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Season over

Posted by Eric | October 27, 2007 at 10:09 pm | In Games, Quarterback | 39 Comments

Cal 20, Arizona State 31.

Is this 2005? Coach Jeff Tedford stubbornly sticks with a quarterback, despite terrible play and a more than adequate replacement waiting on the bench.

What a disgrace. Tedford begins the game telling us QB Nate Longshore is “65%”. What was he still doing in the game? The three-and-outs, the blown throws, the two interceptions… his ankle was still clearly injured.

This game was hopeless for the Bears the moment Longshore hobbled onto the field in the second half. He didn’t step into throws. His timing was way off. We can’t expect a quarterback to bring us to victory over the #4 team in the nation on one leg. Tedford needs to rethink his philosophy on changing personnel (read: the quarterback) when our players are unable to perform.

I’m at a loss for words… more will come later.

Today: Arizona State

Posted by Eric | October 27, 2007 at 9:40 am | In Games | 6 Comments

Cal helmetASU helmet

The Bears are “hungry” for a win after two tough losses, aiming to return to form as they face #4 Arizona State tonight.

A win over the Sun Devils means that the Rose Bowl is still possible. Am I too optimistic? Probably. But today, I see the Bears looking sharp and ready to play. With new motivation and without the national championship pressures, I am making the homer prediction of Cal pulling the upset in Tempe 31-24.

Injury and personnel updates:

  • DE Rulon Davis will be back after missing the past few games with a sprained foot. It was previously uncertain whether he would make the trip to Tempe. The pass rush has missed him badly.
  • CB Brandon Hampton will be filling at the rover position for Marcus Ezeff, who is still out with a quad injury which appears to be worsening. The question is: who will see at cornerback? We’ll probably see more of true freshman Chris Conte and possibly RS freshman Darian Hagan.
  • WR Robert Jordan (about to beat the record for consecutive games with at least one reception) will play today, and TE Cameron Morrah should also.
  • Safety Robert Peele still out (ankle).
  • OG Noris Malele is losing some first team reps to RS freshman Mark Boskovich.

Here are the media rounds for the game:

ESPN: “Top 25 Overview”

Arizona State hopes to continue its push into the BCS title game picture as it hosts Cal. Once title-game contenders themselves, the Golden Bears hope to right the ship after a two-game losing streak.

AP: “No. 18 Cal Looking To End Slide Against No. 7 ASU”

Back-to-back losses have dropped the Bears to No. 17 from No. 2. Meanwhile, Arizona State has leaped from No. 18 to No. 7 and inherited all of Cal’s national ambitions. Two programs headed in opposite directions collide in the desert on Saturday night. …

ASU hopes to avoid a repeat of last season, when a loss to Cal all but wrecked its season. The Sun Devils won their first three games before walking into a buzz saw in Strawberry Canyon. The 49-21 whipping by Cal started a three-game losing streak, and the Sun Devils never recovered, finishing 7-6.

“For me, I didn’t play too well at Cal last year and they beat us pretty good,” Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter said. “This is a game I’ve been looking forward to, a little over a year now, waiting to get a second chance at them.”

Bruce Feldman: “Week 9 picks”

Cal 38, Arizona State 34: The Sun Devils have been quite good on defense, but they have yet to face an offense like they’ll see in Cal. Last season Ryan Torain ran all over Cal for a career-best 191 yards. He will be missed. I think the Bears make it five in a row in this series.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Saturday’s games to watch”

Cal RB Justin Forsett is second in the Pac-10 in rushing (116 yards per game) and has had a rushing touchdown in seven of his past eight games. … The Golden Bears are first in the Pac-10 in sacks against (eight), and third in scoring offense (35.1 points per game). … The Sun Devils have had an interception in nine consecutive games. … Arizona State is second in the Pac-10 in total offense (437.3 yards per game), scoring offense (37.7 points per game), total defense (304.3 yards per game) and passing defense (214.1 yards per game).

The stat: Arizona State is fourth in the nation in scoring defense (15 points per game). Line: Arizona State by 3.

ESPN: “California-Arizona St. Preview”

“We have stumbled two weeks in a row now,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “We just have to regroup. We are not going to just pack it in. There is so much parity in this conference.”

Although the Bears have been sliding, the Sun Devils have had no success against them lately, dropping four straight meetings — none have been decided by fewer than 17 points — since a 30-10 home win on Oct. 7, 2000. …

Leading rusher Ryan Torain suffered a season-ending toe injury in the first quarter of the win over Washington. Cal has been susceptible to the run lately, allowing an average of 175.7 rushing yards in its last three games. …

Longshore had one of his best career games against the Sun Devils last season as he threw for 270 yards, four TDs and one interception. The Bears have not lost three straight games since losing the first 10 games of their 1-10 season in 2001.

Thoughts at 5-2: “There’s still a chance”

Posted by Eric | October 27, 2007 at 7:47 am | In Coaches, Games | No Comments

CC Times’ Jon Okanes: “Bears down but not out after slide”

Now that Cal’s players apparently have talked themselves off the ledge following their crushing 30-21 road loss to UCLA on Saturday, it seems they’ve regained some perspective on the rest of the season. No, the Bears aren’t going to win the national title this season, but they haven’t been relegated to spoilers, either. The Rose Bowl may seem like a long shot, but it’s still a possibility. And finishing with a two-loss season would make them a factor on the national scene no matter how the rest of the Pac-10 standings shake down.

“Everybody has to know that it’s not over,” Cal wide receiver Robert Jordan said. “That’s the motivation that will keep us in it, knowing we still have a chance at the Pac-10 title and to get in the Rose Bowl. Everybody just has to relax. The way the college football season has been going, a lot of people can still lose. You never know what’s going to happen.” …

“Everybody had their heads down and everything,” Jordan said. “We just can’t give up on the season like this. There’s still a chance. It’s not too late for us to compete for the Pac-10 championship. Everything will be all right, and we’ll beat Arizona State.”

Oakland Trib’s Gary Peterson: “Tedford dwelling on his play-calling, like Cal fans”

“Trust me, I’ve been awake a lot the past couple days,” [Jeff Tedford] said Tuesday at his weekly media confessional. “As a play-caller after every game, I go back and think, should we have done this, should we have done that? I’m not going to call the perfect play every time.” …

At the top of Tedford’s To-Review list this week were the two running plays he called near the end of Saturday’s loss to UCLA. Cal, trailing by two points, had a first down at the UCLA 35-yard line with 2:40 to play. The Bears needed 20 yards to reach the outer limits of the chip shot zone. …

“We’ve won a lot of games around here doing things the way we’ve done them,” he said. “I’m not sure we should change anything. I don’t think it’s time to hit the panic button.” …

One of the things that won’t change is Cal’s commitment to the run. For starters, Forsett is second in the Pac-10 at 116 rushing yards per game.

SJ Mercury’s Jon Wilner: “How did Cal implode so quickly?”

In eight stunning, perplexing days, Cal plunged from the brink of No. 1 in the nation to fifth in the conference. From a national title contender to the outskirts of the Bowl Championship Series standings. From a Rose Bowl favorite to a Sun Bowl wannabe. And from 5-0 to . . . a three-game losing streak? …The reasons for Cal’s plunge are numerous and somewhat unsatisfying.

Year after year, the Bears have headed to Los Angeles with a lot on the line, and year after year, they’ve come up short. … During Cal’s six winless years in Los Angeles, UCLA has been beaten at home seven times and USC has been toppled in the Coliseum by Stanford. You’d think that Cal, which has had arguably the second-best program in the league over that span, would have broken through once - if for no other reason than chance. …

And yet, despite their October plunge, the Bears (5-2, 2-2) are not out of the Rose Bowl race.

It has been all of 10 months since a team made the Rose Bowl with two losses in conference play (USC), but the climb to the top of the standings will require help. The Bears need Oregon to lose again, they need ASU to falter, and they need UCLA to stumble at least twice. Oh, and they need to regroup emotionally, get Longshore healthy, find some answers on defense, hold onto the ball and run the table.

SF Examiner’s Glenn Dickey: “Cal alums should see bigger picture”

FACT NO. 1: Cal is two botched plays from a perfect season. …

FACT NO. 2: Jeff Tedford is the most successful Cal coach since the early Pappy Waldorf years, when the Bears went to the Rose Bowl three straight years — 1948-50. Waldorf’s last winning season was 1952, exactly half a century before Tedford’s first season at Cal. …

FACT. NO. 3: Since Tedford has been at Cal, the graduation rate of football players, which had been below 50 percent, has risen dramatically.

Marshawn: Beast Mode

Posted by Eric | October 26, 2007 at 7:20 am | In Marshawn, Players/Alumni | 1 Comment

Marshawn Lynch is making a big impact in the pros after his jump to the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. This week, he’s had some time in the spotlight.

He’s been nominated for the award a couple times this season — this time, Marshawn won the Rookie of the Week honor after his performance contributing to the Bills’ win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Meanwhile, fans, players, and sports radio in Buffalo (”Entering “Beast Mode” With Marshawn Lynch”) have a lot of praise for Marshawn’s overall efforts:

Anyone who’s watched Lynch run in his six games as a Bill has seen it. The 5-foot-11, 21-year old back out of Oakland has amassed 457 yards and four touchdowns behind a line that’s still trying to find its proverbial identity. Lynch has also hauled in 10 passes for 82 yards in addition to running the ball with a style both elusive and imposing, pumping his legs with a Roger Craig-like ferocity until the one, two, three or more would-be tacklers drag him down. . . .

It’s hard not to bristle when Bills fans do what they do, comparing their new hero to the beloved legends of old, but there’s a bit of No. 34 in No. 23. In a certain sense, Lynch typifies the back Bills fans would draw up, and not just as a hard-running, stubborn back with both flash and grit, but as a humble, quiet young man who speaks when he’s spoken to.

There’s talk that Marshawn is about to “bust out” as the Bills hit the softer section of their schedule:

Buffalo has faced four of the league’s top 10 run defenses thus far including the second-ranked Ravens and third-ranked Steelers. But all of that stiff competition looks to be serving the Bills run game well. Lynch had his second highest rushing output of the season last Sunday against the highest ranked run front they’ve faced this year (Baltimore) with 84 yards and a touchdown.

That’s why it stands to reason that the Bills ground attack has a good chance of breaking out with some big games in the weeks to come. Buffalo faces the 28th, 27th and 31st ranked run defenses over the next three weeks in the Jets, Bengals and Dolphins respectively.

The national media (here, Sports Illustrated) is taking notice as well:

The stats won’t show it, but Marshawn Lynch (27 carries, 84 yards) was a man against Baltimore.

Finally, he’s still hilarious as ever — check out this segment on “The Mayne Event” featuring Marshawn’s embrace of the city of Buffalo.

Reactions: UCLA 30, Cal 21

Posted by Eric | October 21, 2007 at 5:12 pm | In Games | 6 Comments

Yesterday, Coach Jeff Tedford’s losing record in Los Angeles advanced to 0-6.

I’m not ready to throw any coach or player under the bus, but changes must be made to salvage this season. The best way to describe the Bears on Saturday? Stubborn. That’s all.

Now, I don’t feel like repeating what has already been said:

Jason from EMFMV: “Wait Till Next Year (UCLA 30, Cal 21)”

4:00 PM: If you lose to a bad team, you are a bad team. Two conference losses in a row, and two games squandered. Lots of good excuses last week. This week? None. Cal can’t even beat this terrible UCLA team, a team coached by a moron. . . .

4:04 PM: Cal will fall to 5-2. Hey, is Steve Mariucci coaching? It’s got that feeling. Riding high at 5-0, and then… face plant.

4:07 PM: Game over. UCLA 30, Cal 21. Who needs to play in the Rose Bowl in 2008? Maybe the 50th attempt will be the charm.

Kevin from TBIOOF: “Game Over, Honeymoon Over”

Jeff Tedford did a remarkable job of being more conservative than Karl Dorrell. He flatly coached down to his competition. . . .

There is no excuse for losing this one. But we did.

For me, five remarkable years into the Tedford era, the honeymoon is over.

Ken from EMFMV: “UCLA debacle 1 of 5: I’m disgusted”

There is no excuse for the Bears losing to UCLA. To those who have said they have a newfound respect for UCLA, particularly their defense, one of two things is true. Either you had way too little respect for them or you don’t realize just how poor the Bears play-calling was. If I had to come up with a word for the Bears play-calling in the weak moments of the last two years it would be stubborn. Many pick the word conservative, but I think that is wholly inaccurate. . . .

The Bears should have won this one in a walk… but our coaches insisted otherwise, not because they were conservative, but because they were stubborn.

Unbelievable. Tragic. Disgusting.

Avinash from Bears Necessity: “Well, That Wasn’t Fun”

I can’t say I was surprised. The defense had been teetering like a house of cards for the past two games, and this time it fell apart (there were individual standouts, but the collective effort was gone). The playcalling was…questionable. Very questionable–so conservative it made Pat Robertson blush. I love Tedford, but two runs on 1st and 10 at the UCLA 35 when our field goal kicker looks more shaky than Byung-Hyun Kim?

Last week left me disgusted and bitter; this week just leaves me cold. All the doubters were right–place the Bears against a physical ground game and a fast defense, and they will be exposed. Oregon State opened the seal, UCLA busted it open.

Hydrotech from CA Golden Blogs: “UCLA Post-Game Thoughts”

*Cal’s run defense. Alright, plain and simple it sucked. Surpringly the stats say they only averaged 4.1 yards per carry. I thought it would have been more. … Poor tackling. Lots and lots of “hitting” and not wrapping up the ball carrier. . . .

*Our inability to run the ball. Yeah, we couldn’t run worth crap. Cal had a 2.2 yard rush average. Forsett had a 3 yard average which is sub-par for college football. This inability to run falls on the shoulders of the Cal OL, TEs, and FB. These guys just got out played. . . .

*Turnovers. Once again we lost the turnover battle and the game. Officially we had 4 turnovers and UCLA had 2. I suppose you could say we only had 3 since Longshore’s last INT was sort of a jump ball desperation pass. Nevertheless, the other turnovers are unacceptable. . . .

*Field Goal kicking. One of the most overlooked scorers on a football team is the field goal kicker. I think a lot of fans don’t realize the importance of having an excellent kicker. … Instead of us trying to make comeback, it would have been UCLA. . . .

While I do concede that [Coach Tedford]’s probably lost some games he shouldn’t have, he’s still a great coach. He may have yet to prove that he’s an excellent coach but he’s great. I don’t think it’s time to turn on him and just hope other Cal fans are reasonable in their criticism and don’t just let their emotions cloud their judgment.

Quotes from the team:

Worrell Williams: “We just have to keep fighting and never quit,” he said. “We don’t have anything else to play for but pride. Obviously, the national championship is out of the picture. The Rose Bowl is out of the picture. But we still have to suit up and play.”

DeSean Jackson: “We have to change some things up. I have a lot of confidence in coach (Jeff) Tedford, and we have a lot of playmakers on this team. We can’t wait until the last minute to start rushing around and trying to make plays. We’ve got to start knocking people out right away.”

There’s a lot of season left, but can Cal turn it around? We will see when the Bears visit ASU (#4 BCS, #7 AP) on Saturday. Let’s hope that the team, coaching staff, and fans stay strong despite these disappointing times.

The media on UCLA

Posted by Eric | October 20, 2007 at 2:08 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Cal helmetUCLA helmet

ESPN: “Top 25 Overview”

Hard to believe, considering it lost to Notre Dame, but UCLA is ahead of Cal in the Pac-10 standings. The Golden Bears are looking to rebound after suffering their first loss of the season, while UCLA hopes to start the second half of its season on the right foot.

USA Today: “Weekend Preview”

No. 9 California can get itself right back into the Pac-10 title discussion with a win at conference co-leader UCLA, which has played its two worst games against non-conference opponents. The Bruins got a week off to heal, which could enable QB Patrick Cowan (knee) to return. If he has full mobility, he should help RB Kahlil Bell find rushing lanes, but LB Anthony Felder and the Cal defense will be in no mood to give any ground.

The Golden Bears could also get their signal-caller, Nate Longshore (ankle), back, but freshman Kevin Riley will be ready if needed. Cal will need a big game from RB Justin Forsett to neutralize the rush from UCLA DE Bruce Davis.

Bruce Feldman: “Week 8 picks”

Cal 28, UCLA 17: The Golden Bears do not have much of a defense, but their stellar trio of receivers and speedy backs should be too much for a UCLA team still trying to find itself. The Bruins should be able to move the ball, but I think they just don’t have enough playmakers to beat the Bears in a game of big plays.

College Football News: “Pac 10 Fearless Predictions”

The Pac-10 game of the week pits two of the five programs that have separated from the rest of the field in the hunt for a spot in the Rose Bowl. And two teams that have been saddled recently with injuries at the quarterback position. …

With or without Longshore, the Bears will be able to move the ball through the air on a UCLA pass defense that’s allowing 242 yards a game. Before making a mental mistake at the end of last week’s loss, Riley actually played well … and has a dynamic receiving corps that’ll burn a questionable Bruins secondary. A Cal line that’s permitted the fewest sacks in the Pac-10 will neutralize DE Bruce Davis and a very aggressive UCLA pass rush. …

Save for the Utah debacle in Week 3, the Bruins defense has been rock solid all year, holding opponents to an average of 23 points and 324 yards a game, while consistently making plays for negative yards. … a UCLA rush defense that’s No. 10 in the country at only 81 yards a game. …

Cal will rebound from last week’s loss against a UCLA team that’s way too inconsistent and struggling with quarterback issues of its own. The Bears will click on a couple of deep balls from either Riley or Longshore to pull away from the Bruins. CFN Prediction: California 34 … UCLA 21

ESPN’s “College Football Live” (TV):

Another odd conference leader: UCLA has been ugly at times [but] they haven’t lost a Pac-10 game yet. …

UCLA has been real inconsistent and I think that Cal’s looking for a little bit of redemption. I’d like to see Kevin Riley get in there and be able make up for that terrible terrible decision at the end of the game last week. You’d like to see him get in there. And this is a very talented Cal team… one of those teams, really, if we see some losses up there at the top like we were discussing earlier … [if] we see some losses up there at the top this is the kind of team that could sneak in with that one loss to the national champion picture.  [/jyu]

Cal-UCLA TV coverage

Posted by Eric | October 19, 2007 at 12:57 pm | In Games | 4 Comments

2007-10-20 ABC Coverage Map

Here is the ABC coverage map for the UCLA game, if you won’t be at the Rose Bowl tomorrow. Note that the match-up will not be broadcast in HD, just like the Oregon game.

Personnel news: Mack, Schneider, QB

Posted by Eric | October 19, 2007 at 8:59 am | In Players/Alumni | No Comments

C Alex Mack has been named a semifinalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award.

PK Tom Schneider is out for the season with a torn leg muscle, and he will petition for a sixth year of eligibility. He was injured during warm-ups before the Tennessee game. While backup Jordan Kay has done well in Schneider’s absence, this is a big loss on special teams.


Photo: Daily Californian

QB Nate Longshore is still not 100% and is still a “gametime decision” for Saturday. CC Times’ Jon Okanes thinks it’s only a 50-50 chance that he’ll start at UCLA. Backup Kevin Riley has been splitting snaps with him in practice this week and should be ready to go if needed after performing last Saturday.

Additional injury updates:

  • WR Robert Jordan, TE Cameron Morrah are expected to play despite shoulder injuries last Saturday.
  • DB Marcus Ezeff (quad) is still doubtful for Saturday unless Coach Bob Gregory thinks “he has to play.”
  • DE Rulon Davis is still out for a few more games with a foot injury.

Players in the news

Posted by Steve | October 16, 2007 at 11:31 am | In DeSean, Players/Alumni | 9 Comments

DeSean Jackson dropped out of the Heisman Watch completely this week, after catching 4 passes for only 5 yards against Oregon State. Lavelle “The Hawk” Hawkins, after his outstanding performance Saturday and his consistency since the beginning of the season, is being highlighted on ESPN’s spotlight by Mel Kiper as a first day NFL pick. It’s good to see him get some more positive press, as he’s been our most reliable receiver, and he’s also been doing a good job of kick returns.

4 star WR commits to Cal

Posted by Alex | October 15, 2007 at 8:58 am | In Recruiting | 3 Comments

The news out of the weekend isn’t all bad. As a consolation, 4-star wideout Marvin Jones committed to Cal over the weekend after taking in the Cal-OSU game. Scout.com reports that Jones met with Tedford after the game and gave his verbal commitment. Scout and Rivals.com list Jones as a 4-star recruit, with Rivals listing Jones as one of their top 100 prospects in the nation. On an amusing note, Jones chose Cal over Oregon partially because of the amount of rain in Oregon.

This is our first huge commitment of the year and should be great for the team. Jones is 6′2″ and 180 lbs, while running a 4.5 40. He gives us another big and fast receiver who could potentially play as a true freshman next year. Matching him up with Nyan Boateng should keep the Cal receiving corp from a dropoff after this year’s superstars graduate or head to the NFL.

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