Bears Look For Strong November Finish
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  11/01/1999

Nov. 1, 1999

BERKELEY, Calif. - California makes its final regular-season trip outside the Bay Area with Saturday's contest at Oregon State, where the Bears will face an Oregon State team that will be bidding to clinch its first winning season in 29 years. The Beavers are one of the surprise teams in the Pac-10 this season with a 5-3 record entering November. Cal, meanwhile, is right in the middle of the conference race with only Washington and Stanford having one conference loss compared to the two losses Cal has on the slate. Having won two of the past three games, the Bears have some momentum on their side and it easily could have been three straight if Cal could have held a 24-10 second half lead over Washington two weeks ago. Cal has a 31-20 edge in the Oregon State rivalry which dates back to the 1905 season. Cal has won six straight and 15 of the last 21 games versus OSU. Last season, Cal posted a 20-19 victory in Corvallis, rallying from a 19-10 halftime deficit. The Bears ground out 27 first downs, thanks to the effort of wide receiver Dameane Douglas, who grabbed a school record 15 receptions. It was a 45-yard field goal by Ignacio Brache with 11:01 left in the game that gave Cal the final margin of victory.

Bears Need a Strong November Finish to Gain a Bowl Berth
The 1999 California Golden Bears will need to change a pattern of unsuccessful November performances, if the Bears hope to earn the program's fifth bowl appearance of the current decade. The equation is a fairly simple one for the Bears. If Cal can win two of its last three games, the Bears will be a likely bowl choice with a 5-3 conference record and a 6-5 overall mark. If the Bears can win all three games, Cal figures to finish no worse than second place in the conference and could even tie or win the Pac-10 Championship. Over the last five seasons, Cal has posted a cumulative 4-13 record in the month of November, with the team's last winning mark in November coming with a 3-1 mark in the month in 1993. There are many reasons for the dismal finishes in recent years, but the main culprit has been a lack of quality depth. With injuries that normally occur during the first part of the season, Cal has often found itself playing with less than a full deck in November. Head coach Tom Holmoe made a decision to play more first-year players this season, with the idea that they could contribute to the team's depth and not force him to play walk-ons during the latter stages of the season, if injuries took their toll. The Bears have utilized 10 of its 19-member freshman class during the '99 season. Below is a list of Cal's November records during the 1990s.

Cal's November Records During the Current Decade

1998   0-3         1995   1-2      1992   0-3
1997   1-3         1994   1-2      1991   3-1
1996   1-3         1993   3-1      1990   1-1-1

Cal Defense Has its Work Cut Out for it Down the Stretch, Beginning with OSU
The strength of Cal's team this season is certainly its defense as the Bears lead the Pac-10 in scoring defense (22.1 ppg) and rushing defense (109.4 ypg), and are second in total defense (366.0 ypg). Cal has come close to shutouts two of the past three weeks, blanking UCLA in mid-October and allowing USC just a single touchdown (on a 72-yard pass play in the third quarter) last Saturday. However, the true test for the Golden Bear defense will come over the final three games of the season. Cal will take on the top-ranked offense in the conference and the No. 3 ranked offense in all of college football in Oregon State this week. OSU is averaging 487.5 yards a game under Dennis Erickson's spread offense. The Beavers are 10th nationally in passing offense (317.9 ypg), but also have excellent balance in averaging 169.6 yards a game on the ground. Both Cal's other November opponents are also averaging more than 440 yards of total offense a game, as Stanford is second in the Pac-10 at 482.1 yards a game and Oregon is fourth in the league at 444.1 yards a game.

Bear Defensive Pressure Beginning to Pay Off in the Turnover Category
California figured to be a big-play defense in 1999, but through the first four games of the 1999 season, the Bears hadn't made a lot of impact plays. Cal had created only seven turnovers during those four games (four fumble recoveries and three interceptions). However, things have turned around over the last four games as Cal's defensive pressure has begun to pay major dividends. In those four games, Cal has created 14 turnovers (five fumble recoveries and nine interceptions). After ranking near the bottom nationally in turnover margin, Cal now ranks tied for 37th in the nation with a +.25 turnover ratio. Below is a comparison of how many turnovers the Cal defense has created in the first four games compared to the last four games.

Cal's Turnover Turnaround - First 4 Games vs. Last 4 Games

First Four Games                                       Last Four Games
Rutgers        0 fumble recoveries/2 interceptions= 2  BYU        0 fumble rec./3 inter.= 3
Nebraska       1 fumble recovery/0 interceptions= 1    UCLA       1 fumble rec./2 inter.= 3
Arizona St.    2 fumble recoveries/1 interception= 3   Washington 1 fumble rec./3 inter.= 4
Washington St. 1 fumble recovery/0 interceptions= 1    USC        3 fumble rec./1 inter.= 4

Cal Junior Nick Harris Ranked No. 3 in NCAA Punting
Cal junior Nick Harris is currently No. 3 nationally in punting with a 46.05 average. With just three games remaining, he is on pace to break the Cal single-season record. Scott Tabor averaged 45.3 yards per punt in 1987. The 6-3, 215-pounder has been a dominant performer all season long. Harris' average is even more amazing when considering he's been asked to pooch punt inside opponent territory 11 times this year, including five punts from the opponent 40-yard-line or closer. He now has had a punt of at least 48 yards in all 29 games of his Cal career. This season, he has 25 punts of 50 yards or longer and six of 60 yards or longer. The following are the Harris punts of 50 yards or more this season: Rutgers: 56, 52, 67, Nebraska: 65, 50, 64, Arizona State: 50, 60, 58, Washington State: 52, 50, BYU: 51, 50, 51, 54, UCLA: 50, 57, 58, 68, 60, Washington: 54, 51, USC 53, 57, 52.

Deltha O'Neal Making Bid for All-America Honors with Big Play after Big Play
There were some that thought the decision to move Deltha O'Neal from offense to defense last season was ill-advised. Many believed his big-play ability would be hidden with his transition to cornerback. Midway through his second year on defense, he has proven that his role as an impact player has not been diminished in the least. Last year, he made a pair of interceptions, one which he returned 76 yards for a touchdown vs. Washington State. This season, he already has returned three interceptions for scores, including a 67-yarder last week vs. USC which gave Cal a 7-0 lead. His three picks for touchdowns is more than any player in the nation this season and also breaks the Cal school record and ties the Pac-10 single-season record. With four in his career, he is already tied for the Pac-10 career record and is one short of the NCAA career record. His 180 interception return yardage this season is also more than any other player nationally. In his career, he now has 256 yards in interception returns which is a new Cal school record (the previous record was 232 by Bobby Smith from 1965-67). He currently ranks tied for No. 3 in the NCAA in interceptions with .75 per game. He continues to make a huge impact as one of the nation's most dangerous return specialists as he is 9th nationally in kickoff returns with a 28.29 ypr average and is 46th in NCAA punt returns with a 9.59 ypr average. He produced a career best 60-yard punt return against USC last week which set up a Cal field goal and a 10-0 lead in the third quarter. Below is a list of O'Neal's long punt and kickoff returns in his career.

O'Neal's Long Kickoff Returns (40+ yards)  Deltha O'Neal's Long Punt Returns (20+ yards)
12/25/96 vs. Navy     100 yards*           11/22/97 at Stanford        56 yards
9/20/97  vs. Oklahoma  53 yards            9/5/98   vs. Houston        21 yards
10/4/97  at Louisiana Tech  45 yards       9/26/98  vs. Washington St. 24 yards
10/25/97 at UCLA            45 yards       9/26/98  vs. Washington St. 22 yards
9/12/98  vs. Nebraska       49 yards       10/17/98 at Washington      31 yards
9/26/98  vs. Washington St. 49 yards       10/31/98 at Oregon St.      27 yards
10/10/98 at USC             57 yards       11/14/98 vs. Arizona        26 yards
10/24/98 vs. UCLA           40 yards       11/21/98 vs. Stanford       57 yards
9/4/99   vs. Rutgers        50 yards       9/25/99  vs. Arizona St.    21 yards
9/25/99  vs. Arizona St.    53 yards       10/2/99  at Washington St.  35 yards
*Aloha Bowl record                         10/9/99  at Brigham Young   31 yards
                                           10/16/99 at UCLA            27 yards
                                           10/30/99 vs. USC            60 yards

Deltha O'Neal's Interception Returns for Touchdowns

Date     Opponent      Length of Play  Qtr.  Score after TD  Final Score
9/26/98  vs. Wash. St. 76 yards        3rd   17-7 Cal        24-14 Cal
9/4/99   vs. Rutgers   75 yards        2nd   14-7 Cal        21-7 Cal
10/9/99  at BYU        19 yards        2nd   21-7 BYU        38-28 BYU
10/30/99 vs. USC       67 yards        2nd   7-0 Cal         17-7 Cal

Deltha O'Neal on Cal Career All-Purpose Rushing List

   Player (years)          Rush  Rec  Ret   Total
1. Russell White (1990-92) 3367  364  1212  4943
2. Deltha O'Neal (1996 - )  667  335  3537  4539

S?kou Sanyika and Keith Miller the Heart and Soul of Cal Defense
S?kou Sanyika deservedly has attracted most of the attention on Cal's defense as he is a playmaker who continues to put up big numbers. However, just as important this season has been the contribution of senior linebacker Keith Miller. His statistics are impressive enough, leading the team with 61 tackles, including 39 unassisted stops. However, his physical, aggressive style of play have made an even bigger impact. Last week was a good example, as he suffered a slight shoulder separation midway through the game. After being helped off the field, he returned just a few plays later, playing through the pain of the injury. Miller is a big reason why Cal leads the Pac-10 and ranks tied for No. 21 in rushing defense nationally, allowing just 109.4 yards a game. While Miller is busy stuffing the run, Sanyika is roaming the perimeter making big plays. With a sack last week, Sanyika now has 61 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, which adds to his existing school record. After leading the conference in tackles for loss last season with 23, he is bidding to repeat his title this season. He currently ranks second in the Pac-10 with 16 stops for loss for minus 72 yards, two behind teammate Andre Carter who has 18 for minus 97 yards. Below is a list of Sanyika's impact games during his Cal career.

Impact Games for S?kou Sanyika

San Diego St 9/14/96 Had 5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including
                     three sacks for -29 yards
Oklahoma     9/20/97 Had 4 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for
                     -23 yards
Arizona     11/15/97 Had 8 tackles, including 6 unassisted, and caused
                     a fumble on sack that was returned for TD
Houston      9/5/98  Had 2 interceptions, which gave Cal the ball at the
                     Houston 40- and 30-yard lines
Oklahoma     9/19/98 Had 3 tackles for loss for -20 yards, and caused a
                     fumble recovered at OU 4-yard-line
USC         10/10/98 Had 3 tackles for loss for -20 yards, including a sack
                     of QB for safety that started Cal comeback
Washington  10/17/98 Had 4 tackles for loss for -20 yards, including a pair
                     of sacks, one of which caused a fumble
UCLA        10/24/98 Had 2 tackles for loss for -6 yards, including one
                     for a safety
BYU         10/9/99  Had 3 tackles for loss for -25 yards, including a pair
                     of sacks and forced two fumbles
UCLA        10/16/99 Had 4 tackles for loss for -20 yards and grabbed 2 of
                     interceptions, one he returned to the 1-yard line.

Cal Sets a New School Record for Sacks
With a defensive line that averages less than 260 pounds, the Golden Bears rely on quickness than brute strength in the pass rushing category. That asset has paid off handsomely as Cal has already set a school single-season record with 44 sacks through the first eight games of the season. The Bears picked up a season-high nine sacks for 64 yards last week against USC. The remarkable thing is that Cal isn't padding its sack total at the expense of rushing defense, as the Bears lead the league in that category as well. Andre Carter not only is tied for the league lead with 10 sacks, but leads the conference in tackles for loss with 18. Mawuku Tugbenyoh had four sacks last week and now is tied with Carter for the Pac-10 lead in sacks. Jacob Waasdorp isn't far behind as he has seven sacks on the year to rank sixth in the Pac-10. Below is a list of how many sacks, Cal teams have produced over the last 12 years.

Cal Team Sacks from 1987-98

1998  35     1995  33.5   1992  29   1989  28
1997  31.5   1994  40     1991  37   1988  27
1996  36     1993  30     1990  30   1987  35

Sometimes the Best Offense is a Good Defense
Over the past three seasons you would be hard-pressed to find a more "offensive" defense than Cal's "Hit Squad." Going back to the beginning of the 1997 season, the Cal defense has scored 74 of the Bears 519 total points, representing 14.3% of the total points scored by the team. That percentage is even more dramatic if you stop to consider the numerous times the Cal defense has given the offense great field position after creating a turnover. After scoring 22 points in each of the past two seasons, the Cal defense has already scored 30 points through the first eight games of the 1999 season. The Bears have returned four inteceptions and one fumble recovery for touchdowns this season, representing five of Cal's 18 touchdowns. If you included a S?kou Sanyika interception he returned to the UCLA 1-yard-line, that would be exactly 33 percent of Cal's scoring coming via the defense. The following breaks down the touchdowns or safeties scored by the Cal defense over the past three seasons:

Cal's Defensive Scores the Last Three Seasons

1999 Deltha O'Neal     75 yd int. return for TD vs. Rutgers
     Deltha O'Neal     9 yd int. return for TD at BYU
     Deltha O'Neal     7 yd int. return for TD vs. USC
     Damian Marzett    80 yd int. return for TD at BYU
     Jacob Waasdorp    25 yd fumble return for TD at WSU

1998 Mawuko Tugbenyoh 10 yd fumble return for TD vs. WSU Deltha O'Neal 76 yd int. return for TD vs. WSU Drae Harris 26 yd int. return for TD vs. WSU Sekou Sanyika Safety at USC Sekou Sanyika Safety vs. UCLA

1997 Team Safety at WSU Mawuko Tugbenyoh 60 yd fumble return for TD at WSU Mawuko Tugbenyoh 38 yd fumble return for TD at Arizona Derrick Gardner 72 yd fumble return for TD vs. ASU Team Safety at Stanford

Miscellaneous Notes, Et Cetera, Three-dot Data
Oregon State offensive coordinator Tim Lappano served as Cal's running back coach from 1992-95 under Keith Gilbertson...Cal wide receivers coach Dan Ferrigno spent nine seasons at Oregon State prior to coming to Cal in 1996...Cal's win over USC last week (coupled with an earlier victory over UCLA) gave the Bears a sweep of the L.A. schools in the same season for the first time since 1991 and only the 11th time in history...Cal anticipates the return of tailback Joe Igber, who played sparingly (5 carries) against USC due to a shoulder sprain...Cal continues to win the field position battle, of the 18 offensive drives by USC last week, not one of them started in Cal territory...Cal freshman reserve safety Nnamdi Asomugha suffered a broken ankle against USC and is done for the season...Cal has started four different players in trying to find the right replacement for the injured Matt Beck...Juan Jimenez, J.P. Segura, Sekou Sanyika and Jamaal Cherry have been in the starting line-up at that position the last four games...Cal continues to struggle offensively as the Bears rank 106th in NCAA total offense, averaging 260.88 yards a game this season...Cal is No. 6 in net punting, averaging 40.8 yards per punt...The last time Oregon State won a game in Corvallis against the Golden Bears was in 1988 in the infamous 61-minute game, a timekeeper's error reset the game clock back one minute early in the fourth quarter and Oregon State took advantage by kicking a field goal with 16 seconds left in the game to post a 17-16 victory.