Sept. 5, 2004
Game No. 2 New Mexico State Aggies (0-1) at California Golden Bears (1-0) Date Saturday, Sept. 11, Memorial Stadium (67,537 - Momentum Turf), Berkeley, CA Kickoff 3:30 p.m. PT Radio KGO Radio (810 AM) with Joe Starkey, Ben Lynch, Roxy Bernstein and Lee Grosscup Television KRON (Channel 4) with Greg Papa and Mike Pawlawski Attendance (est.) 50,000
This Week's Game
After rolling to a 56-14 victory at Air Force in its season opener last weekend, California (No. 13 Associated Press; No. 14 ESPN/USA Today) comes home to host New Mexico State Saturday at 3:30 p.m. - the Bears' lone contest in Memorial Stadium until Oct. 16.
Cal defeated the Aggies, 34-13, in 2002 in the only previous meeting between the schools, and the two teams will conclude their existing three-game series when Cal visits Las Cruces on Sept. 24 next fall.
At Air Force, the Bears excelled in virtually all aspects of their game, piling up 573 yards of total offense and limiting the Falcons to just 56 yards and five first downs in the second half.
Cal reached the end zone on each of its first three drives, and the Bears scored on eight of their first 11 possessions.
Junior QB Aaron Rodgers had a solid start to the year, going 11-for-16 for 208 yards through the air, including a 78-yard touchdown toss to senior WR Chase Lyman that widened Cal's lead to 35-14 late in the third quarter.
But Cal's ability to run the ball proved most impressive. With senior J.J. Arrington assuming starting duties from 2003 first team All-Pac-10 TB Adimchinobe Echemandu (now with the NFL's Cleveland Browns), the Bears rushed for 342 yards on 44 carries - or 7.8 yards every time they handled the ball. Arrington scooted for 181 yards on only 16 attempts, including an 89-yard burst that set up Cal's third TD of the first half. Freshman Marshawn Lynch added 92 yards on seven carries, while freshman Justin Forsett had 34 yards and junior Terrell Williams 30 yards.
Defensively, three Bears - LB Sid Slater (14 tackles), SAF Ryan Gutierrez (13) and SAF Matt Giordano (11) - all had more than 10 stops each. Giordano also had an interception to stop a second-quarter Air Force drive deep in Cal territory, while Gutierrez recovered a fumble to set up the Bears' final touchdown of the day.
Cal-New Mexico State Series
The Bears won the lone meeting between the two schools, defeating the Aggies, 34-13, on Sept. 7, 2002 at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. Cal led 17-3 after first-quarter touchdown passes by QB Kyle Boller and a 22-yard field goal from Mark Jensen. In the second half, touchdowns runs from TB Joe Igber and Boller, and another field goal by Jensen, helped the Bears improve to 2-0 in Jeff Tedford's first season as head coach.
A Quick Look at New Mexico State
New Mexico State opened its season last Saturday with a 63-13 loss at Arkansas. The Aggies spotted the Razorbacks a 35-0 lead before getting on the board with a 29-yard touchdown pass from QB Buck Pierce to Paul Dombrowski with 17 seconds left in the second quarter. Pierce finished the game 17-of-23 for 161 yards and two touchdowns, completing passes to 10 different receivers. He enters the Cal game with a streak of 39 passes without an interception and has thrown just seven picks in 337 career attempts. On the ground, NMSU accumulated just 55 net yards vs. Arkansas - far under the 211.8 ypg the Aggies averaged last season when they ranked 15th nationally in rushing offense. Eight true freshmen saw action for NMSU in the opener, while eight players earned their first career starts in the contest.
Saturday is Penny Day, with general admission tickets in the BlueZone only one cent for youth (17 and younger) with the purchase of an adult general admission ticket. Team posters will be distributed to fans as they exit the stadium. In addition, Olympic double-gold medalist Natalie Coughlin, as well as Cal head women's swimming coach - and U.S. Olympic assistant coach - Terri McKeever will be recognized on the field during the game.
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. At Air Force, Aaron Rodgers connected with Chase Lyman on a 78-yard touchdown pass near the end of the third quarter to give the Bears a 35-14 lead.
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. At Air Force, senior TB J.J. Arrington rushed for 181 yards on 16 carries, scoring three touchdowns. He also had an 89-yard run - the eighth-longest scamper in school history.
A Grand Opening: Bears Roll to 573 Yards and 7 Rushing TDs in Biggest Road Win in 11 Years With 56-14 Conquest of Air Force
At halftime, the Golden Bears were nursing a 21-14 lead and were still somewhat befuddled by Air Force's unconventional triple-option offense. But it was all California after intermission, as Jeff Tedford's club held that troublesome Falcon offense to a paltry 56 yards in outscoring the home eleven, 35-0, in the final half. The 42-point margin was the biggest road triumph by a Cal team since a 58-0 shellacking of Temple in 1993. Triggered by J.J. Arrington's three scores, the Bears rushed for 348 yards and seven touchdowns in Colorado Springs. The seven rushing TDs were the most by a Cal offense in 19 years (7 vs. San Jose State, 1985) and only one shy of the school's all-time record (8 vs. Montana, 1947).
Arrington Bolts for 181 Yards in 1st 3 Quarters of '04 Opener, Including 89-Yard Run That Ranks 8th on Cal's All-Time List
Zooming to 181 yards and three touchdowns on only 16 carries in his three quarters of work, tailback J.J. Arrington served notice on Saturday that he'll be a force in the Pac-10 rushing race this fall. Only four yards shy of his career high for rushing yards (185 vs. Washington, 2003), the 5-11, 210-pound senior uncorked an 89-yard run in the second quarter. Tackled at the Air Force two-yard line, his length-of-the-field jaunt was the longest by a Golden Bear in eight years (90 yards, Tarik Smith vs. San Diego State, 1996) and the eighth longest in California history. What's more, in his last two starts at tailback, Arrington has averaged 12.2 yards per carry in gaining a robust 366 yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries, plus catching three passes for another 50 yards. Those starts occurred against Washington (54-7) last year and at Air Force (56-14) last week, games in which Cal outscored its opponents by a 110-21 count.
J.J. Enjoys 2nd Best Opening Day Rushing Stats in Cal Annals
Arrington's 181 yard effort also ranks as the second greatest Opening Day rushing peformance in Cal history. Only Tarik Smith rushed for more yards in a Cal opener. Smith shredded San Jose State's defense for 183 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries in 1996.
Dating Back to 2003, California Has Averaged 42.9 Points & 520.3 Yards in Winning 6 of its Last 7 Games
Picking up where it left off last season, California's rout of Air Force 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 extended its winning streak to four games and has now cashed in six victories in its last seven contests. During that stretch--a period in which they mowed down the likes of Virginia Tech (52-49), Washington (54-7), Arizona State (51-22) and now Air Force (56-14)--the Good News Bears have averaged 42.9 points and 520.3 yards.
California Has Won 7 of Last 8 Home Openers Dating Back to 1996
Home openers have been kind to Cal in recent years, with the Golden Bears winning seven of the last eight home season debuts dating back to 1996, and 10 of the past 13 lid-lifters at Memorial Stadium. The Bears christened the new Jeff Tedford Era with a 70-22 blowout victory over visiting Baylor in their 2002 home opener, as quarterback Kyle Boller passed for 213 yards and three touchdowns. Cal broke the school's all-time record for most points in a quarter with a 35-point explosion in the very first quarter of that game, with linebacker Matt Nixon's 100-yard TD interception return highlighting that first-period bonanza. And it was much of the same in last year's Berkeley christening, as Tedford's club methodically mowed down a highly-regarded Southern Mississippi team, 34-2. The Golden Bears thoroughly muzzled the Golden Eagles' offense, allowing only 277 yard and 16 first downs in registering Cal's first defensive shutout since 1999 (17-0 at UCLA). The Bears' defense held Southern Miss to 65 rushing yards and a 1.8 yards-per-carry average, while also corralling the Golden Eagles' QBs for seven sacks. Meanwhile, the Cal offense was buoyed by the electrifying running of Adimchinobe Echemandu (127 on 17 carries) and J.J. Arrington (114 on 16 carries), who became the first Bear tandem to rush for 100 yards in the same game since 1993. Cal rushed for 260 yards against Southern Miss in last year's opener, including 229 yards on 29 carries in the second half.
Cal Aims for 3rd Straight Winning Season for 1st Time Since '52
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 were to post a third straight winning campaign, it would mark 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).
All-American Geoff McArthur Needs 3 Yards Saturday
to Claim No. 2 Spot on California's Career Receiving Yards List
While other more high-profile wide receivers earned the lion's share of the national spotlight last year, Cal's Geoff McArthur just kept putting up the numbers. Or as Lindy's Sports wrote in its preseason edition: "McArthur was the most overlooked top-shelf wide receiver in the nation last season." McArthur, who led the nation in receiving yards (1,779 yards on 91 catches) while at Palisades High School, posted the finest all-around receiving statistics in the Pac-10 last year with 85 grabs for 1,504 yards and 10 TDs. His 1,504 yards were a school record, while his 85 catches were the second most in Cal annals. With Pitt's Larry Fitzgerald departing for the NFL, McArthur is the country's leading returning receiver in terms of yards-per-game average at 115.7 ypg. 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 romp 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 2 of the 2004 season, McArthur (146 for 2,333 yards) needs only 50 catches and 399 yards to become Cal's career leader in both categories. Currently No. 4 on the school's all-time receiving yardage list with 2,333, his next catch should vault him past Dameane Douglas and Brian Treggs (both at 2,335) into sole possession of second place on the Cal chart. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers rarely called his number in last weekend's season opener, as McArthur was limited to one catch for seven yards against Air Force. Here's how he stacks up with some of Cal's all-time greats:
Cal Career Reception List Player No. Yds. Avg. TD 1. Dameane Douglas (1995-98) 195 2335 12.0 13 2. Bobby Shaw (1994-97) 180 2731 15.2 27 3. Brian Treggs (1988-91) 167 2335 14.0 15 4. Na'il Benjamin (1993-96) 165 2196 13.3 13 5. Geoff McArthur (2000- ) 146 2333 15.9 13
Cal Career Receiving Yardage List Player No. Yds. Avg. TD 1. Bobby Shaw (1994-97) 180 2731 15.2 27 2. Dameane Douglas (1995-98) 195 2335 12.0 13 Brian Treggs (1988-91) 167 2335 14.0 15 4. Geoff McArthur (2000- ) 146 2333 15.9 13 5. Na'il Benjamin (1993-96) 165 2196 13.3 13
The Golden Bear with the Golden Arm: Junior Aaron Rodgers Looking to Fulfill Promise Shown Last Year
Ever since he first stepped on campus, Aaron Rodgers has had the look of someone special. Displaying an air of confidence, a remarkable aptitude for football and a golden arm compared favorably to the greatest quarterbacks in Cal history, Rodgers made a remarkable debut in Berkeley last year. Despite not starting until Week 5 of the season, the precocious sophomore riddled 2003 defenses for 2,903 yards and 19 touchdowns, completing 61.6 percent (215 of 349) of his passes and throwing a conference-low five interceptions. His 2,903 yards rank No. 2 on Cal's single season passing list, even eclipsing the heroics of his predecessor Kyle Boller, the Baltimore Ravens' No. 1 draft pick who passed for 2,815 yards for the Bears in 2002. And despite starting only 10 games last year, Rodgers also zoomed into second place among Cal single-season leaders in total offense with 3,113 yards. Here's the greatest single season yardage totals in Cal history for both passing and total offense:
Cal's Single Season Passing Yardage Leaders Player Year PA PC HI Pct Yds TD 1. Pat Barnes* 1996 420 250 8 59.5 3499 31 2. Aaron Rodgers 2003 314 188 5 59.9 2509 17 3. Kyle Boller 2002 421 225 10 53.4 2815 28 4. Gale Gilbert 1983 365 216 17 59.2 2769 13 5. Troy Taylor 1989 394 220 12 55.8 2738 16 6. Justin Vedder 1997 390 221 14 56.7 2718 20 7. Pat Barnes 1995 362 197 11 54.4 2685 17 8. Dave Barr* 1993 275 187 12 68.0 2619 21 9. Rich Campbell* 1979 322 216 12 67.1 2618 13 10. Steve Bartkowski 1974 325 182 7 57.0 2580 12 *does not include bowl games
Cal's Single Season Total Offense Leaders Player Year Plays Rush Pass Total 1. Pat Barnes* 1996 506 -83 3499 3416 2. Aaron Rodgers 2003 435 210 2903 3113 3. Troy Taylor 1989 481 46 2738 2784 4. Justin Vedder 1997 489 25 2718 2743 5. Kyle Boller 2002 493 -83 2815 2732 6. Troy Taylor 1988 455 136 2416 2552 7. Pat Barnes 1995 404 -160 2685 2525 8. Dave Barr* 1993 350 -98 2619 2521 9. Mike Pawlawski* 1991 353 -66 2517 2451 10. Gale Gilbert 1983 423 -332 2769 2437 *does not include bowl games
Cal QB Passing for 300.7 YPG Over Last 6 Games, Could Vault Russell White & Joe Roth into 12th on Career Total Offense List
With a workmanlike 11-for-16, 208-yard performance, Aaron Rodgers gave way to a ground explosion in Saturday's win in Colorado Springs. The junior signal-caller also accounted for two of the offense's eight touchdowns, scoring on a one-yard plunge in the second quarter and then launching a 78-yard TD pass to Chase Lyman in the third period. He engineered several lengthy touchdowns drives, including five that covered 91 yards, 80 yards three times and 75 yards. Dating back to last year, he owns an 8-3 career record as the Bears' starting quarterback and has averaged 300.7 passing yards with 13 TDs and only two interceptions in his last six games. His numbers are
11/8/03 at Oregon 10-14 71.4 87 0 0 11/15/03 Washington 14-22 63.6 257 3 0 11/22/03 at Stanford 14-23 60.9 170 0 1 12/26/03 Virginia Tech* 12-18 66.7 149 2 0 9/4/04 at Air Force 9-12 75.0 122 0 0 *Insight Bowl
Arrington Ignites Golden Bear Running Game That Aims
to Defend Pac-10 Rushing Title This Year
While Jeff Tedford has gained a gilded reputation as a quarterback guru - he's recruited and developed five QBs into eventual NFL first-round selections - there is much more to the Cal head coach than a passing fancy. A closer examination reveals that Tedford offenses have featured a balanced attack for many years. In fact, Tedford has been the architect behind offenses that have produced 1,000-yard rushers six times in the past six years at Cal and Oregon. He has featured 1,000-yard backs (Joe Igber in 2002 and Adimchinobe Echemandu in 2003) in his two seasons in Berkeley, and the next possible back to reach a grand very well may be senior J.J. Arrington. As Echemandu's backup in 2003, Arrington zipped off a Pac-10-leading 5.7 yards per carry average in gaining 607 yards on 107 carries as the conference's No. 10 rusher. When he replaced Echemandu in the lineup, he sizzled last year (i.e., 185 yards on 14 attempts vs. Washington, 114 yards vs. Southern Miss and 92 yards vs. Arizona). While his presence went virtually unchronicled in this summer's preseason magazines, it would seem as though the Nashville, N.C., native may be a prime candidate for all-conference honors this fall. While the Bears lose Echemandu (7th round pick, Cleveland Browns) from last year's backfield--which averaged 168.3 yards-per-game to become Cal's first team to lead the conference in rushing since Joe Kapp's 1958 club churned out 238.0 ypg en route to the school's last Rose Bowl--the cupboard is far from bare. Besides the shifty Arrington, the Bears feature at least six quality tailbacks in their 2004 stable. That fact was underscored in last week's 2004 opener, as the Cal running game averaged 7.8 yards per game (including three sacks) and netted an eye-bulging 342 yards and seven TDs on 44 carries against Air Force. Besides Arrington's 181-yard punishment, the Bears' true freshmen Marshawn Lynch (92 yards, 7 carries) and Justin Forsett (34 yds., 7 carries) combined for 126 yards off the bench, and junior Terrell Williams added 30 yards on four carries. All three backups scored one touchdown, with Lynch-who averaged a hefty 13.1 yards-per-carry-unleashing a 43-yard TD scamper that defied description. Here's a quick rundown of the Bears' talented six backs:
Player Ht. Wt. Yr. Comments J.J. Arrington 5-11 210 Sr. Pac-10's 10th leading rusher (607) last year as backup, averaged 5.7 ypc Marcus O'Keith 6-1 180 So. Averaged 5.8 ypc; rushed for 103 yds. on 12 carries vs. Washington last year Terrell Williams 6-0 200 Jr. Pac-10's 8th-leading rusher (688) as freshman; healthy after 2 years of injuries Marshawn Lynch 5-11 200 Fr. Ranked No. 2 RB in nation by Rivals.com last year; an eye-opener at Cal training camp Justin Forsett 5-8 180 Fr. Scored 63 TDs and rushed for nearly 5,000 yards at Grace (Texas) Prep last 2 years Brandon Hampton 5-10 180 Fr. 1st Team all-city for Westchester HS in LA; redshirted last yearPhilip Screwdriver (or is that Piledriver?) Anchors Bears' O-Line
One of the anchors of Cal's offensive line is junior Marvin Philip, who appears on the Rimington Award watch list as one of college football's premier centers. Philip, who returned from a two-year Mormon mission last year to reclaim his starting job by midseason, led all Cal linemen in pancake blocks and knockdowns for the 8-6 Bears. Starting the final five games of the 2003 season--a period in which the team etched a 4-1 record and averaged 206 yards rushing per contest--the 6-2, 280-pound veteran bridges the gap between pre-Tedford era and this fall's promising club. After ending his freshman season as the starting center on Cal's 2000 football team that finished 3-8, Philip departed Berkeley for a mission in North Dakota. Two years later, he returned to find a new head coach, a new team attitude that produced a winning season in 2002, and an offensive line that blossomed into one of the Pac-10's best. Arriving back on campus about 25 pounds under his normal playing weight, Philip underwent a demanding strength and conditioning program during the spring of 2002 and returned to his original 280 pounds. His maturity and experience could play a vital role in an offensive line that lost both its starting tackles in All-Pac-10 first teamer Mark Wilson (Washington Redskins, 5th round) and All-Pac-10 honorable mention choice Chris Murphy. Other key returning blockers include fellow starter Ryan O'Callaghan, who has been switched from right guard to right tackle this year, and part-time starting guards Jonathan Giesel and Aaron Merz.
Much-Improved Cal Defense Returns 9 Starters from '03 Unit; Holds Falcons Scoreless With 56 Yards in 2nd Half of Opener
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 should serve 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. Now, nine starters--linemen Lorenzo Alexander and Tosh Lupoi, 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 defense. After a rocky start on Saturday which saw the triple-option Falcons ring up 215 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, the Bears' defense stiffened to hold Air Force scoreless with only 56 yards after intermission. Leading the charge was last-minute starter Sid Slater, who stormed for a game-high 14 tackles while subbing for Wendell Hunter (mending ankle sprain) at middle linebacker. Other key performers included Gutierrez, who collected 13 stops, plus caused and recovered a fumble; nickle back Matt Giordano, who added 11 tackles and the season's first interception; Maningo, who enjoyed an eight-tackle day; and McCleskey, who demonstrated why he's a returning All-Pac-10 first teamer with six tackles and one sack.
Only a Junior, All-Pac-10 Rover McCleskey Considered Top DB
If anyone truly epitomizes the resurgence of Cal football, it is defensive sparkplug Donnie McCleskey. Only a sophomore last year, the diminutive (5-10, 180) rover back established himself as one of the finest DBs in the nation, earning first team All-Pac-10 honors and breaking the school record for tackles (102) by a defensive back. McCleskey has added 15 pounds of muscle to his 5-10 frame during the offseason--now weighing in at 195 pounds--and has set his sights on becoming only the second defensive back in Cal history to win first team All-Pac-10 notice twice in a career (Ray Youngblood, 1970-71). A disruptive force in the secondary, he led all Pac-10 DBs in total tackles, sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (12 for 49 yards) last season and registered the most tackles by a Cal player in 10 years (LB Jerrott Willard, 147 in 1993). His teammates paid perhaps the greatest tribute when they voted him the team's Defensive MVP award--an honor rarely given to a true sophomore. Named third team All-American in Athlon Sports' preseason magazine this summer, McCleskey has a chance to become the first defensive back to be a three-time All-Pac-10 first team choice since UCLA's Ricky Manning turned the trick from 2000-02. Making a remarkable transformation from high school running back to the college secondary, McCleskey also was named to The Sporting News' Pac-10 All-Freshman Team when he finished the 2002 season with 45 tackles, five pass break-ups and one interception. Now, he's receiving strong consideration for two of the highest honors a player at his position can receive, as he appears on the "watch list" of both the Bronko Nagurski Award (Nation's Best Defensive Player) and Jim Thorpe Award (Nation's Best Defensive Back).
Alexander the Great: California's King-Sized Defensive Tackle Worthy of National Recognition This Season
If there was any doubt that Lorenzo Alexander would some day be a football lineman, an early childhood story would have dispelled any doubt. At age eight, the precocious Alexander weighed in at 140 pounds--that's right, 140 pounds! His mother took him to sign up for Pop Warner football, and the program officials said her young son would have to play with the 12-year-olds. His mom, Stephanie Moore, would have none of it, as she felt Lorenzo would get hurt. Her son cried all the way home. But some 13 years later, it's Lorenzo who's puttin' the hurt on people. Ever since he joined the Bears out of Berkeley's St. Mary's High School, Alexander has flirted with greatness. As a rookie, he earned Pac-10 All-Freshman Team notice. As a sophomore, he stuffed the run with 25 tackles, one fumble recovery and one sack in gaining All-Pac-10 honorable mention. As a junior last year, Alexander again earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention. While his position is not conducive for big stats, those football people in the know are well aware that Cal's king-sized nose tackle (6-3, 300 pounds) represents the immovable object that, game in and game out, creates havoc for opposing teams.
Toler Brothers Continue Family Football Tradition at California
One of the more uplifting family tradition stories to hit Cal in a long time involves senior wide receiver Burl Toler III and freshman cornerback Cameron Toler, who offer football bloodlines that would rival any family in America. The two brothers' grandfather, Burl Toler, was considered an equal to teammate Ollie Matson on the great University of San Francisco football teams of the early 1950s. A 1951 All-American, the elder (and still living) Toler suffered a serious injury in the College Football All-Star Game at Soldier Field that year that shortened his pro career. He went on, however, to become the first African American game official in NFL history. Burl III's football career at Cal mirrors his father's, as Burl Toler Jr.--like his eldest son--was a walk-on when he came to the university and finished as a starter and scholarship player. Toler Jr. was a two-year starting linebacker for the Bears in the mid-1970s and now is a successful East Bay architect. Burl III enters his senior year at Cal having already caught 61 passes for 795 yards and three TDs during his collegiate career. Toler started 10 games last year and snared 48 balls for 609 yards, including clutch performances against such teams as UCLA (7 for 104 yards, 1 TD), USC (4 for 81, 1 TD) and Virginia Tech (6 for 84 in the Insight Bowl). And while younger brother, Cameron, a walk-on DB from nearby Skyline High School in Oakland, hasn't yet played in a college game, he certainly has opened some eyes in training camp with a few flashy interceptions. Could he be the next Toler walk-on to pass the grade?
Playing 4 of First 5 Games on the Road, Cal Looks for Fast Start
Without question, Cal's potential as an elite team in 2004 may hinge on the Bears ability to start fast this year. Tedford's troops will open the season with four of their first five games on the road, including such treacherous places as USC, Oregon State, Southern Miss and Air Force. In fact, four of Cal's first five opponents carved out winning records last fall, with Southern Miss, Oregon State and USC all making Bowl appearances last season. Interestingly, the Bears will play four of their final six 2004 contests at home, and only Oregon represents an opponent with a 2003 winning record.
Chip Off The Old Block:
Aggies Feature Multiple Starters With Famous Football Fathers
For three New Mexico State starters--cornerback Gill Byrd II, linebacker Richard Glover and tight end Travis Samuel--apparently the well-worn cliché, "Like Father, Like Son" has some validity. Only a sophomore, Byrd II is the son of former two-time All-Big West Conference cornerback Gill Byrd. Byrd's father, now an assistant coach for the St. Louis Rams, is a member of the San Diego Chargers' Hall of Fame. Glover, who has bagged 167 tackles in starting all of the Aggies' 24 games the past two years, is the son of NMSU's defensive line coach Richard Glover Sr. Glover's dad is generally regarded as one of the greatest defensive players in college football history, with Sports Illustrated naming him to its "All-Century Team." While starring at Nebraska, the senior Glover propelled the Cornhuskers to back-to-back national championships in 1970 and 1971, as he earned Defensive Most Valuable Player honors in consecutive Orange Bowls. In 1972, Glover's father also won both the Outland and Lombardi awards, and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting. Samuel, meanwhile, is the oldest son of Aggie head coach Tony Samuel. Catching two passes for 20 yards and one TD as the team's backup tight end, Samuel had his season cut short when he suffered an injury in Game 7 of the 2003 campaign. A two-year starter for Nebraska, the elder Samuel played defensive line on three Cornhusker bowl teams that posted a combined record of 28-8-1 from 1975-77.
Aggies Feature 8 Players from Northern California, Including QB
Besides their quarterback Buck Pierce--who passed for 2,225 yards and 25 TDs as a senior at Del Notre High School in Crescent City--the Aggies feature seven other players who call Northern California their home. Defensive backs Cameron Wright (San Jose, Valley Christian HS), Courtney Bryan (San Jose, Lincoln HS), Eric Carrie (Richmond, Miramonte HS) and Tony Gianquento (Concord, Diablo JC), I-back Muammar Ali (Vacaville's Wood HS), defensive tackle Carl Nicks (Salinas, North Salinas HS) and offensive lineman Matt Vincent (Turlock, Turlock HS/St. Mary's College).
Rodgers Returns to Berkeley on 22nd Anniversary of `The Play'
As fourth-year New Mexico State defensive secondary coach Richard Rodgers returns to Memorial Stadium this Saturday, it may be difficult for him to fathom that 22 years have passed since he wore a Cal uniform and took part in perhaps the zaniest play in college football history. Rodgers, a defensive back for the Golden Bears from 1980-83, handled the ball twice during the five-lateral kickoff return that won the 1982 Big Game over visiting Stanford. Rodgers, who grew up in Daly City and starred at Jefferson High School, earned second team All-Pac-10 honors and the Stub Allison Award as Cal's most inspirational player following his senior season. He went on to play six years in the Arena Football League, then began his coaching career at Diablo Valley Community College from 1989-94. He later coached at San Jose State (1995-96) and Portland State (1997-2000), as well as serving a coaching internship with the Oakland Raiders in 1996 and a one-season stint with the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe in 1998.
What body clock? Much was made of the 9 a.m. Pacific Time kickoff of Saturday's opener at Air Force. The early time, which was set to accomodate national television, apparently agrees with the Golden Bears. Under Tedford, the Bears have played two non-conference games with 9 a.m. PT kickoffs. And the result has been Cal outscoring those two opponents by a combined score of 102-36. The Bears ambushed No. 15 ranked Michigan State in East Lansing in 2002 by a 46-22 count, and then salted away Air Force in last week's opener, 56-14. Can Breakfast at Wimbledon be next?...The win over Air Force snapped a recent jinx for the Bears, as Cal had gone 0-5 in its previous five games when entering a contest nationally ranked...Tedford has been associated with teams that have carved out a 37-14 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 has posted 7-5, 8-6 and 1-0 records the past two-plus years...The Bears have tallied 28 points or more in 19 of the 27 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...Cal's near point-a-minute offense has scored 107 points in its last two games (56 vs. Air Force, 51 vs. Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl) and 87 points in its last six quarters....Against Air Force, the Bears' offense opened the game by scoring touchdowns on each of its first three possession, then closed rout by scoring TDs on its final four possessions of the contest....Since leaving Chico's Pleasant Valley High School, Rodgers has thrown 48 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions on the college level. He launced 28 scoring tosses and only four interceptions on Butte College's nationally No. 2 ranked JC team in 2002 and now owns a 20-5 TD-to-INT ratio in his first 14 games at Cal...The Bears' star quarterback apparently stayed hot in the offseason, picking up where he left off from the Insight Bowl game with a blistering first quarter in Air Force. He threaded seven of eight passes for 113 yards in the opening period of the season. Those stats added to his torrid final half vs. Va Tech (13-15, 245 yards) in the Insight Bowl gave Rodgers an extraordinary passing line for a combined three quarters: 87 percent completion percentage (20-of-23) for 358 yards!... This season marks the 50th anniversary of Cal quarterback Paul Larson finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting--a lofty showing considering the 1954 Golden Bears posted a 5-5 record that year....New Mexico State returns 10 starters from a defense that ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference and 40th nationally (350.7 yards-per-game)...New Mexico State starting right tackle Nick Cole does not have fond memories of the Aggies' 34-13 loss at Berkeley in 2002, and it goes beyond the final score. Cole fractured his hand in the game and missed the next two contests before returning in a backup role for the club's final eight games....This season marks the 50th anniversary of one of Cal's greatest individual feats. In 1954, Jerry Drew bolted for 283 yards on only 11 carries against Oregon State, setting the school's single-game rushing record--a record that still stands today. In fact, Drew gained 268 yards on 10 carries in the second half of that 46-7 Bear win over the Beavers, which stood as the NCAA record for most ground yards in a half for 36 years before it was eclipsed in 1990....This year also serves as the 30th anniversary of Steve Rivera's nine-catch, 205-yard receiving day against Stanford in the 1974 Big Game. While the Cardinal prevailed, 22-20, in that game, Rivera's 205 yards still rank third-best on Cal's all-time single game yardage chart....Defensive end Tully Banta-Cain, now a member of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, enjoyed one of his finest hours in the Bears' first meeting against New Mexico State. En route to a 13-sack senior season--only a half sack shy of Andre Carter's school mark of 13.5--Banta-Cain swooped inside for a career-high 4.5 sacks against the Aggies, while also forcing a fumble....It's been 44 years since New Mexico State made its last bowl appearance. The Aggies shaded Utah State, 20-13, in the 1960 Sun Bowl...Technically, the 2002 game against New Mexico State is the only time the Bears have faced a Sun Belt Conference opponent in school history. Cal is 4-0 against Idaho, but all four meetings occurred before the Vandals were members of the Sun Belt (last meeting in 1934). New Mexico State will join the Western Athletic Conference in 200)... New Mexico State is located in Las Cruces, N.M., which was voted the "No. 1 small city in the United States" by Forbes magazine in 2002... Among the football alumni from NMSU who became NFL standouts are QBs Charley Johnson (St. Louis Cardinals) and Joe Pisarcik (NY Giants), WR Duriel Harris (Miami) and Ks Danny Villanueva (LA Rams) and Roy Gerela (Pittsburgh) ... Dr. Charley Johnson, who also earned a master's in chemical engineering (1963) and a doctorate in science (1971) from Washington University in St. Louis, is currently a professor and academic department head of the chemical engineering department at NMSU.