Nov. 17, 2008
PDF of Official Cal Game Notes
2008 Big Game Week Activities
Mack On Lowe's Senior CLASS Award List
Oregon State Defeats Cal, 34-21
Anger a Semifinalist for Ray Guy Award
Follett a Quarterfinalist for Lott Trophy
Mack a Receives National Football Foundation Scholarship
Big Game Ticket Info
2008 Cal Schedule and Results
Official Stanford Website
PDF of Official Stanford Game Notes
2008 CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL
Saturday, November 22, 12:30 p.m. (PT)
California (6-4, 4-3 Pac-10) vs. Stanford (5-6, 4-4 Pac-10)
Berkeley, Calif. - Memorial Stadium
TV: ABC Broadcast team: (Rob Stone, Chris Spielman, Jessica Mendoza).
Radio: KGO Radio (810 AM) in San Francisco (Joe Starkey, Troy Taylor, Todd McKim) - and affiliate stations KGIL Radio (1260 AM Los Angeles), XSURF Radio (540 AM San Diego), KNTK Radio (102.3 Weed), KCBL Radio (1340 AM Fresno), KESP Radio (970 AM Modesto), KVBL Radio (1400 AM Visalia) and KTKZ Radio (1380 AM Sacramento). The pre-game show begins 30 minutes prior to kickoff.
GOLDEN BEAR FACTS
Head Coach: Jeff Tedford
Alma Mater/Year: Fresno State/1983
Record at Cal/Year: 56-30/7th
Career Record/Years: Same
Football SID: Herb Benenson
Office Phone: 510-642-0515
Secondary Contact: Chris DeConna
Office Phone: 510-643-4724
Ticket Info: 800-GO-BEARS
Games Played: 110
Series Record: Stanford leads 55-44-11
First Meeting: 3/19/1892, Stanford, 14-10
Last Meeting: 12/1/07, Stanford, 20-13
Current Streak: Cal has won 5 of 6
Tedford vs. Stanford: 5-1
Opening Kickoff California returns home to Memorial Stadium for the first time in three weeks to host Stanford in the 111th edition of the Big Game. The contest kicks off at 12:30 p.m. and will be televised in Northern California by ABC (locally on KGO TV, Channel 7). It is also available nationwide through ESPN's GamePlan package.
The Cal-Stanford rivalry ties for the ninth longest in the Football Bowl Subdivision, with the Cardinal owning 55-44-11 edge. Cal, though, has won five of six under head coach Jeff Tedford. In fact, the Bears are 3-0 with Tedford vs. the Cardinal in Berkeley and can record their first four-game winning streak at home since taking five in a row over Stanford from 1952-60.
At 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the Pac-10, Cal also needs just one more victory to post its seventh win of the year for the seventh season in a row - something that has never before happened in the history of Golden Bear football. The only other six-year streak occurred from 1947-52.
The strength of Cal's 2008 squad lies in its defense, which ranks 30th in the NCAA in total defense, allowing 315.0 ypg - a 63.8 ypg improvement over last year. The Bears are also fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense (97.26 opponent passer rating), tied for second in the country with 18 interceptions and No. 1 in the Pac-10 in turnover margin (+0.70 per game).
Junior cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson picked off his team-leading fourth pass of the year at Oregon State last week, a total that matches Trevin Wade of Arizona atop the league standings. In addition, sophomore cornerback Darian Hagan paces in the conference in passes defensed (1.60 per game), with Thompson right behind (1.50 per game) and freshman Sean Cattouse in eighth place (1.00 per game).
In the Bears' 3-4 alignment, linebackers hold down four of the top five spots on the tackle list. Sophomore Mike Mohamed, although primarily a reserve, has 71 stops, with senior Anthony Felder having 67 and senior Zack Follett 64. Follett's total includes 13.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 quarterback sacks, plus three force fumbles - all team highs.
Offensively, Cal features one of the most explosive players in the country in sophomore tailback Jahvid Best, who averages 6.5 yards per carry and needs just 118 yards to reach 1,000 for the season to become the Bears' seventh 1,000-yard rusher in the last seven years. His 98.0 per-game average is second in the Pac-10 and 21st in the country.
Best can also showcase his skills on kickoff returns, where he averages 29.08 ypr, including a 51-yarder on the opening kickoff at Oregon State last week that set up the Cal's first touchdown. It was his first action returning kicks since he dislocated his left elbow in the Sept. 27 Colorado State game.
Sophomore quarterback Kevin Riley has a better than 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (11-5), and junior wideout Nyan Boateng has emerged as the Bears' top receiver, now with 25 catches for 403 yards and five scores.
Up front, senior center Alex Mack has already earned several midseason All-America nods, is a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and was a semifinalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award. A National Football Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, he is a finalist for the Draddy Award, given for achievement in academics and athletics.
Cal-Stanford Matchup Stanford holds a 55-44-11 series advantage after claiming last year's contest, 20-13, at Stanford Stadium for its first victory since 2001 ... Cal had won the previous five games by a combined score of 152-49 (average of 30.4-9.8) ... prior to the Golden Bear run, the Cardinal had taken seven consecutive games ... Jeff Tedford is 5-1 vs. Stanford and only Pappy Waldorf, who went 7-1-2 in the series from 1947-56, has more victories against the Cardinal among Cal coaches.
Most Wins by a Cal Coach in the Big Game Pappy Waldorf 1947-56 7-1-2 Jeff Tedford 2002- 5-1 Stub Allison 1935-44 5-3* Andy Smith 1916-25 5-1-1 *note: games not played in 1943-44 due to World War II
A Look Inside the Rivalry The Cal-Stanford rivalry, known as the Big Game, dates back to 1892 and ties for the ninth-longest series in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 110 games played. Stanford leads the series, 55-44-11, but Cal has prevailed in five of the past six games under head coach Jeff Tedford. The Bear head coach is 3-0 vs. the Cardinal in Memorial Stadium, having won by scores of 30-7 (2002), 41-6 (2004) and 26-17 (2006). Cal has not won four in a row over Stanford at home since taking five straight in 1952-54-56-58-60. Prior to Tedford's arrival, the Cardinal had won seven consecutive Big Games.
Five Cal-Stanford battles have been decided on the final play, with the most famous being the 1982 Big Game that finished with The Play, the Bears' five-lateral kickoff return that ended with the Stanford Band out on the field. Overall, outcome has been determined by seven points or less 51 times, including last year's contest claimed by Stanford, 20-13.
5 Big Games That Have Been Decided on the Final Snap:
1972 - California 24, Stanford 21 California drove 62 yards in the final 1:13 of the contest. The game ended with Bears quarterback Vince Ferragamo tossing a 7-yard touchdown to a diving Steve Sweeney for the final score.
1974 - Stanford 22, California 20 Stanford got a 50-yard field goal from Mike Langford on the final play to knock off the 19th-ranked Golden Bears.
1982 - California 25, Stanford 20 (The Play) Cal won the game, 25-20, following the miraculous 57-yard, five-lateral kickoff return now known simply as The Play. The sequence began with a Stanford kickoff with just four seconds left on the clock.
1990 - Stanford 27, California 25 Stanford scored nine points in the game's final 12 seconds. The sequence included a Stanford score and a failed two-point conversion. The Cardinal recovered the onside kick, benefited from a Cal penalty and connected on a 37-yard field goal on the game's final play.
2000 - Stanford 36, California 30 (OT) The Cardinal prevailed in the first overtime game in Big Game history.
The Axe The Bears and the Cardinal play for the Stanford Axe, which was actually unveiled on the eve of an 1899 baseball game between the schools. Stanford students used the Axe on a straw man dressed in blue and gold at a pre-game pep rally. During the game, blue and gold ribbons were cut into pieces with the Axe, and the Axe was used to chop wood, signifying a good play by the Indians. When Cal rallied for a dramatic win, an emotional group of Bears grabbed the Axe and transported it via ferry to Berkeley and placed it in the safe of a Berkeley bank. It was removed once a year for the Axe Rally. By 1933, each side decided the Axe was a fitting Big Game trophy. It is mounted on a plaque that lists the game's scores.
7 Up With a victory against Stanford, Cal will have secured it school-record seventh straight season with at least seven wins. The Bears have won at least seven games in each of the past six seasons, tying the school record of six consecutive years from 1947-52.
When Jeff Tedford took over as head coach of the Bears, Cal was coming off a 1-10 campaign in 2001 and had not had a plus-.500 season since 1993. But in his first seven years overseeing the program, the Bears have registered at least six victories each time out, including 10-win years in 2004 and 2006. The last time Cal won six or more games for seven straight seasons came 70 years ago when the 1931-38 teams put together an eight-year run. Other than a six-year stretch with six or more victories under Pappy Waldorf from 1947-52, the Bears had just one other three-year run (1977-79) between 1938 and Tedford's arrival in Berkeley.
Cal Streaks of Six or More Wins in a Season 8 years - 1931-38 8 years - 1918-25 7 years - 2002-current 6 years - 1947-52
Cal Offense Quick Notes Cal has the 31st-best scoring offense (31.5 ppg) in the nation ... Cal has won 20 straight games when scoring 30 or more points since 2005 (including 4-0 this year) ... the Bears are 30-2 when totaling 40 or more under Jeff Tedford (since 2002) ... sophomore TB Jahvid Best ranks 11th in the NCAA and first in the Pac-10 in all-purpose yards, averaging 163.4 ypg ... in addition, he is second in the Pac-10 in rushing (98.0 ypg) and eclipsed 1,000 career rushing yards (1,103) after gaining 116 at Oregon State (he needs 118 more yards to reach 1,000 for the season) ... senior QB Nate Longshore moved ahead of Gale Gilbert in career passing yards and into fifth place on Cal's all-time list, now with 6.578 yards after his performance at USC ... junior TE Cameron Morrah leads the Bears with six touchdown receptions ... Cal tops in the Pac-10 lead (21st in the nation) in turnover margin (+7) ... Kevin Riley set a school record with 58 pass attempts against Maryland ... his 423 yards passing vs. the Terps were the third most in a game in school history and the most single-game passing yards in the Tedford era ... the 81-yard run by Shane Vereen against Michigan State and the 80-yard TD run by Best on the opening play against Washington State marked the first time in program history that Cal had two 80-yard runs in the same season; Best extended that mark by adding an 86-yard run against WSU ... Best and Vereen both rushed for 100 yards against Michigan State, the seventh time Jeff Tedford has had two 100-yard rushers in the same game ... Vereen set a school record for rushing yards by a freshman in his debut vs. Michigan State with 101 and also set a Cal freshman record for longest run with his 81-yard TD ... the Bears' 391 rushing yards at Washington State are a Tedford-era record and the most by a Cal team since 1991 ... Cal's 66 points at WSU were the second-most scored in the Jeff Tedford era and the third-most for Cal since World War II ... the 63-point margin of victory at WSU was Cal's largest since 1922 ... Cal is looking for its seventh straight season with a 1,000-yard rusher after Justin Forsett ran for 1,546 yards last year; Best has a team-high 882 yards so far this year ... Cal has not been shut out in a school-record 117 straight games dating back to Sept. 11, 1999 ... Cal has scored 2,843 points, the second most of any other team in the Pac-10, since 2002 (USC, 3,309).
Cal Defensive Quick Notes The Bears sacked USC quarterback Mark Sanchez three times in their meeting with the Trojans (USC had given up just nine sacks in eight games entering the contest) ... Cal held Oregon's ground attack (No. 5 in the nation entering the game at 278.8 ypg) to 206 yards ... the Bears also had three players record double-digit tackles vs. Oregon, marking the first time since last year against Oregon State such a feat had been accomplished ... Cal has scored 94 points off its opponent's 24 turnovers (13 TDs and a FG) this season ... in a span of five games (Colorado State through Oregon), Cal recorded 16 sacks, 12 interceptions, 35 pass break-ups, 35 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles ... the Bears are tied for second in the nation in interceptions with 18 ... Cal returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the win over UCLA, marking the first time since Arizona State on Sept. 23, 2006, that two INTs were taken back for scores ... Cal's rush defense was stout against UCLA, holding the Bruins to just 16 yards rushing ... the last time Cal held an opponent such a low amount was against Stanford in 2005 (also 16 yards) ... the Bears registered four INTs against UCLA (also four picks at Washington State) ... Cal had 10 interceptions all of last season ... the Bears rank fourth in the nation in pass efficiency defense (second in the Pac-10) ... the Bears boast the fourth-best rush defense in the Pac-10 at 124.3 ypg and the league's fourth-best total defense (315.0 ypg) ... Cal also ranks first in red-zone defense in the league (66.7%) ... the Bears have allowed three individual 100-yard rusher all season, and impressively held Michigan State's Javon Ringer (140.7 ypg; #3 in NCAA) to 81 yards in the opener ... CB Syd'Quan Thompson has four interceptions this year, including two against Washington State ... his 108 interception return yards against WSU were a school record ... sophomore DB Sean Cattouse has three picks on the year ... sophomore LB Mike Mohamed leads the team with 71 tackles, including a career-high 14 against Oregon, and recorded his first career INT and sack against UCLA ... senior LB Zack Follett leads the team with 13.5 tackles for loss (21st in the nation) and sacks with five ... Cameron Jordan (ASU), Mohamed (UCLA) and Follett (Oregon) have all been named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week.
Special Teams Quick Notes Bryan Anger ranks 17th in the nation (third in the Pac-10) in punting at 43.0 ypp ... Anger booted three punts that landed inside the Arizona State 10-yard-line, including a career long 72-yarder, and averaged 47.7 ypp vs. the Sun Devils to earn Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week honors (Oct. 6) ... Cal has turned three blocked kicks into 21 points on the board this season ... Bryant Nnabuife has a pair of blocked punt returns for TDs - 5 yards vs. Michigan State and 30 yards against Colorado State; the MSU return was Cal's first off a blocked punt for a TD since 2004 ... Rulon Davis also blocked a Washington State field goal that Zack Follett scooped up for a 68-yard score, his first career touchdown ... Syd'Quan Thompson amassed 131 punt return yards and returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown against Colorado State (his first career touchdown on a punt return) ... Cal set a single-game record with 187 punt return yards vs. Colorado State - Thompson (131), Nnabuife (30), Mychal Kendricks (26) ... true freshman Georgio Tavecchio has connected on six of his last seven field goals over the past five weeks, including three of 40 yards or more ... he stepped in for an injured David Seawright (groin) vs. Arizona, making two field goals (42, 40) and three extra points in his first action other than kicking off this season.
Closing in on 1,000 Needing only 118 more yards this season, Jahvid Best is looking to become Cal's seventh consecutive 1,000-yard rusher in the Jeff Tedford era at Cal, second-longest streak in the Pac-10. USC holds the Pac-10 record for most consecutive years with a 1,000-yard rusher with 10 (1972-81).
Cal's 1,000-yard rushers since 2002 2007 Justin Forsett (1,546) 2006 Marshawn Lynch (1,356) 2005 Marshawn Lynch (1,246) 2004 J.J. Arrington (2,018) 2003 Adimchinobe Echemandu (1,195) 2002 Joe Igber (1,130)
Cal-Oregon State: Postscript Cal's opening touchdown (13:05 left in the first quarter) was its fastest score to open a game since Jahvid Best scored on the first play of the game at Washington State on Sept. 6 ... Verran Tucker hauled in his third touchdown of the season on the drive and first since the Arizona game Oct. 18 ... Jahvid Best scored on a 65-yard touchdown run in the third quarter - his fourth touchdown run of 65 yards or more this season ... he went over 1,000 career rushing yards (1,103) and tallied 116 yards on the ground in the game (second-best output of the season) ... Best returned kickoffs for the first time since the Colorado State game, taking back the opening kickoff 51 yards ... Best tallied over 200 all-purpose yards (210) for the fourth time this season ... Oregon State's James Rogers scored on an 86-yard kickoff return, the first time a Cal opponent has done so since Minnesota's Dominic Jones on Sept. 9, 2006 in Berkeley ... Syd'Quan Thompson recorded his fourth INT of the season in the first quarter, and first since the Washington State game ... it was Cal's 18th interception of the season ... Oregon State became just the third Cal opponent to score a touchdown in the first quarter this year (Maryland had 14 points and Oregon scored a TD but missed the extra point) ... Cal's second touchdown came on a lateral from Kevin Riley to Jeremy Ross, who threw it 30 yards to Nyan Boateng ... it was Ross' first career touchdown toss and Boateng's fifth touchdown reception of the season (all in the last seven games) ... LaReylle Cunningham was also instrumental on the drive, hauling in his first catch (35 yards) since the Arizona game.
Full of First-Time Starters in 2008 Over the course of the season, Cal has had 14 players register their first career starts at some point during the year. Three of the starts have come on the defensive side of the ball in the form of DE Cameron Jordan, LB Eddie Young and CB Darian Hagan. But on the offensive side, 11 different players have made their starting debuts this fall, including six along the offensive line - Chet Teofilo, Chris Guarnero, Mark Boskovich, Justin Cheadle, Mitchell Schwartz and Donovan Edwards. Guarnero (toe) and Teofilo (ankle) both opened the year as starters but have been felled by injuries, leaving senior C Alex Mack the only veteran along the front wall.
First-Time Starters for the Bears in 2008 TB - Jahvid Best, Shane Vereen WR - Nyan Boateng, Jeremy Ross, Sean Young OL - Mark Boskovich, Justin Cheadle, Donovan Edwards, Chris Guarnero, Mitchell Schwartz, Chet Teofilo DL - Cameron Jordan LB - Eddie Young DB - Darian Hagan
Golden Spotlight After reaping a large share of awards, including All-Pac-10 and All-America recognition, last year, senior C Alex Mack is seeing his name pop up all over again in 2008. In last October, he was selected one of 15 finalists for the 2008 Draddy Award by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, an award that is presented to the top football scholar-athlete in the country. As a finalist, he will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. Mack is the third Cal player to be named an NFF Scholar-Athlete, joining previous recipients Je'Rod Cherry (1995) and Pat Newell (1959).
In addition, Mack was named a semifinalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award, given to the nation's best lineman, and a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, for achievement on and off the field. He was also chosen a first-team midseason All-American by both College Football News and Sporting News Today.
Senior linebacker Zack Follett, who leads the Golden Bears with 13.5 tackles for loss and five quarterback sacks this year, was one of 15 semifnalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award (top defensive player), as well as one of 20 defensive players to earn a spot on the Lott Trophy quarterfinalist list.
Freshman punter Bryan Anger was named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2008 Ray Guy Award, which identifies the nation's top collegiate punter. Anger, who is averaging 43.3 yards per kick, is the only freshman and Pac-10 player among the candidates.
Junior CB Syd'Quan Thompson, owner of four interceptions and 11 pass break-ups to date, has been chosen a second-team midseason All-American by College Football News and SportsIllustrated.com.
Picking Off Passes With 18 interceptions so far this season, Cal is tied for second in the nation. Cal's total of 18 picks is eight more than the team had for all of last year, and with up to three games remaining (two regular season plus one bowl), the Bears have a chance to eclipse the high for a Jeff Tedford-coached squad at Cal - 21 in 2006. Unlike that season when Daymeion Hughes intercepted eight passes, no one Bear is dominating the statistical category. To date, 11 different players have recorded at least one INT, with Syd'Quan Thompson and topping the list with four.
Passes Intercepted Leaders 1. Boston College (21) 2. California (18), Iowa (18), Boise State (18), North Carolina (18) 6. Central Florida (17), Troy (17), Florida (17)
The Plus Side of Turnovers Head coach Jeff Tedford has focused on turnovers as the No. 1 key to football since his arrival in 2002 and for this season, he and his staff have taken it a step further. Every practice in preseason camp featured a turnover circuit with each payer on the team working on drills related to protecting the football, recovering the football and forcing turnovers.
The result is that Cal ranks first in the Pac-10 and 21st nationally in turnover margin, having forced 24 turnovers through 10 games. Only one other time since 1993 has Cal had more picks than its current total of 18 (21 in 2006).
A look at the stats during Tedford's tenure backs up his assertion of the value of TOs. In his seven years at Cal, the Golden Bears are 31-3 (.911) when winning the turnover battle and 13-19 (.406) when losing that statistical comparison (as well as 12-8 when tied). In Pac-10 games, the stats are even more decisive, as Cal is 20-1 (.952) with a positive margin and 7-17 (.291) with a deficit (7-5 when turnovers are tied).
In Tedford's first season in Berkeley, the Bears were third in the country in turnover margin (+18 total, +1.5 per game).
Cal's Turnover Margin Per Game, NCAA Ranking and Team Record since 2002 2008 (+.7), 21st (6-4) 2007 (-1.2), 76th (7-6) 2006 (+0.5), 30th (10-3) 2005 (-0.5), 88th (8-4) 2004 (+0.2), 51st (10-2) 2003 (+0.2), 50th (8-6) 2002 (+1.5), 3rd (7-5)
3rd Down Deficiency When it comes to stopping opponents on third down, Cal ranks among the best in the country, having limited teams to 29.7% (44-148), third in the Pac-10 and seventh in the NCAA. Among conference schools, only Oregon State (28.0%, 4th NCAA) and USC (28.8%, 6th NCAA) - Cal's last two opponents - are better. The Bears are even stingy in Pac-10 action, holding league schools to 24.8% on third downs (25-101). On the flip side, with the Cal offense facing such stout defenses, the Bears have converted only 29.7% of their own third-down tries (38-128).
Defense Shows Major Improvement from 2007 In giving up just 315.0 ypg this year, the Cal defense has a more than 60 ypg improvement over last season when the Bears surrendered 378.8 ypg. As a result, Cal ranks 30th in the country in total defense, up from 58th in 2007 and 91st in 2006 (366.2 ypg).
This fall, the Bears have held seven of their 10 opponents to 40 yards or more under their total offense averages, with the most notable being Oregon, which gained only 290 yards vs. Cal and has a season average of 458.5 ypg. Cal has also limited two of its recent foes to well under their season scoring rates; Oregon managed 16 points and averages 39.8 ppg overall, while USC totaled 17 points, far less than its 38.4 ppg.
Overall, five teams have not managed 300 yards of total offense against the Bears - Washington State (167), Maryland (297), Arizona State (236), UCLA (253) and Oregon (290). Cal's total defense of 315.0 ypg is the team's lowest since the 1994 squad surrendered 299.9 ppg.
Where Has Cal Ranked in the NCAA in Total Defense since 2002 2008 315.0 (30th) - through 10 games 2007 378.8 (58th) 2006 366.2 (91st) 2005 359.5 (46th) 2004 320.9 (24th) 2003 384.9 (68th) 2002 392.8 (75th)
Game Changing Bears Many of Cal's touchdowns this season have been a result of big or game-changing plays on offense, defense and special teams. A summary of the highlights are below.
Michigan State: Blocked punt (Brett Johnson) returned 5 yards for a TD (Bryant Nnabuife) 81-yard touchdown run (Shane Vereen) Washington State: Touchdown runs of 80 and 86 yards by Jahvid Best Blocked field goal attempt (Rulon Davis) returned 68 yards for a TD (Zack Follett) Colorado State: Blocked punt (Mychal Kendricks) returned 30 yards for a TD (Nnabuife) 43-yard interception returned for touchdown (Brett Johnson) 73-yard punt return for touchdown (Syd'Quan Thompson) UCLA: 69-yard interception returned for touchdown (Marcus Ezeff) 53-yard flea flicker for a touchdown (Kevin Riley to Nyan Boateng) 19-yard interception returned for a touchdown (Michael Mohamed) Oregon: 50-yard interception return to the Oregon 3 (Worrell Williams), sets up Cal TD before halftime Fumble recovery (Matt Russi) on a dropped fair catch on a punt at the Oregon 6 sets up Cal TD with 8:57 left in the game
Pick 6 Cal brought back two interceptions to the house against UCLA Oct. 25, bringing its total to three INTs returned for touchdowns this season (Marcus Ezeff, Michael Mohamed, Brett Johnson). Cal also returned three INTs for touchdowns in 2006 and 2002, and set a school record with five interceptions returned for TDs in 1999.
Against the Bruins, Ezeff had a 69-yard return for a score, while Mohamed's TD jaunt covered 19 yards and put the Bears up, 34-13, midway through the fourth quarter. Johnson's return was 43 yards and came in the first quarter against Colorado State.
The Best Man Sophomore TB Jahvid Best, despite battling through elbow and foot injuries much of the season, is on track for a 1,000-yard campaign with 882 yards to date, an average of 98.0 ypg that is good for second in the Pac-10 and 27th in the country. His 163.4 all-purpose yards per game are tops in the conference and 11th in the nation.
After posting his second-highest rush output of the season (116 yards) at Oregon State, Best went over the 1,000-yard career rushing plateau (1,103). Best scored a 65-yard touchdown run in the third quarter against the Beavers - his fourth touchdown run of 65 yards or more this season - and was back returning kickoffs for the first time since the Colorado State game. He ran back the opening kickoff 51 yards to set up a touchdown, and finished with over 200 all-purpose yards (210) for the fourth time this season.
Best has produced five 100-yard rushing efforts in 2008, starting in the opener against Michigan State (111 yards). He followed that performance with 200 yards on just 14 carries at Washington State, which included TD sprints of 80 and 86 yards to become the first Cal player with two 80-yard rushes in one game. Best, who added a five-yard touchdown against the Cougars, was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for his effort.
Best had a slight setback when he dislocated his left elbow in the third quarter of the Sept. 27 Colorado State game. Although he missed Cal's home win over Arizona State, he returned to the field at Arizona Oct. 18 and compiled 107 yards on 16 attempts. He added another 115 yards vs. UCLA and 93 more against Oregon.
In his brief career, the speedster already had 60 plays (rush, receive, KO return) of at least 10 yards.
Tedford Trends I Of the 86 head football coaches at Pac-10 schools over the last 50 years, Jeff Tedford is one of just four to have winning seasons in each of his first six years. Others: Frank Kush (ASU), John Robinson (USC) and Mike Bellotti (Oregon).
Tedford Trends II Since Jeff Tedford's arrival in 2002, Cal has scored 30+ points 44 times, posting a 40-4 record in those games. The Bears are 4-0 this season when scoring 30 or more points, and have won 20 in a row since 2005. Additionally, Cal is 30-2 when amassing at least 40 points since 2002.
Depth Counts A key to any successful football season is to have depth at every position to insure against injury or other factors. This season, Cal has been fortunate to have the services of backups that have stepped up to keep the Golden Bears on track for a winning campaign.
For example, when TB Jahvid Best missed the Arizona State game with a dislocated left elbow, redshirt-freshman Shane Vereen stepped in and finished with 93 yards on 27 carries, to go along with a career-high five catches for 51 yards. In addition, sophomore Cameron Jordan filled in for Rulon Davis on the defensive line vs. ASU, recording his first two sacks of the season and earning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week notice.
In Cal's game at Arizona, PK Georgio Tavecchio ably replaced David Seawright (groin), booting field goals from 40 and 42 yards - the Bears' longest of the season to that point.
On the offensive line, sophomore Donovan Edwards and redshirt-freshman Justin Cheadle earned their first career starts against Oregon (filling in for injured starters Noris Malele and Chet Teofilo), paving the way for 348 yards of total offense on a rain-soaked field.
Mighty Mo As Cal's leading tackler (71), sophomore LB Mike Mohamed made the most of his first start of the season (second of his career) against Oregon by leading the Bear defense with a career-best 14 tackles. A versatile performer who can play any of Cal's four linebacker sports, Mohamed has 5.0 tackles for loss, a pair of sacks and an interception despite his primary reserve status.
The 6-3 product of Brawley, Calif., had his first career sack and first career INT (returned 19 yards for a touchdown) against UCLA, helping him to Pac-10 Player of the Week honors (Oct. 27). He added another sack and two TFLs at USC and had five tackles with a season-high two passes broken up at Oregon State.
ZFLs Senior linebacker Zack Follett, another key cog in the 3-4 defensive scheme, continues to climb the Cal career chart in tackles for loss, checking in with 41.5 - eighth-best in program history. The Colvis product tallied a season-best three tackles for loss against Oregon and added one more at both USC and Oregon State the last two weeks to raise his season total to a team-high 13.5 (21st best in the nation), eclipsing his previous high of 12.5 tackles for loss last season.
Overall, he has 67 stops on the year, which includes a tie for the team lead in sacks (5, with Tyson Alualu). In the Oregon game, Follett recorded 11 total tackles, with three for loss and a sack, in addition to breaking up a pass attempt to claim Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors.
All-Purpose Ross Whether its returning kickoffs, catching passes, running reverses or even throwing for the end zone, sophomore WR Jeremy Ross seems to be involved. In last week's game at Oregon State, Ross took a lateral from QB Kevin Riley, then found a wide-open Nyan Boateng down field for a 30-yard score. He also caught three balls for 30 yards and had 31 yards on kickoff returns against the Beavers.
Recording 13 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown the last five weeks, Ross has combined for 13 kickoff returns for 318 yards this season, including a career-long 47-yard return against UCLA. Ross led the Bears in all-purpose yards for a span of four games (Arizona-USC), notching 119 vs. Oregon, 123 vs. the Bruins, 141 against Arizona and 61 vs. USC.
Boateng Boost Cal's leader in receiving yards (403), junior WR Nyan Boateng has caught a touchdown pass in five of his last seven games, after corralling a 30-yard touchdown pass from fellow wideout Jeremy Ross at Oregon State - the second time he has caught at TD via the flea flicker.
Against UCLA, Boateng hauled in a 53-yard reception for a score from QB Kevin Riley, who got the ball back after handing off to Jahvid Best during the trick play. Boateng finished with a season-high 67 yards receiving against the Bruins. He then matched his season best in receptions (4) at USC with 43 yards.
A transfer from Florida in the spring of 2007, Boateng owns a team-leading 25 catches overall.
Tucker on Target Junior wideout Verran Tucker registered his third touchdown of the season at Oregon State, and has become a consistent target in the passing game of late, registering career bests in receptions (5) against Oregon and in yards (68) at Arizona. Tucker was instrumental on Cal's second offensive drive vs. Oregon when he hauled in a 17-yard reception on a 3rd-and-15 (at the Cal 24) to move the chains, then again on a 3rd-and-4 (on the Cal 47), when he nabbed a 24-yard reception to extend the drive. The Bears would eventually score a touchdown to go up 7-6.
For the season, Tucker, who had just two receptions through the years first five games, has 18 catches for 258 yards and three touchdowns.
Syd Snares Another One In his third season as a starter (36 straight starts, six career INTs, 23 PBUs), Syd'Quan Thompson recorded his fourth interception of the year at Oregon State - the most in a season for the Bears since Daymeion Hughes picked off eight passes in 2006. He also came up big defensively against one of the nation's best passers (Rudy Carpenter) knocking down a career-high four passes against the Sun Devils.
Early in the campaign, Thompson picked off two passes against Washington State, becoming the first Cal player since Hughes in `06 to have two interceptions in a game. He returned the second INT 90 yards (fifth longest in Cal history) to set up a five-yard TD. Overall, he set a school-record with 108 interception return yards vs. the Cougars.
Thompson was also instrumental in Cal's 38-31 win over Michigan State. He intercepted a pass at the end of the second quarter near the goal line, spoiling a Spartan scoring drive. The Sacramento product swatted away three total passes while adding five tackles. Two of his tackles came on third-down plays and forced punts, and one pass break-up came on a key third-and-18 play to force a punt, as well.
Thompson is 28th in the country in punt returns (11.2 ypr), with his biggest thrill coming against Colorado State when he brought back a kick 73 yards for a TD. For the game, he had 131 punt return yards against the Rams, just seven yards shy of the Cal record. Defensively against CSU, he recorded his second sack of the season to go along with a team-high nine tackles.
Darian D's Up Syd'Quan Thompson is not the only cornerback to step up for the Bears this year, as sophomore Darian Hagan has developed into a special player in his own right. The product of Crenshaw HS in Los Angeles equaled his career best with three pass break-ups against Oregon Nov. 1, and has added three more in his last two games. Overall, he leads the Pac-10 with 16 passes defensed, just two shy of the Cal record held by Harrison Smith (2004).
Hagan turned in another solid performance in October against Arizona State with a career-best eight tackles to go along with a fumble recovery. He picked off his first interception in the Colorado State game, adding seven tackles to his stat line. Last season, Hagan saw action in just five games, primarily on special teams. He has started every game for the Bears this year.
3-4 Showcases Linebacker Strength The California coaching staff changed its base defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4 this year to take advantage of its superior talent and depth at linebacker. Recognized among the best linebackers in the nation, the Cal contingent features three seniors in Anthony Felder, Zack Follett and Worrell Williams who were also starters in 2007.
Felder, who ranks second on the team with 67 stops, reached double digits in tackles for the second time this season after posting a team-high 10 at USC (also had 12 tackles against Michigan State).
Follett continues to climb up Cal's career chart in tackles for losses (41.5) and is now eighth on the list after recording a team-high 13.5 this season - 21st in the country. Follett led the Bears with 10 tackles at Oregon State, recorded a career-high 11 tackles against the Oregon Nov. 1, including a key sack on QB Jeremiah Masoli late in the fourth quarter, and had a big day at Maryland with five tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
Williams has been active around the ball all season, recording 48 stops (fifth on the team), 5.0 tackles for loss and five pass break-ups. He recorded his first interception of the season against Oregon and returned it 50 yards to help set up a Cal touchdown just before halftime.
Other Bear linebackers have contributed, as well, in 2008. Sophomore Mike Mohamed has a team-best 71 tackles, while junior Eddie Young, who has started eight games this season, recorded a career-high seven tackles against Colorado State and has 31 for the year. Junior Devin Bishop, the younger brother of former Cal star LB Desmond Bishop, has 11 tackles, including four vs. Colorado State, while sophomore Charles Johnson (six tackles), redshirt freshman D.J. Holt (12 tackles) and true freshman Mychal Kendricks (12 tackles) all are in the mix.
Anger Management Freshman P Bryan Anger was named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2008 Ray Guy Award, which identifies the nation's top collegiate punter. He is the only freshman and Pac-10 player on the list.
The Camarillo native is currently averaging 43.0 yards per punt this season - 17th-best in the nation. Twelve of Anger's 59 punts have traveled 50+ yards and 20 of his punts have placed inside the 20-yard-line.
Against Arizona State, for example, he punted seven times for a 47.4 average, including a career-long 72-yarder that pinned ASU on its own 4-yard-line with less than five minutes to play. Overall, three of his kicks landed inside the ASU 10, earning him Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week honors (Oct. 6).
The Tedford Era Jeff Tedford, now in his seventh year at the helm of the Bears, has quickly brought the program into another "Golden" Age. The Bears' seven-year record of 56-29 is among the best-ever at Cal.
Era Years Record Pct. Highlights The Wonder Teams 1920-24 44-0-4 .958 Three National Titles The Thunder Teams 1937-38 20-1-1 .932 One Championship Pappy's Boys 1947-52 53-9 .855 Three Rose Bowls The Tedford Era 2002-current 56-29 .658 Five straight bowls Early 90s 1990-93 30-17 .638 Three bowls Mike White Era 1972-77 35-30 .538 Pac-8 title in `75
Early Action Guys Head coach Jeff Tedford has inserted 11 newcomers in 2008, and all have contributed in key moments - Trevor Guyton (DT), Verran Tucker (WR), Anthony Miller (TE), Donovan Edwards (OL), Bryant Nnabuife (DB), Marvin Jones (WR), Mychal Kendricks (LB), David Seawright (PK), Kendrick Payne (DT), Giorgio Tavecchio (PK) and Robert Mullins (LB). Last year, Cal played four newcomers (true freshmen Jahvid Best, Chris Conte and Cameron Jordan, and Zach Smith, a transfer from Duke).
Bears on TV For the second year in a row, all Cal football games will be broadcast live on television. The Bears will appear on ABC seven times, including five consecutive weeks from Oct. 25 (UCLA) through Nov. 22 (Stanford). Cal was also on ESPN for the game at Maryland and on Comcast SportsNet-California for the Washington State, Colorado State and Arizona contests. The last remaining game to be selected is the Dec. 6 date vs. Washington. It will air on either FSN at 12 noon or ESPN or ESPN2 at 5 p.m., and the decision will be announced on Monday, Nov. 24.
For the Big Game on Nov. 22, ABC will show the game over the air in the San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno and Monterey markets in Northern California. Fans can also access the game nationwide through ESPN GamePlan.