Oct. 12, 1997
California-Washington State Media Notes
* CALIFORNIA HOSTS COUGARS IN 60TH MEETING BETWEEN THE SCHOOLS
California and Washington State renew a rivalry that dates back to 1919 when the Bears travel to Pullman, Wash. this Saturday afternoon. While the Bears have a dominant 35-20-5 edge in the series, the Cougars are 10-4-1 against Cal since 1980 and have won 7 straight against the Bears at home since 1981. The Bears have not posted a victory at Washington State since a 45-13 victory in 1979. Last season, Cal was on the verge of a major come-from-behind victory and a 6-0 record as the Bears had a 1st-and-goal at the one-yard-line with just over one minute left in the game, but quarterback Pat Barnes fumbled the ball away and the Cougars recovered to run out the clock with a 21-18 win. Since that disheartening loss, the Bears have won just 3 of their last 10 games and are hoping an upset against the Cougars this week will reverse the Bears fortunes as it did last season.
* FRUSTRATIONS FOR CAL CONTINUE AS BEARS WIN STAT BATTLE BUT LOSE GAME
For those who just read the final score of Cal's 30-3 loss to No. 10th ranked Washington, many would have assumed that Cal was overwhelmed. However, a closer analysis shows it was just the latest episode of a frustrating string that has seen the Bears lose 3 straight games primarily to mistakes and penalties rather than superior talent. For the second game in a row, Cal outgained its opponent, but still lost on the scoreboard. Against Washington, Cal ran more plays (78-to-67), had more total offense (344-to-336) and had more first downs (21-to-17), but couldn't take advantage and was held without a touchdown for the first time in 31 games (dating back to a 13-6 loss at Arizona in 1994).
Cal had a chance to take control of the Washington game in the first quarter as the Bears drove to the Husky 17-yard-line on their first drive and to the Washington 22-yard-line on the second drive, but came away empty both times. A 3rd-and-1 play at the 17, failed and an ensuing Ignacio Brache field goal sailed wide right on the first drive. On the next series, Cal failed on a 3rd-and-3 at the Husky 22 and Brache's field goal attempt was blocked. Still, when Brache hit a 35-yard field goal near the end of the half and Cal was down just 7-3 at the intermission, it appeared that Cal had all the momentum on its side. However, the opening kickoff of the second half saw Deltha O'Neal fumble the ball away when he was switching the ball from one had to the other as he saw an opening and cut across the field. Washington recovered the ball at the Cal 19, and 2 plays later, the Huskies scored to take a 14-3 lead. Washington benefited from a short punt and long return on its next possession, needing only a 37-yard drive for a TD and a 20-3 lead to effectively end Cal's upset bid.
* BEARS WILL HAVE TO BE ROAD WARRIORS IF THEY HOPE TO STOP LOSING STREAK
A youthful Cal team will have to show a lot of maturity over the second half of the season if the Bears hope to turn around a season that has seen the squad drop 3 consecutive games. The problem the Bears face is that 4 of Cal's final 6 games are scheduled on the road and the Bears haven't had a lot of success in those away venues in recent histories. After visiting Pullman this Saturday, where the Bears have lost 6 straight games (7 if you count a game in Spokane in that streak), the Bears then visit UCLA. While Cal has won 2 of its last 3 games in Pasadena, the Bruins have won 14 of the last 16 games in Los Angeles in the series . Cal then has home games scheduled against Oregon State and Arizona State, but will return to the road to close out the season at Arizona and Stanford.
* YOUNG CAL DEFENSE SHOWS SIGNS OF COMING OF AGE, BUT IN TURNOVER DROUGHT
Cal's defense is one of the youngest in college football with 5 sophomores (Matt Beck, Sekou Sanyika, Jerry DeLoach, Mawuko Tugbenyoh, Pete Destefano) and 1 freshman (Rashawn Davis) in the starting line-up and only 3 seniors in the entire two-deep depth chart. New defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich has maintained from the moment he arrived at Cal that the Bears were probably a year away from developing into a highly ranked unit. However, Cal has begun to show signs it can be a formidable defensive force and the Bears took a major step forward last week. Against a Washington team that entered the game ranked 14th nationally in total offense, averaging 446.3 yards a game, the Bears held the Huskies to 100 yards under their season average, allowing just 336 yards of total offense. The Bears currently rank 59th nationally in total defense, allowing 353.8 yards per game and that's a huge improvement over a year ago when the Bears finished the regular season 105th in defense, allowing 460.3 yards a game.
Two areas which remain a concern for the improving Cal defense are creating turnovers and stopping opponent big plays. Cal has not created a turnover in 3 consecutive games and not coincidentally they've all been losses. The Bears would also rank much higher statistically if they stopped giving up the big play. Washington's lone touchdown of the first half came on a 43-yard pass play on which the Bears missed a tackle and Husky tight end Cam Cleeland went into the endzone. Cal has also given up touchdown plays of 42, 65, 54, and 73 yards this season.
* VEDDER CALMLY LEADING CAL OFFENSE THAT IS RANKED 18TH IN NCAA TOTAL OFFENSE
For a player who entered the season without any major college experience, Cal quarterback Justin Vedder has been very solid in his execution leading Cal's offense. The Bears are ranked No. 18 in the nation in total offense, averaging 425.8 yards per game. Vedder is currently ranked 42nd nationally in pass efficiency with a 131.2 rating. He is 15th in NCAA total offense, averaging 272.0 yards per game. He is establishing a reputation as a scrambling threat as he had a 21-yard gain in the game at Louisiana Tech (the longest by a Cal quarterback since Dave Barr also had a 21-yarder in 1993) and came back with a pair of 10-yard scrambles last week against Washington.
* CAL OFFENSIVE LINE USES BULK TO DOMINATE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE
The Cal offensive line is beginning to emerge as one of the premier units in the Pac-10 and with 3 juniors and a sophomore in the starting group, many feel that the Bears will have one of the nation's dominant offensive lines next season. It is a huge group as the starting unit averages 6-5 and 305 pounds and they've used that bulk to advantage as the Bears have been able to run very effectively when given the opportunity. Unfortunately, Cal has fallen behind in each of its first 5 games and as a consequence, the Bears haven't relied on the run as much as they would if they weren't in the role of playing catch-up. After rushing for 235 yards at Louisiana Tech, the Bears came back to rush for 104 yards in the first half last week against Washington. Cal only rushed 15 times in the second half, because the Bears needed quick scores in their comeback bid, but still ended the game with 142 yards on the ground. Overall, Cal ranks 51st in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 151.0 yards per game. One of the unique things about the Bears starting group is that 3 of the 5 starters (Jeremy Newberry, Kevin Swillis and John Romero) have spent part of the careers at Cal on the defensive line. The Bears' forward wall will face its stiffest test this week against a Washington State defensive line which is generally regarded as the best in the conference.
* BRIAN SURGENER DEVELOPING INTO MAJOR THREAT IN CAL PASSING GAME
One of the reasons Cal has a good amount of optimism about the future is how its young players are developing. Among the 24 freshmen on the Cal roster, several are making an impact this season. Included in that group are tailback Marcus Fields, who leads the Bears with a 4.8 average per carry, defensive end Andre Carter who has 7 tackles, defensive tackle Jacob Waasdorp, starting nose tackle Rashawn Davis, tight end Reed Diehl and cornerback Chidi Iwuoma. None has had a bigger impact than tight end Brian Surgener. The 6-4, 220-pounder from Diamond Bar was thrust into the playing rotation this year mostly because there was a huge void in the wake of the early departure of Tony Gonzalez to the NFL. He has steadily improved in all phases and now has developed into a major threat in the Cal passing game. After not catching a ball the first 2 games, Surgener had 2 catches for 48 yards against USC, 2 catches for 22 yards at Louisiana Tech and 4 catches for 38 yards against Washington. His biggest play last week against the Huskies was ruled an incompletion by the officials. He had an apparent 33-yard catch to the Husky 3-yard-line, but the officials said he never had control of the ball and ruled it no reception. TV replays appeared to show that he did make the catch and then fumbled the ball when he was hit. He did recover the fumble, but it was all for naught because of the official's call.
* SHAW CONTINUES BRILLIANT SEASON, BUT BEARS NEED PRODUCTION FROM OTHERS
Cal senior Bobby Shaw continues his bid for All-America honors as he caught 6 passes for 60 yards against the Huskies last week. However, his streak of catching at least one touchdown pass in seven consecutive games was broken. He currently ranks 5th in the NCAA in both receptions (7.8 catches per game) and receiving yardage (128.2 ypg). With 7 touchdowns thus far, he ranks tied for 24th in scoring (8.4 ppg) and is 24th in all-purpose rushing (141.4 ypg). Now in third place on Cal's career receiving list, he needs 23 catches down the stretch (an average of 3.8 catches per game) to catch Brian Treggs (167 from 1988-91). A year ago, Shaw had his way with the Washington State secondary as he hauled in 10 passes for 108 yards, although he didn't score any touchdowns. Of more concern to the Cal coaching staff is the lack of production from Cal's other receivers. Junior Dameane Douglas and senior Kofi Nartey have only caught 23 passes together thus far and are averaging less than 10 yards per reception. As opponent defenses begin to double-team Shaw, it's important that the other Cal receivers begin to make a more significant impact. Below is a list of where Shaw stands on the Cal career and single-season lists.
Cal Career Receiving List Cal Single Season Receiving List
Name (years) No.-Yds-Avg-TD Name (year) No.-Yds-Avg-TD
1. Brian Treggs (1988-91) 167-2335-14.0-15 1. Sean Dawkins (92) 65-1070-16.5-14
2. Na'il Benjamin (1993-96) 165-2196-13.3-13 2. Bobby Shaw (96) 58- 888-15.3- 9
3. Bobby Shaw (1994-97) 144-2279-15.8-24 Bobby Shaw (97) 39- 641-16.4- 7
* ODDS AND ENDS, ET CETERA, MISCELLANEOUS, THREE-DOT DATA
Cal's sophomore linebacker duo of Matt Beck and Sekou Sanyika both rank among the Pac-10 leaders with 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage; Beck leads the Cal team with 34 tackles and has a pair of 9-tackle outings (vs. Oklahoma, Washington)...Tarik Smith's 32-yard run against Washington last week was the longest of the season...After facing the nation's top ranked quarterback in Washington's Brock Huard, the Bears now take on Ryan Leaf of Washington State who enters Saturday's game ranked No. 8 nationally with a 157.5 pass efficiency rating...Cal has been relatively efficient in the Red Zone (at or inside an opponent's 20-yard-line) but had a few problems last week in that category; the Bears entered the game having converted 13-of-15 Red Zone opportunities (with 11 of those being touchdowns), but only managed 1-of-2 against the Huskies (one field goal); more significantly, Cal ended 7 drives in Washington territory and managed just a single field goal out of those opportunities...Cal's defense has already faced the nation's No. 2 rusher in Oklahoma's Desmond Parker under his average (he's averaging 159.2 yards per game and Cal held him to 81 yards on 19 carries) and the No. 18 rusher in Washington's Rashaan Shehee (he had 124 yards on 24 carries) and now will face the NCAA's No. 20 rusher in Washington State's Michael Black who's averaging 106.2 yards per game; he had a huge game against the Bears last year as he rushed for 214 yards on 25 carries.