Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Routes are in their roots

Friends face off as coaches in Hornets’ season opener
Nick Lozito
State Hornet
August 31, 2005

The offensive coordinator was irate. Sitting in the coaches’ booth high above the football field, Jeff Tedford bellowed into his headset, demanding answers from his receivers coach.
With his team backed up against its own goal line in the 1992 season opener against Utah, Fresno State head coach Jim Sweeney had changed Tedford’s play.
“What did he call?” Tedford shouted to Steve Mooshagian through his headset.
“I’m not going to tell you, because I don’t want you to go crazy,” Mooshagian retorted. Tedford: “You gotta tell me, what’s the God damn play?”
“Then he sees us line up,” Mooshagian recalls, “and he goes, ‘He didn’t call double pass, did he?’ I said, ‘Yep.’ And as soon as he said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ (the play) goes 95 yards for a touchdown.
“We used to throw the ball out of our end zone all the time,” said Mooshagian, entering his third year as Sacramento State’s head coach. “Coach Sweeney taught us both that when you’re near, you’re far, and when you’re far, you’re near.”
Ten years later in Berkeley, Tedford found himself very far. Far from respectability, inheriting a UC Berkeley team that went 1-10 in 2001. Far from expectations, toting an underachieving quarterback named Kyle Boller whose arm was wilder than his new head coach’s expectations of him. And, against Baylor in his head coaching debut, far from the goal line, with the Golden Bears sitting on their own 29-yard line after the opening kickoff. So Tedford reached into his old boss’s playbook and called double pass.
Seventy-one yards later, Berkeley had embarked on a three-year transformation that has the program ranked No. 19 by the Associated Press heading into its season opener at 2 p.m. Saturday against the Hornets.
At Berkeley, Tedford has added Boller and Aaron Rodgers to his long list of quarterback prodigies. He’s been courted for coaching positions in the NFL and other top collegiate programs, but has stayed in Berkeley to further the growth.
If there’s one man who truly understands the method to Tedford’s offensive genius, he’ll be standing on the opposing sideline Saturday, working his own brain to stump a friend and shock a college football nation.
Mooshagian knows Berkeley’s head man well beyond X’s and O’s.
He knows that Tedford slept in the office of his brother’s warehouse while attending Cerritos Junior College in Southern California. He knows that Tedford currently sleeps in his office at Cal, but these days it’s more out of paranoia than necessity.
He knows that Tedford came to football practice at Cerritos in a beat up truck. He knows that Tedford showered in the community college’s bathroom.
Before starring together as teammates at Cerritos – Tedford at quarterback and Mooshagian at receiver – the two competed against each other at rival high schools in Downey, Calif., where Mooshagian, a 1977 graduate from Downey High, drove a 1968 Mustang to campus.
“He was a cocky rich kid from the other side of town,” said Tedford, who graduated in 1979 from Warren High. “He always had nice things, and I didn’t have anything, really. But he was always very generous.”
The two pals and teammates went on to play together at Fresno State, where Tedford earned honorable mention All-American honors at quarterback before playing in the Canadian Football League. Mooshagian played shortly for the Los Angeles Express of the USFL after college, before returning to Fresno State as a receivers coach.
Tedford would soon join Mooshagian on the Fresno State coaching staff, first as a quarterbacks coach and then as offensive coordinator. The two studied the game together, exchanged offensive philosophies and eventually left Sweeney’s program to become offensive coordinators elsewhere – Tedford at Oregon and Mooshagian at Nevada and then Pittsburgh.
“They’ll do everything they have to do (to win),” said Tim Skipper, who played under Tedford at Fresno State and currently serves as Mooshagian’s defensive coordinator. “Stay up late at night, come in early. And they both work hard to get the best out of their guys.”
In 2002, Tedford would get his first crack at collegiate head coaching shot in Berkeley. A year later, Mooshagian got his at Sac State.
Knowing what he knows now, Mooshagian said he wouldn’t have accepted the Sac State position. “If I would have been offered this job under the same terms again,” he said. “You know, if this were two years ago, I wouldn’t take it. Not being able to hire your own coaching staff, not being able to hire your own trainer, equipment manager, strength coach. Not being able to have your own recruiting class. You just kind of inherited everything for a year. And we have a lot of coaches who were coaching for nothing for sixth months. They weren’t getting paid.
“But I’m here. I’m loving it. I’m living my dream.” A dream that now involves coaching his own son, Bobby, a freshman wide receiver.
Mooshagian says coaching salaries and facilities have improved at Sac State over his three years, with the help of athletic director Terry Wanless and President Alexander Gonzalez. However, he dreams of a day when he doesn’t have to deal with the tedious tasks of mid-major college coaching, such as finding cleats for a transfer quarterback or swatting at flies in his office. But while it’s Tedford who currently lives the coaching high life, Mooshagian is quick to remind his old friend of days when the tables were turned.
“Donna, his wife, used to pack him his lunch every day,” Mooshagian said, referring to the two coaches’ days in Fresno. “And she would give him just one piece of cheese with two pieces of bread, so it was just a cheese sandwich.
“When he went to Oregon, I called him and asked him, ‘Now that you’re making more money, is Donna giving you bologna?’ And then I’ll ask him next time, ‘Are you getting two pieces of cheese on your sandwich?’ ”
When the two meet at midfield on Saturday, Tedford expects to hear more tales derived from 30 years of friendship. “See the things that he remembers?” Tedford said. “He knows what kind of sandwiches I was eating. He’s a jokester, he remembers a lot of little things. “He’s full of it.”
Who to watch Saturday
On California
Marshawn Lynch, RB: He averaged 8.8 yards per carry last year as a freshman, backing up J.J. Arrington. The Pac 10’s most explosive player, behind Reggie Bush of USC.
Joe Ayoob and Nate Longshore, QB: Ayoob, a junior college transfer, is the more athletic of the two. He was referred to in junior college as the “white Michael Vick.” Longshore, a redshirt freshman, is expected to start and has a better arm.
On Sac State
Ryan Mole, RB: Despite playing in just nine games, he gained 858 yards rushing and averaged 5.9 yards per carry as a freshman.
Ryan Coogler, WR: The junior will be looked at to fill the void left by Fred Amey. He scored two touchdowns last season and had 254 receiving yards.
Matt Logue, LB: The senior has started each of his first three seasons. While the team tries to figure out its quarterback situation, the defense will be relied on heavily.

Cal claws its way to top, aims to stay there

By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Legendary coach Bobby Bowden of Florida State immediately makes the connection when he hears "big-time football" and "Berkeley" used in the same sentence.
"You mean Jeff Tedford?" he asks, not waiting for an answer. "He's already there. He's put that program on the college football map." Cal has arrived as a hot-ticket, bowl contending, donor-friendly college football program.
Now comes the hard part -- staying there. Any team that jumps to this level has to fight to retain it as a permanent address. That's an especially crucial challenge for Cal. The university has gotten close to the big leagues before but couldn't make it stick.
This time more is at stake with state funding on the decline, Pac-10 competitiveness on the rise, a long-planned stadium renovation on deck and an inspirational coach on the sideline, at least for now. "There is a sense of urgency to capitalize on our success. Now is the time to get it done," Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour said. "Football is the vehicle for so much that can benefit the entire institution. This is our chance to grow that vehicle."
Building from scratch
Tedford saw potential at Cal when few others did, especially during his four seasons as Oregon's offensive coordinator. "It was always my impression that Cal was a big-time football program, perhaps because of having competed against them," Tedford said. "Really, I think it's a matter of perception how you see a program. Others may not have seen Cal as a big-time football program, and maybe what we've accomplished has changed that perception."
Tedford is too modest. In 2002, he inherited a team that had gone 1-10. The Bears hadn't been to a bowl game since 1996. Tedford had to sell recruits on faith. Donnie McClesky was one of those recruits. He grew up loving Michigan. Steve Spurrier recruited him to play at Florida. Colorado State wanted him, too. Yet, McClesky bought Tedford's sales pitch.
"I could have gone to Florida, but that's not really what I wanted," he said. "I wanted to be part of something new. Playing for the Florida States and Miamis, those schools are already part of history. We're making history." And what a history it's been in three short years.
Year one: Cal won three road games over nationally ranked opponents for the first time ever. At 7-5, the Bears had enough wins for bowl eligibility but had to serve a one-year postseason ban for infractions incurred in 1999.
Year two: Cal upset eventual national champion USC and beat Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl during an 8-6 campaign.
Year three: Cal staged a BCS run, earned the No. 4 national ranking -- the highest since 1952 -- played in the Holiday Bowl and finished with a 10-2 record.
All of that helped lead to this year's preseason No. 19 ranking in the Associated Press poll.
"Big-time football starts with winning," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said during a spring practice teleconference. "It sounds simple, but it's also true -- everyone loves a winner. On-field success is just a jumping off point for the success of an entire program."
Cal sits on a $40 million annual budget for its athletic department, largely because it maintains the second-largest slate of sports among Pac-10 schools with 27.
Tuition at UC Berkeley rose 30 percent this year. State funding has increased slightly for 2005, but that in no way counters the 15 percent loss of state operating funds over the previous four years.
In such a climate, Barbour has said, she would love to run an athletic department funded entirely by endowments. Until then, she will maximize what she calls, "the financial train" -- football. Last season, Cal averaged 64,019 in home attendance. That 40 percent increase was the highest one-year climb in Division I-A football since the NCAA started tracking attendance in 1993.
"Those are the kinds of dollars from which you can build," Barbour said. "We're looking at potential revenues from the stadium's renovations. The opportunities and amenities are there. No other program presents those opportunities."
The 12th man
In March, Cal sold a record-high 5,054 season tickets in one day, more than double the opening-day sales in 2004. Four months later, Cal sold 10,124 single-game tickets in a day and broke another record.
"They were both mind boggling," said Matt Terwilliger, director of ticket sales and advertising. "We never had experienced that kind of volume before. We never had to make sure every phone line worked in the ticket office before."
Cal has sold about 38,500 season tickets this year. With single-game tickets gone, the only way to see Cal play USC on Nov. 12 is to buy a season ticket.
Despite higher demand, Cal only marginally increased its season-ticket price for the general public (from $157 to $235). That $78 increase is due mostly to the addition of one home game and admission to the Big Game at Stanford, Terwilliger said.
By comparison, Michigan charges $350 for seven games and Washington $345 for six.
Like almost every other big-time school, Cal implemented a required donation for season-ticket holders wishing to retain the seats they had last season. The $50 fee, however, ranks well below average. USC charges between $100 and $4,000, depending on seat location. Most seats at Ohio State require a $200 minimum.
Cal hasn't tried to make a quick buck off its recent success, either. The student section comprises half of the premium 50-yard line seats. Season tickets for students cost $72, well below the $120 Division I-A average.
"Students are the core," Terwilliger said. "If they don't come as students, they are less likely to be season-ticket holders in the future and less likely to donate to the program in the future."
The same philosophy drives Cal's policy of free admission for freshmen and transfer students to the first five home games. Tickets to the USC game cost $12.
Terwilliger said Cal draws about 90 percent of its freshman class to games, which translates into higher sales as those students become upperclassmen.
"We're the talk of the town in terms of what we're doing," Terwilliger said. "Most people never knew where Cal was before. The Floridas and Notre Dames probably wouldn't need to do this, but a program in a market like ours, it's something to consider."
Said Barbour: "Our marketing has been focused on putting fans in the seats. The 12th-man kind of thing. That's directly tied to sustaining success on the field."
The money game
David Rosselli has spent 15 years working in collegiate development, including 15 months as Cal's assistant athletic director of major gifts.
Even he can be caught by surprise. In October, a Cal donor offered him a multimillion-dollar gift during lunch.
"He said to me, 'You're the first person I'm telling, so you can get the credit. I haven't even told my wife,'" Rosselli recalled.
The Bear Backers, which raise money for Cal athletics, set all-time highs this past year with $61 million in gifts and pledges, 1,600 new donors and 7,300 total donors.
No project at Cal was viewed as more important than retaining Tedford.
In November, Barbour fielded calls from major college programs interested in courting the coach. With budget limitations, she knew private donations were the only means to augment the $800,000 Tedford was set to make in 2005.
Faced with a short time frame, Rosselli and his staff had to secure major donations, often in one phone conversation. That money was placed in chancellor Robert Birgeneau's discretionary fund and used to write a five-year, $10 million contract extension for Tedford.
The deal will pay Tedford $1.5 million -- plus a possible $300,000 in incentives -- through 2009. He will receive a $2.5 million bonus if he completes the contract.
Those figures put Tedford into elite company with coaches such as Georgia's Mark Richt and Nebraska's Bill Callahan, both of whom have guaranteed salaries of $1.5 million a year.
The contract also separates Tedford from successful Cal coaches of the past. Said Cal donor Grant Inman in putting the contract extension in perspective: "We want Cal to be a destination instead of being a trainer."
Former coach Bruce Snyder built the program from 1987 to 1991, then left for Arizona State after back-to-back bowl appearances. Steve Mariucci lasted one season (1996) before bolting to the 49ers. In Snyder's case, Cal neglected to offer financial incentives for him to stay.
"There were points in time where the program really was prepared to turn the corner, but the resources kept it from happening," Rosselli said. "Coach Snyder needed those additional resources in order to retain him. The administration wasn't willing to pony up the money for those resources. The Cal community was not willing to let that happen a second time."
All great programs can point to a nucleus. Alabama had Bear Bryant. Penn State has Joe Paterno. Florida State has Bowden.
"Those coaches turned solid programs into powerhouses," said current Washington and former Notre Dame and Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham. "It's one thing to assume control of a giant. It's quite another to create it."
The great rebuild
It was in November 1999 that athletic director John Kasser promised that details about Cal's stadium renovation would be forthcoming.
Memorial Stadium needed a facelift even then. Plunked down on top of the Hayward fault line, the stadium required seismic upgrades. The locker, weight and meeting rooms were outdated as were fan amenities such as restrooms.
Yet, the renovation project remained on the shelf for more than six years -- until a buyout clause in Tedford's previous contract forced Cal's hand. If the university didn't break ground by Dec. 15, 2004, Tedford could leave for a mere $500,000.
He never exercised the option, in part because of the progress Cal has shown. In the eight months since, Cal has hired a lead architect, named former Northern Arizona athletic director Steve Holton as project manager and generated $40 million in private fundraising.
Initial design and cost estimates are expected sometime this fall, Barbour said. Construction likely will begin after the 2006 season.
Rosselli said he is developing the public fundraising plan, set for release when the cost estimates are finalized.
"It's a monstrous endeavor, especially because the other sports still need to be taken care of," Rosselli said. "We can't afford for a major project to cannibalize our money. We need to maintain and raise a huge figure on top of that. It sounds like a lot to ask, but we did that this year."
Much of the support comes from the Bear Backers. For example, to earn possible travel privileges with the football team, a donor used to give a minimum of $50,000. Now the minimum is $60,000. Securing two season tickets has gone up from $350 to $400.
But those inflated premiums are not why Rosselli expects the stadium fundraising to flourish.
"We raised $61 million from 7,300 donors," he said. "When you consider you have 65,000 rabid fans coming out to games each week and 75,000 alumni in the Bay Area alone, we've clearly only begun to scrape the surface of our potential."
Expanding horizons
Private donations alone won't pour the concrete for the stadium renovations. Barbour sees possible revenue streams from corporate sponsorships, naming rights and enhanced amenities -- concessions and perhaps luxury suites -- provided by a renovated stadium.
Cal found a powerful ally in the revenue-generating business when it partnered with North Carolina-based ISP Sports on June 1. The sports marketing company, which has a network of schools that includes Auburn, UCLA and Miami, recently installed a new sign system at Memorial Stadium to better recognize the more than 65 corporate sponsors.
That's one way sponsors benefit from the football team's success, said Solly Fulp, former assistant athletic director for corporate development. Where before he handled marketing with just one assistant, he now has a general sales manager, two sales associates and an intern.
"We couldn't keep up with the success of the football program," said Fulp, now ISP vice president and general manager overseeing Cal. "It was me and one assistant, and we nearly doubled revenue in two years. Basically, we grew beyond our means. The success of the football program commanded a larger sales staff networked nationally."
ISP isn't just marketing. The company has a media division that recently signed Cal flagship radio station KGO to a five-year extension and Comcast Sports Net to a five-year television deal. As part of those deals, Cal will air a 30-minute postgame show, "The Fifth Quarter," on KGO, hosted by Rosselli and former color analyst Lee Grosscup.
KGO's network of stations also means that Cal football games will air from San Diego to Redding.
The Comcast deal will put Cal football games on television up to twice a year, starting with the Sept. 3 season opener against Sacramento State. The cable channel also will televise a weekly, in-season show with Tedford, six men's basketball games and a minimum of four other Cal sports teams each year.
Cal already has received a taste of national visibility. Last season's Holiday Bowl drew 63,711 and earned a 4.0 television rating, making it the fourth-highest rated bowl game on ESPN.
This year, ABC will televise the Big Game as part of its regional package for the first time since 1991. Fox Sports Bay Area also will resume the Cal Football Report, a 30-minute highlights program that gained popularity last season.
"A university can't buy better publicity," said Frank Miller, editor of "The College That's Right for You." "Every time the (football) team is on television, it gives the university name recognition. A student chooses a school not just for academics but also the college experience."
Football is quickly becoming an integral part of the Cal experience.
The Cal Student Store recently completed an expansion that added a floor dedicated to apparel. The top seller is "True Blue," the official game-day football T-shirt promoted by the athletic department, said store director Greg Kiryakakis.
Brick by brick
What will it take for Cal to stay on top? Fans in the seats? Donations? Marketing and media opportunities?
All of the above, and those are made possible by winning.
"Continuity is extremely important," Tedford said. "We all support the vision of moving forward with this program and taking it as far as it can go."
Not an easy goal when you consider the competitiveness of the Pac-10. Two-time defending national champion USC enters the season ranked No. 1 in every major poll. Arizona State is ranked No. 20 in the AP poll.
Tough schedules make a run at the BCS more likely. If a team can win.
And winning means landing top recruits.
In February, Cal signed 24 players, including 12 high school All-Americans. ranked it the nation's No. 8 recruiting class. Eight high school players have verbally committed for 2006.
Winning means having players academically eligible, not a simple task at a university where incoming freshmen have an average grade point average of 3.81 and score between 1,200 and 1,500 on the SAT.
At Cal, Tedford has implemented the "Academic Gameplan," a program that monitors players' academic progress while making them personally accountable for their work. The program seems to be working. The combined GPA of players has risen .2 since its implementation in 2002.
Winning also means keeping the coaching staff intact.
In three seasons, Tedford has lost only two assistant coaches, one to retirement. All of his assistants from 2004 are back. Tedford insisted that his contract extension include additional compensation for his staff.
With winning comes an intense spotlight off the field as well as on it. Cal discovered that twice in the past year.
In December, receiver David Gray was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon outside a San Francisco night club. No charges were filed after a police investigation cleared him.
In February, defensive back Bernard Hicks was arrested for marijuana possession and receiver Robert Jordan was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. That charge was later dropped. Both players were suspended -- Hicks for the first three games of this season, Jordan for the season-opener.
"The players may have more focus on them, but we always make sure they understand how they need to act and to not expect any favors," Tedford said. "We try to be proactive, not reactive. We didn't wait for success to make that part of our lessons."
Tedford has given Cal a face to present to the world of big-time college football -- with a voice to match.
With help from Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen, Tedford lobbied for full disclosure of the 62 votes cast in the USA Today coaches poll. That's because last season, when votes were cast in secret, Texas jumped over Cal in the final regular-season poll, denying the Bears a BCS bowl.
Final poll balloting will be made public this season, a fact not lost on Paterno.
"When others listen," he said, "you know you have arrived."

Jeff Tedford Press Conference Quotes

Head coach discusses Saturday's Sacramento State game
BERKELEY - Below are quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference leading into Saturday's season-opener. The Golden Bears host Sacramento State at 2 p.m. Sept. 3 in Memorial Stadium.
On the starting quarterback choice:
"Nate Longshore is going to start the game for us. He has done an excellent job for us, not only through the spring, but it's evident that he worked really hard through the summer. He has really done a nice job of understanding what we are doing schematically with our offense, has really been consistent and accurate with throwing the ball, so I feel that he has really performed well. Joe (Ayoob), very pleased with what he has done as well as far as his retention from the spring through the summer. It's very similar to the situation where Aaron (Rodgers) came in; it's hard to make the strides you need to make in a short period of time when it comes to game planning. We will continue working both of them. We hope that both of them will play in the first game and we'll see what happens from there - how they handle game situations and continue the competition. Right now Nate (Longshore) is the guy."
On in a situation like this, if Longshore will be on a short leash and if he struggles, will you go with Ayoob:
"No, it's not going to be about that as of now. For anyone to get better, they are going to have to go through some adversity, that's why we're not going to be a two-quarterback system. Once we find the guy that we think is our guy, then he's going to be our guy. If he struggles a little bit, he's going to play through it, he's going to learn to build confidence and work thorough adversity and not look over his shoulder every time he makes a mistake (thinking) he's going to get pulled out of the game."
On having a conference game a week from Saturday and how that changes things as opposed to in the past when Reggie Robertson and Aaron Rodgers were here and there were four non-conference games in the beginning of the season:
"I don't think it's going to go four games. We will see what happens this game, and then go from there. You're right, we do have a conference game, very, very important, as is the first game. They are all important no doubt about it, but this is a little different because both guys are coming in with lack of experience in game time situations. Aaron was new not only to the system but to this level, the speed of the game. Reggie was not, Reggie had played, he had confidence, and he had poise. So Reggie was very solid at that time. This is different; these two guys are kind of on the same playing field right now. We are going to make an earlier decision because not one has the earlier advantage over another with the experience factor."
On his friendship with Sacramento State's head coach influencing the schedule:
"It just kind of worked out that way, because it felt like there is a lot of support in the Sacramento area, a lot of Cal people. I have done a lot of functions in Sacramento, so I know we are very well represented there and they were one of the choices that were brought to me when San Jose State got out of the contract to play."
On the new starters and if he is more excited to watch them play or concerned with how they will react:
"I'm anxious. Anxiety can work two ways. But I am very anxious to see how these guys respond to game time situations. You can only practice so much, and now it's time to get in the game. It's time to see how our young guys respond to some adversity. It's time to see how the new faces step up in their new role. I'm very excited to see them cut it loose on Saturday and get to play against someone else besides them selves."
On the new starters on defense and if there is concern:
"I don't really have a concern. The two areas that we really haven't seen play in a game situation are the defensive ends. I think when you look at (Brandon) Mebane and (Matthew) Malele inside, they were in the rotation last year. So, we've seen those guys play in game time situations. When you look at (Tosh) Lupoi, who has been hurt for the past couple of years, we know pretty much what he can do, but when you look at (Nu'u) Tafisi, Fahim (Mujaahid Abd Allah) and Phillip Mbakogu, those are guys that it's their first time to get after it in a game setting. So we are anxious to see those guys.
The linebackers have all played before, (Greg) Van Hoesen sparingly, Desmond Bishop - we feel really strong about him - but again what's it going to be like at this level. (Ryan) Foltz obviously has had a lot of starts and a lot of plays for us. Our secondary are veterans, they have all played in games before. Really, we are looking at the front to see how they respond."
On the secondary:
"I'm excited about the secondary. I think they are very solid, they are experienced, they communicate very well together. I look for them to be very solid."
On what he hopes to see from Joe Ayoob come game-time that he hasn't seen in practice:
"How he handles the offense. There is so much more to it then seeing him throw the ball. It's running the huddle, getting the right personnel group, getting the play called correctly, managing the 25-second clock, understanding the situations. All that happens before the ball is even snapped. After that, then how does he perform, but there is a lot that has to be done. We don't have the luxury of having those microphones in our helmets. We signal plays, you have to call it correctly; all those type of things put our offense in a position to be successful. So that is something that we need to find out from all of our quarterbacks how they respond to that."
On what makes Tosh Lupoi an effective football player:
"Experience, obviously, but the passion that he has to play the game. I think when you have it flashed in front of you, you may not play again and then you have another opportunity to play, I think he has brought a renewed passion. He has always been a very intense person, but I think this year he has an even greater passion to play the game. So he is very excited to play and compete."
On players who haven't received much media attention that will step up and have a really big year:
"I think you have to look at our offensive line as guys besides Marvin (Philip), Marvin got a lot of pub. You look at (Ryan) O'Callaghan who is a dominant player, you look at Andrew Cameron who has the ability to be a dominant player. Those guys all had some sort of postseason recognition. I would even look to those guys to be even stronger this year. Brandon Mebane I think is a guy who can step up and be a guy who is one of the dominating players in the conference. Craig Stevens at tight end is a guy who has the ability to get recognized, as well. But I don't know about postseason awards, I just think those guys are just guys that have been really solid through camp so far and I think are really poised to have great seasons."
On the offensive line setting the tone for this game:
"We expect the offensive line to set the tone in every game. I think you can set your identity right there at the offensive line, at the tight end position, at the fullback position by how physical we play. Our offensive line has always played very physical, so I wouldn't expect anything different if we were playing the No. 1 team in the country or who we are playing. That is the mind set that we like to go in to every game with, is that we are going to be very physical at the line of scrimmage."
On the running game:
"We're going to stay balanced; we're not going to shy away from throwing the football. We feel confident enough with our quarterbacks and our receiving corps that we can stay balanced, we can be diverse. We are not going to lock in on one thing. Obviously, it's nice to have a run game that has the potential to be a very good one, to put you in situations where there are not a lot of third-and-10 situations. If you can get to third and short, third and medium, the advantage goes to the offense. It's still a situational game, so whether it's throwing the ball or running the ball, it's still about getting in the right situations."
On Marshawn Lynch feeling like he has to carry the offense this year:
"I don't think so. I really believe that he has gone into this with the right perspective of yeah there are a lot of people looking at me, but there are a lot of other people on this team that can get this done, as well as the other running backs. I think when you have a corps of running backs like we have that takes the pressure off Marshawn. I don't think Marshawn feels like he has to be back there, if he's exhausted he doesn't have to be back there. He can take a break because we have guys that have just as much potential to play. I really believe that is how Marshawn's mindset is. He's not the kind of guy who is going to go in with the weight of this team on his shoulders."

Chow will be missed at USC

Quarterback Matt Leinart, right, confers with Trojans assistant Steve Sarkisian.
By CAULTON TUDOR, Staff Writer
When Norm Chow left the Southern California football coaching staff to take an NFL job, the Trojans replaced him with two people.
Not to knock the coaching abilities of Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, but they won't match what Chow did for USC's offense. Trojans head coach Pete Carroll promoted Kiffin from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator and hired Sarkisian as the quarterbacks coach.
Read the story at:

Winner buys the sandwiches

Tedford and Sac State coach have been friends since their teens
By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER
BERKELEY — Saturday's projected football mismatch between Cal and Sacramento State is all about a cheese sandwich.
Well, not just a cheese sandwich. It's also about a longtime friendship between the two head coaches, Jeff Tedford and Steve Mooshagian, which adds some relish to the story.
They met when Tedford was 15 and Mooshagian 17, when the latter was a parks and recreation director. Tedford, a Downey High student and a quarterback, complimented Mooshagian on a catch he made for Warren High the year before.
Mooshagian then became a fan of Tedford, and later a favorite receiver of Tedford's at both Cerritos College and Fresno State. Then these two college roommates coached at Fresno State under Jim Sweeney.
That's when their relationship became, well, cheesy.
"Donna (Tedford) used to make Jeff a sandwich, and only give him cheese and bread," Mooshagian said Tuesday. "He wasn't making much money. When he got his new contract (at Cal), I asked him if she is giving him bologna and an extra piece of cheese.
"He has more money in his checkbook, he drives a better car, and he lives in a better house. But the person has not changed a bit. He's a guy I'd give the shirt off my back for, and I know he would for me."
And maybe even buy a cheese sandwich for — or try.
"Those are the things he remembers," Tedford said. "I can't believe he remembers that. I think there was (only cheese) one day. One day! I opened it up, and I had no idea either that there wasn't meat. I don't have a fetish for cheese sandwiches."
Mooshagian views the expected one-sided outcome of this first meeting between the two schools with a sense of perspective, some light-hearted humor, and an unforced smile. Say cheese, coach!
"It's a case for a bleeding ulcer," said Mooshagian. "Jeff used to coach in the CFL, so I asked him if we could use 12 men to his 11.
"It's a great challenge. I and my team have never been one to back down from a challenge. We played Oregon State two years ago (a 40-7 OSU win) with not as much talent as we have now. This is a great gauge for our program to see where we need to get to. "Hey, nobody gave the U.S. hockey team a chance to beat the Russians (in 1960 or 1980). It's a David and Goliath battle, but anything can happen on any given Saturday."
Mooshagian and his Hornets must be admired for stepping in as a replacement for San Jose State, which backed out of the opener. Tedford pointed out his friendship with Mooshagian wasn't the primary motivation behind this game, though it sped things along. "I'm very impressed with Jeff's offensive line and his run game," Mooshagian said. "I hope he runs it about 90 times and gets the game over in 2 hours and 15 minutes."
This is Mooshagian's third year in the state capital. His overall record with the Hornets is 5-17.
"We are a much better team," he noted, than their predicted last-place finish in the Big Sky Conference. "I'm sure Steve will have his team ready to play," Tedford said. "It's all about opportunity. I'm sure all summer long, those guys have had one thing on their mind, an opportunity to play a Top 20 team."
"I'll give Jeff a hug before the game," Mooshagian said, "then we'll go to the sidelines and battle our butts off. Then we'll hug again after the game because that's the way things should be." Hugs don't hurt so much when they're between friends.

Coaches make game seem 'friendly'

Jake Curtis, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
When Jeff Tedford and Steve Mooshagian were Fresno State assistant coaches about a dozen years ago, Mooshagian noted that his longtime friend was, well, thrifty.
"His wife, Donna, used to pack his lunch, and I remember he had a sandwich that was just one slice of cheese," Mooshagian said this week. "So when I saw him after he got that big contract at Cal, I asked him, 'Are you going to get a slice of baloney with that now?' "
Tedford, whose Bears will play their season opener on Saturday against a Sacramento State team coached by Mooshagian, grinned when reminded of the story.
"Who would remember a sandwich?" Tedford said.
Mooshagian remembers a lot about his relationship with Tedford, whom he met when both were teenagers in Downey (Los Angeles County). Mooshagian was a senior at Downey High and Tedford was a 15-year-old sophomore at crosstown rival Warren High when Tedford stepped up to Mooshagian and congratulated him on a one-handed catch he had made.
"I like to joke that he went to the rich school and I went to the poor school," Tedford said.
Mooshagian preferred to call Warren the "tough school," but did not dispute that his was the more affluent section of Downey.
They were teammates at Cerritos (Junior) College in 1979, when Tedford was the team's freshman quarterback and Mooshagian was its star sophomore wide receiver.
"I used to always tell him I was open," Mooshagian said.
Mooshagian then headed to Fresno State, and a year later, Tedford was his teammate again. Mooshagian even helped recruit Tedford to Fresno State, and they were roommates on the road during the 1981 season, when Tedford became the Bulldogs' starting quarterback and Mooshagian was a prominent member of a Fresno State receiving corps that featured three future NFL wide receivers (Henry Ellard, Stephone Paige and Tony Woodruff).
Mooshagian recalled Tedford as a "Doug Flutie-type quarterback," whose greatest skill was making plays on the run. Tedford described Mooshagian as a "reliable receiver with good hands and above-average speed."
They both remembered the Bulldogs' upset of Arizona in Mooshagian's final college game. Tedford had become the Bulldogs' starting quarterback four games into that 1981 season, and Arizona had upset No. 1 USC five weeks earlier. But with the help of a tricky lateral that Mooshagian launched for a big gain in the third period, a 5-5 Fresno State team upset the Wildcats 23-17 in Tucson.
"The locker room was going crazy after that game and I remember (coach Jim) Sweeney talking to us about '55,000 disappointed fans,' " Mooshagian said. "So when Jeff was leading the chants of '75,000 disappointed fans' when Cal beat Washington (in Seattle in 2002), I knew exactly where that came from."
They teamed for a third time as coaches when both were assistants at Fresno State from 1992 through '94. The highlight then was an upset of USC in the 1992 Freedom Bowl.
"His son and my son had been best friends through elementary school," Mooshagian said, "and I remember after that game, grabbing our sons and all four of us being on the field together."
Mooshagian credits Tedford for teaching him the pass-protection schemes he uses at Sac State, and Mooshagian says he helped sharpen Tedford's recruiting skills, even accompanying Tedford on some recruiting trips when they were at Fresno State.
"He used to be more shy than he is now," Mooshagian said.
Now, of course, Tedford is one of the most respected college coaches in America, good enough to be rewarded with a new contract that pays him $1.5 million annually.
"But he hasn't changed at all," Mooshagian said. "He's just like he was as a player -- very focused -- and I still consider him a close friend."
Their friendship had nothing to do with Cal scheduling Division I-AA Sacramento State, a matchup arranged a few years ago when San Jose State asked out of its scheduled game with Cal. Whether friendship prevents the Bears from running up the score remains to be seen.

QB job not set in stone

By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER
BERKELEY — Cal coach Jeff Tedford shed more light on the stability of his quarterback situation by indicating Nate Longshore is on a short leash.
Longshore beat out Joe Ayoob for the No.1 job, but Tedford hinted Tuesday that if Ayoob outplayed Longshore against Sacramento State, Ayoob could start Sept.10 at Washington.
"We'll see what happens the first game," said Tedford. "It could happen totally different (the next week). I don't know. We'll go into this game and take it from there."
POLL TOLL? Could a dominant performance against Sacramento State, a Division 1-AA school, hurt Cal in the polls?
"It's not going to help us," said offensive tackle Ryan O'Callaghan. ''You don't want to open up with the No.1 team in the nation. You just want to get it going. It's a warm-up, I guess."
Bears senior linebacker Ryan Foltz doesn't see his team having a problem in getting up for the Hornets.
"It's an opening game, and there's a lot of excitement," said Foltz. "We're excited to get things going, and we can't overlook anyone. They're going to come to play, and we're going to give our best effort.
"We lost a lot of good defensive players, but these new linebackers have unbelievable potential: Desmond Bishop, Worrell Williams, Greg Van Hoesen. Plus some freshman guys,
Zack Follett and Anthony Felder, look like they're going to be great players."
As for the polls?
"I think we've established a reputation for having a solid program year in and year out," said Foltz. "Regardless of who's on our schedule, there should be confidence that we're going to be a quality football team no matter who we play."
NEW VOICE: Sixteen years after completing his last pass for Cal, Troy Taylor remains the school's career passing leader. Now he is Cal's new radio color man.
"I've been researching. I want to be overprepared. I want to do a great job," said Taylor, 37, who's making his broadcasting debut this year other than previous postgame work.
Taylor was initially approached for the sideline job, then was upgraded when Mike Pawlawski had to give up his radio color job because of other business pursuits.
But Taylor was forced to give up his head coaching job at Folsom High after four years, although he will continue teaching physical education and driver's education at the school.

Tedford in search of a new artist

Contra Costa Times
BERKELEY - The artist's canvas is blank once again. Last year at this time it danced with vibrant colors, subtle textures and striking shapes. By the time the New Year rolled around it was something to behold, suitable for framing.
That work now hangs in Green Bay, Wis. The artist's new piece has a working title, but no official name. It is visible only to his mind's eye.
"Yeah, it is kind of exciting," said California football coach and renowned quarterback maker Jeff Tedford, who will unveil a new starting quarterback in his team's opener against Sacramento State on Saturday.
"You invest a lot of time, and you get to a point where you don't have to be quite so involved. Now you get involved again. It's like starting from scratch."
Actually, it is starting from scratch. Last year at this time, Aaron Rodgers was Cal's starting quarterback. It was his second year in Tedford's system. He understood the game. He got it. He helped Tedford take Cal to the Holiday Bowl and a top 10 ranking.
Rodgers progressed so far, so fast that he left Cal at the end of the season -- with Tedford's blessing -- even though he had another year of eligibility left. He was drafted in the first round by the Packers.
Good for him, bad for the artist. Tedford begins this season about as quarterback deficient as he has been in his four seasons at Cal. Redshirt freshman Nate Longshore will start against the Fighting Fodder of Sac State. But it is likely that junior college transfer Joe Ayoob will see action, too.
Neither has played a down of Division I football. That shouldn't matter this weekend. But it will the following weekend, when Cal opens Pac-10 play against Washington in Seattle.
The starting quarterback for that game?
"We'll see what happens in the first game," Tedford said. "We'll go into that game, see what happens, and go from there."
Here, then, is where a quarterback guru earns his accolades. Tedford has been hailed for his work with Trent Dilfer, Akili Smith, David Carr and Joey Harrington (during his years as an assistant), as well as Kyle Boller and Rodgers (since coming to Cal).
Never has the artist needed to paint so fast and so sure. Because where he had a fallback position with Boller and Rodgers -- backup quarterback Reggie Robertson -- there is no Plan B now.
"Reggie had played Pac-10 play," Tedford said. "Reggie was very solid at that time. This is different."
Longshore has a year in the Tedford program, but has had no playing time. "It's evident he worked very hard over the summer," Tedford said. "He has been consistent and accurate throwing the ball."
Ayoob has JC playing time, but is new to the Tedford way. "It's very similar to when Aaron came in," Tedford said. "It's very hard to make the kind of strides you need to take over."
Mostly what Tedford talks about when discussing his two new proteges are paint-by-numbers fundamentals. Whereas with Rodgers his instruction was specific and precise -- say, how to move defenders with his eyes while dropping back and running through his progression -- he now talks in "See Spot Pass" simplicities.
Reading the plays as they are signaled in from the sideline. Taking control in the huddle. Leading the team up to the line of scrimmage. Scanning the defense. Keeping an eye on the 25-second clock.
Hey, you've got to start somewhere.
"There's going to be a learning curve," Tedford said. "It's part of the growing process. We don't expect that we'll go through a game without a few mistakes."
If you pressed him, Tedford couldn't tell you for certain which of his two blank canvases will be the more polished quarterback at the end of the season. What he states emphatically is that it will be one of the two, starting soon.
"For anyone to get better, they have to go through some adversity," he said. "That's why we're not going to have a two-quarterback situation (in the long-term). I don't want (the starting quarterback) to be looking over his shoulder every time he makes a mistake."
First, though, comes the opener, and a blank canvas where a future first-round draft choice used to be.
Yeah, exciting is one word for it.
"I'm anxious," Tedford said. "Anxiety can work two ways, I think. You can only practice so much. Then you have to get into the games. I'm excited to cut it loose on Saturday and see what we have."
And what needs brushing up.


If you would like to donate to hurricane victims in the South, please click here:

I'd like to thank for notifying me about the blog-a-thon that has been organized in regard to this disaster.

Five-man race for starting quarterback job

Mitch McLaughlin
State Hornet
August 31, 2005
Prior to Sacramento State taking the field Saturday against No. 19-ranked UC Berkeley, the biggest decision head coach Steve Mooshagian will have to make is who his starting quarterback will be.
In Mooshagian’s first two years in Sacramento, he didn’t have to make that decision – it was Ryan Leadingham’s job. Leadingham, the school leader in career passing yards with 8,376 and he also threw for 50 touchdowns, was the Hornets’ starting signal caller for most of his four seasons So who will Mooshagian put his faith behind? As of now, he is still unsure which guy – or guys – it will be.
“We are planning on at least two quarterbacks against both Cal and Cal Poly,” Mooshagian said. “I won’t say who those guys will be, but we have a little bit of an idea.”
Mooshagian and the rest of the offensive staff have had a close look at five different candidates for the job this year.
Out of the five, senior Brad Tredway is the only one to appear in a game for the Hornets. He played in four games last season and threw one touchdown in last season’s opener at Nevada. The other returning candidate is sophomore Crosby Wehr, who was the third-string quarterback last year. He didn’t play a down in 2004.
The other three guys are all transfers: senior Chris Hurd, junior Chris Cavendar and sophomore Tim Bessolo. Hurd might be the guy Mooshagian is leaning towards if he can clear his ineligibility. He played briefly in 2002 at Washington State before transferring to Texas-El Paso in 2004. Mooshagian said Hurd definitely would be in his top two candidates if cleared.
The other two transfers both came from California junior colleges. Cavendar was a first-team all-Bay Valley Conference selection after throwing for 2,645 yards and 17 touchdowns at Mendocino College last season; Bessolo shared the starting job at Long Beach City College last season. Bessolo attended both Fresno State and Marshall before transferring to Long Beach.
Mooshagian might be undecided about who his quarterback will be, but come Sept. 3, two guys will have the chance to prove themselves against two top-tier opponents in Cal and Cal Poly. The Golden Bears finished in No. 2 place in the Pac-10 last season, while the Mustangs finished at 9-2 and were considered one of the top teams not to make the 16-team Div. I-AA playoffs.

PAC-10 Confidential: Quarterbacks battle for starters' jobs

Tucson Citizen
Almost everyone in the Pac-10 has decided on a starting quarterback, kind of.
And Washington, not until yesterday.
The "Conference of Quarterbacks" is in a bit of a transition as just four schools entered camp sold on the No. 1 QB - Arizona with Richard Kovalcheck, ASU with Sam Keller, Oregon with Kellen Clemens and USC with that Matt Leinart kid who won the Heisman. Here's how things shook out in camp, with a few QB depth charts written only in pencil:
Cal: In something of a surprise, redshirt freshman Nate Longshore beat out touted junior college transfer Joseph Ayoob. Both are expected to play in the opener against Sacramento State, with Ayoob considered the long-range bet to claim the job.
Oregon State: UCLA transfer Matt Moore, a junior, held off sophomore Ryan Gunderson and takes over for Derek Anderson, who threw 79 career touchdown passes.
Stanford: New coach Walt Harris picked junior Trent Edwards over sophomore T.C. Ostrander, who filled in as the starter for the final two games of last season when Edwards was injured. The competition is still close, though.
UCLA: Drew Olson, recovering nicely from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in last season's Las Vegas Bowl, has kept big-shot freshman Ben Olson at bay. Olson might not be able to back up in the opener because of a hand injury. When he's healthy, will the competition continue?
Washington: Tyrone Willingham turned to athletic Isaiah Stanback over pocket passer Johnny DuRocher, a transfer from Oregon, mainly because DuRocher will miss the first three games for an NCAA transfer violation.
Washington State: Alex Brink doesn't have the size or the arm of Josh Swogger, but Brink won the job because he was more consistent and accurate in camp while Swogger tried to come back from an injury. Swogger could see playing time, coach Bill Doba said.
Ready for takeoff
With Oregon starting running back Terrence Whitehead nursing injuries during camp, and coach Mike Bellotti wanting to use a deep rotation during a sweltering game in Houston tomorrow night, it could be quite a debut for freshman Jonathan Stewart.
Stewart, the state of Washington's career leading high school rusher, has also been slowed by injuries this month but appears to be getting stronger at the right time.
"Jonathan is the real deal," Bellotti said. "A couple of times, he has made some runs that has brought the entire team to its feet. I expect him to contribute immensely."
Worth it?
Washington State has the easiest nonconference schedule in the league this season - Idaho, Nevada and Grambling - but that won't be the case next season.
On ESPN's suggestion, and Doba's thumbs up, the Cougars will open the 2006 season at Auburn. Between the payout from Auburn and the cable network, WSU will take home a check for about $1.1 million.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

San Diego Union Ranks Top 25

The Top 25
August 30, 2005
Staff writer Ed Graney's preseason ranking of the nation's Top 25 Div. I college football teams:
1. USC: What hope do opponents have when they'll need to score 35 points just to be in the game?
2. Texas: The only thing more impressive than sophomore QB Vince Young is his offensive line.
3. Virginia Tech: Introducing, once and for all, now leaving the courtroom for perhaps the final time, Marcus Vick.
4. Tennessee: A wicked early schedule (at Florida and LSU in consecutive weeks) could eliminate the Vols by October.
5. Michigan: Good luck slowing RB Mike Hart, but teams like USC and Texas could put up 50 on this D.
6. Ohio State: If the Buckeyes beat visiting Texas in Week 2, the title push is really on.
7. LSU: A renovated stadium and four returning tailbacks, all of whom would start at most any school.
8. Florida: Urban Meyer's offense is about to make WR Chad Jackson into a Top 10 NFL draft pick.
9. Oklahoma: Trouble at QB? It doesn't take a genius to hand the ball to Adrian Peterson.
10. Iowa: Hawkeyes are a healthy running game away from besting Michigan and Ohio State in the Big Ten.
11. Louisville: Look at the schedule. This team could easily be in the BCS title game. No joke.
12. Miami: Any opposing coach who kicks the ball to Devin Hester should be tarred, feathered and fired.
13. Georgia: D.J. Shockley picks out the splinters of four years on the bench to start at QB.
14. Purdue: No Michigan or Ohio State on the schedule means Joe Tiller's team could win nine.
15. Florida State: All we have to say about the offense is . . . FSU better be really good defensively.
16. Auburn: Losing four first-round NFL draft picks means losing your Top 10 position. For now.
17. Texas A&M: QB Reggie McNeal isn't Vince Young . . . he's just a better all-around QB.
18. Cal: JC stud Joseph Ayoob becomes the next QB to learn (and prosper) under coach Jeff Tedford.
19. Texas Tech: Ho hum, just another Red Raiders team good enough to win eight games and go bowling.
20. Arizona State: A nightmarish offseason should be followed by a Top 3 Pac-10 finish.
21. Fresno State: Play anyone, anywhere is a nice slogan. But why can't the Bulldogs ever win the WAC?
22. Alabama: Third-year coach Mike Shula's next big win for the Crimson Tide will be his first.
23. Pittsburgh: Junior QB Tyler Palko has a new coach (Dave Wannstedt) and big-time ability.
24. Boston College: From the Big Least to the revamped ACC. The Eagles are in for quite a jump.
25. Boise State: The road schedule – nonconference and within the WAC – is brutal.

Live Photos and Updates From The Game

Just a note that I'll be posting photos and updates from the Cal - Sac State game this weekend. If you are not planning on attending, make sure you check the blog this saturday.

QB Longshore picked to lead Cal

By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER
BERKELEY — Two years ago this month, Aaron Rodgers was informed by Cal football coach Jeff Tedford that Reggie Robertson was his starting quarterback.
"You guys haven't heard the last of me," a determined Rodgers told the media.
On Monday, another junior college transfer vs. returning quarterback scenario in Strawberry Canyon turned out the same way: Tedford chose Nate Longshore over Joe Ayoob.
"It's kind of what I figured, that Nate would get the start," Ayoob said. "There's a little frustration in that I was supposed to come in and be the starter. Right now, Nate's the best quarterback for the team."
College football is different from the NFL in that there are no preseason games to separate the competition. Rodgers replaced Robertson permanently by the fifth game. Ayoob believes his time is coming, too.
"I'm going to be prepared for my chance, and when it comes, I'm going to take it and run with it," he said. "I don't think I'm out of it by any means."
The junior from City College of San Francisco has it somewhat easier than Rodgers. For Longshore, a redshirt freshman, has no playing experience at Cal; Robertson had thrown 67 passes prior to 2003.
However, it won't be a cakewalk for Ayoob either because Longshore has been preparing diligently for his first collegiate start.
"It's always been a dream for me to play in the Pac-10," he said. "I can't wait. It's been a long off-season, a long camp. I'm just ready to play. It will be exciting."
There was a certain dj vu when Tedford explained why he decided on Longshore.
"He's shown a very good grasp of the offense, which is understandable," Tedford said. "Not only that, he's shown a high level of consistency with his throws. Joe needs to be more
consistent. I feel Nate will do a great job of putting us in a position to be successful."
Tedford added the gap between the 6-foot-5, 226-pound Longshore and the 6-3, 220-pound Ayoob didn't narrow much during fall camp. So Longshore will face visiting Sacramento State in Saturday's opener.
"Nate has really had a nice camp, and he just gains more confidence each and every day," Tedford said. "Joe has a little better grasp of it. We're hoping in the first game that we give both those guys time."
And game time is when Ayoob hopes to make his move.
"I love showtime," he said.
Tedford recognizes the importance of game-time performances, reflecting back to when Rodgers overtook Robertson as No. 1.
"They both need, especially early in the season, a little game time," he said. "It's always nice to see how they perform at that time. Practice is one thing ..."
But Saturdays count for more.
BEAR TRACKS: Ayoob will start in one capacity: He will hold on field goals and PATs for Tom Schneider. ... Highly recruited wide receiver DeSean Jackson will debut for Cal as a true freshman starter. ... Other true freshmen who will play are linebackers Anthony Felder and Zack Follett, cornerback Robert Peele and defensive tackle Mika Kane. ... Tedford will wait a few games before deciding whether two more freshmen, tight end Cameron Morrah and cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson, will redshirt.

Casting call at Cal

By Jon Wilner
Mercury News
So tailback Marshawn Lynch ``might be the best all-around player I've ever seen,'' in the words of Cal Coach Jeff Tedford. So the 1,615-pound offensive line features two All-America candidates in center Marvin Philip and tackle Ryan O'Callaghan. So rover extraordinaire Donnie McCleskey is healthy once again.
The truth is, Cal's big-name returnees do not hold the key to Tedford's fourth season in Berkeley. The difference between a five-win season and a nine-win season is the supporting cast: the heralded freshmen, the former reserves stepping into crucial roles, and the junior college transfers.
If the Bears don't find a dependable quarterback and playmaking receivers, defenses will overload the line of scrimmage and stuff Lynch. If the revamped defensive line doesn't generate a consistent pass rush, the veteran secondary will become vulnerable. If the new linebackers don't fill the proper holes, the Bears won't be able to stop opposing ground games.
Fresh off a 10-2 season that ended poorly -- bumped from the Rose Bowl, then thrashed by Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl -- the Bears are aiming for Pasadena once again.
And this time, it's the national championship game.
``Any time you get that close . . . you use it as leverage,'' Philip said.
What will it take for Cal to remain a player on the national scene?
Here are five areas to watch:
The search for leaders
It doesn't grab headlines like a quarterback competition, but the search for leadership is the most important issue facing the Bears -- especially on defense, where they're replacing eight starters.
Gone are the players who navigated the transition from Tom Holmoe to Tedford and fueled the remarkable turnaround of the past three years. Into that void step dozens of players with no Division I-A experience. The offensive line and secondary are the only units stocked with proven playmakers. They must set an example -- not only on Saturdays but also in practice, in the locker room and in the weight room.
``In past years, we knew what it would take,'' Philip said. ``Now there are guys that haven't been around and we need the leadership to surface so that we're not totally blind.''
The quarterback duel
Yes, Joe Ayoob put up gaudy numbers last fall as a junior college All-American at City College of San Francisco (35 touchdown passes and 61.3 completion percentage). And yes, he has a good arm and terrific mobility. But he does not have Aaron Rodgers' aptitude for the game -- the ability to quickly assimilate dozens of formations and blocking schemes and read progressions. (Few players do.)
Ayoob struggled through spring practice and training camp and will open the season on the bench. Redshirt freshman Nate Longshore will start Saturday's opener against Sacramento State, although Ayoob is expected to play.
This much is sure: Both Ayoob and Longshore will spend much of their time handing the ball to Lynch, who averaged 8.8 yards per carry last season. Tedford plans to make defenses stop the running game before he turns the offense over to an inexperienced quarterback.
``I don't know that it would be very smart to come out winging the ball every down,'' he said. ``I think there's no question the running game is ahead of the passing game.''
The young receivers
Even if the Bears find a reliable quarterback, that only solves half of the pass-and-catch riddle. Without Chase Lyman, Jonathan Makonnen and Geoff McArthur, the most productive receiver in school history, the Bears need their young wideouts to become dependable playmakers.
The top newcomers are CCSF transfer Lavelle Hawkins and freshman DeSean Jackson, who picked Cal over USC in part because of the chance to make an instant impact.
``We expect those guys to contribute very early,'' Tedford said. ``They have great speed and good hands. We feel like they will play a major part in the offense.''
At least three sophomores should play prominent roles: Sam DeSa, Noah Smith and Robert Jordan, a revelation last fall with 29 receptions. (Junior David Gray has moved to tight end.)
``We have a chip on our shoulder,'' Jordan said. ``Everybody is talking about the receivers being the weakest link. But nobody can run with us.''
The JC defenders
The Bears were second in the Pacific-10 Conference in scoring defense last season (16 points allowed per game). They won't come close to matching that number without help from two newcomers.
Nu'u Tafisi is a 260-pound dervish from Mt. San Antonio College and the man Cal hopes will replace Pac-10 sack leader Ryan Riddle. The new middle linebacker is Desmond Bishop, a heavy hitter from CCSF and one of the most acclaimed defensive players the Bears have ever recruited.
``He's great from tackle to tackle,'' defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said. ``He's tough, he's a hitter, and he's a very natural leader.''
How quickly will Bishop and Tafisi adjust to the speed of Division I-A play? It helps that they were enrolled for spring practice.
``We've really been fortunate in that our JC guys, on both sides of the ball, have come here and played early and effectively,'' Gregory said.
The training room
Sure, health is an issue for every team. But Cal's imbalanced schedule makes it imperative that the elite players survive the soft September and October so they're ready for a brutal November.
Only a major upset will prevent the Bears from winning their first five. Sacramento State, Washington, Illinois, New Mexico State and Arizona had a combined record of 15-40 last season, and three of the five have new coaches.
At that point, the schedule turns tough -- but only for one week. After an Oct. 8 visit to UCLA, Cal returns home to face two second-tier conference opponents (Oregon State and Washington State).
In other words, the Bears could exit October with one loss, or perhaps unbeaten.
When comes the gantlet: a trip to Oregon, which should be one of the league's best teams; a showdown with USC in Berkeley; and the Big Game at Stanford.
The Bears have dominated the rivalry during Tedford's reign, but Stanford's coaching change -- jettisoning Buddy Teevens, hiring Walt Harris -- has seemingly narrowed the gap between the schools. The outcome could hinge, as it has so often over the decades, on good old emotion and luck.

Mooshagian's money-back guarantee

Note: The following is probably a little more than you need to know about the Sac State football program, but since we are playing them in a few days, I thought some of you may be interested.

After two losing seasons, he's confident the Hornets are a team of value
By John Schumacher -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PDT Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Measuring progress can be tricky. Improvement comes in many forms, some more subtle than others.
As Sacramento State football coach Steve Mooshagian heads into his third season, he sees plenty of signs his program is headed in the right direction.
Start with 64 kids who stayed here this summer to work out. Add more depth and less reliance on true freshmen, a rise in confidence and a sense the Hornets have strengthened their recruiting efforts.
After 2-9 and 3-8 seasons, though, Mooshagian knows the best barometer of advancement ultimately comes down to wins and losses. While he can't guarantee progress in that category this season, he says he believes it will happen.
And he's willing to put his money where his mouth is.
"If someone bought a season-ticket package and at the end of the year said nothing positive about it, bring it back in here and I'll write them a check and give them their money back," Mooshagian said.
In other words, Mooshagian believes in his Hornets, perhaps more so than at any other time since the former Cincinnati Bengals receivers coach signed a four-year deal Jan. 15, 2003.
He lost All-America wide receiver Fred Amey and school career passing leader Ryan Leadingham, but Mooshagian is counting on 17 returning starters to help the program move forward.
Sophomore running back Ryan Mole ran for 858 yards and five touchdowns last season, earning co-Newcomer of the Year honors in the Big Sky Conference. Quarterbacks Chris Hurd, a transfer from Texas-El Paso, and returning backup Brad Tredway have looked sharp in practice. And the defense, led by lineman Jacob Houston, linebacker Matt Logue and safety Brett Shelton, all second-team all-Big Sky picks last season, looks like a strength.
Mooshagian said he expects perhaps five true freshmen to make significant contributions, down from the 15 or so he relied on last season.
Can the Hornets improve by a win or two?
"I'm expecting to be better than that," Mooshagian said. "Like I told the kids, you've got to dream big ... I think this group here is special.
"There's a different feeling around here. You don't have 64 guys stay here over the summer if you don't have something.
"I certainly believe ... that we're turning the corner."
Getting around the bend this season won't be easy. The Hornets open at No. 19 Cal on Saturday, then stay on the road for games at Cal Poly on Sept. 10 and Portland State on Sept. 17 before opening their home schedule with the annual Causeway Classic against UC Davis on Sept. 24.
"I'm more concerned with having the first three on the road than who the opponents are," said Mooshagian, who owns an 0-11 road record in two seasons at Sac State.
"We've got to learn to win on the road."
And win in the Big Sky. Conference coaches and media both picked the Hornets to tie for seventh with Weber State in the eight-team league.
To move forward, Mooshagian said he's emphasizing "the three most important 'F' words" - focus, fight and finish.
While Mooshagian seeks continued improvement, athletic director Terry Wanless said he sees plenty of signs of progress.
Wanless said he's pleased with the development of the football program's structure, things like quality depth, balance between offense and defense and between classes. And he says he likes what he sees in recruiting.
"Building relationships with high school coaches, that is so critical to the recruiting process," Wanless said. "They've done a good job of that, getting out into the community, not just Sacramento, but across the state.
"Until the program has a chance to grow in these other areas, it's very difficult to get to the wins and the immediacy of the situation."
Wanless, who coached football for 15 seasons at Towson in Maryland, said he understands what it takes to rebuild a program.
"We still have a lot of shortcomings in terms of facilities to attract kids," he said. "The future is, I think, very bright."
The present, though, remains a huge challenge. Those Hornets who've been around awhile hope this is the year things truly change.
"I think we can be real good this year," said Logue, a senior from Bear River High School. "Defensively, I think we'll be real good. I think we'll keep us in the games no matter what.
"For me, I just want to win. I've been here, I think I've won nine games in three years, maybe 10."
Tredway, the senior quarterback, isn't afraid to dream big.
"I don't know why we can't compete, I mean compete for the title, for the playoffs," he said. "Why not us?"
If that happens, Mooshagian will have more ammunition for his next recruiting trip.
"The foundation has been laid," Mooshagian said. "I always tell the kids they're on the ground floor, going up the elevator. The penthouse isn't that far."
Five keys for Sac State
1 Keep an eye on the quarterback - With school career passing leader Ryan Leadingham gone, the Hornets have a gaping hole to fill. Strong-armed UTEP transfer Chris Hurd has been impressive in practice but is waiting for a waiver from the NCAA to become eligible. Returning backup Brad Tredway shares the top spot on the depth chart with Hurd.
2 Is Mole the man? - Ryan Mole showed great promise last season, rushing for 858 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman to earn Big Sky Conference co-Newcomer of the Year honors. With no marquee names on offense, a big season from Mole would take pressure off the new quarterback starter and give the Hornets someone to build around. But he'll need that offensive line to perform.
3 Look for a leader - Linebacker Matt Logue was selected team captain last spring for a good reason. The second-team all-Big Sky pick anchors a defense that should be a bright spot. If Logue can supply leadership and big plays, this defense will keep the Hornets in many games.
4 A shining secondary? - With three starters returning, Sacramento State's defensive backfield should provide plenty of resistance. Senior cornerback Brandon Smith and sophomore safeties Brett Shelton and Brent Webber enjoyed some success last season. Five other players with experience return, giving the Hornets a deep group.
5 A tough road to travel - The Hornets face a demanding schedule, playing their first three games on the road, starting with a date Saturday at No. 19 Cal. They won't have much time to recover from that contest, with trips to Cal Poly and Portland State following the Bears and setting up the home opener with UC Davis. Is there a victory in that stretch?

Monday, August 29, 2005

Longshore gets starting nod for Golden Bears

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer
AP Breaking News
Monday, August 29, 2005
(08-29) 20:28 PDT Berkeley, Calif. (AP) --
Nate Longshore was chosen as California's starting quarterback Monday night, beating out Joe Ayoob for the chance to lead the 19th-ranked Golden Bears in their season opener against Sacramento State.
Longshore, a redshirt freshman, made full use of his extra year of experience in coach Jeff Tedford's exacting system. Though Ayoob transferred to Cal amid much fanfare after two prolific years at City College of San Francisco, Longshore earned the start in Saturday's game against the Division I-AA Hornets with his consistency and work ethic.
"It's always been a dream for me to play in the Pac-10, and I'm happy that it's happened," Longshore said after practice at Memorial Stadium. "Now we can move on. I'm just ready to play someone new besides our own defense. ... I really don't see (starting) as a big deal. It's more about going out there as a team, and I need to hold up my end of the bargain."
Tedford has praised the 6-foot-5 freshman's superior understanding of Cal's system since spring workouts, but the competition theoretically was open until last weekend. Though Ayoob closed the gap in recent weeks during training camp, Tedford is more confident in Longshore.
"He's shown a very good grasp of the offense, which is understandable," said Tedford, who has produced six first-round draft picks in his last 12 years tutoring quarterbacks. "Not only that, he's shown a high level of consistency. I feel like he'll do a great job putting us in a position to be successful."
Because neither of Tedford's latest quarterbacks has yet thrown a pass in Division I, Cal's offense should be more run-oriented than last season's squad, which set several school superlatives while going 10-2 and reaching its highest ranking in a half-century.
Tailback Marshawn Lynch, who averaged 8.8 yards per carry as a freshman last season, will be the centerpiece behind a veteran offensive line. If things are going well for the Bears, Longshore mostly will be handing off.
Ayoob probably could have won the job with more consistency in his throws during practices, but the junior acknowledges a few hiccups in adjusting to the Pac-10 game and Tedford's demands. Ayoob is a superb athlete known for his running in junior college, while Longshore is a more classic pocket passer.
"There's a little frustration, because I was supposed to come in and be the starter," said Ayoob, who will hold for placekicks. "But I know it's a team game. It's not just about me starting or Nate starting. I guess right now, Nate is the best quarterback for the team."
Though the starting job no longer is up for grabs, the competition might not be closed. Both quarterbacks probably will get to play against overmatched Sacramento State — and two years ago, junior-college transfer Aaron Rodgers didn't take the starting job away from veteran Reggie Robertson until midway through Rodgers' first season at Cal.
Rodgers went on to one of the most proficient seasons in Cal history last fall, and was drafted by Green Bay in the first round.

College football preview: Reloaded Cal could contend again in 2005

By Joe Davidson -- Bee Staff Writer
It just as well could have been "Rocky V" or some other sequel clunker in the VCR.
When Cal coach Jeff Tedford returned to his Danville home earlier this summer, he was stopped cold in his tracks. His son Quinn was trying to make sense of the Cal-USC thriller from last fall.
Cal outgained and often outhustled the mighty Trojans that day in Los Angeles. The Bears had a first and goal on Troy's doorstep late, yet succumbed 23-17.
"Every time I look at it," Tedford said, "I get a knot in my stomach. I try to forget. We had first and goal. We were in control. But we'll learn from it."
Though Cal climbed into the top five for the first time in 50 years last season, the Bears did not reach a Bowl Championship Series game despite a 10-1 record. That hangover certainly played a role in a 45-31 setback to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.
And in that result, more lessons, more learning, more steam, more unfinished business.
Cal bounds into the 2005 season with some celebrated cleats to fill but seemingly armed with enough talent and speed to make another charge at USC and the BCS.
Saturday, Sacramento State will serve as a test for the Bears as they break in a new quarterback - either Nate Longshore or Joe Ayoob - and officially unleash tailback Marshawn Lynch.
Longshore and Ayoob are vying to take over for Aaron Rodgers, a first-round pick by the Green Bay Packers. They will work with a fleet of new receivers, meaning Lynch may have to carry the load early.
Lynch is fine with that. He has yet to start a college game but already has his name on the Heisman Trophy watch list. As a true freshman last fall, Lynch backed up 2,000-yard rusher J.J. Arrington, now the starter for the Arizona Cardinals, and amassed 628 yards and eight touchdowns in averaging 8.8 yards per rush. He can sprint, he can catch, he can dazzle on returns and he can even throw it, including a touchdown pass in the Big Game rout of Stanford.
"Marshawn's an incredible back," said senior center Marvin Philip of Oak Ridge High School. "We have to remind ourselves to keep playing, keep blocking, because he's so fun to watch. He'll have a huge year."
Especially if the offensive line keeps pushing foes back. Four starters return in the trenches, with Philip the anchor and a preseason All-America candidate. He's flanked by veterans Andrew Cameron, Aaron Merz and Ryan O'Callaghan.
"Marvin's an outstanding player," Tedford said. "He's the one making all the calls. If one of our quarterbacks get rattled, he'll calm them down. That's the leadership he brings."
The defense must replace all of its linebackers from last season, a unit that made for one of the top run-stopping units in college football.
Cal's early schedule should allow for growing pains. The Bears don't play a team that sported a winning record in 2004 until Oregon State on Oct. 15.
1 Pick a passer - Jeff Tedford is revered for his ability to mold and mentor college quarterbacks. Nate Longshore, a redshirt freshman, and Joe Ayoob, a transfer from community-college superpower City College of San Francisco, are still neck-and-neck.
2 Lean on the line - With so many new faces at the skill positions, the offensive line - led by Marvin Philip of Oak Ridge - returns nearly intact and is the team strength.
3 Play some defense - Cal often stopped running games cold last season with a host of senior stuffers, but only three defensive starters return. The time is now for newcomer linebackers Desmond Bishop of CCSF and redshirt freshman Worrell Williams of Grant to come of age.
4 Who's playing catch? - The receiving corps was gutted by graduation, but no one seems overly concerned after the summer camps that newcomers Lavelle Hawkins of CCSF and prep All-American DeSean Jackson produced.
5 Marvelous Marshawn - J.J. Arrington produced a 2,000-yard season in 2004, but sophomore Marshawn Lynch might be better, certainly faster. Think Reggie Bush, in Cal colors.
Sept. 3: Sacramento State, 2 p.m.
Sept. 10: at Washington, 12:30 p.m.
Sept. 17: Illinois, 2 p.m.
Sept. 23: at New Mexico State, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1: Arizona, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 8: at UCLA, TBA
Oct. 15: Oregon State, TBA
Oct. 22: Washington State, TBA
Nov. 5: at Oregon, 12:30 p.m.
Nov. 12: U$C, TBA
Nov. 19: at Stanford, 4 p.m.

Barbour Cuts to the Chase

Daily Cal Interview with AD Sandy Barbour
Click Here to Read:

Cal vs. Stanford: Who will win the marketing game?

By Eric Young
San Francisco Business Times
Updated: 8:00 p.m. ET Aug. 28, 2005
With their football teams' performance heading in opposite directions, UC Berkeley and Stanford University have drawn up contrasting game plans to attract fans this season.
Cal, enjoying back-to-back bowl appearances and a preseason ranking among the country's top teams, has a relatively easy task. The football program is capitalizing on winning by scheduling more TV advertising to further expand its reach even as the school expects to sell a record-setting 40,000 season tickets. Stanford, on the other hand, is in a funk. The Cardinal, a Pacific-10 Conference flop in recent years, hopes to draw fans with the promise of a brighter future.
For both programs, stoking football enthusiasm now can pay big dividends in the future. Both Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley have new football stadiums on the drawing board. Both teams are going to want to fill the seats of their new gridiron palaces, which will help bring in money to boost their athletic departments' finances.
Of the two schools, Stanford is having a tougher time inciting pigskin passion. Attendance has been on the decline. Last year the team averaged 35,942 fans, down 30 percent from 2001, the last year the team had a winning record.
The team hopes to stir excitement among former Stanford students. For the first time the team is sending out a brochure to 170,000 Cardinal alumni, offering approximately 15 percent discounts on tickets. Cardinal athletic officials have also organized a telephone campaign and even had new football coach Walt Harris record a phone message urging support for the squad.
Stanford will hold the line on ticket prices this season, keeping the average general admission at $10.
While Stanford can't focus on the team's success, it can highlight the team's new planned home. The school said it will renovate Stanford Stadium into a 50,000-seat facility, one-third smaller than the current park. Stanford marketers are urging football fans to buy season tickets this year to guarantee seating priority when the new field is ready next year.
The school plans to begin building once the football season ends in November and have the stadium ready for the first game in 2006. The project is expected to cost $85 million, with several millions of dollars coming from major school donor John Arrillaga, a real estate mogul. But Stanford still needs to raise at least $25 million for the work.
On the bright side for Stanford, the team has an attractive schedule this season. The Cardinal hosts UCLA, Notre Dame and Cal, teams that consistently draw crowds of 45,000 or more fans.
Meanwhile, in Berkeley, Cal's football marketers are trying to maintain the team's newfound popularity. Golden Bear fans are snapping up season passes, which go for as much as $235. Cal said it expects to sell at least 40,000 season passes, breaking a school record set last year.
The team also is hiking individual ticket prices: Reserve tickets are $32, up 10 percent, and general admission tickets are $17, up 13 percent.
To reach a broader audience in the Bay Area, Cal has shifted money traditionally spent on billboards to TV ads. TV ads give the team "more reach and more frequency and the message is more dynamic," said Robert Hartman, who is in charge of marketing Cal's sports.
Once the season starts Sept. 5, the Cal football team for the first time will have its games broadcast on the radio across the state. Berkeley has several new deals with radio stations from the Oregon border to San Diego. The agreements are an outgrowth of Cal's decision to hand off marketing of its sports sponsorships to an outside company. Starting this year ISP Sports has rights to sell advertising, sponsorships and broadcast rights for Cal athletics in exchange for a guaranteed amount of cash each year.
Cal's stadium plans are moving slower than Stanford's. Cal has selected architects for the renovation of 73,300-seat Memorial Stadium. The university has raised more than $40 million for the stadium work, but has not said how much the project will cost or when it will complete the job.


From Sac State's website:
A Brief Preview
The Sacramento State football team will make its 2005 debut when it travels to Berkeley, Calif., to take on the California Golden Bears. The meeting is the first between the two schools and marks the fourth-straight season that the Hornets have opened a year against a Div. I-A opponent. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

The contest can be heard locally on KTKZ 1380 AM with Jason Ross handling the play-by-play and Steve McElroy adding the color commentary. Phil Getman returns to serve as the sideline reporter. For those outside the greater Sacramento area, the game will also be available on the internet at

The game is also going to be televised on Comcast SportsNet. The broadcast is available to Comcast Cable subscribers from Fresno, Calif., to Reno, Nev. It is also available on both DirecTV and Dish Network. Barry Tompkins will serve as the play-by-play announcer with Mike Pawlawski as the analyst.

The Hornets open the season against a Div. I-A opponent for the fourth straight season. The team has not fared well in the past, with losses at UTEP (2002), Oregon State (2003) and Nevada (2004). Last season, Sacramento State posted a 3-8 overall record. The team, however, returns 17 starters from last season but must fill the void left by All-American Fred Amey and quarterback Ryan Leadingham. The returners will be led by sophomore running back Ryan Mole while the defense will be anchored by senior linebacker Matt Logue.

Cal is coming off its best season in recent memory. The Golden Bears were 10-2 overall last season and ended the year ranked ninth in Div. I-A. Cal's only regular season loss came at the hands of national champion USC, 23-17. The team's only other defeat was a 45-31 setback against Texas Tech in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. Like Sacramento State, the Golden Bears have some big shoes to fill on the offensive side of the ball as quarterback Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) and running back J.J. Arrington (Arizona) were both selected in the 2005 NFL Draft.

This is the first meeting between the two schools in Sacramento State's 52-year program history.

With a Win...
Sacramento State will have won its season opener for the first time since 2001.
The team will have defeated a Div. I-A opponent for the first time since beating Cal State Fullerton, 29-3, on Sept. 26, 1992.
The Hornets will have earned their first road victory since winning at Eastern Washington, 48-41, on Oct. 26, 2002.
Sacramento State will have defeated Cal for the first time.
Cal will have lost to Div. I-AA team for the first time in school history.

With a Loss...
Cal will improve to 3-1 in season openers under Jeff Tedford.
The Golden Bears will have won eight in a row at Memorial Stadium.
Sacramento State will have lost 13-straight road games.
The Hornets will have lost four-straight season openers. That streak all came against Div. I-A foes.

Meet the Coaches
Steve Mooshagian returns for his third season as head coach at Sacramento State. Mooshagian, who was hired to lead the Hornets on Jan. 15, 2003, is the eighth coach in school history.

A native Californian, Mooshagian has coached high school, junior college, college and professional teams. He most recently served as the wide receivers coach with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1999-2002. In 2002, he guided the only receiving corps in the NFL to have four players with at least 40 catches.

Prior to working with the Bengals, Mooshagian was the offensive coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh for two years (1997-98). At Pitt, he also coached the receivers and his unit produced the top receiver in the Big East Conference both years. Mooshagian came to Pittsburgh from Nevada where he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during the 1996 season. That year, the Wolf Pack led the nation with an average of 527 yards of total offense and posted a 9-3 overall record while winning the Big West Conference title and the Las Vegas Bowl.

Before moving to Nevada, Mooshagian spent 11 years as a coach in Fresno, Calif. In 1995, he was the head coach at Fresno City College where he guided the Rams to a 5-5 overall record. Prior to that job, he had a 10-year stint as an assistant coach at Fresno State (1985-94).

He was also part of the Fresno State staff which won six conference titles while competing in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association, the Big West Conference and the Western Athletic Conference.

Cal is under the leadership of Jeff Tedford. Now in his fourth year, Tedford owns a 25-13 mark with the Golden Bears. He was the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2004.

A Look at the Hornets
Scrimmage I Recap
The Sacramento State defense dominated early and the offense scored two late touchdowns during the first scrimmage on Aug. 20.

The Hornets used three quarterbacks during the 53-play scrimmage and received touchdowns from running back James Cummings and tight end Mike Soto.

The defense also made big plays, including forcing two fumbles and recording three sacks.

Cummings led the ground attack with 65 yards on 13 carries. Junior Chris Cavender was 2-for-3 for 15 yards and one touchdown through the air while Bobby Mooshagian had one catch for 14 yards to lead the receivers.

Both the offense and defense were far from full-strength for the scrimmage. The offense opted not to play quarterbacks Chris Hurd and Brad Tredway and running back Ryan Mole. The defense was missing three of its four projected starters in the secondary as safeties Brett Shelton and Brent Webber and cornerback Kiel McDonald did not dress.

Scrimmage II Recap
The Sacramento State offense scored three touchdowns and added three field goals and the defense picked up two turnovers in the final scrimmage of training camp on Aug. 26 at Hornet Stadium.

The offense's first touchdown came on a 48-yard pass from Crosby Wehr to Phillip Perry down the right sideline. The second score came on a 29-yard screen pass from Chris Hurd to Kris Daniels. The final touchdown was on a 1-yard run from Daniels. The defense recorded a turnover on the first drive when linebacker Tony DeMonico intercepted Brad Tredway on the 9-yard line. The second turnover came late in the game on a mishandled snap.

Gamboa converted three of his four field goal attempts and all three of his extra points. The freshman hit from 43, 27 and 36 yards.

After Further Review
Not only will Saturday's game mark the first time that Sacramento State has ever played Cal, it will also be the first time that the Hornets have been in a game using instant replay.

As part of the Pac-10's new policy, replay can be used to assist with certain plays. All reviews will come from an observer in the press box and the coaches will not have any challenges. This is the first year that the Pac-10 has used replay. The Big 10 became the first major college football conference to use replay last season.

Coaching Changes
While head coach Steve Mooshagian returns for his third season at the helm, he will be joined by four new members on sidelines this season. The group is headlined by Scott Criner who will serve as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Mike Preacher will coach the receivers, Richard Sanchez will oversee special teams and tight ends and Jamie Christian coaches the running backs.

A veteran college football coach, Criner has spent time at Boise State, Navy, Cincinnati and Northern Arizona.

Preacher was a former punter at Oregon and is in his first season at the college level.

Sanchez most recently coached at Valparaiso but also served as Charles Roberts' high school coach at Montclair High School.

Christian has some Pac-10 ties having coached under Dennis Erickson at Oregon State. Last season, he was a member of the San Francisco 49ers staff.

Offensive line coach Max Glowacki is the lone returning coach on offense. Last season, Glowacki coached tackles and tight ends but will handle the entire line in 2005.

The defensive side of the ball remained stable with Tim Skipper back for his second season as coordinator. Last season, the unit set a program I-AA-era record with 33 sacks.

Jon Osterhout returns to coach the defensive line. Lou Baiz leads the linebackers and Stephon Pace coaches the secondary.

There are numerous connections between Cal and Sacramento State coaches and players.
Steve Mooshagian and Jeff Tedford not only played together at Cerritos College and Fresno State. The pair were both coaches for the Bulldogs under Jim Sweeney.
Hornets Chris Hurd, Kiel McDonald and Steve Lynn have all been part of team which has played against Cal. Hurd played at Washington State, McDonald at Arizona and Lynn at Oregon.
Sacramento State assistant coaches Mike Preacher and Stephon Pace faced the Golden Bears as players. Preacher punted at Oregon while Pace was a defensive back at USC.
Hornet running back coach Jamie Christian coached against Cal while at Oregon State.
The two teams combine to have five graduates of Long Beach Poly High School and four from San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno.
Cal has four players from the Sacramento area high schools comprised of Brian Harrison (Granite Bay), Marvin Philip (Oak Ridge), Jared Vanderbeek (Granite Bay) and Worrell Williams (Grant).
Cal secondary coach J.D. Williams played at Fresno State under Tedford and Mooshagian while graduate assistant coach Kevin Daft quarterbacked UC Davis against the Hornets in the Causeway Classic.

The Good Kind of Loss
Senior Matt Logue has made a habit of terrorizing the opposition's backfield during his three years with the Hornets. The linebacker, who earned second team all-Big Sky Conference honors last season, enters the year with 32 career tackles-for-loss. That total was aided by 14 TFL's last season to tie defensive end Jacob Houston for the team high.

A graduate of Bear River High School in Grass Valley, Calif., Logue played under his father, Terry, during high school. As a true freshman, he played in all 12 games, starting four. That year he recorded 54 total tackles and five tackles-for-loss. The next year, Logue tallied 58 total tackles and 13 TFL's. As a junior, he broke out with a career-high 89 total stops while starting every game.

Logue's career total of 201 tackles currently ranks sixth in the Hornet record book. He needs nine stops to catch Carlos Williams (210) for fifth and 11 to match Ramon Payne's 212.

Holy Mole-y
After an amazing freshman season, there is little doubt who Sacramento State's starting running back will be to begin 2005 - Ryan Mole. The sophomore from Santa Maria, Calif., amassed 858 yards last season in nine games en route to being named co-Big Sky Newcomer of the Year and Div. I-AA Freshman All-America.

Mole picked up 41 yards in his first collegiate game at Nevada. He then responded with 114 yards against Southern Utah and 132 at UC Davis. After three modest efforts and then missing the next two games, Mole rushed for 245 yards and two touchdowns in the Hornets' 38-28 win over 17th-ranked Montana State.

He added 177 yards at No. 8 Montana the following week before leaving the Cal Poly game with an injury in the season finale.

Mole's total was the most by a Sacramento State player since quarterback/running back Garrett White amassed 887 yards in 2002. His total was also nearly 300 yards more than three-time All-American Charles Roberts (587) rushed for as a freshman.

Part of Mole's success is his ability to make the big play. Last season, he had six rushes over 30 yards, including scores of 87, 63 and 50-yards.

QB Shuffle
For the first time in four years, Sacramento State will enter a season with a quarterback other than Ryan Leadingham. A four-year starter, Leadingham left the Hornets as the program's all-time leader in passing yards, completions, attempts and touchdowns.

This season, five quarterbacks are battling for the starting nod against Cal. The group is comprised of seniors Chris Hurd and Brad Tredway, juniors Tim Bessolo and Chris Cavender and sophomore Crosby Wehr.

Hurd came to the team during the first week of training camp after transferring from UTEP. The Antioch, Calif., native began his collegiate career at Washington State before transferring to the Miners. Although he has been cleared to practice with the team, Hurd has not been cleared for game duty by the NCAA. His status for the Cal game is unknown at this time.

The lone player to have taken a game snap at Sacramento State, Tredway is the current favorite for the starting job. Last season, he played in four games, completing 11-of-27 passes for 132 yards and a TD.

Bessolo is a transfer from Long Beach City College. The 6-4, 230-pounder has also played at Marshall.

Cavender is a mobile QB from Mendocino JC where he earned first team all-Bay Valley Conference honors last season after throwing for 2,645 yards and rushing for 351.

Wehr is the most veteran member of the unit as he is now in his third season. However, the Oakmont High School graduate has yet to play in a game.

Taking Aim
The most glaring whole on offense comes at receiver where All-American Fred Amey has played for the past four years. Amey, who is currently a member of the San Francisco 49ers, ended his career with 4,049 receiving yards and 6,343 all-purpose yards. He holds the school records in both of those categories as well as receptions (248) and touchdowns (27). Last season, Amey set the single-season mark with 76 receptions and the single-game record with 15 at Eastern Washington.

The challenge to replace Amey will primarily rest in the hands of junior Ryan Coogler and sophomore Phillip Perry. Coogler started nine games during his first season with the team after transferring from Saint Mary's. He ended the season with 28 receptions for 254 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Perry played in 10 games and ranked third on the squad with 18 receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown.

Also slated to start at the third receiver is sophomore Nick Miller. Freshman Bobby Mooshagian, sophomore Jordan Farrell and Iowa transfer Tyler Fannuchi could also contribute.

Patrolling the Skies
With three returning starters, the Sacramento State secondary was already in good shape heading into 2005. The addition of a Div. I-A transfer and the return of two former starters have only boosted the expectations.

Cornerback Brandon Smith and safeties Brent Webber and Brett Shelton all return to their starting spots in 2005. Kiel McDonald, a transfer from Arizona, is slated to take the other cornerback spot.

Smith was named honorable mention all-conference despite the fact that he only played in seven games last season due to a kidney laceration. Fully healthy, he will be one of the most experienced members of the unit.

Webber and Shelton were both named Div. I-AA Freshman All-America last season as the pair made a smooth transition to college. Shelton recorded 83 tackles while Webber tallied 56.

A junior from Denver, Colo., McDonald started two games at Arizona before a shoulder injury forced him out of the lineup. Prior to going to UofA, McDonald played two seasons at Sacramento City.

Safety Jared Elarmo and cornerback Jody Johnson both return to the team after redshirting last season. The sophomores each started games in 2003. Sophomore Bryan Parker, who played in all 11 games in 2004 and junior Richard Moore will also see considerable action.

Houston Creates Problems
Senior Jacob Houston wasted little time making an impact at Sacramento State. The Fresno City College transfer tallied three sacks in the team's victory over Southern Utah during week two to earn Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Houston earned second team all-Big Sky honors after ending the year with 10.0 sacks. That mark, not only led the team and ranked third in the Big Sky, it tied him for 10th on the school’s career chart.

This season, Houston will again put pressure on the quarterback from the end. However, he will have some additional help with the return of James Henderson and the addition of Mike Brannon.

A starter in 2003, Henderson redshirted last season but returned during the spring and is contending for a starting job. Brannon committed to Sacramento State in 2004 but did not enroll full-time at the University until the spring. The Cordova High School graduate is, arguably, the biggest surprise of training camp with his mix of speed and power.

The middle of the line features two returning starters in senior Walter Brock and sophomore Chris Hurts. A transfer from Saint Mary's, Brock earned his degree during the summer but returned for his senior season. Hurts has bulked up to nearly 300 pounds and is a force against the run.

Junior college transfers Levi Ehnisz and Adolph Stone will backup the middle while Landon Ellis will provide assistance outside.

Trying to Become Special
A point of heavy emphasis during camp has been special teams. New coordinator Richard Sanchez has implemented his system to try to put the Hornets over the top and boost its return game.

Last season, Sacramento State averaged 17.1 yards per kick return and a paltry 3.7 yards per punt return. Those numbers hardly compared to what the team was allowing (25.2 kor, 10.9 pr).

Ryan Coogler and Kris Daniels will attempt to spark the kickoff return while Nick Miller will handle punt returns.

One stable factor is the kicking game. Junior Mitch Lively will handle kickoffs and the punting chores while redshirt freshman Juan Gamboa will place kick.

Lively was an honorable mention all-Big Sky selection last season after averaging 40.8 yards per punt and recording 13 touchbacks on kickoffs.

Gamboa came in highly-touted last season but a quadriceps strain forced him to redshirt. The San Jose, Calif., native did attempt one field goal in the season opener, but missed the 47-yarder.

History on Its Side
Some college coaches might dread the fact that his team was picked last in the conference's preseason poll. Steve Mooshagian, however, would not be one of them.

Just minutes after finding out that the Hornets were picked to tie for seventh in the Big Sky by both the coaches and the media, Mooshagian quickly pointed out that it might not be as bad as it sounds.

In 2003, Weber State brought up the rear in the preseason prognostications but the Wildcats posted an 8-4 overall mark and finished fourth in the league at 4-3.

Last year, Portland State was picked for the cellar and the Vikings responded by going 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the league to tie for third.

Returning Up Front
When Sacramento State took the field against Nevada last season, the team did not have one offensive lineman who had played for the Green & Gold before. This season, the Hornets have plenty of experience led by tackles Dustin Nicolodi and Chris Samuels.

Nicolodi was to be the leader of the 2004 line but a freak injury early in training camp left him with a broken leg and forced him to miss the first five games. This season, the senior from Modesto, Calif., has shifted from center to tackle and is one of leaders for the entire offense.

Samuels, a senior from Reedley Junior College, will line up at left tackle after starting every game last season at left guard.

The duo will also be joined by senior Jake Kellom at left guard, senior Travis Johnson at center, and senior Heath Prichard at right guard.

Senior Mason Mitchell could also see time on the line after shifting from the defensive line midway through camp. Mitchell was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA due to a back injury which forced him to miss two entire seasons.

Moving On Up
Saturday's contest will mark the fourth straight season that the Hornets have faced a Div. I-A opponent. Before playing at UTEP in 2002, Oregon State in 2003, and Nevada last year, Sacramento State had not met a I-A school since playing at Pacific on Sept. 25, 1993.

Next year, Sacramento State is scheduled to open the season at San Diego State.

Just the Facts
Memorial Stadium's capacity of 67,537 is the second largest facility in which the Hornets have played. The largest came in 1968 when Sacramento State faced Grambling State in the Junior Rose Bowl (100,069).

Sacramento State has changed its helmet for the fifth straight season. This season's changes include a darker green shell, a black face mask and the removal of the gold stripe down the center.

Wide receiver Billy White will not play this season after having offseason surgery.

Freshman Westy Guill, who was a three-sport star at Clovis East High School, will redshirt this season after having shoulder surgery.

A Look at the Golden Bears
Despite losing Rodgers and Arrington, Cal's offense is in fine shape behind the legs of Marshawn Lynch. The Freshman All-American in 2004, averaged 8.8 yards per carry last season and scored eight touchdowns.

Cal's offensive line, which averages 6-foot-4 and 334 pounds, is led by Oak Ridge High School graduate Marvin Philip. The senior is ranked as the best center in the country by The Sporting News.

The Golden Bears allowed only 16.0 points per game last season and return three starters on defense.

The game marks the first time Cal has faced a Div. I-AA opponent.

The Series
This is the first meeting between the two schools.

Who's Up Next
Sacramento State will travel to Cal Poly to face the Mustangs on Sept. 10 at 6:05 p.m.

Big Sky Notes
The Big Sky faces some tough challenges in the opening week of the 2005 season. Along with Sacramento State taking on Cal, Eastern Washington will play at San Jose State, Montana State travels to Oklahoma State and Portland State plays at Oregon State. The other half of the league has it a little easier as Idaho State welcomes I-AA Southern Utah, Montana hosts Fort Lewis, Weber State plays Western State and Northern Arizona squares off against Adams State.

Eastern Washington was picked first by both the coaches and the media in the preseason polls. However, Montana (third) is ranked higher than the Eagles (fourth) in the preseason national poll. Below is a list of the Big Sky preseason polls.

1. Eastern Wash. (6) 48
2. Montana (2) 43
3. Portland State 32
4. Montana State 30
5. Northern Arizona 29
6. Idaho State 20
7. Sacramento State 11
Weber State 11

1. Eastern Wash. (18) 303
2. Montana (19) 302
3. Montana State (4) 258.5
4. Portland State 187
5. Northern Arizona 175.5
6. Idaho State (1) 118
7. Sacramento State 84
Weber State 84