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“WOODSHED BEATDOWN”

Posted by Eric | December 29, 2006 at 11:12 pm | In Games | 1 Comment

Yesterday’s Holiday Bowl was one for the ages and a defining moment of the Tedford Era at Cal. The Bears defied all critics and came together to form the juggernaut that the Cal faithful knew would show up to play, dominating all phases of the game and routing Texas A&M 45-10.

Here are the media rounds. Go Bears, and note you can’t spell shellacking without CAL.

AP: “Lynch runs for 111 yards, 2 TDs; Cal routs Texas A&M”

Cal (10-3) put an emphatic final touch to its second 10-win season in three years. …

“Cal played a great game,” [Aggies coach Dennis] Franchione said. “We were not up to the task. They controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.” … While the Golden Bears moved up and down the field, their defense came up big, too.

ESPN: “Bears’ Holiday Bowl win exorcises some demons”

The Bears pounded Texas A&M, outhitting the Aggies from the opening kickoff en route to an impressive and very emotional 45-10 victory … But Thursday’s performance was more about this team making a statement, proving — perhaps to themselves as much as the rest of the college football world — that they had the grit to go with all the glitz. … numbers don’t accurately show Cal’s dominance. …

The rout also provided a needed boost for Pac-10 pride, which really has taken a beating in the last week … beating the No. 21 Aggies won’t answer all the critics, but it sure was a great way to jump into the offseason.

San Diego Union-Tribune: “Grizzly bears”

Not only did Cal prove it could take a punch, it delivered a haymaker. …Whereas No. 21 Texas A&M (9-4) had been identified as the intimidator in this affair, boasting a bruising running game that ranked seventh-best in the country, it was Cal that assumed the role of tormentor. The Bears finished with 476 total yards and ran roughshod over a defense that just last month limited then-No. 11 Texas to seven points in the Aggies’ regular-season finale.

San Diego Union-Tribune: “Cal’s defense shows who’s boss”

The Cal Golden Bears were the ones playing the part of the physical opponent, bottling up the Aggies’ option game with blood-letting assignment defense in a 45-10 victory.

LA Times: “Cal makes point for Pac-10, beating Texas A&M 45-10″

It wasn’t the Rose Bowl, but it was a start. The No. 20 California Golden Bears, whose chance to get to Pasadena had veered off course in two of the past three seasons, made the most of their postseason opportunity…

SF Chronicle: “Lasting impression”

It was, in short, their most dominant postseason game ever, and one that will provide rebuttal for those whose minds still go back to the losses at Arizona and USC that sent them here.

SF Chronicle: “Win both convincing and entertaining”

Marshawn Lynch’s 111 yards and two touchdowns looked like classic Chuck Muncie. Justin Forsett’s 124 yards and a score on eight carries looked a lot like Lynch. Nate Longshore’s 235 yards on 19-of-24 passing looked like Pat Barnes circa 1996. DeSean Jackson was the spitting image of Geoff MacArthur in 2003.

Contra Costa Times: “Cal puts in extra hard work on this holiday”

After stumbling at the end of the regular season with only three offensive touchdowns in their final three games, Cal erupted for 476 yards of offense, including 241 rushing yards. …

“I’ve never seen a game where we outhit somebody so hard,” said Bears linebacker Zack Follett, who had two tackles for loss. “When you put this kind of beat-down on a great team like Texas A&M, it’s going to look good. Our future is awesome.”

Houston Chronicle: “Cal turns out the lights on A&M in Holiday Bowl”

The Bears punished A&M physically, hammering quarterback Stephen McGee on at least two occasions and then knocking running back Mike Goodson out of the game late with what appeared to be a knee injury. Cal dominated the Aggies’ offensive line, swarming to the ball to cut off running lanes. A&M couldn’t return the favor. … The Bears’ speed riddled A&M zones, with Nate Longshore having plenty of time to find open receivers in soft spots. …

The Bears outscored A&M 31-0 in the second half to break open a close game.

Dallas Morning News: “Holiday off: Cal routs A&M, 45-10″

Texas A&M’s porous pass defense, its downfall last year, resurfaced to haunt the Aggies Thursday night in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. The Aggies’ inconsistent passing offense, which they overcame much of this season, finally cost them against No. 20 Cal. No. 21 A&M suffered its first blowout loss of 2006, ending an encouraging year with a disappointing 45-10 defeat in front of a pro-Golden Bears crowd of 62,395 at Qualcomm Stadium.

San Antonio Express: “California smashes Texas A&M”

The Aggies upset Texas 12-7 on Nov. 24 in Austin, but Franchione’s first victory over A&M’s chief rival now seems a distant memory following Thursday’s shellacking against the Bears (10-3), the Pac-10 co-champions.

Tomorrow: the Holiday Bowl

Posted by Eric | December 27, 2006 at 8:47 pm | In Games | 1 Comment

vs.

The Holiday Bowl is tomorrow (Thursday), December 28 at 5pm Pacific time on ESPN. This is a big game against a big-time opponent, and hopefully the Bears are ready. On paper, Cal is a more talented team that should have the tangible advantages on the field. However, the Aggies are not a team to be overlooked and it will be a great challenge to defeat them.

I am excited to see how Coach Jeff Tedford has prepared the #20 Bears to face #21 Texas A&M and their option offense with a 275 pound running back. It should be a great match-up to watch but I see the Bears getting it done with a close win. With three (Oregon, ASU, UCLA) out of six Pac-10 teams losing their respective bowl games, it is also imperative for the conference that Cal wins tomorrow.

The Contra Costa TimesJay Heater has some optimistic words about the match-up:

My guess is that Cal’s offense is about to resurface. I think the players are very excited to be facing a traditional college football power and one that just beat Texas. Put DeSean Jackson and Marshawn Lynch in front of the national spotlight, and I would imagine that good things are about to happen. Quarterback Nate Longshore looks confident and happy, and I think he is going to bounce back with a big game.

In a way, the 2006 season is over. This game really is about 2007, even though Cal has some very talented seniors who will be leaving. But this is the lasting image that national press will get of Cal going into next season. Will it be of a team that couldn’t live up to the hype of national title contender, or will it be of a team that fell a little short against USC and went ahead and buried one of the Big 12’s top teams.

Meanwhile, Scouts, Inc.’s take on the game is similar to predictions posted earlier:

Texas A&M is entering the Holiday Bowl on a high after its win over rival Texas. The Aggies ground game is good enough to chew up the clock and keep Cal’s playmakers on the sideline. A&M does not play very many one-sided games and will present a tough obstacle for a talented Cal team. If the Golden Bears don’t get big plays from their playmakers this game could be the exclamation point on the Aggies fine season. In our opinion, though, the Golden Bears are too balanced and too explosive for the Aggies to keep up in the end. Prediction: Golden Bears 31, Aggies 24

Surprise: Devin Bishop commits to Cal

Posted by Eric | December 21, 2006 at 4:01 pm | In Recruiting | 4 Comments

Cal Football is really becoming a family affair. First Marshawn and his cousins Jordan and Larkins, then the Mixons, and now the Bishops.

Linebacker Devin Bishop, younger brother of linebacker Desmond Bishop (#10), has submitted his letter of intent to Cal in a surprise move on junior college LOI day. He’s transferring from San Francisco City College like Desmond. He’s rated 4 stars by Scout and 3 stars by Rivals.

Devin was previously set on Minnesota, but opted to sign with Cal instead. The 6′2″/225 lb/4.7 forty linebacker should be a good addition to the class and further loads up the linebacker corps for success. With Desmond graduating and heading to the NFL, the Bears should have another Bishop on the field making tackles.

The media on the Holiday Bowl

Posted by Eric | December 21, 2006 at 3:49 pm | In Games | No Comments

Opinions are mixed, but everyone says it should be close.

ESPN’s Bruce Feldman: “Picks: Texas rolls past Iowa; Cal wins Holiday shootout”

Cal 38, Texas A&M 35: Lots of dangerous skill talent on display in a bowl that always seems to be entertaining. I’m expecting a big show from the tailbacks on both sides, but in the end look for DeSean Jackson to take over.

Scout/CFN: “Mr Pac-10’s Bowl Picks”

This one is a bit tough to pick. While I definitely believe that Cal won’t lay the egg here that they did two years ago, I’m just not sold on them being all that great, especially after three straight lousy performances. A&M seems to be peaking, and while bowl games are always a crapshoot, I think that they’re the slightly better team here. Texas A&M 31, Cal 28

ESPN’s Pat Forde: “Dashing through the bowl season”

The important information: This is an intriguing game between two teams looking for a springboard to a potentially big season in 2007. A&M coach Dennis Franchione got his credibility boost by upsetting Texas to end the regular season. Cal is still looking for one. …

The pick: Cal 30, Texas A&M 26.

USA Today’s Erick Smith: “Weekend Forecast”

This is one of the better non-BCS matchups of the bowl season. Both teams should produce a lot of offense as the Holiday Bowl continues its tradition of entertaining matchups. California 34, Texas A&M 28.

FOXSports/CFN: “Fearless Prediction: Holiday Bowl”

Texas A&M struggled all year against the nastier passing offenses and doesn’t have enough of a pass rush to throw the Bear passing game off, so expect a big day from Longshore. Cal isn’t physical enough to handle the nasty A&M offensive line and the pounding of the ground game, so expect a big day from Lane. When in doubt, go with the better running game. …

Fearless Prediction: Texas A&M 24 … California 23

Two tight ends, Curran and Eselu, commit

Posted by Eric | December 19, 2006 at 3:40 pm | In Recruiting | No Comments

Cal has added two quality tight ends to this year’s recruiting class, Skylar Curran out of Butte College in Woodland (CA) and Savai’i Eselu from Moanalua High School in Honolulu.

Curran committed last week as a relative unknown. At 6′5″/240 lbs, he can still run a 4.67 forty and is listed as a 3-star recruit by Scout. As a junior college transfer, he will have the ability to make an immediate impact next season by enrolling in spring with eligibility to play 3 years in 3. Butte is the JC where Cal found other gems like QB Aaron Rodgers and TE Garrett Cross, and hopefully Curran will live up to this great legacy as well.

Eselu committed to Cal this week, switching from an earlier commitment to Oregon in November. He is also rated 3-stars by both Scout and Rivals, and he is 6′4″/245 lbs and runs a 4.9 forty. Eselu is a solid addition to Cal’s blossoming Hawaii-Cal connection. It also appears that he is a very good student, and Cal’s academics played a big role in attracting him to the Bears over Oregon.

Storer breaks arm during practice

Posted by Steve | December 19, 2006 at 4:39 am | In Offense | No Comments

During practice earlier this week, fullback Byron Storer broke his arm and is expected to miss the Holiday Bowl. This is a tough loss for the team, as he has been pretty solid during the season as Marshawn Lynch’s lead blocker. During a press conference, Jeff Tedford had this to say about Storer:

He’s been a great player for us on special teams and offense. He’s been very reliable. One of the guys that makes this team tick is him. His passion for the game and his passion for Cal football is one of the best that we have. He’s really dedicated. It’s disappointing not to have him on the offense and the special teams, but more than anything for him, not to be able to play in one final game because it does mean so much to him.

Jackson wins Return Man award

Posted by Eric | December 17, 2006 at 7:58 am | In Awards, DeSean | 2 Comments

WR/PR DeSean Jackson won the 2006 Randy Moss Return Man award for nation’s top returner, the first of its kind. His 18.2 average yards per punt return and 4 returns for touchdowns this season are among the best in the nation.

4-star RB Jahvid Best commits, turning down USC/ND/more

Posted by Eric | December 13, 2006 at 10:45 am | In Recruiting | 2 Comments

Salesian High (Richmond, CA) star running back Jahvid Best has committed to the 2007 recruiting class, turning down offers from USC, Notre Dame, UCLA, and Oregon to play for the Bears. He is 5′10″/185 and is rated as the #11 prep running back in the nation by Rivals, also taking a place in their prestigious Rivals 100 list. Best is also described as a young man of excellent character to bring to the program.

The most striking thing about Best is his speed… he’s also a track guy who runs a 10.39 100m. That is just stupid fast and you’ll see some guys in the Olympics clock that kind of number. With Best and Shane Vereen committed to this class (also James Montgomery and Tracy Slocum from the 2006 class, aiming to fill the shoes of the current backs), the running back situation looks very bright for many years.

Hughes, Jackson AP All-Americans

Posted by Steve | December 12, 2006 at 4:41 pm | In Awards, DeSean | 1 Comment

In their yearly All-Americans list, the Associated Press selected Daymeion Hughes as a first-team cornerback, and DeSean Jackson as a first-team all-purpose player. Cal was the only Pac-10 team with two selections on the first team, with one player from each USC and UCLA being selected.

Pac-10 Review and Forecast

Posted by Steve | December 12, 2006 at 4:30 pm | In Awards, DeSean, Marshawn, Quarterback, Ranks/Predictions | No Comments

Next year looks to be an outstanding year for the Pac-10. While the Pac-10 looked rather mediocre this season and failed to meet the preseason hype of projected national rankings, the outlook for next season seems to point towards one of the most competitive for the Pac-10 in recent history. Some listed points to consider:

• Seven teams welcome back their starting quarterback (not Oregon State, Washington and Stanford). Experience at quarterback is critical for any team, but particularly in the pass-happy Pac-10.

• The top 15 rushers are all scheduled to return (though Cal junior Marshawn Lynch figures to enter the NFL draft).

• Only three of the top 10 receivers are seniors (though USC junior Dwayne Jarrett figures to enter the NFL draft).

• USC, California, Oregon and UCLA should be ranked in the 2007 preseason poll. Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon State will receive votes.

• If Lynch and Jarrett don’t return, USC quarterback John David Booty, Oregon tailback Jonathan Stewart, Cal quarterback Nate Longshore and Cal receiver wide receiver DeSean Jackson will be leading Heisman Trophy candidates.

In his analysis of the current season, Ted Miller also gave his MVP award to Marshawn Lynch, and Newcomer of the Year award to DeSean Jackson:

Most Valuable Player

  Marshawn Lynch
Lynch

Running back Marshawn Lynch, Cal

Lynch didn’t become the Heisman Trophy candidate he was touted as during the preseason, but he led the conference in rushing (1,245 yards) and all-purpose yards (1,657). He scored 13 touchdowns (nine rushing) and averaged 6.1 yards per carry. He piled up those numbers while battling a pair of sprained ankles, so his toughness deserves a tip of the cap as much as his talent.

And it was hilarious when he drove that golf cart onto the field after the Bears nipped Washington.

Newcomer of the Year

DeSean Jackson, Cal

Jackson, who led the Bears in receiving last season as a true freshman, has spectacular speed and athleticism — comparisons to Reggie Bush don’t evoke sarcastic snickers — making him the conference’s most dangerous player during his sophomore campaign.

He led the nation in punt returns, averaging 18.2 yards per return with four touchdowns. He also caught 54 passes for 979 yards and nine touchdowns.

With two or possibly three Heisman Trophy candidates, a competitive Pac-10, and an opening home game against Tennessee, next season should be quite exciting for the Bears.

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