on pace to have the
best year in Pac-10 history.
Football Returns to the Road
Bears face crucial contest against Oregon State.
October 25, 1998
Cal Travels to Oregon State
Cal returns to the road for the third time in the last four weeks with a trip to Corvallis for a 1 p.m. contest with Oregon State. The Bears will be attempting to break a two-game losing streak, but will have their hands full with a 4-4 Oregon State team that is bidding for its first winning season in 28 years. Cal has a 30-20 edge in the rivalry which dates back to the 1905 season. Cal has won five straight and 14 of the last 20 games versus OSU. Last season, Cal dominated the game, scoring touchdowns on five of its first seven possessions to take a 33-0 lead in the first half and coast home with a 33-14 decision in Berkeley. In Cal's last trip to Corvallis in 1995, the Bears emerged with a 13-12 victory, thanks to a 74-yard touchdown drive with 6:40 left in the game.
Cal Heads Down Stretch with Winning Record, Bowl Berth in the Balance
With a month to go in the season, much is on the table for a 4-3 California football team. Entering the season with most prognosticators telling the world the Bears would finish ninth in the Pac-10, Cal has gained respect through the first two-thirds of the season in forging a winning record against what everybody ranks as one of the toughest schedules in college football. Now the Bears have four games remaining and how Cal fares down the stretch will tell much about the character and possible bowl hopes for this young Golden Bear team. With its only losses on the season coming to highly ranked UCLA (No. 2 in Associated Press), Nebraska (No. 7) and Washington (No. 28), Cal has only one ranked opponent in the final four games (Arizona is No. 13) and will face off against three lower division teams in Oregon State this week (eighth with a 1-4 league record), Arizona State (tied with Cal in sixth place with a 2-2 record) and Stanford (tied for last with an 0-4 record). If confidence is as big a factor as everybody says it is, Cal has had it tough through the first two-thirds of this season. It has faced five undefeated teams thus far and the cumulative record of the first seven opponents entering their games against Cal thus far has been an astounding 18-3. Many of those teams have been unable to keep up the early pace, but the fact remains that they entered the games with confidence and momentum, whereas three of the final four games on the schedule feature teams with non-winning records.
Cal's First 7 Games vs. Final Four Games
Opponent Records First Seven Games Opponent Current Records Last Four Games
Houston 0-0 Oregon State 4-4
Nebraska 1-0 Arizona State 3-4
Oklahoma 2-0 Arizona 7-1
Washington St. 3-0 Stanford 1-6
USC 4-1 Cumulative Record 15-15 (.500)
Cumulative Record Entering Cal game 18-3 (.850)
Cal Offense On Verge of Success If It Can Start Capitalizing on Opportunities
The much-maligned Cal offense has managed to threaten virtually every opponent this season. What it really needs is to convert its opportunities. The general grading stick is the Red Zone, which means inside an opponent 20-yard-line, and Cal's performance has been relatively poor in that category, capitalizing on only 14 of 24 situations (9 touchdowns and 5 field goals) for an unimpressive .583 conversion rate. That only begins to tell the story of Cal's offensive opportunities this year. Through seven games, Cal has been inside an opponent 35-yard-line 41 times. That's an average of over five times per game. Unfortunately, Cal has walked away 24 times without a single point on those ventures deep into opponent territiory. The last two games have been particularly frustrating as Cal's inability to take advantage of scoring opportunities was the difference between two upset victories for the Bears and a pair of losses. Against Washington, Cal got to the Husky 20, 31, 29, 22 and 1-yard-lines without coming up with a point in a 21-13 loss. Last week, Cal got to the UCLA 17, 32, 38, 1, and 1-yard lines again without any points. Below is a list of Cal scoring opportunities inside opponent 35-yard-line this season, showing the Bears have converted on only 36 percent of those chances (15 of 41).
Opponent Times Inside 35 FGs TDs No Score Ran out Clock
Houston 4 1 0 2 0
Nebraska 4 1 0 3 0
Oklahoma 5 2 1 3 0
WSU 6 1 0 5 0
USC 8 1 4 2 1
Washington 7 0 2 5 0
UCLA 6 0 2 4 0
Totals 41 4 11 24 1
Punter Nick Harris Has Breakthrough Game, Continues to Pin Opponents Deep
After entering his sophomore season with expectations for a big statistical season, Nick Harris had to be disappointed to find himself mired in 10th place on the Pac-10 punting list after the first six games of the season, averaging just 37.9 yards a punt (far below his freshman average of 42.2 ypp) and having two punts blocked which led to 10 points (a touchdown against Houston and a field goal at USC). However, last week he had a breakthrough game as he boomed punt after punt in averaging 45.1 yards on 9 punts. More significantly, he placed six punts inside the Bruin 20-yard-line, including three punts that were downed at the UCLA 1-yard-line, 2-yard-line and 7-yard-line. While his average (39.0 ypp) still looks unimpressive, a closer analysis shows that 20 of his 59 punts have been downed inside opponents' 20-yard-line.
Dameane Douglas Making a Move on Pac-10 Single Season Record
With four games left to play, Cal senior Dameane Douglas is on pace to have the greatest receiving year in Pac-10 history. Despite the fact that he is Cal's only real threat in the passing game and often attracts a lot of attention from opponent defenses, he keeps putting up big numbers, game after game. Douglas is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation, averaging 8.0 receptions per game. He now has 56 catches this season, which already ranks tied for the fifth best single-season mark in Cal history. More importantly, he is on pace to challenge Keyshawn Johnson's Pac-10 record of 90 set in 1995. If he can average nine catches per game down the stretch, Douglas would end the season with 92 catches, the best mark in conference history. Douglas needs only to average five catches a game to overtake Bobby Shaw's Cal school record of 75 set last season. Below is a list of where Douglas stands on the Cal single-season and career lists.
Cal Single-Season Receiving Cal Career Receiving
Rec Yards Avg TD Rec Yards Avg TD
1. Bobby Shaw (1997) 75 1093 14.6 10 1. Bobby Shaw (1994-97) 180 2731 15.2 27
2. Sean Dawkins (1992) 65 1070 16.5 14 2. Brian Treggs (1988-91) 167 2335 14.0 15
3. Bobby Shaw (1996*) 58 888 15.3 9 3. Na'il Benjamin (1993-96) 165 2196 13.3 13
4. Steve Rivera (1975) 57 790 13.9 4 4. Dameane Douglas (1995-) 151 1852 12.3 12
5. Dameane Douglas (1998) 56 667 11.9 3 5. Mike Caldwell (1989-93) 139 1999 14.4 13
Sanyika Could be Shoo-in For Pacific-10 Defensive Player of the Year Honors
Sekou Sanyika may not have had the benefit of a preseason build-up like Pac-10 defensive stars Chris Claiborne of USC or Chris McAlister of Arizona, but it's becoming a virtual impossibility for anybody to dispute the fact that he's now the frontrunner for Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year honors. Nobody in the league has had the type of impact he has had through the first two-thirds of the season. For the second time in the last three games, Sanyika has broken through to record a safety, this time on UCLA running back Durrell Price for a one-yard tackle for loss. Sanyika has a stranglehold on the Pac-10 lead in tackles for loss, and he now has 19 for minus 101 yards. The closest competitor is Oregon State's Bryan Jones, who has 12 tackles behind the line for minus 36 yards. Sanyika is also tied for the league lead with seven sacks. The Cal single-season record for tackles for loss is 26.5 held for the past 15 years by Ron Rivera (1983).
Impact Games for Sekou Sanyika (1996-98)
San Diego State 9/14/96 Had 5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including three sacks for -29 yards
Oklahoma 9/20/97 Had 4 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for -23 yards
Arizona 11/15/97 Had 8 tackles, including 6 unassisted, and caused a fumble on sack that was returned for TD
Houston 9/5/98 Had 2 interceptions, which gave Cal the ball at the Houston 40- and 30-yard lines
Oklahoma 9/19/98 Had 3 tackles for loss for -20 yards, and caused a fumble recovered at OU 4-yard-line
USC 10/10/98 Had 3 tackles for loss for -20 yards, including a sack of QB for safety that started Cal comeback
Washington 10/17/98 Had 4 tackles for loss for -20 yards, including a pair of sacks, one of which caused a fumble
UCLA 10/24/98 Had 2 tackles for loss for -6 yards, including one for a safety
Cal Tailback Marcus Fields Moving Up in Pac-10 Rushing Race
At 6-2 and 205 pounds, Cal sophomore Marcus Fields has the type of size that can become more and more of a factor late in games. That type of impact figures to be even more significant as he matures physically for his junior and senior years. After picking up 118 yards against UCLA, Fields now ranks seventh in the Pac-10, averaging 66.0 yards per game. One of the clearest indicators of whether Cal is going to win is its ability to run the football. Since the beginning of the 1990 season, Cal is 38-7-1 in games that the Bears have rushed for 150 or more yards. This season, that's been a difficult task due to continuing injuries and changes on the offensive line, but the Bears have won both games they have managed to hit that 150-yard mark. Cal had 178 yards in a win at Oklahoma (including 56 yards on the ground in a 60-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter that resulted in the game-winning field goal) and had 157 yards on the ground in the win against USC (running six straight plays in gaining two first downs to run out the final 2:53 of the game.
Deltha O'Neal Continues Assault on Cal Record Book
It didn't take long for second ranked UCLA to find out how much of an impact Cal junior Deltha O'Neal can have in his various roles on the Cal team. He took the opening kickoff 40 yards to the Cal 40-yard-line to give the Bears great field position. Three plays later he took a pass out in the flat for a 31-yard gain to the Bruin 17-yard-line. O'Neal ended the day with 168 all-purpose yards (31 receiving, 126 kickoff returns, 11 punt returns). His 31.1 average on 15 kickoff returns ranks No. 7 nationally and second in the Pac-10 is impressive enough on its own. But the fact that he has done so without breaking a long one for a touchdown means that he is consistently having long returns to build his average. As a comparison, five of the top six NCAA returners above him have long touchdown returns which have boosted their averages. O'Neal now has 3,377 career all-purpose yards and ranks fifth on Cal's all-time list. He needs 350 yards to move past Paul Jones (3,726 from 1975-79). Below is a breakdown of O'Neal's kickoff and punt returns this season
Deltha O'Neal's 1998 Season - Kickoff Returns and Punt Returns
Houston Nebraska Oklahoma WSU USC Wash UCLA
KO Ret -- 49, 16 22, 22 49 31,36,27,57,20,12 none 40,24,32,30
Punt Ret. 13,1,5,21 18,10,5,15 -- 22,24,19,8,13,1 9,14 3, 3, 8, 31, 1, -10 2,1,8
Cal Defense Continues to Earn Respect but Chasing Arizona for Pac-10 Lead
Cal had another superior outing last week, holding one of the nation's most potent offenses (UCLA) to just 381 yards and 28 points, impressive numbers considering the Bruins entered the game averaging 497.6 yards (7th in nation) and 46.6 points per game (3rd nationally). On UCLA's first offensive play, Jerry DeLoach sacked Cade McNown and forced a fumble that the Bears recovered at the Bruin 2-yard-line, setting up Cal's first touchdown. Later in the first half, Sekou Sanyika tackled Durrell Price for a safety to give the Bears another two points. That's nothing new for a Cal defense that has created a lot of big plays this year. Cal has returned two interceptions for touchdowns, recorded another safety, and recovered a fumble at Oklahoma's 4-yard-line to set up a TD. In all, Cal has now scored eight TDs, one field goal and two safeties following turnovers. The breakdown is as follows:
UCLA: TD (fumble), safety
USC: TD (fumble), TD (fumble), safety, TD (safety)
WSU: TD (fumble), TD (interception), TD (interception), FG (interception)
Oklahoma: TD (fumble).
Despite Cal's impressive performance against UCLA, the Bears fell into second place in the Pac-10 total defense standings as Arizona used a strong effort against NE Louisiana (205 yards of total offense), to take over the league lead. Arizona is giving up 315.5 yards a game while Cal is second, giving up 330.3 yards a game. However, at least two UCLA players, who has faced both Arizona and Cal, believe the Bears have the strongest unit. "They are a great defense right now," said Bruin tailback Jermaine Lewis. "It was the toughest defense we have played this season." UCLA offensive guard Andy Meyers commented, "They don't get worn down, they're a much better defense than Arizona."
Cal's Dramatic Turnaround over the Last Three Years
1996 (11 games)* 1997 (11 games) 1999 (7 games)
Scoring Defense 33.2 ppg (9th in Pac-10) 30.8 ppg (10th in Pac-10) 20.0 ppg (2nd Pac-10)
Total Defense 460.3 ypg (10th in Pac-10) 381.4 ypg (8th in Pac-10) 330.3 ypg (2nd Pac-10)
Pass Eff. Defense 137.8 rating (10th in Pac) 139.9 (10th in Pac-10) 104.5 rating (3rd Pac-10)
Rushing Defense 189.5 (9th in Pac-10) 144.4 ypg (7th in Pac-10) 160.6 ypg (8th in Pac-10)
Turnover Margin -0.6 topg (9th in Pac-10) +0.0 topg (7th in Pac-10) +1.43 topg (2nd in Pac-10)
* does not include bowl game
Cal Against the Run through Seven Games in 1998
No. of Carries APC vs. Cal* Runs 2 yds or less Pct. Runs 10 yds or more Pct.
Houston 32 2.97 13 .406 4 .125
Nebraska 60 4.23 30 .500 8 .133
Oklahoma 56 4.55 30 .536 12 .214
Washington St. 26 4.50 12 .462 3 .115
USC 34 4.50 21 .618 3 .088
Washington 42 1.93 25 .595 2 .048
UCLA 41 4.12 24 .580 9 .210
Season 250 3.82 131 .524 32 .128
* Average per carry
Bear Defenders Get Stronger in the Second Half
Cal's defense is one which seems to get stronger as the game progresses. That's a testament both to the conditioning of the Cal players and the adjustments the players and coaches make to what an opponent is attempting to do during the course of a game. For the fifth time in seven games, Cal held an opponent to fewer yards in the second half than it had in the first half. Last week, UCLA managed just 173 yards after intermission after rolling up 208 yards in the first half. Below is a comparison of what opponents have gained in the first half vs. the second half and a list of Cal's opponent drives in the second half this season.
Cal Defensive Performance First Half
vs. Second Half and Opponent 2nd Half Drives
Opponent 1st Half Yards 2nd Half Yards 2nd Half Drives (yards and result)
Houston 145 yards 76 yards -10 (punt), 35 (punt), 26 (fg) / 5 (punt), 13 (punt), 8 (punt), -1 (punt), 0 (downs)
Nebraska 284 yards 150 yards -16 (punt), 0 (punt), 31 (punt) / 64 (missed FG), -1 (punt), 64 (TD), 9 (downs), -1 (fg)
Oklahoma 162 yards 170 yards 47* (fg), 1 (punt), 31 (interception) / 83 (fg), 2 (punt), 16 (game over) *roughing punter penalty
WSU 64 yards 269 yards 75 (td), 50 (interception), 4 (punt), 60 (td) / 5 (punt), 37 (punt), 9 (punt), 17 (downs), -4 (interception), 16 (game over)
USC 296 yards 69 yards 7 (punt), -8 (safety), 50 (fumble) / 7 (punt), 13 (fumble), 0 (punt)
Washington 176 yards 70 yards 9 (punt), -1 (punt), 27 (punt), 20 (punt) / 14 (punt), 1 (fumble), 0 (interception), 3 (punt), 7 (punt), -10 (downs).
UCLA 208 yards 173 yards -5 (punt), 7 (punt), 8 (punt), 67 (TD) / 57 (punt) 31 (game over)
Miscellaneous Notes, Et Cetera, Three-dot Data
Cal ranks eighth nationally in turnover margin (+1.43 per game). ..Oregon State's senior wide receiver Greg Ainsworth, who ranks 39th nationally in pass receptions (5.4 per game) is the older brother of Cal freshman receiver Mike Ainsworth, who is redshirting this seasonCal wide receiver Joel Young caught his first career touchdown with a 3-yarder from Justin Vedder that cut UCLA's lead to 21-16 in the final minute of the third quarterOregon State had a monster day against Washington last Saturday, rolling up 582 yards of total offense and scoring 34 points in SeattleOSU tailback Ken Simonton, a local product from Pittsburg HS, is second in the Pac-10 and 33rd nationally in rushing with a 91.8 yards per game averageThe Bears are No. 36 in the NCAA in total defense, allowing 330.3 yards a game, an improvement of almost 50 yards ago (381.4 ypg)Justin Vedder ranks 49th in NCAA total offense, averaging 183.7 ypgCal linebacker Albert Dorsey ranks 8th in the league in tackles, averaging 8.1 per game.