Oct. 19, 2003
Cal (3-5) Hosts Arizona (1-6)
Game No. 9: Arizona Wildcats (1-6, 0-3, Pac-10) at California Golden Bears (3-5, 1-2 Pac-10)
Date: Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003, Memorial Stadium; (67,537 - Momentum Turf), Berkeley, CA
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.
Radio: KGO Radio (810 AM) with Joe Starkey, Lee Grosscup and Mike Pawlawski
Attendance (est.): 32,000
This Week's Game
Cal plays its only home game in a six-week stretch when the Golden Bears host Arizona Saturday afternoon in Memorial Stadium.
Since their last contest in Berkeley vs. Oregon State Oct. 4, the Bears had a bye week before falling in overtime at UCLA last weekend, 23-20. After the Wildcats come to town, Cal visits Arizona State and Oregon before entertaining Washington in the final home appearance of the season on Nov. 15.
At 3-5 overall, the Bears need to win four of their remaining five games in order to secure a winning record. That goal took a hard hit in the Rose Bowl last Saturday when the Bruins thwarted a Cal rally.
Trailing, 20-12, late in the game, QB Aaron Rodgers hit WR Burl Toler with a 35-yard scoring pass on a fourth-and-10 play with only 11 seconds left. Rodgers then connected with TB Adimchinobe Echemandu for the tying two-point conversion.
But in the extra period, the Bears could not repeat the magic of their three-OT victory over USC. UCLA went up, 23-20, on a 41-yard field goal. However, Tyler Fredrickson's 50-yard attempt to even the score bounced off the left upright.
The Bears lost despite dominating the Bruins in the statistical battle. Rodgers, who completed 28-of-41 passes, threw for a career-high 322 yards - second only to Pat Barnes' 435 yards in 1995 for a Cal quarterback in the UCLA series. Toler caught seven passes for his first-ever 100-yard day (104), while WR Geoff McArthur had nine receptions for 128 yards.
With his effort, McArthur moved into a tie for 13th on Cal's career receiving list with 110 catches (also George Freitas, 1974-77). And with 50 catches on the year, he is just two receptions away from joining the Bears' single-season Top 15 chart.
Defensively, DE Monte Parson had the best game of his career with three tackles for loss, including two sacks, a forced fumble that set up a Cal touchdown, and a pair of pass deflections. His performance helped the Bears limit UCLA to 55 rushing yards and 228 yards of total offense - the lowest total for the Cal D since last year's UCLA game, when the Bruins had 226 yards.
Arizona owns an 11-9-2 all-time mark over the Bears, including wins in the last four meetings between the two schools. The Wildcats have also claimed the past three games at Memorial Stadium, including last year's 52-41 shootout in Strawberry Canyon. Cal's most recent victory over Arizona came in a wild 56-55, four-overtime game, in 1996.
Quick Look at Arizona
After a week off, the Wildcats enter Saturday's game last in the conference in scoring offense and scoring defense. However, in their most recent contest, they nearly upended UCLA Oct. 11, falling 24-21 despite setting several season highs on offense. Behind a 122-yard performance by RB Clarence Farmer, Arizona compiled 276 yards on the ground on its way to 519 total yards. On defense, the Wildcats are led by their two safeties - Darrell Brooks and Clay Hardt - who are among the conferences' top 15 in tackles, averaging 8.0 and 6.6 per game, respectively. Linebacker Matt Molina also rates among the Pac-10 leaders in sacks (4.0) and tackles for lost (7.5).
Jeff Tedford, California (Fresno State '83), who directed Cal to its first winning football season (7-5) in nine years and the nation's biggest one-year turnaround in the regular season in 2002, owns a 10-10 mark in his second season as head coach of the Golden Bears. 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 last year. A vote of his fellow conference coaches awarded him the 2002 Pac-10 Coach of the Year award. Tedford arrived at Cal after four highly successful seasons at Oregon, where he served as offensive coordinator and helped the Ducks to a combined 38-10 record, including an 11-1 mark in 2001 when Oregon won the Pac-10 championship and earned a No. 2 national ranking. Tedford 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. 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.
Mike Hankwitz, Arizona (Michigan '70) took over the Arizona program on Sept. 28, replacing John Mackovic. A coaching veteran with more than 30 years of collegiate experience, Hankwitz had been serving as UA's defensive coordinator. Prior to making the move to Tucson last spring, he was defensive coordinator at Texas A&M for six years. Hankwitz also served as defensive coordinator at Kansas from 1995-96 and at Colorado from 1988-94. Other coaching stops have included Michigan, Arizona, Western Michigan and Purdue. As both a player and coach, Hankwitz has been part of 19 bowl teams, including Colorado's 1990 national championship club. His pupils have won a Lombardi Award (Dat Nguyen, Texas A&M), two Jim Thorpe Awards (Deon Figures, Colorado & Chris Hudson, Colorado) and a Butkus Award (Alfred Williams, Colorado).
The first 10,000 fans will receive free True Blue key chain and coupon, courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Before the game, Cal field hockey team hosts Southwest Missouri State at 11 a.m. on Maxwell Family Field adjacent to Memorial Stadium, and the "March to Victory" will begin at 10:15 a.m. from the north stadium tunnel. There will be no FunZone festivities held this week, but FunZone will return to Maxwell Family Field for the final home game against Washington on Nov. 15.
IKON Office Solutions Play of the Week
Each week throughout the 2003 football season, IKON Office Solutions salutes the Golden Bear Play of the Week. WR Burl Toler caught a 35-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-10 play with just 11 seconds left in the UCLA game. The ensuing two-point conversion tied the score and sent the game into overtime.
The Times Player of the Game
Each week throughout the 2003 football season, the Contra Costa Times will recognize the Cal Player of the Game. In the UCLA contest, senior DE Monte Parson had four tackles, including three for loss (-29 yards) and two sacks (-28 yards). He also forced a fumble and batted down two pass attempts.
Led by Monte Parson, Cal's Defensive Line Bags 5 Sacks at UCLA; Bear Defense Allows 2 TDs, 228 Total Yards at Rose Bowl
Unleashing perhaps their best defensive effort of the season, the Golden Bears muzzled UCLA's offense to only two touchdowns, 16 first downs and 228 total yards in last Saturday's ulcerating 23-20 overtime loss to the Pac-10 co-leading Bruins. Triggered by a swarming line that battered UCLA quarterback Drew Olson for six sacks, Cal held UCLA to only six first downs, three rushing yards and 69 total yards in the first half, a period in which the Bears owned a commanding edge in time of possession (20:27 to 9:33). Spearheading Cal's defensive surge was senior end Monte Parson, who swooped inside for two sacks, three tackles for losses of 29 yards, two blocked passes and one forced fumble-clearly the finest game of his collegiate career. Fellow ends Ryan Riddle and Tosh Lupoi, and tackle Tom Sverchek also contributed one sack each, as the Bears' defensive line accounted for five of the team's six sacks. Cal, which has corralled opposing quarterbacks for 22 sacks thus far this season, had exceeded that six sack total only once in 2003 when it bagged seven in the 34-2 win over Southern Miss in Week Two.
Echemandu Averages 111.7 Rushing Yards in Past 3 Games as Pacific-10's 2nd Leading Ground Gainer With 680 Yards
Senior tailback Adimchinobe Echemandu has been perseverance personified, having overcome back-to-back missed seasons due to personal reasons to finally emerge as one of the Pac-10's premier rushers. Averaging an eye-bulging 5.1 yards per carry this year, Echemnadu has rushed for 680 yards and five touchdowns on 134 carries through eight games. His 85.0 yards-per-game average ranks second in the Pac-10 behind Oregon State's Steven Jackson, who's out of sight at 132.29 ypg. Despite being limited to his second lowest yard total of the season with 42 yards on 15 carries at UCLA, the 225-pound senior has averaged 111.7 rushing yards per game over his last three apperances. Prior to the UCLA game, Echemandu had reeled off career highs of 147 yards (34 carries) vs. USC and 146 yards (19) vs. Oregon State in consecutive games, arguably two of the nation's top defenses. During the season, Echemandu has enjoyed some other noteworthy milestones. His 60-yard touchdown jaunt against Southern Miss was the longest run from scrimmage by a Cal back since the year 2000 (Joe Igber, 80 yards at Arizona State). And his 147-yard outburst against USC marked the first time an opposing running back had rushed for 100 yards in a game against the Trojans in 17 contests. While projections can be faulty at best, it's interesting to note that Echemandu's current rushing rate would compute out to 1,105 yards for a 13-game season. That figure would rank fourth behind Chuck Muncie (1,460), Russell White (1,117) and Joe Igber (1,130) on Cal's single season list.
5 of Golden Bears' Last 6 Games Decided in Final 2 Minutes
Cal's Cardiac Kids may be only 3-5 this season, but virtually every one of their games has been great theater. Five of the Bears' last six games have been decided in the final two minutes of the game, with California prevailing in two of the last three nail-biters in victories at Illinois Sept. 20 (31-24) and vs. USC Sept. 27 (34-31, 3 OT) preceeding Saturday's OT loss at UCLA. The Bears, who roared to a 21-7 hafltime lead over the No. 3 ranked Trojans, finally had their hand raised in victory on a 38-yard Tyler Fredrickson field goal in the third overtime. The previous week in Champaign, Ill., Cal staved off a furious Illinois rally that saw a 31-14 lead dissipate to 31-24 before Bear linebacker Wendell Hunter sacked Illini quarterback Jon Beutjer on the game's final play to seal a Cal victory. Those two last-minute wins came on the heels of two straight losses in which Cal roared back from two-touchdown deficits in the third quarter to claim short-lived leads over both Colorado State Sept. 6 and Utah Sept. 11, only to lose both games by slim margins. The Golden Bears, trailing 20-7 in the fourth quarter against visiting Colorado State, stormed back with two Reggie Robertson-to-Geoff McArthur touchdown strikes of six and 17 yards in the span of five-and-a-half minutes to give Cal a 21-20 lead with 6:34 left in the game. But the Rams, fueled by the brilliant passing and running of 2002 MWC Offensive Player of the Year Bradlee Van Pelt (317 yards passing/60 rushing), rallied in the final two minutes to set up a game-winning 32-yard field goal by placekicker Jeff Babcock. Then in Salt Lake City Sept. 11, the Bears wiped out a 21-7 Utah cushion by scoring 17 unanswered points in the third period. But the Utes regrouped to ring up 10 straight points in the fourth quarter, including a 14-yard winning TD run by Brandon Warfield with only 1:06 left on the clock. For California head coach Jeff Tedford, who now owns a 10-10 overall record since arriving in Berkeley last season, his Bears have endured five losses by seven points or less in his brief Cal career (including three by two-point margins-a 30-28 tear-jerker at USC last year and a pair of 23-21 decisions to visiting Air Force in 2002 and Colorado State this year-plus Saturday's three-point setback at UCLA). In fact, Tedford's 10 defeats at Cal over the past two years have been decided by an average of 7.5 points.
McArthur Hits Century Yardage Mark for 4th Time This Season, Ranks 3rd Nationally With 823 Receiving Yards
Emerging as one of the nation's leading receivers this year, junior wide receiver Geoff McArthur pierced the 100-yard receiving mark for the fourth time in 2003 with his sterling nine-catch, 128 yard performance at the Rose Bowl Saturday. He ranks third among all NCAA Division I-A players in total receiving yards (823) through eight games. McArthur, who had been limited to only six grabs for 70 yards in his previous two games vs. USC and Oregon State before Saturday's eruption, leads all Bear receivers in receptions (50), yards (823) and touchdowns (six). Those numbers translate into some gaudy averages of 6.25 receptions (4th Pac-10, 21st NCAA), 102.9 yards (3rd Pac-10, 9th NCAA) and 16.5 yards per catch. After snaring a career-high 10 passes for 155 yards and one TD in Game 5 on Sept. 20 at Illinois-the most catches by a Cal receiver since Dameane Douglas snared 13 vs. Stanford in 1998-McArthur was harnessed to 57 yards on five catches Sept. 27 by the Trojans, and was shut out by Oregon State until making his only catch (13 yards) with 14:10 left in the fourth quarter Oct. 4. McArthur has caught eight passes or more four times this season, tracking down eight for a career-high 169 yards at Kansas State (including a career-best 65-yard TD grab), eight for 130 and two TDs at Utah, his 10-for-155 effort in Illinois, and last week's nine for 128 at UCLA. His 169-yard performance at K-State was the most receiving yards by a Cal player in six years (Bobby Shaw, 11 rec. for 204 yards at Houston, 1997). Interestingly, McArthur was well on his way to a big year in 2002, averaging 6.0 catches and 60 yards per game over his first five contests, but a hamstring injury limited him to one start and six receptions in the final seven games of the season.
Only a Junior, McArthur Moving Up Cal's Career Receiving Charts
Still with one-and-a-half seasons left in his Cal career, junior wide receiver Geoff McArthur is swiftly climbing the school's all-time lists in receiving. He currently stands tied at No. 9 in career receiving yards (1,645) and No. 13 in career receptions (110).
More McArthur: California Star on Pace to Shatter School's Single Season Record for Receiving Yards
Besides his ascent on Cal's career receiving lists, McArthur is also hot on the trail of the school's single season record for receiving yards. His 102.9 yards-per-game average, if he continues to stay on pace, would project to 1,337 yards through a 13-game season.
Rodgers Dissects UCLA for Career-High 28 Completions and 322 Yards, as Cal's Passing Game Rebounds From Beaver Debacle
Cal's sophomore quarterback Aaron Rodgers, starting only the fourth game of his collegiate career, rebounded impressively from his worst day as a Bear against Oregon State to produce perhaps the best statistical game of his brief career at UCLA Saturday. Rodgers and his teammates had no answers for the Beavers' stifling pass defense, which held the Bear QB to 52 yards and a paltry .265 (9-of-34) completion percentage on Oct. 4. It was the lowest passing yardage achieved by a Cal team in 17 years, not since Brian Bedford completed only 4-of-16 passes for 32 yards in a 21-15 non-conference loss to Boston College in 1986. But following a bye week, Rodgers responded by setting career-highs in both completions (28) and passing yards (322) in the UCLA game, connecting on 28-of-41 attempts, with no interceptions and one touchdown-a dramatic 35-yard scoring strike to Burl Toler on a fourth-and-10 that tied the game with 11 seconds left, sending the contest into overtime. Rodgers, who has already gained national kudos for his early-season showings for Tedford's club, has particularly shined in first halves of late. In the UCLA tilt, he threaded 15 of 19 for 150 yards (0 TDs and INTs) in the first half. In the USC game, he battled through multiple injuries (ankle, finger and ribs) to complete 17-of-21 attempts for 203 yards and two touchdowns by intermission, setting the stage for Cal's upset win. And in the Illinois win Sept. 20, Rodgers clicked on 17-of-28 passes for 236 yards in the opening 30 minutes. And providing the Bears with one of the nation's best backup QBs is Reggie Robertson, who started the first four games of 2003 and currently ranks second in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency (154.69). He subbed for the wobbly Rodgers in the USC tilt and proceeded to thread nine of 12 attempts for 109 yards and one TD in the final 22 minutes of regulation and the three overtimes. Despite losing Kyle Boller to the pros (first round, Baltimore Ravens), the Cal passing game under Tedford has thrived, now ranking seventh in the Pac-10 at 249.0 aerial yards per contest. Rodgers, a third team JC All-American last year, has overcome the Oregon State nightmare to post a .564 completion percentage (101-of-179), totalling 1,214 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions to date. All of his three interceptions have been thrown in his last 81 attempts, after opening his Cal career interception-free in his first 98 passes. Robertson, meanwhile, has connected on 62.9 percent (61-of-97) of his attempts for 778 yards, nine TDs and three interceptions.
With QB Boller & RB Igber Gone, Cal Offense Still Produces
A year ago, the school's No. 2 all-time passer Kyle Boller and No. 2 career rusher Joe Igber spearheaded Cal's first winning season (7-5) in nine years. While Boller-selected 19th overall (Baltimore Ravens) in the 2003 NFL Draft's first round-and Igber have departed to the pros this fall, Cal has actually experienced a slight increase in total offensive yardage this year.
Cal's Leader in Tackles, Sacks & Tackles for Loss, McCleskey A Bona Fide All-Pac-10 Choice As One of Nation's Top DBs
Cal's Donnie McCleskey has been nothing short of sensational as the sophomore leader of the Bears' defense. McCleskey, the Golden Bears' second-year starter at rover, has posted 71 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 11.0 tackles for losses of 46 yards-all team-leading figures-while emerging as one of the Pac-10's finest players. A former Los Angeles Times San Gabriel Valley Player of the Year who rushed for 2,236 yards and 29 TDs as a senior at Bishop Amat High School last fall, McCleskey has already set the school record for most sacks by a defensive back in a season (eclipsing the three sacks set by CB Nnamdi Asomugha (the Raiders' first-round pick this year) in 2000. McCleskey leads all defensive backs in the most recent NCAA Division I-A statistics with his 5.5 sacks, and ranks 20th overall nationally in sacks (no other DB is even listed in the Top 50). Overall in the Pac-10, McCleskey's 8.9 tackles-per-game, 0.69 sacks per game and 1.38 tackles per loss per contest all rank fourth (no other DB appears in the Top 5 in any of those categories). He reached double figures in tackles for the fourth time this season in the UCLA game, making 10 stops against the Bruins.
Yo Vinny! Cal's Strang Ranks 2nd in Pac-10 Punt Returns
While he only weighs 150 pounds--up from a playing weight of 137 pounds last season--senior Vince Strang plays much bigger. The senior wide receiver/punt returner has scored three touchdowns this season in part-time work. First filling in for the injured Mixon Sept. 20 at Illinois, Strang returned five punts for 107 yards, including an electrifying, change-of-field 69-yard TD scamper with only 23 seconds left before halftime. Thus far this year, Strang has also caught 14 passes for 171 yards and two TDs in reserve. And his 12.8 yards per punt return (13 for 167 yards) ranks second in the Pac-10 and 24th in the NCAA.
Toler & Strang Pick Up Slack for Injured WR Makonnen
Junior Burl Toler III and Strang, both of whom entered Cal as walk-on wide receivers, have performed surprisingly well in picking up the slack left by the oft-injured Makonnen, who played in only three games before undergoing season-ending surgery. Toler (28-386, 2 TDs) and Strang (14-171 2 TDs) have shouldered the load, combining for 42 receptions, 557 yards and four scores in ranking second and fourth (tied), respectively, in catches on the team. Toler hunted down four passes for 81 yards (all in the first half) vs. USC and cracked the century mark for the first time in his career with seven catches for 104 yards at UCLA. He is the son of ex-Cal linebacker great Burl Toler Jr. (another Cal walk-on, now a Bay Area architect) and grandson of former USF football legend and long-time NFL game official Burl Toler Sr.
Starters Jonathan Makonnen (Foot), Tim Mixon (Knee) Sidelined With Season-Ending Injuries That Required Surgery
Cal's fortunes took a downward turn in recent weeks when wide receiver Jonathan Makonnen (stress fracture of left foot) and cornerback Tim Mixon (torn ACL in left knee) suffered season-ending injuries. Both have undergone successful surgeries, but their presence is missed. Makonnen, the Bears' leading receiver as a junior in 2002 with 54 catches for 682 yards and seven TDs, was limited to 14 receptions, 209 yards and one TD in three games played this fall. Mixon, who was beginning to resemble last year's Cal freshman of the year, Donnie McCleskey, before the injury was sustained at Utah (Sept. 11), had bagged 14 tackles and one sack, and had broken up a team-high five passes in his first three games this year as a redshirt freshman.
All-Pacific-10 Conference Candidate Mark Wilson Anchors California's Veteran Offensive Line at Left Tackle
With 43 starts to his credit entering the UCLA game, senior offensive tackle Mark Wilson ranks first among all Pac-10 offensive linemen and third nationally for most career starts. Wilson, voted All-Pac-10 honorable mention last year, is the quiet leader of a veteran offensive line that is one of the strengths of the 2003 California Bears. Thus far, Wilson and his fellow starting interior linemen-tackle Chris Murphy, center Nolan Bluntzer, and guards Jonathan Giesel, Ryan O'Callaghan and Aaron Merz-have opened up holes for 1,000 rushing yards and have protected quarterbacks Rodgers and Robertson for 1,992 passing yards. While admittingly facing some of the nation's best defensive clubs thus far, the Cal O-Line has yielded 20 sacks in the first eight games. However, they have allowed only 10 sacks over their last five games vs. Utah (one), Illinois (two), USC (two), Oregon State (none) and UCLA (five). Giesel, nursing an ankle injury, hopes to return to the starting lineupSaturday after missing the last two games vs. Oregon State and UCLA. Merz has started in his place in those games.
A Win for the Ages: Cal Shocks USC in Pac-10's Biggest Upset This Year, As Bears Win 1st Game over No. 3 Team Since 1951
When Cal scored a 34-31 triple overtime win over nationally No. 3 ranked USC in its Pac-10 opener Sept. 27-severing the nation's second-longest current winning streak (11 games)-it was truly a victory for the ages. Not since 1975-when Joe Roth and Chuck Muncie led the eventual Co-Pacific-8 champion Bears to a 28-14 triumph over then No. 4 ranked Southern Cal-had Cal posted a win over a Top 5 opponent. And it had been 52 years since California had beaten a No. 3 ranked foe (Stanford in the 1951 Big Game, 20-7). In its history, Cal has only beaten a Top 10 team seven times and a Top 5 school on only three occasions.
Fredrickson, 1st Starting Punter-Kicker at Cal Since Longwell, Has Experienced Highs & Lows of College Football in '03
When senior Tyler Fredrickson replaced JC transfer Lucas Everett at punter in the second quarter of the Southern Miss game Aug. 30, it marked the first time in seven years that a Cal player as done double duty as the No. 1 punter and placekicker. From 1994-96, Ryan Longwell handled both chores and still ranks in the school's Top 10 in both punting (5th, 41.9 avg.) and kick scoring (9th, 177 points). Longwell, now the long-time NFL kicker with Green Bay, was brilliant as a Cal senior in '96 with a 45.2-yard punting average and 70 points, including 11-of-16 in field goal attempts. Fredrickson, a film major who has already held summer jobs at George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch and Dreamworks Studio, averaged 39.5 yards per punt last year, including seven punts of 50 yards or better and 19 boots that landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Thus far in 2003, Fredrickson has experienced the true highs and lows of college football. He averages 38.4 yards per punt (last in the Pac-10) while connecting on 23-of-23 PATs and eight-of-18 field goal attempts. He played key roles in Cal's last two wins, converting his only field goal try at Illinois-a 32-yarder that lifted Cal into a 31-14 fourth-quarter lead-and a 38-yard FG that sealed Cal's 34-31 triple-overtime victory against No. 3 USC. A footnote to Fredrickson's season: seven of his 10 field goal misses this year have been by the narrowest of margins, with three hitting the goal post upright, four that were blocked, and two that just pulled wide from distances of 54 and 51 yards.
Incoming JC Talent Beginning to Make Impact on '03 Bears
As the need has dictated, Cal's incoming junior college transfers have made a strong impact on the 2003 Golden Bears. No less than eight new JC players have claimed starting jobs or significant playing time. On defense, linebacker Francis Blay-Miezah-who clutched his first sack of the year vs. Oregon State-has started seven games and safety Matt Giordano has four starts. Also, hard-charging end Ryan Riddle has made three starts and leads all linemen with four sacks this season. Another linebacker, Joe Maningo, who transferred from nearby Foothill College, has impressed with his hyperactive play. He missed four games with a knee injury, but drew his first career start at UCLA Saturday, and has contributed nine tackles and two tackles for loss in his four game appearances. And a fifth JC defender, Ray Tago, who joined the team late, has seen action in five games. Giordano (37) and Blay-Miezah (30) currently rank fourth and fifth, respectively, on Cal's tackle list. On offense, three JC transfers are already key contributors-QB Aaron Rodgers and TE Garrett Cross (who equalled the most receptions by a Cal tight end in eight years with seven for 41 yards and one TD vs. USC) and TB J.J. Arrington (191 yards, 3 TDs, 45 carries).
With Only 2 Starters Back from 2002, Inexperience of Cal Defense Spells Up-and-Down Year for Pac-10's 9th Ranked Unit
Still a work in progress, California's defense continues to show signs of both growth and inexperience. Featuring nine new starters from last year's unit, the Golden Bears have weathered a choppy season that has seen it allow 398.6 yards (9th, Pac-10) and 26.4 points (8th Pac-10) per outing. However, the Bears' "D" has performed relatively well in five games this year. They spun a defensive shutout (34-2) against Southern Miss in its Aug. 30 home opener, and held Colorado State and Illinois-both potentially explosive clubs-to 23 and 24 points, respectively. And against the Los Angeles schools, Cal limited USC to 24 points in regulation, some 15 points below their league-leading 39.7 ppg average entering the game, and held UCLA to 228 total yards and 23 points.
Cal Victimized by 20 Plays of 30 Yards or More in 1st 8 Games
As Cal's young players continue to gain experience, the Bears have been susceptible to giving up the big play in 2003. Through their first eight games, the Bears have allowed opponents to uncork 20 plays of 30 yards or longer. However, seven of those 20 plays came in Cal's very first game against Kansas State, while three occurred each of their last two contests vs. Oregon State and UCLA. Eight of the opponents' big plays this season have measured 50-plus yards or more. On the other side, Cal sprung loose two plays of 50 yards against Oregon State Oct. 4, with freshman CB Daymeion Hughes returning an interception 72 yards for a touchdown and senior CB James Bethea returning a kickoff 53 yards against the Beavers. And Rodgers connected on two pass plays of 30 yards or more in Cal's last game at UCLA, with a 39-yarder to Geoff McArthur and 35-yard TD strike to Burl Toler.
Tedford Continues QB Tradition at Cal
Since the days of All-American John Meek, who led Cal to an unbeaten season and Rose Bowl title in 1937, the Golden Bears have been a cradle for college quarterbacks. Twelve years later in 1949, Bob Celeri also earned All-American honors after guiding the Bears to a 10-1 mark and Rose Bowl appearance. In the past four decades, Cal has produced an extraordinary list of polished passers. They include such legends as Joe Kapp (1956-58), Craig Morton (1962-64), Steve Bartkowksi (1972-74), Pat Barnes (1993-96), Joe Roth (1975-76), Rich Campbell (1977-80), Gale Gilbert (1980-84), Troy Taylor (1986-89), Mike Pawlawski (1988-91) and Pat Barnes (1993-96). Perhaps, the best is yet to come in Berkeley, thanks to the arrival of head coach Jeff Tedford last year. Tedford, himself a former All-American honorable mention QB at Fresno State, has recruited and/or developed five quarterbacks who have become high first-round draft choices in the NFL. As offensive coordinator at Fresno State, he worked his magic with Trent Dilfer (No. 6 pick by Tampa Bay, 1994) and David Carr (No. 1 by Houston, 2002). As offensive coordinator at Oregon, he transformed Akili Smith (No. 3 by Cincinnati, 1999) and Joey Harrington (No. 3 by Detroit, 2002) into college superstars. And last year at Cal, he inherited senior Kyle Boller, who after three previous seasons of frustration, blossomed into perhaps the nation's most improved quarterback. Boller, who later would become a first-round draft choice of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, finished his Cal career ranked first in TD passes (64) and second all-time in passing yards (7,980) in school history.
Bears Enjoy One of Their Finest Recruiting Years Ever
Tedford and his Cal coaching staff enjoyed one of the finest recruiting years in school history. The Bears signed 28 players in February, including 11 who received All-American accolades. Virtually every recruiting publication and web site ranked Cal's incoming class among the nation's Top 20. In Rival.com's ranking of the state's Top 100 prep players, the Bears landed 14 from the list (only USC had more among NCAA schools). Cal also boasted six of the country's Top 125 junior college players, according to PrepStar magazine. The recruits came right on time for Cal, which tied for the fewest returning starters (nine) among NCAA Division 1-A schools this year.
Arizona's Hankwitz Among 5 New Head Coaches Cal Faces in '03
Cal faces five opponents with new head coaches on its 2003 schedule, with Arizona's Mike Hankwitz representing the second first-year coach in as many games to lead his troops against the Bears. Thus far, Cal has faced three new coaches, with all three prevailing over Tedford's Bears. UCLA's Karl Dorrell won, 23-20, in overtime last week, while the Bears lost to a Utah team that featured newly-hired coach Urban Meyer, 31-24, in Salt Lake City Sept. 11, and dropped a 35-21 verdict to a Mike Riley-led Oregon State in Berkeley, Oct. 4. Following the Wildcat tilt this weekend, the Golden Bears will square off against one final new head coach-Nov. 15 against Washington and former Cal head man Keith Gilbertson.
Arizona's Offense, 9th in Pac-10, Awakens for 519 Yards vs. UCLA
While Arizona ranks last in the Pac-10 in scoring (15.7 ppg) and second-to-last in total offense (286.9 ypg), the Wildcats awoke from their early season slumber to post big numbers against UCLA Oct. 11. Arizona set season highs in both rushing yards (276) and total offense (519). However, the Bruins in the second half shut out the Cats' offense, as UCLA scored 14 unanswered points after intermission to overhaul them, 24-21, sending Arizona to its sixth straight loss this season.
Despite Ward's 234 All-Purpose Yards, Cal Buried by Arizona's 52-Point Avalanche Last Year in Upset Loss at Memorial Stadium
Arizona arrived in Berkeley last year, averaging only 15.5 points per game and sporting a 3-7 record. But facing a 6-4 Cal team, the Wildcats erupted for an improbable 52-41 victory over the favored Golden Bears. The combined 93 points rank No. 5 on the Cal all-time list, while Arizona's 52 points were the most scored by the Wildcats and allowed by the Bears last year. Arizona was limited to minus-five yards rushing in the game, but Wildcat QB Jason Johnson passed for 492 yards. The loss overshadowed a brilliant individual performance by Cal senior LaShaun Ward, who ripped off 234 all-purpose yards during the afternoon. Ward gained three yards rushing, 80 yards receiving and 151 yards on kickoff returns, including an electrifying 94-yard return that ranks seventh-longest in school history and was the first KO return for a touchdown by a Golden Bear since Deltha O'Neal returned a kick 100 yards in the 1999 Big Game vs. Stanford.
Many Happy Returns: '02 Cal-Ariz Game Featured 4 TD Returns
Last year's Cal-Arizona game was even wilder than the final score indicated. The contest featured four touchdowns scored on returns, two by both teams. Arizona tallied its touchdowns on Ray Wells' 42-yard interception return and Lamon Means' 27-yard blocked punt return. Cal scored its two TDs on LaShaun Ward's 94-yard kickoff return and James Bethea's 60-yard missed field goal return.
Twelve of Last 14 Cal-Arizona Games Decided by 7 Points or Less
When Cal and Arizona meet on the gridiron, it's almost a sure bet that the game's outcome will come down to the final minutes. Twelve of the last 14 meetings between the schools have been decided by seven points or less, including overtime games in 1996 and '97, and a 23-23 tie in 1987. The only exception has been the last two years at Cal's Memorial Stadium, where the Wildcats have ambushed the Bears twice, winning 38-24 in 2001 and 52-41 last fall. The '96 contest remains the longest in Cal history, won by the Bears, 56-55,in four overtimes at Berkeley, thanks to a remarkable 503-yard, eight-touchdown display by quarterback Pat Barnes. In '97, Arizona prevailed in a 41-38, triple-overtime thriller in Tucson. Arizona has posted a 7-6-1 record in those past 14 games.
Tucson Products Gould, Robertson Headline Bears With AZ Ties
California running backs coach Ron Gould and junior backup quarterback Reggie Robertson grew up in the shadow of the University of Arizona campus. Gould was born in Tucson and prepped at Santa Rita High School before becoming a standout defensive back at Scottsdale Community College in 1984-85. Robertson, a Nashville, Tenn. Native, also spent his childhood in Tucson, where he enjoyed a record-setting career at Saguaro High School. During his prep tenure, he passed for 7,106 yards in his career-second best in state history-and established the city's single-season passing record as a senior with 2,933 yards. Robertson, who started the Bears' first four games this year, has performed extremely well at QB this fall. Still ranked second in the Pac-10 for passing efficiency (154.7), he enjoyed first-rate games against Kansas State (16-of-29, 257 yds.) and Colorado State (23-of-35, 248 yards), throwing for three touchdowns in both contests. Yet, perhaps his finest hour as a Golden Bear came in relief against nationally No. 3 ranked USC, when he was summoned in the second half to replace a banged-up Aaron Rodgers, and promptly connected on nine of 12 attempts for 109 yards and one TD in sealing a 34-31 Cal win in triple overtime on Oct. 4. Besides Gould and Robertson, Cal features one other product from the state of Arizona-second-string offensive tackle Derek Joyce, who grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz. and was all-state at Paradise Valley High School.
Don't Mess With Texas? Arizona Features 27 Players from Lone Star State
Whether it's the close proximity or former head coach John Mackovic's previous head coaching stint at the University of Texas, the Arizona Wildcats clearly have targeted the Lone Star State as fertile recruiting ground. According to the U of A's media guide, no less than 27 Wildcat players hail from the state of Texas, including seven from the city of Houston. Among the noteworthy Texans are starting quarterback Kris Heavner, who attended Lyndon B. Johnson High School in Johnson City, and regular wide receivers Lance Relford (Houston's Booker T. Washington HS) and Biren Ealy (Houston's Cypress Falls HS).
Cal did not commit a turnover at UCLA Saturday. The last time the Bears were TO free also came against the Bruins in the 17-12 Cal victory at Berkeley in 2002...McArthur (128) and Toler (104) became the first Bear tandem to both gain 100 yards receiving in the same game this year...Rodgers' 28 completions in L.A. were the most by a Cal quarterback since Kyle Boller completed a career-high 29 against Washington State last year...While the Bears' kickoff coverage ranks tied for seventh in the Pac-10, allowing 20.2 yards per return, and the team's net punting ranks seventh in the conference at 36.3, there have been a couple of bright spots on special teams. James Bethea is the Pac-10's third-leading kickoff returner at 21.6, while Cal as a team (13.5), and Strang individually (12.8), lead the conference in punt return average...Cal head man Jeff Tedford has been associated with teams that have carved out a 31-13 record since the start of the 2000 season, as Oregon reeled off 11-1 and 10-2 marks in 2000 and '01 with Tedford serving as offensive coordinator, while Cal posted a 7-5 record in '02 and are 3-5 this year...The Bears' opponent has scored first in eight of the last nine games, dating back to the 2002 season finale vs. Stanford. Cal is 4-5 in those eight tilts...Cal's 20 points at UCLA were a season low for the Bears, as was their three-point first half. The Bears have now tallied 20 at UCLA and 21 against Oregon State in their last two games, marking only the sixth and seventh time in 20 games under Tedford that the Bears have scored fewer than 28 points; prior to Tedford taking over the program last year, the Bears had reached the 28-point plateau only 10 times in their previous 48 contests...With Adimchinobe Echemandu (twice, Aug. 30 vs. Southern Miss and Sept. 27 vs. USC) and linebacker Wendell Hunter (Sept. 20 at Illinois) accounting for three Pac-10 Player of the Week awards in the early season, Cal ranks second only to Washington State's five selections in the conference this season. Last year, the Bears garnered six Pac-10 Player of the Week awards to rank second behind USC...This marks the Wildcats' third straight trip to Berkeley. Arizona has not played Cal in Tucson since 1997...Starting with this Saturday's game, Arizona needs to run the table with five straight wins to avoid its third straight losing season, something that has not occurred at the school since 1976-78...The Cats were 4-8 last year, their most losses in a season in 45 years-a mark that could be in jeopardy this in 2003...Arizona and Cal have played only one common opponent thus far this season, both losing to UCLA by reed-thin margins. The Wildcats blew a 21-10 halftime lead in dropping a 24-21 heartbreaker to the Bruins in Tucson Oct. 11, while the Golden Bears erased a 20-12 deficit late in the fourth quarter last Saturday, only to succumb, 23-20, in overtime at the Rose Bowl...Outscored 240-110 this season, Arizona currently ranks last in the Pac-10 in 12 of 30 published statistical categories, including such major areas as scoring offense (15.7) and defense (34.3), and total defense (446.7)...Noteworthy alumni of the University of Arizona include the late U.S. Congressman Morris KI. Udahll, Anheuser Busch CEO August Busch III and Emmy Award-winning actor/comedian Garry Shandling.