoring Offense 19.2 ppg 16.2 ppg 16.4 ppg
Total Defense 369.8 ypg 342.7 ypg 352.6 ypg
Rushing Defense 109.5 ypg 114.2 ypg 117.9 ypg
Pass Defense 260.3 ypg 228.5 ypg 234.7 ypg
Scoring Defense 24.0 ppg 24.0 ppg 23.1 ppg
Cal Offensive Line Producing Despite Injuries
This Saturday's game may be the first time all season Cal fields the same offensive line two consecutive weeks. The Bears have been beset by various injuries along the line, which has resulted in a lot of shuffling the first half of the season. Only freshman right tackle Mark Wilson has been at the same position all year. Cal started the UCLA game with Reed Diehl at center, Scott Tercero and Brandon Ludwig at guards and Wilson and Chris Chick at the tackle positions. However, Diehl was only able to play about half the snaps after suffering a lower leg contusion. Freshman Nolan Bluntzer filled in when Diehl was on the sidelines. If Diehl can play this week, it will mark the same starting line-up two weeks in a row. It's even more important that the 305-pound senior be ready to play, as the match-up with Washington's massive defensive tackle Larry Tripplett will create problems for any player, but even more so for an inexperienced 265-pound freshman (Bluntzer). Tripplett had four unassisted tackles and a fumble recovery in the Cal game last season. This season, he ranks third in the Pac-10 with six sacks for minus 45 yards.
Cal's Starting Offensive Line Combinations in 2000
Game LT LG C RG RT Utah Walker Ludwig Diehl Truhitte Wilson At Illinois Walker Ludwig Bluntzer Truhitte Wilson At Fresno St. Walker Diehl Philip Tercero Wilson Washington St. Walker Truhitte Diehl Tercero Wilson At Arizona St. Chick Diehl Philip Tercero Wilson UCLA Chick Ludwig Diehl Tercero WilsonNick Harris Could Claim NCAA Punting Record on Saturday
Nobody in Pac-10 history has ever punted for more yards in Pac-10 history than Cal's Nick Harris. The senior now is within striking distance of setting a new NCAA record for most punting yards in a career. Harris has punted for 12,716 yards in his brilliant Cal career, averaging 43.55 on those punts. He needs just 232 yards on Saturday to claim the top spot in the NCAA record books, overtaking Cameron Young of TCU, who punted for 12,947 yards from 1976-79 on 320 punts. Harris also should eventually break Young's 320-punt record as well, needing to average just 5.6 punts over the final five games to capture that national mark. Harris only ranks 43rd nationally in punting this season with a 41.05 average, but that stat is very misleading. Harris has been asked to punt for placement rather than distance most of the season as 16 of his 43 punts this season (37.2%) have come with the line of scrimmage inside opponent territory. He's responded with 25 punts downed inside opponent 20-yard-lines. That's an amazing 58.1 percentage. Included in that total are nine punts inside opponent's 5-yard-line. Harris is a candidate for the inaugural Ray Guy Award for the nation's top punter. Below are Harris career punting stats.
Nick Harris Career Punting Statistics
Year Punts Yards Avg LG In 20 1997 77 3250 42.2 63 8 1998 87 3546 40.8 63 27 1999 85 3744 44.0 70 21 2000 43 1765 41.0 64 25 Total 292 12,716 43.55 70 81Cal-Washington: A Series of Recent Frustrations for the Golden Bears
During Washington's current 17-game winning streak over the Golden Bears, there have been games of every type. There have been some blowouts, including three games in which the Huskies have scored 50 points (50-31 in Berkeley in 1977, 50-7 in Seattle in 1982, 50-18 in Seattle in 1986) along with a 46-7 victory in 1990. However, there have also been a number of games in which Cal had probable victories snatched away in the final minutes. Six of those games are listed below.
Washington's Come-from-behind Victories over Cal in Current 16-game Winning Streak
1979 Cal had a 417- to 252-yard advantage, but Mark Lee returned a punt 64 yards for winning score with 6:04 left in game to provide a 28-24 victory. 1981 Cal jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and led virtually the entire game until Chuck Nelson hit a 21-yard field goal with 0:11 left to give the Huskies a 27-26 win. 1988 Cal built a 27-3 lead in Seattle midway through the third period before Washington scored 25 straight points, culminating on a 25-yard John McCallum field goal with 0:02 left to give the Huskies a 28-27 victory. 1991 Cal took a 7-0 lead against the nation's No. 3-ranked Huskies and the teams were tied 14-14 going into the fourth quarter before Washington emerged with a 24-17 victory, with Cal on the Husky 23-yard-line at the finish. 1993 Cal had a 23-3 lead in the third quarter, but Washington scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 2:06 to post a 24-23 victory and ruin Cal's bid to go to 6-0 on the season. 1999 Cal had a 24-10 lead with 25 minutes left in game and Huskies pinned back at own 17 with a 3rd-and-13 situation, but an 83-yd TD pass on next play changed tide and Huskies drove 78 yards in last 2:53 of game for TD to pull out 31-27 win.Cal Offense Starts to Take Advantage of Opportunities in Opponent Territory
California has had more than its share of opportunities to emerge as a high scoring team. The Bears have moved into opponent territory 53 times this season. The problem has been that Cal hasn't been able to take advantage. Prior to the UCLA game, Cal had converted only 28.6% of those chances into scores (8 touchdowns, 4 field goals). However, the Bears did a much better job in that category last week. Cal had 11 possessions in UCLA territory and converted six of those into scores, including five touchdowns. That's a conversion rate of 54.5%.
Cal's Deepest Penetrations into Opponent Territory (results)
Utah Illinois Fresno State Washington St. Arizona State UCLA Utah 27 (0 pts) Illinois 33 (0) Fresno 30 (0) WSU 13 (TD) ASU 22 (0) UCLA 23 (TD) Utah 33 (0) Illinois 9 (0) Fresno 34 (0) WSU 45 (0) ASU 10 (FG) UCLA 42 (0) Utah 1 (TD) Illinois 49 (0) Fresno 23 (0) WSU 6 (TD) ASU 45 (0) UCLA 36 (TD) Utah 34 (0) Illinois 40 (0) Fresno 30 (0) WSU 41 (0) ASU 39 (0) UCLA 9 (0) Utah 12 (TD) Illinois 33 (0) Fresno 42 (0) WSU 3 (FG) ASU 1 (0) UCLA 1 (TD) Utah13 (TD) Illinois 2 (TD) Fresno 15 (0) WSU 33 (0) ASU 1 (TD) UCLA 41 (0) Utah 10 (FG) Illinois 43 (0) Fresno 6 (FG) WSU 41 (0) UCLA 43 (0) Utah 35 (0) Illinois 43 (0) Fresno 40 (0) WSU12 (0) UCLA 46 (0) Illinois 49 (0) Fresno 32 (0) UCLA 22 (TD) Illinois 32 (TD)Fresno 40 (0) UCLA 20 (FG) UCLA 3 (TD)Cal Defense Much Stauncher than Statistics Seem to Indicate
Starting a defense that features six sophomores and one freshman is a recipe for disaster in a conference such as the Pac-10, but Cal has managed to hold up very well with the young group. Aside from a bad outing at Arizona State, Cal's youthful defense has played dominant football this season. The stats show Cal is giving up 24 points per game, but a closer inspection reveals that many of those points have come on short fields due to offensive or special teams mistakes. Cal has given up 18 touchdowns, but one of those came on an interception return, another on a punt return. Also, Cal five more touchdowns have come on drives less than 25 yards after Cal turnovers.
Andre Carter Named Semifinalist for Rotary Lombardi Award
On Oct. 6, Cal's Andre Carter was named one of 12 semifinalists for the 2000 Rotary Lombardi Award, given to the college offensive or defensive lineman who, "in addition to outstanding performance on the field, best exemplifies the characteristics and discipline of Vince Lombardi." Others on the list are Alex Brown of Florida, Steve Hutchinson of Michigan, Willie Howard of Stanford, Wendell Bryant of Wisconsin, Leonard Davis of Texas, Ben Hamilton of Minnesota, Dominic Raiola of Nebraska, Jamal Reynolds of Florida State, Aaron Schobel of TCU and Roland Seymour of Florida State. The list will be pared to four finalists Nov. 3. Carter has been every bit as dominant as was expected in 2000 as he ranks second in the Pac-10 with 6.5 sacks, despite constant double-teaming by Cal opponents. He now has 23.5 career sacks, ranking fourth on Cal's all-time list, behind Regan Upshaw (28 from 1993-95), Mawuko Tugbenyoh (25 from 1996-99) and Brandon Whiting (23 from 1994-97).
Cal sophomore Joe Igber not only is Cal's leading rusher (44th nationally, 5th in the Pac-10), but he's also Cal's leading receiver with 14 catches, last week, he was held to 49 rushing yards but accounted for 126 yards through the air...Cal and Washington are tied for third in the league in fewest sacks allowed, each having given up 14 thus far...Cal cornerback LaShaun Ward is out indefinitely with complications from a collapsed lung he suffered in the aftermath of the UCLA game...Jacob Waasdorp celebrates his 21st birthday on Tuesday of this week (Oct. 17).