Football Opens Season against Houston
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  06/21/1999

August 28, 1998

Game No. 1
Houston Cougars at California Golden Bears
Saturday, Sept. 5, 1998
Memorial Stadium (75,028 - Grass)
Berkeley, CA

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

Attendance: A crowd of 35,000 is expected.

Cal-Houston: The Series
Saturday's game will be second meeting between Cal and Houston. Last year, the Bears defeated the Cougars, 35-3, on Sept. 6 in the Astrodome. After spotting Houston a 3-0 first quarter lead, Cal raced to a 21-3 halftime advantage. Joshua White and Marcus Fields each rushed for one touchdown, while quarterback Justin Vedder was 24-of-31 for 321 yards and two scores is his debut in a Cal uniform.

1998 Schedule
(0-0, 0-0 Pac-10)   
Sept. 5   Houston, 12:30 p.m.   
Sept. 12  Nebraska, 4 p.m. (FOX)   
Sept. 19  at Oklahoma, 4 p.m. PT (FSBA)   
Sept. 26  Washington St., 4 p.m. (ABC)   
Oct. 10   at USC, TBA   
Oct. 17   at Washington, 3:30 p.m. (FOX-synd)
Oct. 24   UCLA, 12:30 p.m.   
Oct. 31   at Oregon State, 1 p.m.   
Nov. 7    at Arizona State, 3 p.m. PT   
Nov. 14   Arizona, 12:30 p.m.   
Nov. 21   Stanford, 12:30 p.m. (Ch. 7)

Cal Radio Network
The game will be aired live over KGO Radio (810 AM) San Francisco and the five-station Cal Radio Network. Other stations on the network are: KANM (660 AM) in Modesto, KRCK (1490 AM) in King City; KJAX (1280 AM) in Stockton, KGOE (105.5 FM) in Eureka, KYOS (1480 AM) in Merced; and 1490 in Banning. The pre-game show begins 15 minutes prior to kickoff. KGO is in its 24th season as the Golden Bears flagship station. Sports Director Joe Starkey is in his 24th season handling play-by-play duties, and Lee Grosscup, who is in his 10th year in the booth, joins him with color commentary. The Tom Holmoe Show airs weekly on KGO Wednesdays at 5:20 p.m.

Cal Highlight Show
The weekly one-half hour Cal Football Highlight Show, hosted by Tim Sharp, will air each Sunday afternoon during the season on Fox Sports Bay Area. The program will be shown on Sundays at 4:30 p.m., with a repeat showing Mondays at 3 p.m.

National Champs To Be Honored
Cal teams claimed three national championships during the 1997-98 academic year, and each of those squads will be recognized at halftime of the Cal-Houston game. The Bears men's gymnastics team captured its second straight NCAA title last spring, while the rugby program continued its domination with an eighth consecutive national crown in May. The men's lacrosse squad also won the club national championship.

Cal Radio on the Internet
All Cal football radio broadcasts can be heard on the Internet at www.broadcast. com/sports/ncaa/california. Visit the site and download the necessary software, then log on at game time to catch the Bears live

Cal Radio on 800 Service
All Cal football radio broadcasts during the 1998 season are available nationwide via telephone through the facilities of TRZ Telephone Broadcast Services. Fans can access the Cal Radio Network from anywhere in the country at 1-800-846-4700, ext. 5918. The cost is $.50 for the first minute, with decreasing rates for additional minutes.

Pac-10 Video Feed
The Pacific-10 Conference provides a weekly satellite feed every Wednesday throughout the season, featuring game highlights and interviews with head coaches and top players. The feed airs from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. PT. In case of trouble with the feed, call the Pac-10 Conference office at (925) 932-4411.

Around the Pac-10
Arizona at Hawaii (Sept. 3), Washington at Arizona State, Michigan State at Oregon, Nevada at Oregon State, San Jose State at Stanford, and Illinois at Washington State.

Pac-10 Standings
                   Pac-10  Overall
                   W   L   W   L
Arizona            0   0   0   0
Arizona State      0   0   0   0
California         0   0   0   0
Oregon             0   0   0   0
Oregon State       0   0   0   0
Stanford           0   0   0   0
UCLA               0   0   0   0
USC                0   0   0   0
Washington         0   0   0   0
Washington State   0   0   0   0

The Coaches
Tom Holmoe, California (Brigham Young '83) is in his second year as head coach of the Bears and third with the Cal program. He has a career record of 3-8 with the Bears. A 1983 graduate of BYU, Holmoe was the Cougars starting cornerback from 1980-82 and led the WAC in interceptions as a sophomore in 1980. He earned first team WAC honors as a senior and later was drafted in the fourth round by the San Francisco 49ers. Holmoe went on to play seven years with in the NFL, all with San Francisco, and helped the 49ers win three Super Bowls. After retiring from pro football, he entered the coaching ranks, serving as a graduate assistant during the 1990 and '91 seasons under LaVell Edwards at BYU. In 1992, Holmoe was reunited with Bill Walsh after accepting an offer to become the Stanford secondary coach. After two years as a member of the Cardinal staff, he moved back to the pro ranks and his former team, the 49ers, as George Seifert's defensive backfield coach for the 1994 and '95 seasons. In 1996, Holmoe joined the Bears staff as the defensive coordinator and on Jan. 18, 1997, he was named head football coach at Cal.

Kim Helton, Houston (Florida '70) is in his sixth season with the Cougars, having compiled a 14-41-1 record. In 1996, he led Houston to a 7-4 regular season record, the Conference USA title and a berth in the Liberty Bowl. Prior to arriving in Houston, Helton served as an offensive line coach with three NFL teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1983-86), Houston Oilers (1987-89) and Los Angeles Raiders (1990-92). Preceding his NFL coaching career, he was offensive line coach at Florida from 1973-76. From 1979-82, he was offensive coordinator at Miami.

Houston Road Accommodations
The Houston travel party will arrive in Berkeley Friday afternoon and will stay at the Berkeley Radisson (510-548-7920). Sports Information Director Donna Turner will accompany the team.

Houston Game Day Promotions
Cal football posters, sponsored by Coca-Cola, will be given away to 10,000 fans at the Cal-Houston game. In addition, there will be a 2-for-1 ticket coupon in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Weekly Media Luncheons
Each Tuesday throughout the 1998 football season, Cal will host a media luncheon in the Memorial Stadium Hall of Fame Room, beginning at 11:45 a.m. Head coach Tom Holmoe will be available for interviews, as will several members of the Cal team. In addition, the upcoming opposing head coach will be on a speakerphone to answer questions.

IKON Office Solutions Play of the Week
Each week throughout the 1998 football season, IKON Office Solutions will salute the Golden Bear Play of the Week.

The Times Player of the Game
Each week throughout the 1998 football season, the Contra Costa Times will recognize the Cal Player of the Game.

Cal-Houston Media Notes

Cal Opens '98 Season in Memorial Stadium for First Time in 7 Seasons
California opens its 1998 season against the University of Houston Cougars for the second consecutive season with hopes of having similar results as last September. On Sept. 6, 1997, Cal began the year with a resounding 35-3 victory over the Cougars in the Astrodome. The game this Saturday marks the first time in seven season the Bears have opened the season at home, dating back to 1992 when Cal defeated San Jose State, 46-16, in Memorial Stadium. Cal has won eight of the last 11 season-opening games. Overall, Cal has a 67-42-5 (.610) in season-openers but is even more dominant in season-opening games in Memorial Stadium with a 34-13 (.723) record.

Volatile Off-season Breeds Mixture of Optimism and Apprehension
Clearly, Cal enters the 1998 season with a good amount of optimism buoyed by the return of 17 starters (5-offense, 9-defense, 2-kickers). The Bears are coming off a '97 campaign which produced several good signs, including finishing second in the Pac-10 in first downs and leading the conference in time of possession. Cal also played dominant defense for large chunks of games until yielding to the inevitable big play game after game. A second year of experience with the West Coast Offense for both the coaching staff and players -- mainly quarterback Justin Vedder -- leads those associated with the Cal program to assume that the Bears will emerge among the upper division attacks in the Pac-10 this fall. Even more reasons for optimism are rooted on Lyle Setencich's defense. Not only is virtually everybody back for the second year in the defensive coordinator's system, but the maturity ingredient combined with the familiarity factor could yield what some believe will become one of college football's most improved defensive units. The apprehension arises not only from a lack of winning experience, but the fact that Cal has lost a large number of players who were expected to play big roles, albeit back-up for the most part, on both sides of the ball. Among those who were predicted to be back in '98, but won't be in uniform are center: Jeremy Newberry, who left school a year early to become a second round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers; reserve noseguard James Gibson (concussions and family considerations); potential starting offensive guard Yauger Williams (chronic knee problems); noseguard Rashawn Davis (academics); reserve tailback Brandon Willis (academics) and reserve noseguard Kasey Jackson (Mormon mission). That means Cal will rely largely on its first team unit and will need a large dose of luck in the injury department if the Bears are to contend for the program's fifth bowl bid of the current decade.

Cal Begins What May Be the School's Best Home Schedule in Over 30 Years
Year-in and year-out, as a member of the rugged Pac-10 Conference, Cal has offered its fans a variety of attractive opponents on its home schedule. However, the 1998 home schedule is shaping up to be perhaps the best home slate at the school in at least three decades. Besides the Houston opener on Labor Day Weekend, Cal also hosts defending national champion Nebraska, which has gone 60-3 over the last five seasons; defending Pacific-10 champion Washington State and it's high powered offense that averaged 502.2 ypg last season; pre-season Pac-10 favorite UCLA with Heisman Trophy candidate Cade McNown; 1997 bowl-team Arizona, which always features a dramatic finish in its series with Cal, including multiple overtime games in '96 and '97; and finally the 101st Big Game with Stanford. Overall, Cal's entire 11-game schedule was judged the fifth toughest in the country (and tops in the Pac-10) by Sports Illustrated.

Best Cal Home Schedules in Recent History

1990 - Defending national champ Miami, Stanford, an Oregon team coming off an 8-4 record, UCLA, San Jose State
1979 - Defending Big Ten champion Michigan coming off a 10-2 record, a San Jose State team coming off a 7-5 record, defending national champ USC coming off a 12-1 record, Washington coming off a 7-4 mark, and Oregon State
1968 - Colorado, San Jose State, UCLA coming off a 7-2-1 record, Syracuse, Oregon and Stanford
1965 - Notre Dame, which had finished No. 3 nationally with a 7-2-1 record, Penn State, Washington, USC, which finished 10th nationally with 7-3 record, and Kansas
1962 - Missouri, which finished No. 11 nationally with a 8-1-2 record, Pittsburgh, San Jose State, defending Pac-8 champion UCLA and Stanford

Cal Hopes It Can Achieve Quick Start En Route to Another Bowl Berth
Cal has traditionally been a fast-starting team during the current decade. Even during last year's 3-8 campaign, Cal got out of the blocks with a 2-0 record and only an upset in the final minute at Louisiana Tech kept the Bears from having a 3-1 mark to begin the season. The Bears have gone to four bowl games since 1990 and much of the credit for those berths can be attributed to a quick start in those seasons. Cal hopes to repeat that formula this year, and this week's game against Houston is critical to establishing early momentum. Below is a list of Cal's quick starts this decade that have resulted in bowl bids.

Year   Quick Start Record  Final Record   Bowl Berth
1990   5-2 after 7 games   7-4-1          Copper Bowl
1991   5-0 after 5 games   10-2           Citrus Bowl
1993   5-0 after 5 games   9-4            Alamo Bowl
1996   5-0 after 5 games   6-6            Aloha Bowl

Once Nation's Youngest Staff, Now Some Gray Hair Has Been Added
Two years ago, Cal boasted what was the youngest coaching staff in Division IA football, with 40-year-old head coach Steve Mariucci and a group of assistants that averaged 35.1 years of age. This year, Cal does have a youthful head coach in 38-year-old Tom Holmoe, but the second-year coach decided to add some experience to his coaching staff in 1998, which has pulled the average age of the assistants to 45.1 years. The Bears still have three coaches on their staff 35 or younger, but the addition of veteran line coaches Monte Clark (61) and Bill Dutton (68) provides a nice blend of youth and experience on Holmoe's staff. Holmoe said he didn't intentionally go after older coaches, but he wanted the best teachers he could find and that Clark and Dutton are master technicians who should have a huge impact on Cal's fortunes in 1998.

Bears Hope Old Axiom That Defense Wins Games Proves True in '98
Clearly, Cal's hopes for a successful season will reside on a veteran defense that returns 17 players who have starting experience. However, the Bears only finished eighth in the league last season defensively, giving up 381.4 yards per game, and were last in scoring defense (30.8 ppg). So, there remain many doubters about Cal's defense going into the new year. However, those who saw the progress Cal made under coordinator Lyle Setencich through the '97 season and the likelyhood that the Bears will solve a problem that saw them give up 66 big plays (passes over 20 yards, runs over 15 yards) last season, believe Cal can emerge as a dominant group. The Bears should get a test in September as Houston returns nine offensive starters, including All-America candidate Ketric Sanford at tailback, and Nebraska and Washington State will both bring in offenses that averaged over 500 yards last season. In particular, Cal's front seven is an imposing group. The Sporting News rates Cal's defensive line group as the No. 1 unit in the Pacific-10, while Cal's linebacker group is rated No. 3 in the league by the same publication. While Setencich bases much of his philosophy around having veteran players, he does admit that three players with virtually no college defensive experience could emerge as key performers for the Bears this fall. Freshman linebacker Jamaal Cherry at 6-3 and 255 pounds is no ordinary first-year player. The talented linebacker made huge strides in his first college camp and now figures in the playing rotation and could even challenge for starting duties before his career moves along very far. Also, cornerbacks Drae Harris, who sat out last season after transferring from Mesa JC in Phoenix, and converted tailback Deltha O'Neal, are listed as potential starters for the Houston game.

Defensive Starters Returning in 1998
California   9   Arizona          5
Oregon State 9   Arizona State    4
USC          8   UCLA             4
Oregon       8   Washington State 4
Washington   6   Stanford         3

Offensive Line Guru Monte Clark Face Big Challenge This Fall
With a solid NFL retirement in the bank, one wondered why veteran offensive line coach Monte Clark would accept Tom Holmoe's offer to return to the game as the Golden Bears offensive line coach this past January. Clark, though, spoke of the challenge and his desire to teach line techniques to college players as two main motivations. Well, if it's challenges he wants, Cal's offensive line has obliged. After stalwart Jeremy Newberry left Cal a year early to become the San Francisco 49ers second round draft choice, Clark has attempted to put together a credible front wall for the Golden Bears over the last eight months. As the opener looms, Clark is still piecing together his starting unit. He can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but injuries have kept him from getting there. In late July, offensive guard Yauger Williams, who was expected to start, came to the conclusion his oft-injured knee wouldn't permit him to play effectively, and he retired. Clark was thrilled with the quick development of redshirt-freshman Brandon Ludwig, who figured as a likely starter. However, Ludwig went down with a sprained knee while getting rolled into as a non-participant in a blocking drill and won't be back until late September. Two other prominent members of the anticipated playing rotation, Reed Diehl and Caleb Brown, have also been hampered by knee injuries and their status for the opener is in doubt. That being said, Clark has two "rocks" to build around in tackle John Wellbourn and center John Romero, and he believes that junior tackle Kevin Doherty is ready to be a major contributor. That leaves the guard positions as the major question mark. Clark is experimenting with veteran Tate McCallister and JC transfer Robert Truhitte in the starting unit, but could move some players around before the opening kickoff on Sept. 5. Obviously, Clark is earning every penny of his salary and, at last report, has not questioned the sanity of his decision to return to the collegiate coaching ranks.

Safeties Smith, Destefano Confident Big Plays Will Stop in '98
Cal strong safety Marquis Smith (6-3, 220) and free safety Pete Destefano (6-2, 215) rate as the biggest safety tandem in the Pac-10 and one of the biggest in all of college football. However, their emphasis will be eliminating the word "big" out of their vocabulary in 1998. Cal allowed 37 different pass plays of 25 yards or longer last season, including 20 which went for touchdowns. Cal gave up TD passes of 73, 72, 65, 62, 58, 57, 56, and 55 yards last season, so it's obvious the Bear secondary has some shoring up to do. Much of that responsibility will fall into the hands of Smith and Destefano, who the Cal coaches believe will emerge as one of the most improved duos in college football. Smith enters the season rated as the No. 4 strong safety in the entire country by The Sporting News, while Mel Kiper projects him among the Top 10 safety prospects eligible for the 1999 NFL draft. Destefano has been singled out by the coaching staff for his off-season dedication and his dramatic improvment during fall camp. If Smith and Destefano can emerge as accomplished safeties in 1998, it may go a long way toward establishing the Cal defense among the best in college football.

Odds and Ends, Miscellaneous Notes, Three-Dot Data, Et Cetera
Cal's Justin Vedder and Dameane Douglas might be the hottest passing combination in college football entering the season as the pair hooked up for 23 catches for 286 yards in the final two games last year...Vedder enjoyed the most productive debut quarterbacking season in Cal history when he threw for 2,718 yards last year; he indicates his second year in the West Coast offensive system will pay big dividends and the Bears believe he will improve on his 20-14 TD-INT ratio in '98...Cal has won its last two match-ups against teams from Texas (19-17 at Texas A&M in 1983 and last year's 35-3 victory over Houston), but the Bears are only 4-8 against teams from the state of Texas in their history (0-2 vs. Baylor, 1-0 vs. Houston, 1-1 vs. Rice, 1-0 vs. SMU, 0-4 vs. Texas, 1-1 vs. Texas A&M)...Cal had a change in its training staff in early August when head trainer Fred Tedeschi accepted an offer from the Chicago Bulls. His duties will be handled by long-time assistant Mike Chaplin... Cal lost graduate assistant coach Doug Miller, a former player with the San Diego Chargers, who was struck by lightning during a late July camping trip and died. Holmoe hired Jake Shaughnessy last week to serve as a defensive grad assistant.