Friday, November 30, 2007

SF Chronicle: Tedford says everything's fine, even though it's obviously not

Rusty Simmons

It's usually monotonous.  Each Tuesday afternoon, Cal coach Jeff Tedford saunters into a scheduled news luncheon, greets a few media types on his way to the podium where he pauses and says, "Questions?" The monotony ended Oct. 2, when before opening the floor to questions, Tedford coughed into the microphone. Four weeks and three losses later, the Bears had fallen from the pinnacle of the college football world to irrelevant and unranked. The cough remained. A reporter asked, "You've still got that cough?" Tedford responded, "Everything will be OK." That's the public image Tedford has put on during this, his most trying season in Strawberry Canyon. Asked Tuesday about the personal effects of the current 6-5 season, Tedford said, "I would prefer to comment on that after the year, when it's all finally finished." But everything is not OK.  It's conveyed in Tedford's actions and his words. Usually reserved and ever-aware of the media, Tedford blew a gasket, tossing his headset and play card after losing 31-28 to Oregon State on Oct. 13, and verbally let loose on his players after an uninspired, 37-23 loss to Washington on Nov. 17.

"I was not proud of my actions" after the Oregon State loss, Tedford said. "That was in the heat of the moment. I was pretty wound up about what was going on, but you won't ever see me do that again." As for the Washington postgame? "After the season, I'd be glad to talk about all of that. I'll get specific after the season," Tedford said. Here's what we know:

Cal has played in bowl games for a school-record four-consecutive seasons (and is eligible for a fifth bid). Cal is one win away from 50 victories in a six-year period for the first time in more than half a century. Cal is back on the national landscape of college football. Here's what we won't know until the season ends: What effect does Tedford's new contract, which is through 2013, play into the pressure he feels? How annoying is it to work in the shadow of the tree-sitters outside Memorial Stadium who are stalling proposed facility improvements? When will the threatening phone calls and e-mails finally be enough? "When adversity hits, it brings out your true character," free safety Thomas DeCoud said. "Coach Tedford is a really passionate person, and he spends his life devoted to helping us get better. That's shown through all of these struggles."

Tedford averaged 8.6 wins a season in his first five years and has never won fewer than seven games. In his rookie year, 2002, he was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year for going 7-5 with essentially the same team that had gone 1-10 the year before.  This year, there are no excuses. Tedford had a talented quarterback returning for the first time, more than enough weapons on offense and more than enough athletes on defense. Still, the Bears erased a 5-0 start by losing five of the next six games. "He's been pretty consistent, but you can see it weighing on him," tailback Justin Forsett said. Tedford was already known for his work ethic and schedule, which includes an often-used air mattress in his office. Losses have changed nothing. "There are many nights when we don't see him go home," left tackle Mike Gibson said. "His love for the game is more than anyone I've ever known." But during a 6-5 season is there more to be done? Should things be done differently? "It's impossible to do that," Tedford said. "We work and sleep here. Nothing has changed that." Not even a perpetual cough.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

SF Chronicle: With Jackson hurting, Hawkins has swooped in

DeSean Jackson spent Tuesday's practice on the sideline, limping through drills at a startlingly fast speed and effortlessly riding a stationary bike at an alarmingly quick rate.  Lavelle Hawkins spent Tuesday's practice on the field, perfecting his pass routes and dominating the scout team defense.  For the most part, that's been the story of the season for the Cal receivers. Jackson hasn't been able to live up to unattainable preseason hype, and Hawkins has been a pleasant surprise.

Both Cal receivers are projected as first-round NFL draft picks and both could secure those opinions Saturday against Stanford, which ranks last in the conference in passing yards allowed and total defense. "This year has been a long year and things haven't happened the way I wanted them to happen, personally," Jackson said. "When teams double- and triple-team me, Lavelle has found a way to make big plays. When you're number is called, you have to find a way to make plays.

"Lavelle has done that. I haven't gotten many (chances)." Jackson, a receiving/returning dynamo who is day-to-day with a thigh contusion close to his knee, was heralded as a Heisman candidate. Despite a weak start, he remained in the conversation with a career-high 11-catch, 161-yard performance in a Week 5 win over then-No. 11 Oregon.

Opponents haven't let Jackson continue the campaign. Since he returned a punt 77 yards for a score in the season-opening win over Tennessee, he has gotten only 11 chances in 10 weeks. He's averaging 10.8 yards a return on 12 opportunities.

The same is true of the passing game. Opponents have consistently double-teamed and bracketed Jackson, forcing quarterback Nate Longshore to look for other options. Jackson has 60 receptions for 681 yards and five touchdowns after going for 1,060 yards and nine scores last year. He has been limited to less than 50 receiving yards in six games, including a career-low 5-yard effort against Oregon State. He missed the second-half of last week's Washington loss with a thigh contusion and hasn't practiced much since.

"It would be good to keep the tradition going, but I want to protect my knee from whatever it is," Jackson said. "It's nothing that serious, but I need to get it back to where it needs to be to play."  Despite the numbers, Jackson remains a lock for the first round of the draft because of his skills set. If he decides to enter the draft early, he's expected to be a combine wonder, thrilling scouts with his 4.2-seconds 40-yard dash, explosive vertical leap and agility in the cone drills.

Jackson is listed as the No. 11 overall draft prospect by Todd McShay, director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. doesn't include the junior on his big board, but rates Jackson as the No. 1 junior receiver.

Hawkins has needed more than "measurables" to get that kind of notice. For most of his career, he has been the Afterthought to Jackson and, at times, Robert Jordan. "If DeSean doesn't play then Robert's the man," Hawkins said. "I'm just the man next to the man." The "other guy" is first on the team in catches (62) and yards (792) and is tied with Jackson for the team lead in touchdowns. He also has a team-high 34 kick returns for a team-best 748 yards, including a 90-yard touchdown against Louisiana Tech. Once projected as a fifth-round pick, Hawkins is now listed as the 22nd overall player on by Kiper. "If you came by here in the summer time, there would be nobody on the field except Lavelle," offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik said. "He has always had talent, but he has truly worked his butt off. "I'm not surprised by his production, but I'm really pleased."


AP: WR Jackson misses practice with bruised right leg

BERKELEY, Calif. -- California receiver DeSean Jackson isn't sure he'll play in the 110th Big Game after sitting out of Tuesday night's practice because of a bruised right leg.  Jackson, who has 60 catches for 681 yards and five touchdowns this season, severely bruised his quadriceps during a second-quarter punt return in Cal's loss at Washington on Nov. 17. The junior missed the rest of the game, and a week of rehabilitation hasn't healed him completely before Saturday's meeting with archrival Stanford.

"I'm feeling pretty good, but still not back to where I want to be," Jackson said. "Closer to game time, I'll see how I feel. ... Every year I've played in the Big Game, it's been one of those great years. It would be good to keep that tradition going on. Right now, I just want to protect my knee from whatever it is."

Read the entire article here.

SF Chronicle: Cal assistants candidates for WSU job

Rusty Simmons

Creating a wake that most likely will be felt in Strawberry Canyon soon, Washington State officials announced Monday that coach Bill Doba will not return next season.  The search for Doba's replacement is expected to include Cal coordinators Bob Gregory and Jim Michalczik. Washington State athletic director Jim Sterk identified only one person, former Cougars and current Texas-El Paso coach Mike Price, when discussing his "not very short" list of candidates.

Some of the other logical choices are Washington State offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller, Eastern Washington coach Paul Wulff and Montana coach Bobby Hauck, but many consider Gregory the front-runner. "I would never, ever hold a coach back from looking into an opportunity that they feel could better their career," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. A Spokane native and Washington State graduate, Gregory, 44, went to Gonzaga Prep in Spokane and earned a degree in English at WSU. "It's flattering to be considered. I appreciate it," Gregory said. "Can we talk about Stanford now?"

In 2004, Gregory was a finalist for the Frank Boyles Award, which is given to the nation's top assistant coach, after leading a defense that ranked among the nation's top 25 in three categories. Before coming to Cal in 2002, Gregory was the defensive coordinator at Boise State, the defensive backs coach at Oregon and the defensive coordinator at Willamette in Salem, Ore.Michalczik, 41, is in his first year as offensive coordinator after five flourishing seasons as the Cal offensive line coach. The Bears are one of five teams to rank in the top 25 in both points scored and total yards in each of the last five years. "I want to beat Stanford," Michalczik said. "Those other things will take care of themselves. I kind of nice to be thought of in those terms, but we've got other things to worry about." Michalczik graduated from Port Angeles (Wash.) High and Washington State, where he was an all-conference guard. He was defensive line coach for national champion Miami in 1991. Pritchard will accept role: Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard has been saying it all along, ever since he became the starter back in early October: He'll prepare no differently this week, whether he's the Big Game starter or the back-up to senior T.C. Ostrander, a decision to be made by coach Jim Harbaugh before week's end.

"I'm a competitor and I want to be out there just as much as anybody," Pritchard said. "I'd love to be out there for the opening play come Saturday, but I also have a lot of trust in coach Harbaugh ... a lot of faith in T.C. too." Pritchard said he will be supportive of Ostrander if the fifth-year senior gets the final start of his career. "Mark my words, if T.C. is out there Saturday, I will be his ... biggest supporter, I'll be right in his ear when he gets to the sidelines to tell him what I'm seeing," Pritchard said. "I just want to see us win this game. ... I know what it can do for this program."

Pritchard left Saturday's game against Notre Dame with after a violent helmet-to-helmet collision with Notre Dame's Terrail Lambert. He returned for one series, and then was removed again. Briefly: Sticking with tradition, Cal's scout-team players had white tape on their helmets to look more like Stanford's. Some helmets were completely white, others were adorned with the Stanford S or the tree. ... Stanford practiced with blank jerseys - no numbers and no names. Harbaugh said the gesture represents, "selflessness." ... Cal senior linebackers Greg Van Hoesen and Justin Moye and senior cornerback Brandon Hampton moved into the starting lineup, according to Gregory. "Those guys deserve to start. We didn't play very well, and we had to change something." Stanford receivers Evan Moore and Mark Bradford have accepted invitations to the Hula Bowl. ... Gregory expects defensive end Rulon Davis (knee) to play. ... Neither Stanford center Tim Mattran (ankle) nor tailback Anthony Kimble (shoulder) practiced.

SF Chronicle: Ray Ratto's Look at the Big Game

Cal (6-5, 3-5 Pac-10) at Stanford (3-8, 2-6), 4 p.m. Saturday on Versus, 810, 1050

A lot on the line for two seasons gone awry

Ahh, yes, the Big Game. The pomp! The pageantry! The marching bands! The tradition! The devoted alumni of each school yearning to breathe free and fulfilled, or in some cases, simply to breathe! Yes, the Big Game. One hundred ten years of exciting football, except when it's rugby, and except when it's not very exciting.  This would seem to be one of those years when rugby might be more exciting. Both teams have remarkable momentum - which is to say the gravitational force that is generated from being in full plummet - because of each team having lost five of its previous six games. Such a thing has happened only twice since Franklin Roosevelt could dance, in 1939 and again in 1997, and both the Californii and Stanfords are trying to re-establish the glory days of, well, October, with Saturday's game. You remember October? Cal was 5-0 and ranked first in the nation for about an hour. And Stanford had just polished off an underinspired and surprisingly outplayed USC team. Those were indeed good times.

Since then? Well, er, uhh, ummm ... oh, damn. Two wins (Washington State and Arizona, aggregate record 10-13, total margin of the victories, four points) and 10 losses (two Oregon States, two Washington States, Washington, Notre Dame, USC, UCLA, Arizona State and TCU). Cal's days as a ranked team are well over, and Stanford has lost almost all its momentum since beating the Trojans on Oct. 6. In other words, while you go on about the departing seniors, the alums who live for this game above all others, and the general nostalgia of Bob Murphy's last game behind the Stanford mike (and we continue to offer him $100 if he'll curse the Bears on air as a going-away gift to the rivalry), this game actually matters just as much for everyone coming back to play and coach next year.

Jeff "My Play List Has a Zip Code" Tedford needs the win to get the Bears into a bowl game, even if it is "only" the Emerald Bowl. He and the returners need to leave this bizarre season on an up-note, if only to rinse out the taste of a year that promised much and delivered sixth place. In some college towns we know, Tedford would be a candidate for a new job because he wouldn't have his old one anymore.  On the other hand, there's Stanford, and first-year head coach Wanderin' Jimmy Harbaugh. Other than his occasional postgame walkabouts, in which he does his radio show and then bolts for the first open door he can find, he and the fellows have had enough strange in this year to cover the next decade.

The win over USC speaks for itself and stands on its own ... almost. As six-touchdown underdogs with two wins in two years and a backup sophomore quarterback (Tavita Pritchard) making his starting debut, the Cardinal's victory over the second-ranked Trojans in L.A. was one of the three most extraordinary events of an extraordinary year. It set the nation on its ear and got Stanford more good pub than any football-related event since the '00 Rose Bowl, and perhaps since the first Bill Walsh era.  Then came the loss to TCU, and after a one-point win over the fitful Arizonas, more losses, each more grisly than the last. Oregon State, the two Washingtons and the revoting Notre Dame performance, in which even the Irish played so badly that Touchdown Jesus went Episcopalian. Suddenly, the win over SC, which we all thought would last Harbaugh a lifetime, seems about a lifetime ago.

Wanderin' Jim speaks of changing the culture at Stanford, but the culture at Stanford is five consecutive Big Game losses and a 19-48 aggregate record over that spread. The culture got some change, but it needs a pick-me-up going into a vital offseason.  "The guys who are playing Saturday, that's who this game is for," Harbaugh said, trying to take the deliberately short view. "Next year will be next year." He also admitted, in so many words, that Big Games don't merely float into the ether. "I can't say winning Saturday wouldn't have a very positive impact for us (going into '08)," he said. "But it's a big game for a lot of reasons, and not just for what it means for us next year."

Tedford is no less circumspect about the Big Game's enduring value, especially as a public-relations tool for the already committed. But he also knows that this year was more of a drag than a celebration, and that considerable changes have to take place during the offseason to wipe out the taste of a year that either disappointed or dumbfounded. "I don't know what the Big Game does for us over the summer," he said, "but I know how important it is to win it." He does not know how damaging it is to lose one, though, because he hasn't. And a loss Saturday atop the mess of the last two months would be hard chewing not only for any old, aging or even mostly vibrant Blue, but for himself and his operation. Cal football has structural issue to confront, and though a Big Game win might not change that agenda, a Big Game loss would press its importance.

Thus, as the game approaches - 4 p.m. on Versus - save a thought not only for those who will not play for Stanford or Cal again, but the ones who come back. There is bad karma to be overcome, and someone is going to have to do it Saturday, or pay full retail for the failure.

Stanford Dollies: Scarrier than last Year

Visit this link at your own risk.

SF Chronicle: Hip injury shelves Best for rest of season

Cal freshman tailback Jahvid Best is expected to miss the remainder of the season, coach Jeff Tedford announced Monday.

Best left the Nov. 10 game against USC with a hip injury early in the third quarter and missed the loss to Washington on Nov. 17. Tedford said hip specialists have offered contrasting opinions on both diagnoses and treatment plans.  "We want everyone's opinion, and we're taking our time to make sure we're right about it," Tedford said. "It's something we're going to be very careful with." It's unclear whether Best will require surgery, but Cal's medical staff is keeping him on crutches at least until a final decision is made. Best, a graduate of Salesian High-Richmond, has 221 rushing yards and two touchdowns with a 7.2-yards-a-carry average. He also has 13 catches for 74 yards and a score, averages 27 yards on kick returns and leads the team with 12 special-teams tackles.

Kicking it: Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, coaching in his first Big Game, said that kicker Derek Belch's struggles might for the Cardinal to abandon "conventional football" principles against the Bears. Belch, a fifth-year senior, has missed eight of his last 10 attempts, including all four against Notre Dame on Saturday. Harbaugh explained Monday why, after Belch missed two 48-yard attempts in the first half, he gave his kicker two more chances, including an attempt on 4th-and-2 from the Notre Dame 8 with the game tied 14-14 early in the fourth quarter.  Stanford took a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty to improve the angle, Harbaugh said. Belch missed the attempt wide right. "I thought it was a chip shot and he'd be able to put that one through," Harbaugh said. Belch also missed from 49 yards in the fourth quarter when Stanford faced 4th-and-20 on the Notre Dame 32 with 8:01 to go. "The game was tied and he was struggling, but it was a go-ahead field goal at that point," Harbaugh said. "The percentages were a lot better (to make the kick). Picking up a 4th-and-20 is like 5 percent. We thought it was the prudent thing to do."  Harbaugh said Belch will be his kicker against Cal. Backup Aaron Zagory is out with an ankle injury, so punter Jay Ottovegio will be Belch's backup.

Stanford injury update: Sixth-year senior center Tim Mattran is "questionable" for Saturday's game with a high ankle sprain on his left ankle, according to Harbaugh. Mattran had a right ankle injury, which required surgery, that cost him all of the 2006 season. Mattran has started all 11 of Stanford's games this season.  Also questionable is right guard Alex Fletcher (knee), who left and returned to Saturday's game.  Tailback Anthony Kimble aggravated his right shoulder injury late in the game against Notre Dame and sat out the final two series. Harbaugh said Kimble also is considered questionable, but Kimble said Monday that he expects to play. Kimble played for the first time in five games against Notre Dame and finished with 80 rushing yards. "I don't know how much I'll be able to go, but I just want to go out and hopefully lay it on the line for (the seniors)," Kimble said.

Golden ticket: Approximately 750 tickets have been made available for Saturday's Big Game, according to the Stanford athletic department. Cal (6-5, 3-5 Pac-10) and Stanford (3-8, 2-6) play at 4 p.m. at Stanford Stadium in a game that could decide whether the Bears earn a bowl berth. Tickets ($65) may be purchased at, (800) 782-6367 or the ticket office, which is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and located near Gate 2 of Stanford Stadium. If tickets remain Saturday, the office will open at 9 a.m.

Briefly: Cal tailback Justin Forsett and free safety Thomas DeCoud have been invited to both the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game. Receiver Lavelle Hawkins has been invited to the Senior Bowl, and left tackle Mike Gibson got a Shrine invite.


Detroit Free Press: If not Miles, U-M should then look out west to Cal's Tedford


The Les Miles bowling ball started rolling down the hill in September, when Michigan lost to Appalachian State, and it keeps picking up speed. Former Michigan players are sending e-mails to athletic director Bill Martin, lobbying him to hire one of their own. Fans are excited about a true Blue coach who has had some success in two other leagues. But is Miles really the best coach Michigan can find? Is he really the best fit?  I mean, it's nice that he speaks glowingly about Bo Schembechler, but at the end of the day, so what? I know a hundred guys who speak glowingly of Schembechler. That doesn't mean they should sit in the office overlooking the practice field.

Miles is a good coach. He has shown that. And I don't doubt his love for Michigan. But let's step back for a second and look at this rationally.  For years, Miles has been telling people privately (and not so privately) that he wants to be Michigan's coach. In the frenzy over Miles' candidacy, this kind of nugget has been used to support his case. But think about it: Who tells so many people he wants a job that is filled? Is Miles really a disciplinarian in the Bo mold? When Miles left Oklahoma State, new coach Mike Gundy cut or suspended nine players before the start of the next season. "In the past, you could get away with some things around here," Cowboys safety Jamie Thompson told the San Antonio Express-News a few months after the coaching change. "That's not the case now."

Miles had the most talent in the country the past two years. His teams have achieved, but they have not overachieved. He has never put together the kind of season that made anybody say, "Wow, now THAT was a heck of a coaching job. That guy got absolutely everything out of his talent." I know this sounds nutty to some folks, but there are other coaches who can win big at Michigan. It's absurd to say this is Les Miles or bust. (My choice -- since you asked -- would be California coach Jeff Tedford. More on him in a minute.)  One more thing about this "Michigan Man" business: Despite what you have heard and read, not everybody who wears maize and blue is in love with Miles. Of course his friends support him. But I've talked to enough people about him to know he has detractors.

Martin and U-M president Mary Sue Coleman need to do their due diligence. They need to talk to people other than Miles' buddies. And they would be negligent if they hired Miles without talking to Lloyd Carr, who worked on the Michigan staff with Miles for 10 years. Before people get in a tizzy about Carr trying to name the next coach, please understand: He does not want to name the next head coach. He has made that clear. But what if he has a substantive objection to Les Miles -- or to anybody else? Martin and Coleman need to find out. Otherwise, their talk about wanting to "clone" Carr is empty.

Now, about Tedford: He is a proven head coach, but is only 47 years old. (Miles is 54.) He doesn't seem to have any interest in coaching in the NFL. So he could easily coach Michigan for 10 to 15 years, an option Martin has said he desires.

Tedford is happy at Cal, but he has pushed for facility upgrades, and they have been slow to come. He might be open to a change. Ask yourself this: Who will scare the people in Columbus?

See, Ohio State fans don't care if Michigan's coach attended Michigan. They don't care if he has a favorite sandwich at Zingerman's. They just care if he can coach. If I were a Buckeyes fan, I'd worry more about Jeff Tedford than about Les Miles. Tedford's accomplishments at California are more impressive than what Miles did at either Oklahoma State or Louisiana State.  In the 21 years before Tedford arrived, Cal had four winning seasons. The Golden Bears were 4-18 over the previous two seasons. Tedford has put together five straight winning seasons, and he can make it six by beating Stanford on Saturday. Imagine what he could do in Ann Arbor.

Tedford has earned praise from Berkeley administrators for balancing academics and winning -- and Cal is a school that actually cares about such things. According to the San Francisco Examiner, 16 of the 20 players in his first recruiting class graduated.  Tedford is a great offensive coach. He would update the offense. He can earn quarterback Ryan Mallett's trust by telling him he developed five QBs into first-round NFL picks.  The only downside to hiring Tedford -- and I do mean the only downside -- is that he doesn't have Midwest ties. But he has recruited extremely well at Cal, and if he keeps Michigan assistants like Fred Jackson, Erik Campbell and Ron English (a Cal grad), Tedford can catch up on recruiting. If Tedford says no, look at Rutgers' Greg Schiano, another coach who won where nobody thought it was possible. Les Miles coming back to Michigan would be a great story. But Martin isn't hiring a story. He is hiring a coach.


AP: California gets back to basics before Big Game

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- After a 14-point loss to the Pac-10's worst team nearly two weeks ago, coach Jeff Tedford decided nobody in the California program deserved a few days off.   So in a week previously reserved for holiday relaxation and resting up for Saturday's 110th Big Game against Stanford, Tedford put the Golden Bears through remedial classes in Football 101.   "It's almost like training camp again," safety Thomas DeCoud said. "It's back to the start, to Square One, and we'll go from there."

Read the entire article here.

AP: Stanford's Harbaugh unsure of QB starter, Best out for Season

Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh could make a quarterback change for this week's rivalry game against California after starter Tavita Pritchard was dinged up last week against Notre Dame.  Pritchard was replaced by T.C. Ostrander after being hit hard in the helmet by Notre Dame's Terrail Lambert in the third quarter of Saturday's game. Pritchard returned briefly against the Irish after the hit, but Ostrander finished the 21-14 loss.

Read the entire article here.

Big Game Tickets Available

Thanks to Michael for pointing out that there are still Big Game tickets - in the Cal section - available on I just checked at 3:21 p.m. and confirmed that there are seats. This better be a sell out or Stanford will tear this stadium down and build an even smaller one.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cal versus Michigan State

2008 Schedule

Aug. 30 - Michigan State

Sept. 6 - at Washington State

Sept. 13 - at Maryland

Sept. 27 - Colorado State

Oct. 4 - Arizona State

Oct. 11 - Washington

Oct. 18 - at Arizona

Oct. 25 - UCLA

Nov. 1 - Oregon

Nov. 8 - at USC

Nov. 15 - at Oregon State

Nov. 22 – Stanford

SF Chronicle: Possibilities abound for bowl berths

Jake Curtis

UCLA has a chance to get to the Rose Bowl, yet UCLA also has a chance to end up with no bowl berth at all.  Cal could end up in the Emerald Bowl or the Armed Forces Bowl or no bowl at all depending on the results of its game at Stanford and Arizona's game at Arizona State on Saturday.  Obviously, analyzing bowl possibilities is a nightmare at the moment. With one week left in the regular season, half the Pac-10 teams have a chance to earn a share of the conference championship, and USC, UCLA and Arizona State still have a shot at the Rose Bowl berth. So before looking at the national picture, our four Rs will begin with the range of possibilities for Cal and the Pac-10. Range of Cal's possibilities: Four scenarios are relevant:

1. If Cal beats Stanford and Arizona State beats Arizona, Cal gets a bowl berth, probably the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco, with Maryland a likely opponent.

2. If Cal beats Stanford and Arizona State loses to Arizona, Cal gets a bowl berth, probably the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, with Air Force or TCU the likely opponent.

3. If Cal loses to Stanford and Arizona State beats Arizona, Cal gets a bowl berth, probably the Emerald Bowl if USC beats UCLA or the Armed Forces Bowl if USC loses to UCLA.

4. If Cal loses to Stanford and Arizona State loses to Arizona, Cal probably will not play in a bowl game.

The salient point for Cal is that a win over Stanford would give the Bears a 7-5 record, which would give them a bowl berth before any 6-6 Pac-10 team, regardless of where they are in the conference standings.  In short, Cal assures itself a bowl berth if it wins Saturday. If Cal loses, it needs Arizona to lose.

Rose Bowl possibilities: Three scenarios are relevant:

1. If USC beats UCLA, the Trojans are in the Rose Bowl.

2. If USC loses and Arizona State beats Arizona, Arizona State finishes alone in first and is in the Rose Bowl.

3. If USC and Arizona State both lose, UCLA is in the Rose Bowl.

The last one requires some explanation. If UCLA and Arizona win, there would be a four-way tie at 6-3 between UCLA, USC, Arizona State and the winner of the Oregon-Oregon State game.  The tiebreakers for determining the Pac-10's Rose Bowl representative is based on head-to-head results. UCLA, thanks primarily to wins over Oregon and USC the final two weeks, would wind up in Pasadena despite a 7-5 overall record. 

Note: If USC and Arizona State both win, USC would go to the Rose Bowl and ASU probably would go to the Fiesta Bowl, giving the Pac-10 two teams in BCS games and seven available bowl slots. If Arizona State loses to Arizona or USC loses to UCLA, the Pac-10 would get only one team into a BCS game and have six bowl vacancies. Ramifications nationally: If the season ended today, the matchups for the five major bowls might look like this:

BCS national title game: No. 1 Missouri vs. No. 2 West Virginia

Rose Bowl: USC vs. Ohio State

Fiesta Bowl: Arizona State vs. Kansas

Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. Hawaii

Orange Bowl: ACC champ (Boston College or Virginia Tech) vs. Georgia.

Missouri would be the first team unranked in the preseason to play in the national championship game.

Random monkey wrenches: In the past nine weeks, there have been eight different pairings of top-two teams, so expecting the expected is naive.  It's still possible for Ohio State, which was No. 5 in the BCS standings after its final regular-season game, to play for the national championship. A loss by either Missouri or West Virginia would make that happen.  It's still possible for a team that did not make it to its conference title game (Georgia) to play in the national championship game. That probably would happen if West Virginia loses to Pittsburgh and Missouri loses to Oklahoma.  It's still possible for the current No. 1 team, Missouri, not to get into any of the five BCS games, but Kansas, which did not win its conference title and lost to Missouri on Saturday, could get one. That could happen if Oklahoma beats Missouri in the Big 12 title game.  It's still possible for LSU to get shut out of the BCS games, which probably would happen if Tennessee beats the Tigers in the Southeastern Conference title game.  It's possible for Hawaii not to get a BCS berth even if it beats Washington to finish 12-0. The Warriors are No. 12 in the BCS standings, and a top-12 finish guarantees them a BCS berth. But if Arizona State and Tennessee both win Saturday, they might jump over Hawaii, which could drop out of the top 12.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Contra Costa Times: After the bye, Bears went bye-bye

Coming off open week at 5-0, Cal then saw its season quickly go south

By Jonathan Okanes

BERKELEY — Little did Cal know when it had its bye week in early October that it also was saying bye to its hopes for the 2007 season.   The Bears haven't been the same team since it took the week of Oct.6 off. Cal went into the week coming off a landmark win at Oregon, which improved its record to 5-0 and moved it up to No.3 in the national rankings. By the time the Bears took the field again on Oct.13 against Oregon State, they had risen to No.2.  For whatever reason, Cal hasn't been able to capture whatever formula it had been using during the first half of the season. The Bears have gone just 1-5 since the week off and are in danger of missing a bowl game. But it's the way the season has turned south that has been so striking.  During the first five weeks, the Bears were a crisp machine, overpowering opponents with a dynamic offense while playing mistake-free football. Cal somehow lost that sharpness during the bye week because since then it has been plagued by turnovers, untimely penalties and other assorted mistakes that seem to demonstrate a lack of focus.  "The bye week was a momentum killer," Cal wide receiver Robert Jordan said. "In those early weeks of the season, we were exploding on people. We were trying to blow people out of the water. We have to get back to doing that. We just have to get our confidence back, and I'm pretty sure we'll be all right."  The most glaring difference in the Bears is their tendency to give the ball to the other  team. Through the first five games, Cal turned the ball over only four times, and its turnover margin of 2.20 was tied for third in the country. In the six games since the bye, the Bears have given it away a staggering 18 times and have forced only seven turnovers themselves.

"It's not that we've focused on anything different in practice or anything like that," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "It's just kind of the way it's gone. We have to be more protective of the football."  It's not just the turnovers. While the Bears are committing penalties at about the same rate as before the bye, they seem to be coming at more crucial times, and more have been of the undisciplined variety. Cal hasn't been the quick-strike offense it was during the first half of the season, and both sides of the ball haven't been able to maintain a high level of play throughout the entire 60 minutes of a game.  "At that time of year, we really needed (a bye week)," Tedford said. "We were pretty banged-up at the time. It's a culmination of things, of how to handle expectations, how to handle adversity, things like that. It's something that we're probably not used to."  When asked whether the bye week could have had an adverse affect on the Bears, Cal left tackle Mike Gibson said, "That's the way I've been looking at it, too." He said he felt the Bears did the same thing last season after a bye. They beat UCLA in their first game back but had a letdown in a loss at Arizona and fell to USC the following week.  "It's just little mistakes that keep adding up," Gibson said. "The little things keep on getting bigger and bigger. I definitely feel that we're lacking somewhere, and it's the lack of drive to win, like we had in the first five games."  So what happened during the bye week? Was it simply that the time off ruined the Bears' momentum? Did expectations get too high after they moved up to No.2 without even playing? Nobody seems to have an answer, but one thing is for sure: Cal has just one more regular season game — next Saturday's Big Game at Stanford — to solve the problem.  "That's the thing we as a team, each and every player, each and every coach, is trying to figure out," Cal middle linebacker Worrell Williams said. "I can't quite put my finger on it. It's frustrating."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Columbian: Cal Takes Top Spot for Worst MidSeason Collapse

BY NICK DASCHEL, Columbian staff writer

Can a college football team go from nearly achieving the country's No. 1 ranking one week to missing the bowl season altogether? California is sure trying. On Oct. 13, No. 1 Louisiana State lost in triple overtime to Kentucky, opening the door for No. 2 California to make a rare move into the top spot. Except a few hours later, the Bears lost to Oregon State, 31-28.

Cal hasn't recovered. The Bears lost for the fifth time in six games Saturday, falling at Washington 37-23. Though California is technically bowl eligible at 6-5, there is a chance the Bears could get bypassed when bowl berths are extended Dec. 2. The Pacific-10 Conference has contracts with six bowl games. There is a chance the league will land a seventh bowl game, a BCS at-large berth.

But suppose the Pac-10 doesn't get a second BCS game. And Arizona wins its season finale against Arizona State. And UCLA wins one of its final two games. And California loses its final game to Stanford. Then it's seven bowl-eligible Pac-10 teams going for six bowl berths. California, with a 3-6 league record, figures to be odd team out unless one of the bowls decide to dismiss the guidelines and take the Bears because of the Bay Area's large television market. None of this is sitting well with California coach Jeff Tedford, who blasted his team inside the locker room following the loss to Washington. "It was eye-opening," tailback Justin Forsett told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Everybody's ears were open to him."

Outside the locker room, Tedford blamed himself for California's lackluster performance. "They're not coached very well, and that falls on me," Tedford said. "Right now, we're not good enough. When this many mistakes are being made, it is coaching. ... We've got to find a way to stop making mistakes, and the only way I know how to stop it is to coach it better." Linebacker Zach Follett said the Bears have been going through the motions. "We kind of have fake emotion out there," he said. "We know we need to be rah-rah and go out there and be pumped up, but in reality, we're not playing with the heart and passion it takes to win games."

Oakland Tribune: The sky is falling, just not in Berkeley

Eric Gillmore

It's hard to blame Cal football fans for feeling as if they've been blindsided this season by the Bears' thermonuclear meltdown.  Who saw this coming? It's been almost all blue skies and sunshine for the Bears since coach Jeff Tedford arrived in 2002 and turned a 1-10 team into a consistent winner.  The Bears went 7-5 in Tedford's first season, 10-2 in 2004 and 10-3 in 2006, when they shared the Pac-10 crown with USC. In Tedford's first five seasons, the Bears were 43-20. Then they started this year 5-0. At 48-20, Tedford was winning at a 70.6 percent clip. But that was before the Bears lost five of six, reminding Old Blues of a few things they probably forgot amid the euphoria of Cal's football resurrection, when "Tedford is God" T-shirts were selling like tie-dye on Telegraph. Just as in the stock market, past performance in college football does not guarantee future results. The sport is rife with parity and volatility. If you're not careful, it's easy to slip up and fall hard, as the Bears have learned. Cal's margin for error wasn't large enough this season to survive a mediocre defense and a nagging ankle injury to quarterback Nate Longshore. Some uber-conservative play calling by Tedford at times didn't help, either. Once the Bears started losing, they lost their confidence, passion and mojo and went into a football death spiral that continued Saturday with a 37-23 loss to Washington. The college football landscape is littered with  once-mighty programs that have crashed.

Nebraska is 5-6 and gave up 76 points this season in a loss to Kansas. Notre Dame is 2-9 with losses to Navy and Air Force and must be wishing it had scheduled the Coast Guard and some ROTC team instead. Miami, Florida State, Alabama, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Penn State and Michigan used to be considered college football royalty. Not one of those teams is ranked among the top 25 in either the BCS standings or the Associated Press poll. There's not much Tedford can do to salvage this season, although a victory in the Big Game next week and in a minor bowl game would at least ease the Bears' pain. Once the season ends, Tedford will begin arguably the toughest and most critical offseason of his Cal career as he tries to get the Bears back on the top-20 track. Tedford's offseason work surely will include an evaluation of every player, every coach -- including himself -- and every aspect of his program. Tedford faces some crucial questions, including whether he should give promising backup quarterback Kevin Riley a real chance in spring practice and summer training camp to unseat Longshore. Hey, why not? If Longshore holds up under that pressure and wins the competition, it will only make him better and tougher. If Riley prevails, then so be it. The future will arrive a year early. After this season at Cal, no starting job should be considered safe.

Tedford also will have to decide whether to shake up his coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory has taken the most heat. But Gregory is coaching a young defense that lost tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Daymeion Hughes and middle linebacker Desmond Bishop to the NFL. Gregory might want to tweak his bend-but-don't-break approach and get more aggressive, but his body of work at Cal has been solid enough to keep his job. In the past four seasons, the Bears ranked fourth, third, first and third in scoring defense in the Pac-10. It may seem like the sky is falling at Cal, but there are still reasons for optimism. Cal's cupboard is far from bare, and the football talent pipeline leading to Berkeley is still wide open. Cal's recruiting classes, according to, ranked 12th this year, 23rd last year, ninth in 2005 and 29th in 2004. Based on oral commitments to date, Cal's projected recruiting class of 2008 ranks 26th. Compare that to Tedford's first recruiting class in 2002 when the Bears were No. 62 in the nation.  Next year, speedy running back Jahvid Best will move into the starting lineup, giving the Bears a true home run threat in the backfield. Three of five starters on Cal's solid offensive line should return, assuming center Alex Mack doesn't jump early to the NFL. The Bears will boast two solid quarterbacks. And who knows? Maybe junior wide receiver DeSean Jackson will decide to return for his final season and build a better resume for NFL scouts. On defense, 10 starters, counting injured end Rulon Davis, will return. A year's experience alone should make them better. And you can bet some new faces will dot the starting lineup. After this season, the Bears will be ravenous again. Overconfidence certainly won't be a problem because they'll realize that winning, especially in an ever-improving Pac-10, is not a birthright in Berkeley, even during the Tedford era.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

ESPN: Cal 23, Washington 37

SEATTLE (AP) -- Washington didn't need Jake Locker, after all. They didn't even need backup quarterback Carl Bonnell. Louis Rankin ran 21 times for 224 yards and a touchdown in less than three quarters as the Huskies shook off not having their team leader Locker and upset California 37-23 on Saturday, the Bears' fifth loss in six games. Rankin's second 200-yard day in three weeks for Washington (4-7, 2-6 Pac-10) came despite not playing the final 1 1/2 quarters because of a hip pointer that he called minor. His backup, freshman Brandon Johnson, ran for 121 yards on 23 carries.  Justin Forsett ran for 141 yards for the Bears (6-5, 3-5). Cal's Nate Longshore, the target of intense criticism after completing less than 50 percent of his passes and committing three turnovers in last week's loss to USC, completed 20 of 28 throws for 236 yards with three first-half touchdowns and one interception. Since Oct. 13, Cal has dropped from No. 2 in the country with realistic hopes for the BCS title game to seventh in the Pac-10, clinging to one of the Pac-10's final spots in a minor bowl. This is Cal's worst stretch since it lost its first 10 games in 2001. That got coach Tom Holmoe fired and brought Jeff Tedford to Berkeley.

One week after USC rolled to 239 yards rushing against the Bears, Washington stomped on Cal for 334. Most came on runs between the tackles by Rankin, who eclipsed 200 yards on a 46-yard run on the opening drive of the second half. That set up a 45-yard field goal Ryan Perkins for a 31-20 lead. Bonnell was making his first start this season because Locker was in uniform but out with a sprained neck sustained in last week's loss at Oregon State, which eliminated Washington from bowl consideration. The fifth-year senior completed just 7 of 19 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. Locker tossed warm-up throws with Bonnell and stayed close to the field, often stepping onto it to cheer and encourage his offense. Afterward, Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said his dynamic redshirt freshman will return to start next week's Apple Cup against Washington State. Two close calls in favor of the Huskies gave them a 34-23 lead after three quarters.

With Washington leading 31-23 in the third quarter, Bonnell was tossed around by Zack Follett while trying to throw the ball away. His pass flopped two yards behind where he threw it, but referee Jay Stricherz called Bonnell for intentional grounding a forward pass. On the next play, 3rd-and-24, Bonnell found Cody Ellis down the sideline for a 51-yard pass. Perkins then kicked a 30-yard field goal. An overturned call by a replay review allowed Washington to take a 28-20 lead into halftime. Cal's Brandon Hampton, back to return a punt because dangerous DeSean Jackson was on the bench with a bruised thigh, tried a fair catch. Washington's Chris Stevens shoved Cal's Cameron Morrah into Hampton, causing a muff that UW's Joshua Gage recovered at the Cal 21 with 35 second left in the half. Officials initially ruled Hampton had not touched the ball, but a review by television replay reversed that. Marcus Reece then jumped inside Chris Conte and made a leaping catch of Bonnell's 12-yard pass for a touchdown 12 seconds before halftime. Washington took a 14-0 lead by running 16 times on its first 18 plays, with the Bears looking overwhelmed on defense. Rankin ran for 125 yards in the first quarter, including a 5-yard touchdown run. After Rankin's 28-yard run on which he cut back across the entire field, Johnson ran for another 5-yard score. Longshore completed his first nine passes and got the Bears back in the game with three touchdown passes in the first half, 19 yarders to tight ends Morrah and Craig Stevens plus a 14-yard lob to James Montgomery.

Friday, November 16, 2007

USA Today: Weekend Preview

California's fortunes have taken a nose dive, dropping four of five games since last month's triumph at Oregon. The Golden Bears can at least assure a winning record with a win at Washington, which is now officially building for next year. QB Jake Locker, the Huskies' hope for the future, wasn't permanently damaged by last week's scary-looking hit against Oregon State but is unlikely to play. It will be up to senior Carl Bonnell to keep pace with the Golden Bears' powerful attack. WR Marcel Reece and RB Louis Rankin must help him. But Cal hasn't shown its explosiveness of late, relying instead on RB Justin Forsett to carry the offense. QB Nate Longshore will try again to get the ball to WRs DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins early.

East Bay Business Times: Winning Bears bring in big bucks for Cal

This season - despite recent losses - UC-Berkeley's football team has enjoyed its highest ranking since 1951 and has played in several nationally televised games.  It features a Heisman Trophy candidate in wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and last year's star running back, Marshawn Lynch, is now turning heads in the NFL. Alumni who might have blushed with embarrassment in 2001 and wouldn't give Cal Athletics a dime in donations are now clamoring to support it.  Just as in politics, winners attract money. Since head coach Jeff Tedford's arrival five years ago, Cal's Athletic Department has reaped the rewards of the football team's winning ways. While non-revenue teams like men's rugby and women's swimming have found sustained success, Cal Athletics says the football team's strong performance in recent years has largely been responsible for donations soaring from $8 million in 2004 to more than $34 million last year. The university expects that number to top $38 million in 2007.

In fact, according to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Cal's athletic department was No. 8 among American universities for athletic fundraising in 2006 and tops in the Pac-10, raising more than $34 million. This amount is due mainly to efforts for the $125 million Simpson Student-Athlete High Performance Center for which the university has raised about $106 million to date.


SF Chronicle: Some interesting story lines in an otherwise dull Cal-UW matchup

Nearly all the buzz and significance to be found in today's game between Cal and Washington comes from two trumped-up quarterback controversies.  Both teams are in the bottom half of the Pac-10 standings. Cal, which has lost four of five, is the picture of mediocrity according to most conference statistical categories, and for Washington, which has dropped seven of eight, the picture isn't even that pretty.  Though they may be a little trivial, there are some intriguing story lines.

At Cal, junior quarterback Nate Longshore threw himself under the bus after a 24-17 loss to USC last week, and some want the bus to stop and back up over him. At Washington, redshirt freshman sensation Jake Locker can't even turn his head, but coach Tyrone Willingham hasn't ruled him out of the game. In Cal's 5-0 start, Longshore completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 1,137 yards and seven touchdowns to only two interceptions. Since spraining his right ankle in the 31-24 win at Oregon on Sept. 29 and missing the ensuing loss to Oregon State, Longshore has completed 57.3 percent of his passes for 919 yards and five touchdowns to eight interceptions as the Bears have gone 1-3. Cal coach Jeff Tedford hasn't forgotten that Longshore is also the quarterback who led Cal to a 10-3 record last season, throwing for 3,021 yards and 24 touchdowns. Tedford used Tuesday's news luncheon as an opportunity to stand up for his guy. "The obvious thing to do is to pile on the quarterback," Tedford said. "Nobody sees missed gap responsibilities or missed blocking assignments, but it's very evident to the eye what the quarterback does. But Nate has done a lot of really good things for us."

No one in Seattle is calling for Locker's job, because he's eight yards away from breaking the conference's rushing record among modern-day quarterbacks with 807 yards. A start Saturday is in doubt, however, because Locker endured a neck stinger and bruised trapezius muscle on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Oregon State safety Al Afalava last week and was taken from the field in an ambulance after temporarily losing feeling in his left arm.  "That was a scary situation," Locker said. "I've never really had anything like that happen, but it's part of the game. ... I remember colliding with the guy and trying to push myself up and I couldn't move my left arm. "That's when I got scared." In a Tuesday's news conference, broadcast on the Washington athletics Web site, Locker turned his upper body instead of rotating his head to address media to his left and right. Reportedly, he's been able to do more each day and actually took some first-team repetitions Thursday, but Willingham has yet to rule Locker out. "I think there's always a shot (he'll play), especially knowing Jake the way I know him," Willingham said. "We're not ruling in or out, but I like the progress I see from him." If Locker doesn't play, the game immediately draws comparison to last season's match-up between the teams. Carl Bonnell, now a fifth-year senior, made his first start, replacing dual-threat quarterback Isaiah Stanback, and threw a last-second, 40-yard touchdown pass to force overtime. Of course, Bonnell also threw five interceptions as Cal pranced away with a 34-27 win, creating the circumstances for one of the season's most indelible images. After Cal middle linebacker Desmond Bishop intercepted a pass to seal the victory, tailback Marshawn Lynch found the keys to a utility cart and zig-zagged across the Memorial Stadium artificial turf in celebration of the Bears' seventh-consecutive win.

Cal today

Who: Cal (6-4, 3-4) vs. Washington (3-7, 1-6)

When: 12:30 p.m.

Where: SeattleTV/Radio: Channel: 7 Channel: 10 /810

Story line: Cal coach Jeff Tedford is looking for his 50th win, and he'll secure the school's sixth straight winning season if he gets it today. Seattle would be a fitting place for the benchmark victory, because Tedford stopped a string in 19 consecutive wins by Washington in the series in 2002.

Washington ranks last in the conference in points allowed and rushing yards allowed and is ninth in total offense allowed. Cal hasn't scored more than three touchdowns in a game for four weeks, but the Huskies' defense should get the Bears back on track. Cal quarterback Nate Longshore wants to prove his doubters wrong, and tailback Justin Forsett could dominate in the rain.

Cal's defense has played probably its best back-to-back games of the season. The Bears figured out how to get off the field, limiting Washington State and USC to 11-of-30 third-down conversions. The two high-powered offenses averaged only 20.5 points againt Cal. The Huskies rank third in the conference in rushing, but will probably be without quarterback Jake Locker and his 800 rushing yards. That leaves tailback Louis Rankin, who is on pace to be Washington's most productive runner since 1997, and senior quarterback Carl Bonnell, who threw five interceptions against Cal last season.


Violent Peaceful Protesters Attack Police

Officers hurt in melee with UC tree sitters

BERKELEY: Protesters throw liquid in eyes of UC workers, police say; three arrested

By Kristin Bender

San Jose Mercury

BERKELEY -- Two UC Berkeley police officers were taken to the hospital early Thursday after tree sitters and their supporters at the campus oak grove tried to damage a protective fence and tossed an unidentified liquid into the officers' eyes during a late-night fray, a campus spokesman said Thursday. The officers, whose names were not made available, were treated and released from an area hospital, said UC Berkeley assistant Chief Mitch Celaya. The liquid -- which burned the officers' eyes -- has not been identified, police said. The melee -- with police in riot gear and using batons on resisting tree protesters -- resulted in the arrest of three people at the oak grove near Memorial Stadium. Since December, protesters have been living in trees to try to stop construction of a $125 million sports training center. Both sides said the melee began after a man tried to cut parts of a chain-link fence surrounding the grove and a police officer attempted to detain him. Tree sitters, however, contend the man was attacked by the officer. Protesters already were angered by reports that the university was not allowing food or water into the grove. Police arrested Clara Luna, 40, on suspicion of three counts of battery on a peace officer, resisting arrest and violating a court order. Nathan Pitts, 27, was arrested on suspicion of four counts of battery on a peace officer, resisting arrest and violation of a court order, Celaya said.

Also arrested was Aleksey Maromyguin, 20, on suspicion of trespassing with an attempt to damage property, resisting arrest and violation of a court order, Celaya said. Pitts and Maromyguin were issued seven-day stay-away orders, police said. The clash prompted the university Thursday to begin putting barbed wire atop one of the fences. "This is extremely unfortunate that we've gotten to this place," said university spokesman Dan Mogulof. "As far as we are concerned, (this) provides additional evidence about why we must put the pieces in place to secure the area and enforce the law. Recent events make it clear beyond any shadow of a doubt that this is nothing more than a dangerous and illegal occupation of university property." Despite a recent Alameda County Superior Court order that mandates that tree sitters must come down or face a $1,000 fine, five days in jail or both, there are still as many as six people perched on platforms in the trees, police said. The melee began about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday when a group of about 50 tree-sit supporters gathered on the sidewalk in front of the oak grove to protest what they called the university's "starve out," supporters said.

Police had arrested a man earlier in the evening after he attempted to hand a metal box to a tree sitter, police said. Police served him with a court injunction that prevented him from coming to the grove, but he later returned and was arrested, police said. That incident apparently sparked reports that the university was banning food, water and supplies from entering the grove. Mogulof said the university is not denying food or water and has no plans to do so at this point.

In October, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller presided over a trial for three consolidated lawsuits against the university to stop the training center. The city of Berkeley, the California Oak Foundation and the Panoramic Hill Association all have sued to stop the project because it is slated to be built near the Hayward fault, among other reasons. Miller is expected to release a written ruling on the suits soon. The university put up a chain-link fence before the start of the Cal football season to protect the safety of tree sitters and football fans. A second fence went up last week. The part of the fence that was damaged has been fixed.

SF Chronicle: Cal Headed to SunBowl?

Cal and the Sun: With two Pac-10 teams likely to get berths in BCS games and the conference's third-place team headed for the Holiday Bowl, the Sun Bowl would be in line to take the conference's fourth-place finisher. At the moment, Oregon State and UCLA are tied for that spot, but with the Bruins in danger of not becoming bowl-eligible - they are 5-5 with games against No. 2 Oregon and No. 11 USC remaining - the Beavers would seem to be destined for a Sun Bowl berth.

However, the Sun Bowl has a "no-repeat" clause in its contract with the Pac-10, and since Oregon State played in the Sun Bowl last season, the Sun Bowl would have the option of taking the next bowl-eligible team in the standings. Cal probably will be the conference's only other bowl-eligible team, and the Sun Bowl might choose the Bears, even if Cal finishes two games behind the Beavers. However, Oregon's loss to Arizona on Thursday added another wrinkle to Cal's postseason possibilities. That upset hurt the Pac-10's chances of landing two BCS berths. And if the conference gets only one BCS bid, the Emerald Bowl jumps back into the mix for Cal.

Seattle Post Intelligencer: Huskies Notebook: Locker's status depends on whether he can protect himself


Jake Locker wore a helmet and shoulder pads at practice Thursday for the first time since straining his neck and suffering a stinger in Saturday's loss at Oregon State.  The Huskies quarterback participated in warm-up drills during the first 25 minutes of practice but looked stiff delivering throws.  Coach Tyrone Willingham was not definitive on Locker's status, but said the determining factor would be whether Locker can protect himself. "I like what he has done so far, and we'll see how it goes because I won't rule out anything between now and Saturday," Willingham said. "I'd like to see him to be able to protect himself. He's getting better. He came out on Wednesday with a little difficulty opening up. That's normal. With each day, he's gotten a lot better. There's a lot more movement in (his neck) -- you can see that." If Locker doesn't start, fifth-year senior Carl Bonnell will get the call -- a scenario not unfamiliar to the Huskies. Seven games into the 2006 season, the Huskies lost quarterback Isaiah Stanback to a season-ending foot injury. Bonnell finished the season and his first start was against California, the Huskies' opponent Saturday. The Huskies lost 31-24 in overtime in Berkeley, with Bonnell throwing five interceptions. "It was a heck of a game," Bonnell said. "We did some good things, but we did a lot of bad things. If we right those bad things, I think we have a very good shot of winning."

Bonnell went 17 of 31 for 284 yards and a touchdown in that game. He also rushed for a touchdown. Willingham said Bonnell's experience will soothe a team without its leader -- Locker. "It's a lot more comforting to the coaches to start with, and then that also makes it a lot more comforting to the players because you've been around the guy, you feel like you can depend on him," Willingham said. "You can count on him for certain things. You know how his reaction will be under duress. That makes a lot of difference."  

OTHER INJURIES: Safety Nate Williams, who missed the Oregon State game because of a hamstring strain, has practiced at full strength this week and will play.

Receiver Quintin Daniels (knee) returned to practice this week after missing the past four games. Daniels suffered a back spasm Wednesday, but was back at practice Thursday and is probable.

Linebacker Donald Butler (knee) will miss his fourth consecutive game. Trenton Tuiasosopo again will start.

EXTRA POINTS: Willingham said Jordan White-Frisbee will start at left guard for Ryan Tolar, who must sit out the first half after being ejected from the game at Oregon State. ... New Huskies commit Luther Leonard of Evergreen High attended practice and was greeted warmly by recruiting coordinator/linebackers coach Chris Tormey.



WHAT: Washington (3-7, 1-6)  vs. California (6-4, 3-4 Pac-10)

WHEN/WHERE: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Husky Stadium

ABOUT THE GOLDEN BEARS: The Bears won their first five games, including victories over Tennessee and Oregon, climbing to No. 2 in the nation. But Cal has lost four of its past five, averaging 21.2 points over that span. Quarterback Nate Longshore has battled injury and thrown for 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Tailback Justin Forsett is second in the Pac-10 with 116.9 yards per game and a conference-leading 13 rushing touchdowns. Receiver DeSean Johnson is a threat and could prove especially dangerous on returns, which the Huskies have struggled to defend.

O'DEA CONNECTIONS: Cal's top tackler (95) is linebacker Anthony Felder, a former star at O'Dea High School. Felder has two sacks, an interception and has forced a fumble. "He's been a guy to make a lot of plays for us on the defensive side of the ball and somebody we count on," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. O'Dea product Brandon Jones, a cornerback, has yet to crack the depth chart.

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: The Bears have dominated the past five years despite Washington holding a 46-37-4 series edge. In 2002, Kyle Boller threw for 266 yards and a career-high five touchdowns. The next season, receiver Geoff McArthur had 180 yards as Cal racked up a school-record 729 total yards. In 2003, J.J. Arrington rushed for 121 yards. Two years ago, Robert Jordan had 192 receiving yards and three touchdowns as

San Jose Mercury: Longshore has something to prove in Cal's final games

Interceptions hurt, but 'it's important for me to rebound'

By Jonathan Okanes

The stakes might not seem that high for Cal when it visits Washington on Saturday, but they are for Bears quarterback Nate Longshore.  An uneven string of performances that culminated last week in a 24-17 loss to USC prompted Longshore to take blame for the midseason slump that knocked the Bears out of the national title race and into Pacific-10 Conference mediocrity. Cal might not be relevant nationally anymore, but Longshore has a couple of games left this season to prove that his recent shortcomings were aberrations. "I feel like I've let my teammates down a little bit," Longshore said. "It's going to be important for me to bounce back and help do my part as a teammate. I think it's important for me to rebound, just to come out this week and get better. Even if I don't have a huge game, as long as I get back in the right direction, I'll be satisfied." Quarterback play was one of the last things the Bears thought they would have to worry about this season. Longshore was All-Pac-10 honorable mention last year after becoming the only Cal quarterback other than Pat Barnes to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season.  Longshore didn't put up huge numbers as Cal got off to a 5-0 start, but he didn't need to because tailback Justin Forsett was carrying the load. Longshore threw seven touchdown passes and just two interceptions during the first five games, and enjoyed his best performance of the season in a high-profile victory over  Oregon (28 for 43, 285 yards and two touchdowns).

But Longshore suffered a sprained right ankle late in that game, sat out a loss to Oregon State and threw eight interceptions and just five touchdown passes over the stretch in which Cal has gone 1-3. "I just felt bad for how everything has been shaking down," Longshore said. "At some point, you just have to take responsibility for what's going on, and I felt like (after the USC game) was a perfect time to do it. It's my job to play the best I can. That's all I can worry about."

Longshore threw an interception as the Bears were driving for a potential tying field goal at UCLA, two interceptions during the fourth quarter of a close game against Arizona State and another interception as the Bears attempted to drive for a tying touchdown against USC. "I feel like I'm pressing and trying to do too much, and that's when the interceptions come," Longshore said. "We'll find out this Saturday if I can overcome it." Longshore's recent woes have prompted criticism from Cal fans, but the quarterback said his life is "so good" that it doesn't get to him. Longshore is engaged to be married next summer and is considered an NFL prospect, although his stock might be dropping. A month ago, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. rated him as the top junior quarterback in the country; now Longshore isn't among the top five.  "It's kind of fun knowing that people's lives are so uneventful that they need to tell me how terrible mine is," Longshore said. "I hear about it all the time. It's kind of humorous. It's flattering that people are talking about me." Longshore said his confidence isn't suffering, and his teammates agree. "Nate is a great quarterback," tackle Mike Tepper said. "He's always very confident. I'm confident in him that he'll forget about it and he'll be back in the huddle doing his thing."


Oregonian: Longshore's troubles mirror Cal's

KEN GOE The Oregonian Staff

The numbers are troubling. When California began the season 5-0, averaging 39.4 points, Nate Longshore completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 1,137 yards, threw seven touchdowns and two interceptions.  At the end of the fifth game, a 31-24 win at Oregon, Longshore suffered a high ankle sprain. Nothing has been the same since.   The Bears are 1-4 since leaving Eugene. In the four games Longshore has played after returning from his ankle injury, Cal has averaged 19.5 points. He has completed 57.3 percent of his passes, thrown five touchdowns and eight interceptions.  Many observers think Longshore's ankle still isn't right, and he does appear to favor it late in games.

In the second half of last week's 24-17 loss to USC, Longshore completed 5 of 15 passes for 76 yards, with two interceptions and a fumble.  "I ask him how he's doing . . . and that's not a consideration -- that he's hindered by that later on in the game," Cal coach Jeff Tedford told the San Jose Mercury News. "But I did ask him that to find out if that's the case, and he says no."  In the meantime, Tedford is standing by his quarterback. The Cal coach bristled when asked about Longshore at his regular Tuesday news conference.  "The obvious thing to do is to pile on the quarterback," Tedford said. "Nobody sees missed gap responsibilities or missed blocking assignments. But it's very evident to the eye what the quarterback does.  "Nate has done a lot of really good things for us. . . . He did a lot of great things against a great USC defense and in very tough weather conditions."

San Jose Mercury: What's wrong with Longshore and Jackson?

Jon Wilner

Obviously, something has gone very, very wrong at Cal.  How can a team that was good enough to beat Tennessee and Oregon turn around and lose four of five games, drop out of the BCS and Pac-10 title races and scramble to make the Sun Bowl? How can an offense coached by Jeff Tedford and featuring all that talent average just 19.5 points per game (Cal’s number for the past four games)?  Having watched the Bears win all those games and put up all those points early in the season, I consider this slide both stunning and perplexing. What’s the explanation? Let’s start with what it’s not:

* It’s not the defense, because we knew the defense wouldn’t be all that good in the first place because it wasn’t very good when the Bears were winning.  Maybe it has slipped a bit as of late — not as much pass rush, not as good on third down — but that slippage doesn’t come close to explaining Cal’s collapse.

* It’s not Justin Forsett, because he has been what we thought he’d be: a very good tailback who cannot create yards for himself (like Marshawn Lynch could) by running over people.  He needs space: When he gets it, he’s very good. When he doesn’t, he’s decent. But he can very definitely be contained. (Forsett ran wild against USC, except when USC wanted to stop him.) That was true early in the season and is true now.

* It’s not receiver Lavelle Hawkins: He’s climbing the NFL Draft lists and making a case that he might be a better pro receiver than DeSean Jackson. That pretty much leaves the coaches, the line, quarterback Nate Longshore and Jackson. I have written about Tedford several times, that he made the wrong decisions in the games that started and fueled the collapse: bypassing the field goal against Oregon State and being too conservative against UCLA. That brings us to quarterback Nate Longshore. It looks to me like he lacks rhythm and confidence, and has since returning from that ankle injury. When big throws need to be made in the third and fourth quarters, he throws interceptions.  I can’t help but wonder if his ankle injury is worse than Longshore and/or Cal is letting on — maybe it’s a break and not a sprain? — and I say this because of how Longshore looks in the fourth quarter. He’s clearly hobbling more late in the game than early, and it appears to affect his passes. Should a sprained ankle suffered in late September still be causing so much trouble? Maybe so; I don’t know.  I asked Tedford about the impact of the injury. Specifically: Does it bother Longshore more late than early, because it sure looks like it? Turns out, Tedford wondered the same thing, too. “That really doesn’t have anything to do with it. I ask him how he’s doing … and that’s not a consideration — that he’s hindered by that later on in the game,” Tedford said. “But I did ask him that to find out if that’s the case, and he says no.”

* I also wonder if something’s up with Jackson, because he’s not making the big plays that a big-play receiver is supposed to make. He seems to spend more time complaining about the lack of PI calls than he does catching passes.

Against USC, he caught five balls for 64 yards (41 came on one pass). Against Washington State, he caught five balls for 45 yards. Against Arizona State, five for 88, including one for 44 and another for 21 (touchdown). Against UCLA, he caught nine for 139 yards (and two touchdowns). Against Oregon State, he caught four for five yards. By my way of thinking, Jackson has had just one big game in the last five games and only five big catches in the last five games — those aren’t the numbers Cal needs from him. Are defenses paying extra close attention to Jackson? For the most part, but not always.  Are Longshore’s problems hindering Jackson’s production? To a certain extent, but they haven’t hurt Hawkins.

Tedford was asked about Jackson on the Pac-10 teleconference, first by myself and then by another reporter. “He’s been fine. When the ball has come to him, he’s made plays. USC is a tough group to throw the ball on, but he made couple of key first downs,” Tedford said. “When time comes when his number’s called, he’s done nice job coming up with the ball.”

Then, later, this:

“Him and Hawkins both have the same amount of receptions. He hasn’t had the big yardage that he’s had, but a lot of that has to do with Hawkins coming of age and taking some of the pressure off that. “The one glaring spot DeSean hasn’t had the numbers is in punt returns. … He hasn’t gotten his hands on the ball much. I think that’s more glaring than offensively.” My sense is that Jackson’s problems are combination of things: Longshore’s woes, Hawkins’ emergence, the playcalling (ie: spreading the ball around), the coverage schemes and maybe Jackson himself. Having listened to Tedford talk about Jackson over the years, I get the sense that Jackson sometimes gets frustrated when the ball isn’t thrown his way as often as he thinks it should be. So I can’t help but wonder if Jackson’s focus hasn’t wavered a bit with the dip in production, and maybe that has affected things. He gets down, his play suffers, so the ball comes his way even less, which causes him more frustration … He has also been pretty well bottled up on punt returns, and that has to be something of a blow to his ego. And there’s no doubt that Jackson’s drop in production and Longshore’s struggles and Cal’s collapse are all intertwined. Think back to the second half of the Oregon game: Longshore was in rhythm, Jackson was dominating and it was one of the best 30 minute-stretches of the Tedford era. Cal looked like the title contender. Since then, the veteran QB, star WR and No. 2 team in the nation have all struggled.

Mercury News: One of Tepper's Assailants Causes Amtrak Delays

Berkeley man killed by train while talking on cell phone

BERKELEY, Calif.—Being distracted while talking on his cell phone is being blamed for the death of a Berkeley man who was hit by an Amtrak train.  Authorities say 31-year-old Scott Slaughter was hit and killed by the train while taking a shortcut across two sets of tracks to get to work Thursday morning.  Witnesses say Slaughter waited for one train to pass on a first set of tracks, then crossed onto the second set of tracks and was hit by a second train.  A spokeswoman for the Alameda County Coroner's Bureau says Slaughter didn't see or hear the second train because he was on his cell phone.  The accident halted Amtrak service through Berkeley for about three hours.


Note from Blog Editor: As you may recall, in 2005 Tepper’s ankle was run over twice by a car on Telegraph Avenue.  Doctors inserted nine screws and a metal plate into his ankle Tuesday. The 19-year-old offensive lineman had gotten into a confrontation with a carload of men who were harassing a coed and then backed over his leg, then put the car into drive and crushed it again.  Scott Slaughter was one of the men in the car.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

SF Chronicle: Tedford throws a flag for piling on

Rusty Simmons

Without being asked to name a starting a quarterback for Saturday's game at Washington, Cal coach Jeff Tedford made his choice very clear:  "It's really unfair to pile on a college quarterback who is competing the way Nate (Longshore) is competing and who has done so much for us," Tedford said Tuesday. "I thought it was very big of Nate to shoulder the responsibility for the (USC) loss, but in no way, shape or form was it all on his shoulders."  Longshore was 13-for-29 for 199 yards and a 20-yard touchdown pass, but he also threw two second-half interceptions and fumbled a center exchange in the 24-17 loss to USC. After the game, Longshore pointed the finger at himself.  "I take the responsibility on myself," Longshore said. "I need to play better down the stretch to give us a chance to win. It's a culmination of this late season. I haven't been playing well enough for us to win.

"That's what it comes down to, and I'll be the first to say it."  In Cal's 5-0 start, Longshore completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 1,137 yards and seven touchdowns to two interceptions. Since spraining his right ankle in the 31-24 win at Oregon on Sept. 29 and missing the ensuing loss to Oregon State, Longshore has completed 57.3 percent of his passes for 919 yards and five touchdowns to eight interceptions as the Bears have gone 1-3. "I don't think he can escape the criticism," Tedford said. "I'm sure out there on campus and in public, he hears things. I don't think there are any ways around it. Part of that comes with the territory.  "In the good times, there is a lot of praise that comes with that position, and in the bad times, there is a lot of criticism ... but that doesn't make it right to pile on a college quarterback who isn't getting paid a million dollars to play this game. He's a college athlete who goes to school and is doing everything right and lays it on the line every week."

It's easy to forget that Longshore led Cal to a 10-3 record last season, throwing for 3,021 yards and 24 touchdowns. "The obvious thing to do is to pile on the quarterback," Tedford said. "Nobody sees missed gap responsibilities or missed blocking assignments, but it's very evident to the eye what the quarterback does. "Nate has done a lot of really good things for us. ... He did a lot of great things against a great USC defense and in very tough weather conditions."

Longshore's teammates have been nothing but supportive through his struggles. "We're definitely rallying around him and trying to pick him up," outside linebacker Anthony Felder said. "He wants to take the responsibility for the loss, because he feels like it's his burden to bear as the quarterback. It's our job to let him know that he's not out there by himself."

Best update: Freshman tailback Jahvid Best, who injured his hip in the third quarter against USC and didn't return, has been ruled out for Saturday's game, Tedford said. Cal's medical staff still is evaluating the injury. "We want to make sure it's diagnosed properly, so we're going to get a couple of opinions and see the extent of the injury," Tedford said.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Random Update from Blog Editor

You’ll no doubt be watching your Tivo’d recording of the 2007 Cal-USC game for years to come, and now you can watch it in style with your very own game worn uniform. I suggest that you purchase Nate Longshore’s uniform and helmet. You can wear it while watching the game, wildly throwing nerf footballs to your kids. You can access the auction here. No word yet on how they’ll dispose of the uniforms worn against UCLA, Oregon State, or Arizona State.

The Daily Cal reports that 24 year old tree sitter Nathaniel Hill (note that “student” was omitted from his description) fell from a tree and broke his right wrist and right leg. Zachary RunningToilet blamed UC, stating “It’s a systemic problem of the UCPD hassling us and keeping us up at night,” RunningWolf said. “We’ve also had to extend ropes across two fences.” Apparently violating a court order has nothing to do with the fall.

A decision on the Memorial Stadium lawsuit is expected this week.

Daily Cal: No Denying It: Longshore Delivered Loss

There are only two games left in the Cal football team’s season and finally someone is taking responsibility for the Bears’ fourth loss in five games. Certainly no one wants to point fingers, but the person who should be admitting to his own failures has finally spoken.  Quarterback Nate Longshore is owning up at last to his mistakes after a 24-17 loss to USC, and it’s about time. For the first time this season, he admitted that he was fallible, and it was a relief to hear someone say it at last.  “It’s just culmination of the loss of this season,” Longshore said about why he was taking the loss to the Trojans so hard. “I haven’t been playing well enough to win. That’s what it comes down to and I’ll be the first one to say that. Our guys have been playing hard out there. I just need to make some more plays and give us that opportunity to win.”  Despite Longshore’s lackluster play throughout the game, the Bears still had the chance to force the game into overtime. After Forsett rumbled 34 yards down the sideline on Cal’s last drive, the Bears had the ball on USC’s 36-yard line.  On the next play, senior wideout Robert Jordan went out on a hook route on the near sideline. But there was a hesitance to Longshore that has plagued him all year and that was not present in his 3,000-yard campaign last season.  There was a hesitance in his throw, a hesitance in his reaction. And when Longshore threw the ball, there was Terrell Thomas, waiting for the interception.

“I thought I threw it far enough, but obviously not,” Longshore said. “The DB made a good play. It was just another poorly thrown ball. (The rain) didn’t affect it. It was just underthrown.”  That wasn’t the only instance where Longshore could not hook up with his receivers. There were a few plays where Longshore and his wideouts clearly weren’t on the same page.  On third down during Cal’s first possession of the third quarter, Longshore’s pass wasn’t anywhere near Jordan, the intended receiver. Jordan—hailed by his teammates for running the best routes—ran an in route, but Longshore threw the ball as if he expected Jordan to run out.  In the fourth quarter, with the score tied 17-17 and the Bears inside USC territory, Longshore expected DeSean Jackson to fly down the field, and overthrew Jackson when the receiver stopped short.  And while the wideouts will say that it was their fault that those option routes didn’t work, the onus this time is on Longshore.  Both times Jordan and Jackson were wide open. And both times Longshore missed them.  “It’s just miscommunication,” Longshore said. “Again, that’s something that I need to work on with my guys. They’re doing what they’re told and it’s my fault for not completing what we’re trying to do.”  Longshore hasn’t been able to accomplish what this team has been trying to do for the last five weeks and at least two of Cal’s four losses have come literally at his hands.

Forsett did everything he could for the Bears—he gashed through the USC defense more than anyone else had the entire year.  The defense was finally stout in its play and the o-line gave Longshore ample time in the pocket. Both units certainly weren’t the cause for the loss.  Everyone seemed to leave their hearts on the field—Jordan was pumping his fist after every huddle and every snap—but Longshore was stoic as ever.  Let’s face it—version 2007 of Nate Longshore just isn’t as good as the 2006 edition.  He lacks confidence on the field. He lacks a willingness to go deep. He’s made mistakes that have cost Cal victories. Up until Saturday, he hadn’t had the courage to admit it in public.  Longshore found that courage after losing to USC, but putting the blame on himself can only do so much.  What it can’t do is get any of the Bears’ losses back. Longshore realized that he was the problem a little too late.


Daily Cal: Cal Can't Take Advantage Of Trojans Bearing Gifts

In the final home game of the season and despite an unrelenting downpour, the Cal football team had countless opportunities to gain momentum and escape with its first victory over USC since 2003.  But the Bears were unable to capitalize on the Trojans’ gift-wrapped miscues.  USC committed the types of costly errors that usually result in a loss in front of an emotional crowd on the road. The Trojans coughed up the football four times—losing two of those fumbles—and committed some crucial penalties to keep Cal drives alive and squash offensive drives of their own.  More often than not, however, the Bears offense either stalled or committed costly gaffes of its own.  “When the ‘D’ gets stops we have to capitalize,” said wideout Lavelle Hawkins. “We didn’t do that today. We’re going to have to fix it if we’re going to beat a team like that.”  The first wasted opportunity came just five minutes into the second quarter. USC cornerback Shareece Wright lined up in the neutral zone, negating Justin Forsett’s lost fumble on 2nd-and-goal, but Cal subsequently could not reach the end zone at 1st-and-goal from the 2.  In what has become a recurring theme, the Bears stuck to the ground game up the middle and came up short three times. Cal had to settle for three points after a 23-yard Justin Kay field goal put the Bears up 10-7. Cal never led again after that point—four minutes and 25 seconds later, USC tailback Chauncey Washington burst through the Cal defensive front untouched for a 36-yard score to give the Trojans the lead.  “We’ve got to be able to punch it in when we get to the goal line,” Hawkins said.

When USC had its own struggles at the goal line—Bears safety Thomas DeCoud forced Washington to fumble at the Cal 2-yard line—Bears quarterback Nate Longshore threw an interception three plays later to negate the big defensive stop.

“There are obviously a couple of plays that Nate would like to have back,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said.  The fourth quarter was more of the same. Since the win against Oregon, Longshore has thrown four interceptions and no touchdowns in the fourth quarter and the Bears have been outscored a combined 35-7.  It looked like the tide of Cal’s recent misfortune would turn early in the final period Saturday. The defense got another huge break just three plays in when USC quarterback John David Booty lost a fumble, but the Bears again stalled with Longshore throwing two incompletions to force a punt.  Surprisingly, the glaring weakness for Cal down the stretch was the passing game, long thought of as a reliable strength. Longshore went 5-for-15 in the second half and threw two interceptions while the Bears defense held USC to 10 points.  “There were too many turnovers late in the game,” Longshore said. “When it mattered, in the fourth quarter, I was struggling. You can’t win by doing that.”  In the end, Cal wasted a dominant rushing performance from Forsett, stellar offensive line play and a sporadic defensive effort that nonetheless produced turnovers at crucial times.

Much like 2004, when the Bears outplayed USC but could not convert from 1st-and-goal at the 9-yard line, and like last season when Cal went toe-to-toe with the Trojans for three quarters but faltered late, reflections on coming so close to victory haunted the Bears after Saturday’s loss.  “It definitely stings to know we were so close,” safety Thomas DeCoud said. “We went down the home stretch with them.”  Longshore committed two turnovers when the home stretch finally came Saturday. The first came on a fumbled snap with 5:42 left in the fourth quarter and the second put the nail in the coffin. Forsett took a screen pass 34 yards to put the Bears within striking distance, but Longshore squashed any momentum by throwing an interception on the very next play with 3:57 remaining.  Yet another missed chance for the Bears to get back in the game, maintain a chance at improving bowl positioning, regain some shattered confidence and begin to recover from three straight recent losses.  “I take the responsibility on myself,” Longshore said. “Down the stretch I need to play better to give ourselves a chance to win.”

Bear Insider: The Longshore Question

Some Cal fans have recently argued that redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Riley should be given playing time in upcoming games - ahead of Nate Longshore - after the series of defeats Cal  has suffered - and after Riley's good performance when he played against Oregon State. Writer Ted Lee has carefully analyzed the performance data available on both Longshore and Riley, and presented his analysis and conclusions in a front page story just published on the Bear Insider website.  You can read the story here.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

San Jose Mercury: Cal's Longshore takes the blame

On a night when Cal's defense held up its end of the bargain, quarterback Nate Longshore couldn't. And he knows it.  "I take responsibility on myself," Longshore said after going 13 of 29 for 199 yards and two interceptions during the Bears' 24-17 loss to USC on Saturday. "I need to play better to give us a chance to win. I just couldn't get the passing game going. In the fourth quarter, I was struggling. You can't win doing that."  With the Bears driving for a potential tying touchdown, Longshore woefully underthrew wide receiver Robert Jordan and the pass was intercepted by cornerback Terrell Thomas. "I don't really put it on Nate," Hawkins said. "Us as wideouts, we have to do everything to help Nate. It's tough to throw good balls in the rain. Nate is going to make some mistakes just like anybody else. I don't blame Nate." It's been a rough season for Longshore, who has struggled to regain his form from last season, even before suffering a sprained ankle midway through the year. The Bears have lost four of five since Longshore was injured, but he said he felt fine Saturday.  "There's way too much talent on this team to have four losses," Longshore said. "I haven't been playing well enough for us to win. That's what it comes down to. I'll be the first to say that. Our guys are playing hard out there. I just need to make more plays and give us the opportunity to win."

• The Bears dropped a bombshell on their fans when they took the field in throwback uniforms to honor former All-American quarterback Joe Roth, the only Cal player ever to have his number retired. Saturday was the annual Joe Roth Memorial Game. The Bears designate the home game against UCLA or USC as the Roth game each year. Roth discovered he had cancer in 1976 and passed away the next year.  It was also the final home game for 18 Cal seniors. Coach Jeff Tedford said Roth's college roommate, Jon Matlock, spoke to the team earlier in the week.  "When his roommate talked to us, he talked about coverage, attitude and legacy," Tedford said. "That was what Joe Roth was about. These seniors have shown nothing but courage their whole time here. The things that they have done to put this program at a level where it's at, as opposed to when they first got here, I'm proud of them."

• Cal wide receiver Robert Jordan caught a pass in his 39th straight game, an ongoing school record.