Sept. 30, 1997
California - Louisiana Tech Media Notes
CAL DEFENSE IS PROVING TO BE DOMINANT IN SPURTS THIS SEASON
The Cal defense has played solidly during the first 3 games as the Bears currently rank 24th in the nation in total defense, giving up 296.3 yards a game. They've shown an ability to be dominant during parts of the first 3 games, but also have had some breakdowns at other times during those games. Against Houston, Cal gave up just 4 first downs and 29 yards of total offense in the second half. Against Oklahoma, after giving up a opening touchdown drive, the Bears held the Sooners to just one first down and 29 yards of total offense on their subsequent 9 offensive drives. Last week, Cal gave up just 6 first downs and 89 yards of total offense in the second half against USC. However, for the Bears to develop into a superior defensive team, they'll need to stop allowing big plays. Last week, Cal gave up a 65-yard TD pass and a 33-yard TD pass. Take away those 2 plays and the Bears held the Trojans to just 275 yards on the other 72 plays (an average of only 3.8 yards per play). The previous week against Oklahoma, Cal gave up a 54-yard TD run, a 73-yard TD pass, a 33-yard TD pass and a 40-yard pass play. Take away those 4 plays and the Bears held the Sooners to just 151 yards on the other 53 plays (an average of 2.8 yards per play). Against Houston, Cal gave up a 32-yard pass and a 25-yard run; other than those 2 plays, the Cougars were held to 108 yards on 47 plays, an average of 2.3 yards per play.
BOBBY SHAW CONTINUES AMAZING TOUCHDOWN STREAK, RANKS NO. 2 IN NCAA RECEIVING
Cal senior wide receiver Bobby Shaw missed his third consecutive 100-yard receiving day last week when he accounted for 95 yards (on 5 catches) against USC's highly regarded secondary. However, the Trojans could not keep him from making big plays, which is becoming his trademark. Shaw has now caught 19 passes for 30 yards or longer in his career, including 5 thus far this season. Shaw was the key in Cal's first scoring drive against USC as he hauled in a 44-yard reception and then threw a 19-yard pass himself for a first down on a fake field goal play to set up an eventual field goal. He scored Cal's first touchdown on 27-yard TD catch. Shaw now has caught touchdowns in 6 consecutive games, dating back to last season. He has caught 22 touchdown passes over the last 3 seasons, despite the fact that he's only started 19 games in his career. He currently ranks No. 2 in NCAA receiving with 9.0 receptions per game while he's third in receiving yardage, averaging 153.3 yards per game. With 27 catches thus far, Shaw needs to average just 4.75 catches per game over the final 8 games to break Cal's single-season record of 65 (set by Sean Dawkins in 1992). Shaw also ranks tied for 15th nationally in scoring, averaging 10.0 points a game, and is 17th in all purpose rushing, averaging 168.3 yards a game.
Cal Career Receiving List
Name (years) No.-Yds-Avg-TD Name (years) No.-Yds-Avg-TD
1. Brian Treggs (1988-91) 167-2335-14.0-15 4. Steve Rivera (1973-75) 138-2085-15.1-9
2. Na'il Benjamin (1993-96) 165-2196-13.3-13 5. Bobby Shaw (1994-97) 132-2098-15.9-22
3. Mike Caldwell (1989-93) 139-1999-14.4-13 5. Steve Sweeney (1970-72) 132-2043-15.5-21
SEKOU SANYIKA AND MATT BECK MAKING PRESENCE FELT IN OPPONENT BACKFIELDS
Defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich has commented that he expects Cal's defense to be improved this season, but that major strides will come in the next 2 years as a very young group (6 starters are sophomores) gains experience in the system. One of the main reasons for his optimism is the sophomore duo of Sekou Sanyika and Matt Beck, who are both threatening to make a run at Cal's single-season record for tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Sanyika is clearly the most improved player on Cal's defense and he has shown a penchant for making big plays. Last week, he delivered a 9-yard sack to help stop USC's opening drive and then came back to explode off the line of scrimmage on a 3rd-and-1 situation and drop LaVale Woods for a 6-yard loss deep in Cal territory and stop another scoring threat. He now leads the team with 8 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for minus 37 yards. Right on his heels is fellow linebacker Matt Beck, who has 7 stops behind the line for minus 20 yards. The school record for tackles behind the line of scrimmage is held by Ron Rivera who had 26.5 stops for loss while earning first team All-America honors in 1983.
JOHN McLAUGHLIN DEVELOPING INTO SPECIAL TEAMS PHENOM
Junior defensive end John McLaughlin is hoping to develop into a major pass-rushing threat with his quickness at the line of scrimmage. He's had limited playing time on defense thus far, splitting time with sophomore Mawuko Tugbenyoh. However, his major impact has come on special teams. He's been a terror on kickoff coverage, registering 2 tackles on kickoff coverage at Houston, making 2 more tackles and causing one holding penalty against Oklahoma when the Sooners couldn't contain his all-out sprint down the field. Last week, he showed up big in another area. He keyed Cal's first touchdown against USC when he broke loose up the middle and blocked Jim Wren's punt, which Cal recovered at the Trojan 25-yard-line. Two plays later, the Bears scored on a touchdown pass.
UNPROVEN TIGHT END POSITION SHOWS SIGNS OF DEVELOPING QUALITY DEPTH
Going into the season, the one position that most concerned the coaching staff was tight end. Now just 3 games into the season, there are no less than 4 players who are sharing playing time and the tight end position has developed into one of the deepest on the Cal team. The biggest development has been the play of redshirt-freshman Brian Surgener. A player with excellent growth potential, he now weights 220 pounds and is regarded as the team's top receiving threat at that position. He grabbed his first 2 career receptions last week against USC, a 33-yarder and a 15-yarder, and figures to become a bigger and bigger part of the Cal passing game as the season evolves. Another redshirt-freshman, Reed Diehl, is the prototype short-yardage blocker as he weighs 260 pounds and is a major physical presence in the running game. Junior A.J. Kunkle is just now starting to round into shape after knee surgery in the summer and caught a touchdown pass in the Oklahoma game. True freshman Corey Smith has been hampered by a sprained ankle and is being brought along slowly. He did catch a 7-yard pass in the Oklahoma game and may have the most physical ability of any of the four players. With this type of depth, it appears that Cal's tight end position will not be a cause for concern for the next several years.
BEARS HOPE TO REVERSE TREND OF SLOW STARTS THIS SEASON
Every coach loves a football team that has the ability to come from behind and finish strong. However, that doesn't mean that starting slowly in games is an enviable habit and Cal hopes to stop a trend this season that has seen it start slowly in the first 3 games. In all 3 contests, Cal has fallen behind in the first quarter with the opponents scoring first. The first 2 games, Cal was able to come from behind and post victories, but last week the Bears let things get too far out of hand for any comeback. Cal saw Houston take a 3-0 lead, before rebounding for a 35-3 victory in the season opener. Two weeks ago, Oklahoma went ahead 7-0 before Cal came back to lead 26-7 late in the first half and eventually win 40-36. Last week, USC went ahead 14-0 and held a 27-3 lead at halftime, before Cal rallied to make a game of it before losing 27-17.
ODDS AND ENDS, ET CETERA, MISCELLANEOUS, THREE-DOT DATA
Cal head coach Tom Holmoe and Louisiana Tech head coach Gary Crowton both are 1983 graduates of BYU, but did not know each other personally until meeting at a coaching conference last year...Louisiana Tech secondary coach Bronco Mendenhall worked on the same defensive staff at Oregon State with Cal assistant Dan Ferrigno in 1995, with Mendenhall working with the defensive line and Ferrigno handling the secondary; Mendenhall was a safety and linebacker at OSU in 1989 and '90 when Ferrigno was an assistant coach working with the Beaver running backs...Louisiana Tech starting offensive tackle Chris Crudup is believed to be the biggest player Cal has ever faced as he lines up at 6-10 and 390 pounds; he plays quick (or weakside tackle) for the Bulldogs, which means that when Cal starter John McLaughlin lines up against him, he'll be giving up 145 pounds (of course, it's anticipated he'll have a slight quickness advantage)...Cal is averaging 30.7 points a game (ranking tied for 29th nationally), but has had scores negated by penalties in each of the first 3 games; the Bears had a touchdown pass called back at Houston, a 3-yard run and an 86-yard punt return both for TDs negated against Oklahoma and had a 2-point conversion pass completion called back last week vs. USC...Sophomore placekicker Ignacio Brache has hit all 3 of his field goal attempts and is doing a good job of getting solid hang time on his kickoffs; last week USC's R. Jay Soward entered the Cal game fifth nationally with a 38.5 yards per kickoff return average, but thanks in part to Brache's kickoffs was held to a 14.5 yard average on a pair of kickoff returns...Deltha O'Neal ranks 22nd in NCAA kickoff returns, averaging 26.2 yards per return...Cal ranks 14th nationally in passing offense, averaging 286.0 yards per game...Justin Vedder is 15th nationally in total offense (267.3 ypg) while he is 23rd in pass efficiency with a 145.7 rating...Cal had trouble running the football against USC, to some degree because the Bears fell behind quickly 14-0 and had to play catch-up, finishing the day with 31 net rushing yards...since the start of the 1990 season, Cal is 35-6-1 in games it rushes for 150 or more yards.