Sept. 22, 2002
This Week's Game
After completing the non-conference portion of its 2002 slate with a 3-1 record, Cal opens Pac-10 action Saturday against league-favorite Washington State at 2 p.m. in Berkeley's Memorial Stadium.
The Cougars are ranked 18th in this week's ESPN/USA Today poll and mark the first of five consecutive opponents for the Bears who have appeared in the national ratings this season. Washington (13), USC (22) and Oregon State (24) are all ranked this week, while UCLA earned a Top 25 position a week ago. This stretch comes on the heels of games at then-No. 15 Michigan State and vs. an undefeated Air Force unit.
Still, Cal is off to its best start since 1998 behind an offense that averages 42.8 ppg, good for eighth in the nation. Although the Bears failed to reach the end zone until the final minute in a 23-21 loss to Air Force last Saturday, Cal received a boost from the strong right leg of senior PK Mark Jensen, who set a school record with five field goals against the Falcons. As a result, Jensen is tied for the NCAA lead with 10 field goals made and he is sixth in the country in scoring with 12.25 ppg.
Despite completing just 13-of-37 pass attempts last week, senior QB Kyle Boller is undoubtedly having the most productive season of his career. Now connecting on 53.9 percent of his tosses, he has thrown for eight touchdowns with only two interceptions.
In fact, turnover margin remains one of the key statistics responsible for Cal's turnaround from a 1-10 record in 2001. The Bears are +2.75 per game, a figure that leads the Pac-10 and ties for second in Division I-A.
Cal-Washington State Series
In a series that dates back to 1919, Cal holds a 36-24-5 lead, but Washington State has won five of the past six meetings. The Bears also own a 26-10-3 record all-time vs. the Cougars at Memorial Stadium, including 5-3 since 1982. Last year, Cal allowed 513 passing yards in a 51-20 loss in Pullman. The Bears' most recent victory in the series was a 24-14 decision in '98.
A Quick Look at Washington State
Voted the Pac-10 favorite in a preseason vote of West Coast media, Washington State is off to a 3-1 start, with the only setback being a 25-7 loss at Ohio State. The Cougars are led by senior QB Jason Gesser, who has passed for 851 yards and seven touchdowns. However, Gesser dislocated a rib last Saturday vs. Montana State and his status is unknown for the Cal contest. Devard Darling, a transfer from Florida State, has hauled in a team-high 22 catches, including five for scores.
Jeff Tedford, California (Fresno State '83) is in his first season as head coach of the Golden Bears, taking over as the program's 32nd head coach last December. Tedford, 3-1 as a head coach, 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 last fall 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 Price, Washington State (Puget Sound '69) is in his 14th season as head coach at WSU and owns a 76-76 record with the Cougars. Last season, he guided Washington State to a 10-2 record and a berth in the Sun Bowl. Prior to joining the Cougars' staff, Price spent eight seasons as head coach at Weber State (1981-88), compiling a 46-44 overall record. Price began his coaching career at WSU as a graduate assistant from 1969-70. He proceeded to Puget Sound (1971-73), back to Washington State (1974-77) and then on to Missouri (1978-80).
As part of IKON Office Solutions Faculty and Staff Day, all Cal faculty and staff can purchase general admission tickets for just $5 each with coupon (call 510-642-2444 for more information or coupon). In addition, new inductees into the Cal Hall of Fame will be honored at halftime. The formal induction ceremonies are Friday night.
IKON Office Solutions Play of the Week
Each week throughout the 2002 football season, IKON Office Solutions salutes the Golden Bear Play of the Week. For the Air Force game, Kyle Boller's 17-yard TD completion to a leaping Jonathan Makonnen with 31 seconds left, earns the award.
The Times Player of the Game
Each week throughout the 2002 football season, the Contra Costa Times will recognize the Cal Player of the Game. For the Air Force game, PK Mark Jensen set a Cal record with five field goals (six attempts), breaking the record of four last set by Doug Brien vs. Stanford in 1993.
Despite Overall Losing Ledger, Bears Boast 7-4 Mark in Pac-10 Openers Since 1991
While the Golden Bears have struggled in recent years-posting a 52-63 overall record during the past 11 seasons-they have been quite proficient at christening the Pac-10 campaign in winning fashion. Although Coach Tom Holmoe's club was pummeled in Pullman, 51-20, to open the Pac-10 schedule last year, Cal has won seven of its last 11 conference curtain-raisers dating back to 1991. However, the Bears are riding a two-game losing streak in Pac-10 lid-lifters, with both of their defeats coming at the hands of the WSU Cougars.
Igber Jets to 5th Place on Cal's Career Rushing List; Sets Sights on No. 4 John Olszewski
A year ago, Joe Igber's junior season was cut short when he fractured his clavicle at Oregon State in Game 7 of the season. His final 2001 rushing total was a very un- Igber-like 399 yards on 94 carries. One year later, Igber has already slashed through opponents for 334 yards on 70 carries-a 83.5 yards-per-game average that currently ranks fourth among Pac-10 rushers. Bolting for 74 yards on 18 attempts against Air Force last weekend, Igber flew past Reynard Rutherford (2,256, 1992- 95) into fifth place on the school's all-time rushing list and now stands at 2,328 yards on 507 carries for his four-year Cal career. Next up is No. 4 John Olszewski (2,504, 1950-52), who is 176 yards away.
Bears Have Feasted in First Halves, Outscoring Foes by 100-13 Margin
Under the direction of new head coach Jeff Tedford, the Golden Bears have pounced on their opposition early and often thus far in 2002. Through four games, Cal has outscored its opponent by an ungodly 100-13 margin. Tedford's squad has cranked out 62 points in the first quarter alone, which is only six points shy of Cal's total season output (68) in first periods last year. The Bears started this year's trend in their very first game, setting a school record with 35 points in the first 15 minutes against Baylor (prior to that eruption, Cal hadn't scored 35 points in an entire game dating back 50 previous contests (63-37 loss at Washington State in 1997). Yet, while first quarters have been good to the Bears, they have been perfect in in second quarters this year-outscoring their foes, 38-0.
California's Turnover-Minded Defense Shines for Fourth Consecutive Week
With a defensive coaching staff that features three former major college defensive coordinators-coordinator Bob Gregory (Boise State), linebacker coach Bob Foster (Oregon) and line coach Ken Delgado (San Diego State)-and a secondary coach who played in four Super Bowls (J.D. Williams, Buffalo Bills), Cal's hit unit has taken a quantum leap forward from last year's group. In 2001, the Bears defense allowed a school-record 431 points (39.2 ppg) and forced a paltry 18 turnovers for the season. This year's "D" has limited opponents to 80 points in four games (20.0 ppg) and have fleeced teams for 14 turnovers (6 INTs, 8 fumble recoveries), a takeaway number that ranks first in the Pac-10. Entering Week 5, Cal ranks first in the Pac-10 and second nationally in turnover ratio with a +11. That's a far cry from last season, when the Boys of Berkeley sunk to a -17 TO margin by season's end-which ranked 114th out of 115 NCAA Division 1-A schools. The Bears' defense held Air Force's high-octane offense well under its season averages last week, containing the Falcons' triple-option attack to 23 points, 295 rushing yards and 317 total yards. Air Force came in with averages of 45.0 points, 368.5 rushing yards and 441.5 yards in total offense. For the first time this season, Cal committed a turnover in the first half vs. Air Force (a Kyle Boller interception pass in the first quarter). However, the Bears still hold a +11 turnover margin in first halves this year, and have forced 12 turnovers before intermission.
Cal's Special Teams Have Been Exactly That in Early Season of Big Play Bonanzas
Mostly fueled by their vastly improved special teams unit, Cal has been the master of the big play in the early season. The Bears have uncorked no less than 10 plays that have measured 50 yards or beyond. Dave Ungerer's special teams have paved the way, ranking first in the Pac-10 in both kickoff (26.9, 9th NCAA) and punt (16.0, 13th NCAA) return average. Kick returner LaShaun Ward owns a lofty 34.8-yard average, which ranks first in the Pac-10 and fourth nationally. Punt returner Jemeel Powell, the school's career punt return leader (13.7 avg.), averages 15.3 yards per attempt, which currently places him first in the conference and 22nd in the country. Kicker Mark Jensen is tied for the NCAA lead in field goals (10) and ranks sixth in scoring (12.3 ppg) nationally, while punter Tyler Fredrickson boots at a 40.4 clip-with five of his 14 punts landing inside the 20-yard line-and was added to Ray Guy Award watch list last week by the Greater Augusta Sports Council. Fredrickson's 35.93 net average ranks fourth in the conference. Meanwhile, the Bears' coverage units have been stingy, allowing 18.7 yards per kickoff return and 7.9 per punt return this year.
Tedford's 2002 Club Eyeing One of Biggest Turnarounds in School History
When you finished last season with the worst record (1-10) by a Cal team in 104 years, you know there's only one way to go-up. But with their impressive 3-1 start, Tedford's Bears have a chance to produce one of the biggest one-year turnarounds in school history. They have already bettered last year's mark by two games, which is the best one-year turnaround at Cal since the 1996 posted a 6-6 mark following a 3-8 record the following year. The greatest one-year flip by a Cal team came in 1947, when a man named Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf assumed the head coaching reins and promptly led his Golden Bears to a 9-1 record-a six-and-a-half game improvement from the previous season (2-7 in '46 under Frank Wickhorst).
Interceptions May Play Vital Role in Saturday's Conference Opener
Both the Washington State and Cal defenses have devastated their opponents with timely interceptions this season. In fact, Cal's Matt Nixon and WSU's Will Derting, both linebackers, uncorked two of the longest interception returns in college football history in '02 season openers for each team. In the Bears' 70-22 blowout of Baylor at Memorial Stadium on Aug. 31, Nixon plucked off a Greg Cicero pass and rumbled 100 yards for a touchdown. It tied the school record for longest interception return, as Nixon became the fourth player in Cal annals to accomplish the feat. Dertig, meanwhile, intervened on a Zack Threadgill pass in the Cougs' 31-7 debut win in Seattle, and raced 98 yards that set a WSU record. Dertig, who finished with three picks for 98 yards in that opener, has missed WSU's last three games with an injury. Yet, perhaps the two most dangerous ball thieves on the field this weekend could be the Cougars' cornerback Marcus Trufant and the Bears' CB Jemeel Powell. Trufant, an honorable mention All-American last year, has intercepted one pass thus far this season to give him nine interceptions for his career-good for an eighth-place tie on WSU's all-time list. Powell, also the Pac-10's top punt return man (15.3 avg.) this year, has grabbed two errant tosses in '02 to increase his career total to seven (tied for 15th on Cal's all-time chart).
Banta-Cain Can Climb into 6th Place on Cal's Career Sack List This Week
Although he was held sack-less Saturday for the first time in six games-his last no-sack effort came against USC in Game 9 last year--senior defensive end Tully Banta-Cain is on the verge of moving into sixth place on Cal's career ladder in career sacks. With six sacks thus far in 2002, he currently ranks second in the Pac-10 and shares seventh place with Natu Tuatagaloa and Sekou Sanyika on Cal's all-time list with 19.5 sacks. Banta-Cain, who has bagged 10 sacks over his past five games (dating back to a four-sack effort at Rutgers in the '01 finale), needs only one more sack to vault past Joel Dickson into sixth-place on the Cal sack chart and a mere three to eclipse the legendary Ron Rivera into the No. 5 spot.
Bears Lead Pac-10 in Red-Zone Offense, Scoring on 20 of 21 Opportunities Inside the 20-Yard Line
While their perfect streak ended on their 19th venture into the red-zone-a blocked 38-yard Jensen field goal attempt by Air Force in the second quarter-the Bears continue to lead the Pac-10 in red zone offense, having converted 20 of 21 scoring opportunities (95.2%) inside the opponents' 20-yard line this year with 12 TDs and eight field goals. Conversely, their opponents have scored on only nine of 14 red-zone chances (64.3%). While WSU's red-zone conversion rate is only .684 (13 of 19), the Cougars have also scored 12 TDs this year when they have entered the opposition's 20-yard line. Cal's early season red-zone success is one of three offensive categories the Bears have excelled in that's reminiscent of Tedford's Oregon team last year. Cal has also committed only three turnovers this season and allowed Kyle Boller to be sacked only three times. In 2001, Tedford's Ducks turned the ball over a NCAA-low 11 times and led the Pac-10 in both fewest sacks allowed (11) and best red-zone offense (37-of-39, 94.9%).
Boller Becomes 6th Player in Cal History to Pass for 6,000 Career Yards
Cal senior quarterback Kyle Boller reached two career passing milestones in Saturday's heart-banging loss to Air Force. He became only the second player in the school's 120-year football history to throw 1,000 passes in a career-he's currently at 1,007-and he became the sixth Bear to pass for at least 6,000 yards. Although 11 dropped passes by his receivers led to a 13-for-37 passing day against Air Force, Boller still threw for 216 yards and a clutch last-minute TD toss to Jonathan Makonnen that almost sent the game into overtime. Currently ranked No. 4 in TD passes (44) and No. 6 in passing yardage (6,006) on Cal's all-time career charts, Boller can climb past No. 5 Dave Barr (6,305) on the yardage list with a 300-or-better effort against WSU this Saturday.
Gesser, Boller Continue Quarterback Traditions at Washington State, Cal
Two of the Pac-10's premier quarterbacks square off at Memorial Stadium this Saturday, as Washington State's Jason Gesser and Cal's Kyle Boller have provided their teams with gritty senior leadership in the early season. Gesser, billed as a 2002 Heisman Trophy candidate after leading the Pac-10 in passing yards (248.1) and total offense (257.5) last season, dissected the Golden Bears for 432 yards (the third-best passing day in WSU history) in last year's 51-20 Cougar win in Pullman. Throwing for 851 yards and seven TDs in four games this year-despite leaving Saturday's game in the third quarter with an injured rib and shoulder-Gesser currently ranks No. 4 on Washington State's career passing list with 6,273 and needs 1,546 more yards to bypass Jack Thompson (7,818) and become WSU's all-time passing leader. Boller, who has propelled Cal to a 3-1 showing to open season, has passed for 841 yards and figured in the scoring of 12 touchdowns this year-eight passing, three rushing and one receiving. With 6,006 aerial yards in his four-year career as the Bears' starter, he currently ranks No. 6 on the school's all-time chart and is 2,120 yards behind Cal's career passing king, Troy Taylor (8,126). Great quarterbacks are certainly not foreign to either the WSU or Cal football programs. Previous Cal greats to fling the football in Berkeley include Taylor, Craig Morton (1962-64), Steve Bartkowski (1972-74), Joe Kapp (1956-58), Vince Ferragamo (1972-73), Mike Pawlawski (1988-91), Rich Campbell (1977-80) and Pat Barnes (1993-96). And for WSU, the names are equally gilded: Thompson ("The Throwin' Samoan," 1975-78), Drew Bledsoe (1990-92), Mark Rypien (1983-85), Tim Rosenbach (1987-88) and Ryan Leaf (1995-97).
Battle of the Booters: WSU's Dunning & Cal's Jensen Among Pac-10's Top Kickers
If Saturday's Pac-10 opener comes down to a last-minute field goal, both schools possess kickers of high repute. Washington State's Drew Dunning was named to the All-Pac-10 first team last season after drilling 18 of 22 field goal attempts and 47 of 51 PATs for 101 points. Although off to a sluggish start in 2002-he's converted only two of four FG tries-Dunning can be explosive (as evidenced by his 15-point outburst against Cal last year when he rang up three FGs and six PATs). Cal's Mark Jensen, who ranks first in Pac-10 kick scoring and sixth nationally with 49 points (12.3 per game), has clicked on 10 of 13 field goal attempts this season and is a perfect 19-for-19 in PATs. His 10 FGs leads the NCAA (2.5 per game), sharing that claim with three other players. Jensen, who hammered through a career-best 51-yard three-pointer at Michigan State two weeks ago, has climbed into a seventh-place tie with Sean Dawkins on Cal's career scoring chart with 186 points. He needs 38 points to claim sixth place on the list, ahead of the legendary Chuck Muncie (224).
Saturday's Tilt to Showcase Two of Pac-10's Leading WRs Two of the Pac-10's premier pass-catchers will be on display in Berkeley this Saturday, as Washington State's Devard Darling and Cal's Geoff McArthur try to stretch opposing defenses in the Pac-10 opener. Darling, a transfer from Florida State, has corralled 22 passes for 275 yards and five touchdowns for the Cougars, including five grabs for 93 yards and two TDs Saturday against Montana State. McArthur, who missed the Bears' final 10 games last year due to an off-the-field injury, has hunted down 23 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown. In this week's Pac-10 listings, McArthur ranks second (5.75 catches per game) and Darling ranks fourth (5.50) among conference leaders. McArthur's figure also places him 19th among NCAA catches-per-game leaders.
Cal Coaches Gregory & Michalczik Face Their Alma Mater This Week
For defensive coordinator Bob Gregory and offensive line coach Jim Michalczik (pronounced mah-HALL-check) of the Cal football staff, this Saturday will be a day where sentimentality cannot be allowed. Both are graduates of Washington State, with Gregory playing defensive back for the Cougars from 1984-86 and Michalczik earning WSU Lineman of the Year honors as a junior in 1986 and honorable mention All-American as a senior in 1987. Gregory, who roomed with former San Francisco Chronicle and current ESPN Magazine sportswriter Tim Keown and two other students during his Pullman college days, has emerged as one of the brightest young defensive football minds in the country. Michalczik, a member of the 1988 Aloha Bowl team as a WSU senior, has logged valuable coaching experience on the O-line-including five years under head coach Dennis Erickson at Miami (1990-91) and Oregon State (1999-2001), and seven years at Montana State (1992-98).
WSU's 11 Players, One Coach Have Bay Area Connections
Washington State features one coach and 11 players with Bay Area ties. Offensive line coach Bob Connelly served in a similar capacity under head coach Dave Baldwin at San Jose State in 2000. The 11 Cougar players who hail from the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market include two sets of brothers-DE Fred Shavies and TE Josh Shavies from Oakland's Fremont High School, and DT Faafetai Tupai and WR Seaula Tupai from Monterey's Monterey High-TEs Dave Whitson (Palo Alto) and Troy Bienemann (Mountain View), QB Chris Hurd (Antioch), RB Lionel Arnold (Richmond), DB Eric Frampton (San Jose), and LBs Mawuli Davis and Hassan Dicko (both from Oakland).
WSU's Gesser & Cal's Igber Left Islands for Pac-10 Glory
Two key figures who will help decide the outcome of Saturday's Pac-10 opener are products of Honolulu, Hawaii. Washington State's Gesser passed for 4,076 yards and 47 touchdowns in only 19 games for St. Louis High School, where he was named All-State after leading his prep team to back-to-back Hawaii State championships. Cal's Joe Igber rushed for 4,472 yards and 56 TDs in his career for Iolani High School in Honolulu-both state all-time marks-and was named Offensive Player of the Year for the state of Hawaii in 1998. Igber, who moved to the Islands at an early age from his native homeland of Nigeria, also set state records for most career (336) and single season (162) points, most touchdowns in a game (6) and most rushing yards in a game (352).
Bears Play Tough Schedule for 2nd Straight Year
A year ago, the University of California's football schedule was ranked sixth toughest in the nation by the USA Today/Sagarin Ratings with the Bears' 2001 opponents posting an aggregate winning percentage of .659 (85-44). Well, Cal's 2002 slate doesn't look much easier. Entering Week 5 of the season, the opponents on the Bears' schedule have churned out an even better winning percentage. With New Mexico State (1-2) being the only foe with a sub-.500 record this season, Cal's opponents have registered a combined 27-13 ledger for a winning rate of .675. One final sobering thought for the Bears: their next five opponents have all been ranked in the nation's Top 25 this year.
While Cal has ambushed its opponents by a 100-13 scoring margin in first halves this year, WSU has also enjoyed fast starts this season, out-pointing its foes by a 73-27 count before intermission ... In last year's loss at Pullman, the Golden Bears' defense was punctured for 513 passing yards by the Cougars-the most aerial yards ever allowed by a Cal team ... Cal features no players who grew up in the state of Washington, although defensive lineman Jamaal Cherry was born in Tacoma; Cherry moved to Las Vegas at an early age and later became an amateur boxer in the Golden Gloves program in Nevada ... WSU backup quarterback Matt Kegel is the cousin of former Cougar All-American QB Ryan Leaf ... Washington State-which has not been shut out in 18 years (205 straight games)-has won eight of the last 10 meetings with the Bears and Cougar head coach Mike Price owns an 8-3 all-time mark vs. Cal ... Perhaps Price's greatest legacy is the many assistant coaches he has tutored who have gone on to NFL or major college coaching positions. Four are currently head coaches (Dave Campo, Dallas Cowboys; Larry Lewis, Idaho; Joe Tiller, Purdue; and Paul Wulff, Eastern Washington), while eight are current NFL assistant coaches and 12 hold assistant positions for a major college ... Price has also been named head coach for the West squad at the 2003 East-West Shrine Game at Pac Bell Park in San Francisco. Notre Dame's Tyrone Willingham will coach the East team ... Last year's WSU-Cal game in Pullman on Sept. 22 was the first game played by both schools after the Sept. 11 World Trade Center tragedy. Following the terrorists' attacks, the Bears postponed their eastern road trip and rescheduled the Rutgers game from Sept. 15 to Nov. 23. It marked the first time Cal had postponed a football game in 38 years, the last time coming in 1963 when the Bears and Stanford postponed the Big Game one week following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy Nov. 22. The Cougars cancelled their Sept. 15 home game against Colorado and added Montana State on Oct. 18 to replace the Buffaloes on their 2001 home schedule ... Among Washington State's most notable alumni: Microsoft co-founder and Portland Trailblazer owner Paul Allen, cartoonist Gary Larson, and broadcasting giants Edward R. Murrow and Keith Jackson.