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Ta’ufo’ou to play Saturday

Posted by Eric | August 31, 2007 at 3:23 pm | In Games, Players/Alumni | 3 Comments

The SF Chronicle is reporting that fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou practiced at full speed Thursday and is expected to play Saturday.” This is excellent news for tomorrow’s match-up.

During a scrimmage on August 16, fullback Ta’ufo’ou sprained his MCL (knee), which was thought to sideline him for 3-6 weeks including the Tennessee game.

Media on Tennessee

Posted by Eric | August 31, 2007 at 3:07 pm | In Games | No Comments

Tennessee helmetCal helmet

#15 Tennessee vs. #12 Cal

ESPN’s Top 25 Overview:

This is easily the marquee game of opening weekend and Cal will have revenge on its mind. Last season, the Vols jumped out to a 35-0 lead in routing the Bears. This time Cal is at home, returning a veteran offense.

SI: “Bring on the Vols”

On Saturday, [Nate Longshore] from Canyon Country, Calif., will lead the 12th-ranked Bears against No. 15 Tennessee — the only matchup between ranked teams in Week 1. …

After getting blown out in Knoxville, Cal had a terrific season, winning 10 games and dominating Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl. But, in discussing the Bears season, says Tedford, people seldom failed to mention the debacle that began it. Despite that low moment — indeed, because of it — the Cal guys I talked to are fired up to get another crack at the Vols.

USA Today: “Cal-Tennessee stands out in weekend of mismatches”

With the kickoff to the college football season full of mismatches… the one game to watch should be No. 12 California against No. 15 Tennessee in Berkeley (Saturday, 8 p.m., ET, ABC).

Cal coach Jeff Tedford says last year’s 35-18 loss at Tennessee was the worst game his team has ever played but Saturday’s game isn’t about revenge. “It’s redemption,” he says.

The stigma of last year’s blowout and the stereotypes perpetuated about West Coast football as a result, lingered the entire season, Tedford says.

Though a league’s strength can’t be judged on one game — Cal-Tennessee is the only match between a Southeastern Conference and Pacific-10 school in the regular season — a Bears win would be sweet for the Pac-10, especially after LSU coach Les Miles jokingly took a swipe at the league.

AP: “Cal aims for better start vs. Vols this time”

The Golden Bears have 16 starters back from last season, including eight on offense. The unit is led by junior quarterback Nate Longshore, who threw for 3,021 yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore.

“This is the first time that we’ve had a returning quarterback that played the previous season come back and start for us in our five years,” Tedford said. “Nate is a student of the game, he has experience now and really in all environments. Starting out last year at Tennessee was as tough a look as you’re going to get.” …

Both teams are picked to finish second in their respective conferences, Tennessee behind defending national champion Florida in the SEC East and Cal behind the top-ranked Trojans. … Tennessee is 2-6-1 all-time in the state of California, where it hasn’t played since a 30-24 win at UCLA on Sept. 6, 1997. The Golden Bears went 8-0 at home last year.

Yahoo/Rivals: “For openers, Cal-Tennessee tops list”

1. Tennessee at California
The only first week matchup of top 25 teams – Cal is 12th, Tennessee is 15th - is also a rematch of a beat-down from last season. Tennessee physically overwhelmed Cal 35-18 (it wasn’t that close) in Knoxville last season. This time, Cal gets its chance for redemption in front of its home crowd. Both teams feel they have legitimate championship aspirations, but the Bears must prove they’re tough enough up front to avoid another embarrasment. Meanwhile, Tennessee is unsettled in the secondary, which is especially worrisome when facing Cal’s explosive receiver DeSean Jackson.

ESPN: “Rematch with Vols has Cal fired up”

“We’re not out to make a statement for the Pac-10,” Tedford said. “We’re out to play our best that we can play. … If we had played our best and gotten beat like that, you can make that statement. We didn’t even come close to how we play.”

Tennessee comes to Berkeley with a question mark surrounding Ainge, who broke the little finger on his throwing hand… None of that matters to the Cal players or their fans, 50,000 of whom will be armed with megaphones on Saturday, courtesy of the athletic department. If the Bears beat the Vols, it will taste sweet no matter who wears the white uniforms with orange numbers. Even Tedford admitted as much.

“If we’re successful in this game, it will just validate that we’re a good football team,” Tedford said. “Cal’s sharp offense will prove too much for Tennessee”

Cal 34, Tennessee 28. The Bears actually do have bigger problems than hippies in their oak trees; namely, the fact that their defensive front seven only has two returning starters. But they’ll also be able to score enough points this year — powered by a trio of Longshore TD passes, and a solid outing from new No. 1 runner Justin Forsett — to overcome whatever offensive assault Ainge and Cutcliffe can muster.

NY Post: “Golden Opportunity’

Listen, Cal won’t be confused with Southern Cal anytime soon, especially on the depth chart, but the Bears’ starting offensive skill is comparable to the No. 1 Trojans’, and the defense isn’t bad either. Just ask Texas A&M, which was blasted by the Bears, 45-10, in the Holiday Bowl.

Tennessee, picked preseason No. 2 in the SEC East, is in line for a good season. But with Cal, Southern Miss and Florida on the slate the first three weeks, it could be a rocky start on Rocky Top.

Cal (-6) is the pick.

Reed to transfer

Posted by Alex | August 29, 2007 at 11:02 pm | In Quarterback | 4 Comments

Kyle Reed is looking to transfer after losing the backup QB battle to Kevin Riley. Reed, a redshirt sophomore, will have 2 years to play 2 years after the transfer. According to Yahoo, Reed has already contacted San Jose State.

Although this is kind of sad that Reed is giving up on winning the starting QB job in the future, there are some benefits that come from this transfer. It opens up more possibilities for QB recruits in the future, and allows Brock Mansion, Riley, and Beau Sweeney to compete for the starting QB job after Longshore leaves. This takes out a bit of the logjam at the QB position. Also, this transfer speaks volumes to Cal’s recruiting in the past couple years. Reed was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school and was an elite 11 qb. That he cannot even crack the playing field at Cal shows that our level of talent has risen tremendously since the days when Kyle Boller stepped into the starting QB position as a freshman.

Tennessee QB update

Posted by Alex | August 29, 2007 at 8:58 pm | In Uncategorized | 1 Comment

According to ESPN, Tennessee QB Erik Ainge has a broken pinky on his throwing hand. He is still expected to start for the game, with backup sophomore QB Jonathan Crompton ready to step in.

While reports show that Ainge seems to be throwing fine, it seems like a broken pinky would have a significant effect on how Ainge throws the ball. This is an unfortunate injury as it would have been good to see the Bears play the Vols at their best. The Vols will now be missing their starting RB (Larry Coker), and will be playing with a hurt QB.

Herbie Awards, Jackson

Posted by Steve | August 27, 2007 at 4:30 pm | In Awards | 1 Comment

Several Cal players have garnered spots on Kirk Herbstreit’s Seventh Annual Herbie Awards (ESPN), which he gives to “the best college football players, coaches, teams and fans from across the nation.” It’s good to see Cal players getting some well-deserved national respect. Here is a summary of the awards:

  • Best Wide Receivers - Speed To Burn: #1 DeSean Jackson
  • Dream Offensive Line - The Hogmollies: #1 Alex Mack, Center
  • Best Tight Ends - Block And Catch: #5 Craig Stevens
  • Best Quarterbacks - Old School: Classic Dropback Style: #6 Nate Longshore
  • Top True Freshmen: Jahvid Best, RB
  • What’s My Name - Players who will be household names by Oct. 1: Justin Forsett, RB
  • Favorite Playcallers - Keeping defenses off-balance: Jeff Tedford

EDIT by ERIC: There was also a nice mention of Jackson on today’s College Football Live by Todd McShay (Scouts Inc.) regarding the best pass catchers:

“Two of college football’s best pass catchers could be tight ends… now for the rest of the Wide Receivers there is no Calvin Johnson in college football this year but there are a lot of very good receivers. At the top of the list I have DeSean Jackson who beats out other guys like Mario Manningham, Limas Sweed, Earl Bennett and Adarius Bowman simply because of his versatility. I love the fact that he’s one of the premiere open field runners in the nation, catches the ball well, and while he’s small he’s tough and not afraid to go over the middle. That’s why I have Jackson ahead of this list. Throw in his kick return ability and punt return ability and to me he’s a special playmaker right up there with the best of them in college football.” [/JY]

Riley #2, true freshmen to play

Posted by Eric | August 26, 2007 at 3:54 pm | In Players/Alumni, Quarterback | No Comments

Coach Jeff Tedford has named redshirt freshman Kevin Riley the number 2 quarterback. However, the CC Times reports:

[Kyle] Reed, a redshirt sophomore, said he has no plans on transferring or changing positions. … Tedford said the decision doesn’t necessarily mean Riley is the heir apparent to Longshore, who is a junior. … Still, Reed is clearly disappointed with the decision, something Tedford said is to be expected.

“That’s natural,” Tedford said. “When a guy puts in that much time and energy, you can’t expect him to be chipper. He’s bounced back. He’s had a good attitude the last couple of days. I have a lot of confidence he’s going to stay focused on what he needs to get the job done and be ready.”

Even though Reed has had a couple of days to digest the news, it’s clear he’s still trying to make peace with it. … “I’m not going to lie. It’s still something that’s wearing on me,” he said. “I have to suck it up as a man and try to better myself through this process.”

Tedford has also confirmed that at least defensive back Chris Conte, defensive end Cameron Jordan and running back Jahvid Best will play this season as true freshmen.

Player updates: Best, Jackson…

Posted by Eric | August 20, 2007 at 6:47 pm | In DeSean, Players/Alumni | 1 Comment

True freshman Jahvid Best is making a name for himself in fall camp, already earning the nickname “Jet.” Coach Jeff Tedford suggests that Best may not be redshirting this season:

“He’s special,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. …

Tedford suggested strongly that Best will get some playing time at running back this year, and it seems a near certainty that Best will be returning kickoffs. Kick returns are a bigger part of the game this season with kickoffs moved back 5 yards to the 30-yard line, and Best is eager to give it a try.

“I love returning kicks,” he said.

The combination of Best and DeSean Jackson should be mind blowing.

Speaking of Jackson, Sports Illustrated just put up an Inside College Football: “Postcard” feature on Cal featuring the star WR/PR and his filmmaking following (his brother Byron and a friend). Jackson is confident as usual:

“I am the one to watch,” says Jackson with a smile when he sees the pamphlet. “I’ve been ready for this moment my whole life. The camera’s always been on me. The spotlight’s always been on me. I’m used to it by now. I’m ready.”

The article also goes into quite a bit more about the team:

  • Tedford is “about as comfortable with [Nate] Longshore as any quarterback he’s ever coached at Cal,” with the QB “like another coach on the field.”
  • RB Justin Forsett is ready, with “[m]ost within the program think Forsett could prove to be the most explosive back the school’s had since Arrington ran for over 2,000 yards”
  • Longshore on taking up Pilates with Forsett: “I have so much more flexibility and I’m able to play smarter and stay fresh. I do a little routine before I come out and I’m loose and everything feels good.”
  • CB Syd’Quan Thompson doesn’t blame his performance last year at Tennessee on the cast on his left hand. “The Tennessee game was a crazy atmosphere but it helped me grow and helped me to have a short memory.”
  • DE Tad Smith is rising from the third-string, and SI suggests “if he continues to make plays like he’s made so far in camp it will be hard for coaches not to start him.”
  • True freshman DE Cameron Jordan is turning heads, “routinely outrunning his fellow lineman by 20-30 yards during sprints.”

Kyle Reed and QB depth

Posted by Eric | August 20, 2007 at 6:10 pm | In DeSean, Players/Alumni | No Comments

The Chronicle put together a nice feature on sophomore backup quarterback Kyle Reed yesterday, highlighting his great attitude and work ethic while he competes with “his career on the line.” TBIOOF points out that his NFL potential is an excellent indicator of the Bears’ elite quarterback lineup.

According to Jon Okanes, Coach Jeff Tedford has still not chosen a #2 quarterback:

Tedford decided to delay his decision on the backup quarterback. Kyle Reed had a better scrimmage than [freshman] Kevin Riley, but neither clearly stood out. Reed still seems to have an edge because he’s been in the program one year longer than Riley. Tedford said he would likely make a decision by the middle of [this] week.

The article makes me want to root for Reed to start when junior starter Nate Longshore finishes up, but we’ll see how Tedford makes his decision.

Ta’ufo’ou injured; out for 3-6 weeks

Posted by Steve | August 20, 2007 at 9:34 am | In Offense, Players/Alumni | 1 Comment

During a scrimmage Thursday, fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou sprained a ligament in his knee, putting him on the sideline for 3-6 weeks including the September 1st home opener against Tennessee. Ta’ufo’ou played in all 13 games last season, including starting in Cal’s victory over Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl, and was expected to be the starter this year as well.

AP: #12, ESPN Power: #14

Posted by Eric | August 19, 2007 at 10:40 am | In Ranks/Predictions | No Comments

The Associated Press Top 25 for the pre-season has been released: Cal takes the #12 spot, just like in the Coaches’ Poll.

Meanwhile, ESPN released its pre-season Power Rankings a few days ago with Cal at #14.

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